November 2010: Fine Dining Guide November Newsletter

Posted on: November 3rd, 2010 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

newsletter interviewees

The site has conducted three interviews since the last newsletter, spanning two chefs and a front of house general manager.

Having returned to the stove from the peace and tranquility of retirement, Pierre Koffmann  found a stint at Restaurant on the Roof, Selfridges as exhilarating and rewarding as it was challenging. Now housed at Koffmann’s in The Berkeley Hotel, this legendary chef shared his story with fine-dining-guide.

Another chef returning to London, this time from overseas, former Michelin starred Joel Antunes  shares his insights into the profession and his passion for cooking.

Over a twelve year period David O’Connor  has managed front of house for three of the Nigel Platts-Martin group of restaurants: Chez Bruce, The Square and The Ledbury. David shares his technical knowledge of service and understandings of hospitality with fine-dining-guide.

Extending the site’s interest in Hotel/Resorts, Daniel Darwood reviewed The Capital Hotel including a review of The Dining Room Restaurant, as well as a visit to Somerset to review Bath Priory Hotel  and restaurant fine-dining-guide has had the pleasure and privilege of running a free to enter lunch or dinner competition in conjunction with The Waterside Inn in Bray. This has been part of their 25 Years of Michelin Three Star celebrations. The competition is now closed and after strong interest, the winner will be informed during the next week.

Twitter/Facebook: The Twitter page continues to grow and now approaches 2150 followers ( The top 20 or so news tweets can also be found on fine-dining-guide’s News page.

The Facebook page, which carries photo galleries of restaurant visits and updates of new articles, has grown steadily with 260 ‘likes’.

General Website Updates: The autumn months have proven a real mixed bag in terms of page views and visitors. The early period saw around 30,000 page views from 12,000 unique visitors but the last few weeks traffic has picked up to all time record levels with as many as 10,000 page views over the last week.

The site is considering a re-structuring and re-development to take in superior navigation (drop down menus and more easy to follow sections) as well as better multi-media support. This process will take some time and we hope to have more information for you in the next newsletter. An example of our (at this stage) experimentation can be seen at

The 2011 editions of The Which? Good Food Guide and The AA Restaurant Guide were published since the last newsletter – the AA 2011 Guide Press Release is published in full and updates of all the Lists of Restaurant Rankings.

The Michelin Section continues to be updated with the complete list of Michelin Restaurants for New York for 2011. fine-dining-guide are considering a change of policy. Six years ago, it wasn’t easy to get access to the information provided in this section. Today, the various Michelin websites are far better at providing the data and Twitter offers the ideal vehicle for pointing directly to the various Michelin Star and Bib Gourmand listings as and when they are made available. Perhaps a page of links instead?

The Restaurant Picture Gallery  continues to be popular with readers and has been updated with visits to: John Campbell at Coworth Park, Texture and Roux Parliament Square.

In terms of restaurant reviews, The Restaurant Reviews Section now carries new pieces regarding Texture , Roux Parliament Square and Bombay Brasserie

Opinion/News: We’ve been through another guide season for the 2011 editions – Zagat, Harden’s, Which? and AA, while we await Michelin at the end of January. New editor Rebecca Burr has taken up the mantle from the retiring Derek Bulmer. Jean-Luc Naret also vacated his position as International Director at Michelin and at the time of print a successor is yet to be announced.

Following on from the Guide season (September) we saw the London Restaurant Festival and London Restaurant Show, as well as a plethora of London-led but national awards ceremonies at the top end. Add to this the on-going media coverage (MasterChef The Professional which will be followed by Great British Menu), it should then come as little surprise that more people are eating out than ever before.

These potential customers have more choice than ever before and more access to data to make an informed decision than ever before. The double edged sword of the digital age means that reviews of restaurants may appear on sites or forums within the hour or equally, an email of thanks or dissatisfaction fires into to the restaurant in a similar timeframe.

A fascinating corollary is that the successful top end restaurants are adapting to these changing times by becoming more customer centric and less kitchen centric. This means that instead of having a menu and order of service set in stone, the restaurant philosophy is to offer a more bespoke experience. For example, a customer orders a particularly expensive bottle of wine, the restaurant reaction is “how can we put together a menu to work around that wine for you” or you are a regular and the question from the restaurant is “what can we put together for you that’s new and exciting.”

Naturally, the challenge is that what is exceptional today is expected tomorrow and restaurants have to manage expectations. However, the trend is clear – those that are dynamic, flexible and adaptable find returning customers.

Any movement in the market that benefits the customer while enabling the chef to demonstrate his/her talent can only be good for the industry.

Until next time, Happy Eating!