Archive for January, 2015

Relais & Chateaux Press Release (2015 Guide)

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

The 60th anniversary International Congress of Relais & Chateaux, which took place in Paris from the 16th to 19th November 2014, was the occasion to announce the association’s new publication Taste of the World, welcome 36 new members and award 12 Relais & Châteaux Trophies.

Important: Below is the press release in full and here is the downloadable Vision and Manifesto pdf file: Vision & Manifest-ENbd

A new publication: Taste of the World

“A world of tastes for you to enjoy” are the words of Philippe Gombert, International President of Relais & Chateaux, inscripted on the first page of the magnificent publication. This prelude is sustained throughout the pages as Relais & Chateaux’s universe is revealed all the while highlighting the impeccable quality and excellence upheld by Relais & Chateaux.

Flicking through the pages of this beautiful book means flicking through the world, the continents, the countries and even the people and their culture. It is after all the soul of a territory, its cultural richness, its terroir, its cuisine and its hospitality that represent the taste of the world.

The printed version of the Taste of the World invites readers, through many illustrations, to discover unknown regions and unexpected lands.

From a hot air balloon flying over the valley of Göreme in Cappadocia, to the charm of seclusion in New Zealand, British Columbia, where the mountains touch the sky, or even experiencing the shimmering colours of a preserved Morocco, and enjoying a seducing Provence which exudes the scents of lavender; this brand new guide is a true invitation to travel.

These enchanting landscapes of the five continents are described by writers and lead to intoxicating flavours Relais & Chateaux’s Taste of the World serves to celebrate. By tasting the world, we accept the appeal to our five sense and trigger our curiosity to inhale the fragrances of a country and succumb to the ecstasy of its savours. From an infusion with white lotus flowers created by Kyoung-Won Park in her restaurant in Seoul, to the seaweed served with scallops at Andrew Fairlie in Scotland, the chefs have always highlighted their region by disclosing the gems of their terroir.

This publication wants to give pleasure, enchant and let the soul of the Relais & Châteaux properties sing.  Plans are to produce the book every two years with a print run of 200,000 copies.

The Travel Journal 2015 is a supplement to the Taste of the World. The annual publication is a print run of 300,000 copies in pocket format presented by the Relais & Châteaux Association and the main news for 2015: the new members, the 2015 Trophies as well as an exhaustive index of all the member properties of Relais & Châteaux. Organised by country, the publication compiles all the data for the different properties as well as the main airports and railway stations to get to them. It also includes road maps which allow a quick location of the properties.

36 new members enrich the Relais & Châteaux collection

Every year the Association enriches its collection by adding new properties and restaurants. This year, 36 new properties join Relais & Châteaux and two new destinations are covered: the Maldives and Hong Kong.

United Kingdom : Hartwell House, Northcote

France: Lucas Carton, Pierre Gagnaire, Yoan Conte-Bord du Lac, Domaine des Avenières, La Maison des Bois-Marc Veyrat, La Maison d’Uzès, les Bergeries de Palombaggia

Switzerland: Mammertsberg, Chasa Montana Hotel & Spa

Croatia: Hotel Bevanda

Spain: Echaurren

Italy: Auener Hof, Villa Franceschi, Agli Amici

Greece: Myconian Utopia Resort

Kenya : Mara Plains Camp

South Africa: The Plettenberg

Japan: Otowa Restaurant, Hikariya-Nishi, Restaurant Molière

China: Yihe Mansions, Brilliant Resort & Spa Kunming, Brilliant Resort & Spa Tengchong

Hong Kong: Bibo

India: Mihir Garh

Maldives: Soneva Fushi

Australia: The Louise, Hentley Farm Restaurant

Canada: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

USA: Ai Fiori, The Little Nell, Dunton Hot Springs

Peru: Sol & Luna Lodge Spa

Chile: Awasi Patagonia

12 Trophies were presented in 2014

Every year, 12 Relais & Châteaux Trophies, each associated with a prestigious partner brand, reward the excellence of the men and women of our properties, the services they offer and the place they inhabit passionately. This year, the winners are:

  • Welcome Trophy, Moët & Chandon: Torre Del Remei, Spain
  • Innovation Trophy, Nespresso: Myconian Ambassador Thalasso Spa, Greece
  • Woman of the Year Trophy, Pommery: Ynyshir Hall, United Kingdom
  • Chef Trophy, Taittinger: Château du Sureau, California, United States
  • Passion Trophy, Hennessy: Georges Wenger, Switzerland
  • Spa Trophy, Laurent Perrier: Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa, Italy
  • Savoir-Faire Trophy, Glenmorangie: Ceylon Tea Trails, Sri Lanka
  • Environment Trophy, Orlane: Monte-Carlo Beach, Monaco
  • Garden Trophy, Rozès: Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa, South Africa
  • Rising Chef Trophy, Aqua Panna & San Pellegrino: Langdon Hall Country House, Canada – Hostellerie de Plaisance, France

During this anniversary year, a new Trophy has been created, the Route du Bonheur Trophy. Sponsored by BMW, this Trophy has been presented to Michel Troisgros as ambassador of the Route du Bonheur 60 Years, along the Nationale 7.

With these new developments, highlighting hospitality and cuisine, Relais & Châteaux consolidates its position and its motivation to elevate the Arts de Vivre to the rank of the 10th Art, and the Taste of the World is a perfect illustration of this ambition.

Notes to the Editors : Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of more than 520 of the finest hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries.

Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character.

Furthermore, Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share a passion for and a personal commitment to ensuring their guests are privy to moments of exceptional harmony. To choose Relais & Châteaux is to experience an unforgettable celebration of the senses.

From the vineyards in Napa valley to the beaches of the Fiji Islands, from the olive trees in Provence to the lodges in South Africa, Relais & Châteaux offers a chance to explore the Route du Bonheur and best way to discover a wide range of distinctive destinations.

The Relais & Châteaux signature reflects this ambition:


Information and reservations:

Tel.: 00 800 2000 00 02


Maison des Relais & Châteaux

10 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1NG

Newsletter: fine dining guide February 2015

Posted on: January 24th, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Much to report after a busy 2014 into the start of 2015.  The site maintained a focus on restaurant and hotel reviews supplemented with feature articles, interviews and broad guide coverage.

The iTunes podcast series continues – as always the links are to the written transcripts, you may find the podcast series on iTunes by typing “Restaurant Dining (UK)” into the main iTunes store search box.  fine-dining-guide continues to have a YouTube Channel for which the site commissioned and uploaded a professional piece on The Waterside Inn featuring Michel Roux Snr.

The site has conducted six interviews since the last newsletter spanning three guide leaders/editors, a sommelier, a restaurant director and a leading restaurateur.


Diego Masciaga completed his first book in November 2014 called ‘The Diego Masciaga Way‘.  In this feature fine dining guide attempts to recap on what makes Diego so special in what he does…

Oliver Peyton is a long standing successful restaurateur with an eye for the magic dust that makes a successful restaurant venture.  Here he talks about his past endeavors and plans for the future.

Simon Numphud gives an update on all things AA Restaurant Guide, providing an ideal reference piece for chefs and customers alike.

Elizabeth Carter discusses the launch of the 2015 Waitrose Good Food Guide and what we can expect from this Guide moving forward

Raphael Rodriguez has a role that includes managing the wine list at the exciting new venture – Fera at Claridges – here he gives his insights to the position and the responsibilities involved.

Philippe Gombert tells us some background about himself and the Relais & Chateaux Association as well as philosophies moving forward into 2015 and beyond.

Twitter/Facebook: Both continue to deliver good traffic to the site – @finediningguide has over 6000 followers in February 2015 and the newer facebook page 820 likes.  You may go directly to the site’s pages on twitter or facebook simply by clicking on the ‘f’ and ‘t’ buttons in the top right corner of every page on the site.

Restaurant/Hotel Reviews: Reviews by Daniel Darwood have included Restaurant Story, L’Amorosa, Peyote, Bibo and Tinello  (See Reviews)

Guides: The GB Guide season took place during September 2014 (as applicable to fine-dining-guide).  Relais & Chateaux’s guide is well respected in the hotel community and amongst travelers in equal measure.  Marketing of the association has progressively improved over the last decade with the apparent profile steadily on the rise.  The new Association president Philippe Gombert (who had stepped into the shoes of Jaume Tapies from the last quarter of 2013) ushered in a year of 60th birthday celebrations: This included a major event in Vonnas; a series of gala dinners at member hotels (such as Whatley Manor); the publication of a new style of annual guide called Taste of The World, supplemented by the new pocket book called The Travel Journal 2015.  There is also an enhanced web and mobile app presence.

The ‘gold standard’ of Michelin Guide GB&I 2015 was eagerly anticipated with some buzz about the possibility of a new Michelin three star in GB&I.  In the event, no restaurants were promoted to two stars, let alone three.  This may represent the calm before the (relative) storm for 2016 Michelin Guide, especially given the number of front runners pushing for that third star and the general level of one stars pushing hard for two.  fine dining guide is now tipping Midsummer House in Cambridge to make that big step up to three Michelin stars as well as remaining hopeful for The Ledbury.  Those chefs that continue to pursue a ‘one kitchen’ strategy must give themselves the best of chances?!

L’Enclume retained the lofty 10/10 in The Waitrose Good Food Guide 2015 following in the illustrious footsteps of Chez Nico, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and The Fat Duck.  Restaurant Gordon Ramsay returned to 10/10 to make three restaurants holding this coveted score (The Fat Duck) in 2015.  With the Fat Duck closing and relocating to Australia for the first six months of 2015, the treatment of this address by each of the inspector-led, point in time guides, will be interesting. No new restaurants achieved 5 AA Rosettes in the 2015 AA Restaurant Guide, which saw its largest awards dinner in years at The Grosvenor (1500 attended).

Top Restaurants

With all the 2015 editions published, along with the AA January update, fine dining guide have updated the ‘Top 100’ feature that lists top restaurants in London, Scotland and Wales based on a weighted formula applied to three leading inspector-led guides.  The formula is 6 points per Michelin star, three points per Waitrose Good Food Guide mark and two points per AA Restaurant Guide Rosette.  There is an associated Top 20 Restaurant in Britain 2015 feature.

Opinion/News: Intellectual Property specialist lawyers Hansel Henson provided the first in a series of articles for fine dining guide looking at the opportunities and threats faced by top end chefs. ‘Protecting the Brand’  may become increasingly commonplace in the digital information age where actionable ideas float in a relatively unregulated ocean of knowledge. Protecting the interests of the talented may prove an interesting challenge, after all it is the artist not the forger that deserves the accolades (and incomes). Watch out for further features on this area over the coming months.

On a separate subject, it would seem that it is as difficult as ever to find continuity of quality staff for both front of house and kitchen – the types who demonstrate the right skills and the right characteristics.  For the front of house, at the first level, the personality of the address is its people, so this means more than understanding the science of ‘how do I do this’ – the ethereal magic is in the art of hospitality: ‘how do you make the customer feel.’ So this is about more than skills, there’s a degree of character, personality and magic dust that go into running the best of restaurant dining rooms that gives them their unique personal signature.

Likewise in the kitchen, the chef has his personal ‘signature’ which must be consistently and ably supported by the kitchen team – how many ‘chefs arrive’ and within months expect it all ‘on a plate.’ No doubt it takes years to appreciate that beyond the required character building hours of dedication, the best of cooking comes from the heart.  In effect, like hospitality out front, an art (that can be consistently repeated) rather than purely the science of ‘how do I do this’  or ‘this gadget will do this and that, and this ingredient goes with that!’  How many maturing, blossoming chefs have fine dining guide heard describe a change in outlook to cook from within, a kind of ‘birth giving process for each menu’ (quote Phil Howard), a realization that is perhaps the greatest epiphany of them all!

Until next time Happy Eating!

Feature: Legally Protecting Dishes & Culinary Skills

Posted on: January 18th, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

In the second of a series of three articles for Fine Dining Guide, leading London intellectual property lawyers Hansel Henson highlight how, through the innovative use of intellectual property rights, gastronomic creations can be protected.

Protecting the Dishes & Culinary Skills

Delicious Creativity

The kitchens of our great restaurants are creative powerhouses. The fine dining experience in premiere London eateries is at least the cultural equivalent to that of the theatre, opera or art gallery. Indeed, diners expect to be both fed and entertained by the flavours, textures and designs of their dishes. Top chefs produce food with such presentational flair and gastronomic exuberance that it is easy to see why Marco Pierre White said of his favourite dish, Pierre Koffmann’s Pig’s Trotters, “if it had been a painting it would have hung in the Tate”.


Pierre Koffmann’s Pig’s Trotter as opposed to Marco Pierre White’s “Pig’s Trotter Pierre Koffmann”


As one may be aware, the art in the Tate Modern is protected by copyright laws. But are culinary concoctions similarly protected, so as to prevent the dishes from being reproduced by rival chefs or photographed at the table, or indeed whole menus from being copied? And what’s the position if a chef jumps ship to a rival’s kitchen?


When Jay Rayner reviewed Whitstable gastropub The Sportsman in 2002, he described chef Stephen Harris’ menu as a “pick-and-mix of dishes pinched from the country’s top chefs[1], something Harris was perfectly up front about.

Stephen Harris Sportsman

Stephen Harris now holds a Michelin star, which implies a more personal signature, and serves some of the most interesting and variously acclaimed food in the country.

On other occasions the “lifting” of ideas is not quite as romantic. In 2006 it was reported[2] that a young British chef working at the restaurant Interlude in Melbourne, Australia had blatantly copied several dishes from cutting-edge American restaurants Alinea and WD-50. He may have got away with it, had the subject of the alleged copying not been so distinctive. One of the dishes allegedly lifted from chef Wylie Dufrense’s WD-50 in New York was what ‘The Age’ newspaper described as “a pureed prawn reformulated into noodles and served with smoked yoghurt, paprika and nori”. Hardly a roast rib of beef. The alleged infringer apologised to the chefs involved and no legal action was taken, perhaps because of the good publicity and, as was pointed out by intellectual property specialists at the time, there is copyright in the expression of an idea, but not in the idea itself.

For an idea, such as a particular dish, to be protected as an artistic work (a type of copyright) there must be a fixed expression of the idea in a material form – be it on canvas, wall or plate. There is no bar preventing a work intended only to have a temporary existence from being protected by copyright. However, the courts have shown a reluctance to grant protection in works deemed ‘too ephemeral’. The 1980s pop icon Adam Ant found this out the hard way, after the design of his facial mask was denied copyright protection as it was applied with easily removable face paint, which few would disagree is a little more permanent than plated food. The dainty dishes served at Michelin-starred restaurants would do well to survive for more than a few minutes! It therefore appears that an assembly of perishable ingredients designed to be consumed immediately, no matter how beautiful, will fail to satisfy the Court’s criteria for copyright protection as artistic works.

In the recent “Star Wars” case, which related to whether or not the helmets worn by Stormtroopers were ‘sculptures’ for the purposes of copyright law, the trial judge noted, encouragingly for purveyors of the gastronomic arts, that the concept of what is a sculpture can go beyond what one might normally find in an art gallery and the fact that the object has some other use does not necessarily disqualify it from being a sculpture, so long as it still has the intrinsic quality of being intended to be enjoyed as a visual thing.

Story Montage

Chef Tom Sellers of Michelin Starred Restaurant Story: Candle Made of Dripping, Mash Potato and Tartare with Truffle ‘Apple’


So whilst there is some hope for the protection of very stylised and striking looking dishes in and of themselves, it seems that currently the main obstacle to preventing copying is professional embarrassment!

There is an additional form of protection available to protect the look of dishes, their shape and decoration, which is relatively cheap and much used by the big food manufacturers.  Registered design right protection can be used to protect the look of all manner of distinctive food products such as breads, pastries, chocolates and confections.  As far as we are aware no restaurateur in the UK is making use of this form of protection.  Creativity in the kitchen needs to be matched by business creativity. 

Recipes and Menus

Chef Jeremy Lee of London’s Quo Vadis, has been serving ‘St Emilion au Chocolat’ as a pudding for over a decade. Lee is the first to admit that it is made from an Elizabeth David recipe “unchanged and untampered with”. There is little doubt that a chef’s written recipe – the list of ingredients with instructions for preparing a particular dish – can be protected by copyright as a “literary work” as this is a fixed form unlike dishes.



However, this gives a thin layer of protection, extending only to the words of the recipe copied: one chef may still  use the recipe of another to make a dish.

What about the list of dishes on a menu? In 2011 it was reported that Formula One driver Jenson Button’s now defunct restaurant, Victus, was accused of menu-copying by the head chef of popular chain Leon. It appears that no legal action was taken, possibly because the alleged copying seemed to relate to menu headings and formatting, rather than specific dishes. In theory a restaurant’s menu could be protected by copyright but it is usually going to be very difficult to show a substantial part of the original menu has been copied.

If a top chef put a jokey reference to a McDonald’s Big Mac on his menu then he might expect to get an angry letter from the fast food chain’s lawyers. But it is seen as perfectly acceptable in the trade for other leading chefs to have on their menus “Pig’s Trotter Pierre Koffmann”.

Part of the reason for this is, as we saw in the first article in this series, that only a minority of top chefs and restaurants protect their brand. There is no trade mark protection for “Pierre Koffmann” for example.

Heston ChipsNot everyone is so laid-back, however, with the likes of Heston Blumenthal showing foresight with trade mark protection. Amongst his growing portfolio is a registration for ‘HESTON BLUMENTHAL’S TRIPLE COOKED CHIPS’.

Whilst this trade mark could not be used to stop others from serving ‘triple cooked chips’, attempts to further associate the dish with Mr Blumenthal could be met with an action for trade mark infringement. Mr Blumenthal is also of course also free to license the use of this trade mark to third parties (for example supermarkets, or other restaurants).


Enter a restaurant in some states of the USA and at the front door you are likely to see a sign telling diners that concealed firearms are not allowed in the premises. Oddly, they never tell you whether an unconcealed weapon is OK!

It is important to remember that every diner at a restaurant is given permission to enter the restaurateur’s premises. Restaurateurs have always set rules whether it be to require standards of dress or prohibiting wild behaviour.

Equally, restaurateurs can prohibit photography or photography of a certain type (such as for commercial purposes or with certain size cameras). However, it is important that any such rules are drawn to the attention of diners at the front door, before they have started ordering any food. We wonder how long it will be before a restaurateur follows the example of sports stadium and theatre owners in imposing a condition of entry that the ownership of the copyright in any photographs taken on the premises shall automatically be transferred to the restaurant.

Michelin starred New York chef and restaurateur David Bouley has an altogether smarter way of stopping photography in the dining room – the offending snapper is reportedly ushered into the kitchen to take his shots![3]

The Technologically Inventive

Patents represent a good option for high-end, ground-breaking kitchens protecting the hard work that goes on in their development labs. The American ‘molecular gastronomer’ Homaro Cantu of Moto restaurant fame has recently made patent applications covering dining implements, cookware and food printing technologies.

Heston_teaChefs may consider using patents to protect the processes that go into producing dishes like Ferran Adria’s spherical olive, Grant Achatz’s edible balloon or Heston Blumenthal’s “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” (left).

New products and processes that are not an obvious progression from what has been done before can be protected by patents. Thus, cooking technology of the culinary vanguard are potentially patentable, and patents have been used to protect such things as the Vienetta ice cream, by describing in great scientific detail the construction of the dish. Whilst this particular patent expired around a decade ago, its owner Unilever has registered many other patents protecting concepts developed in its ice cream laboratories.

Keeping it a Secret

Can restaurateurs stop chefs learning recipes and techniques and then using them at new ventures? As we’ve already seen the recipes themselves are not protected, but what’s to stop an ambitious young chef taking knowledge learnt in one kitchen elsewhere?

And even where things are kept secret, enforcement can be problematic. A former chef of the Reggae Reggae Sauce brand brought an action for a breach of contract and a breach of confidence against Levi Roots. The chef alleged that he had revealed the list of ingredients which make up the now-famed Reggae Reggae Sauce to Mr Roots in confidence and that he had been cut out of a valid contract to launch the sauce together. The chef’s action for breach of contract completely failed because, in the absence of a written agreement, the judge could not rely on the evidence of either party. Similarly, the action for breach of confidence failed because the chef could not demonstrate to the judge that the situation in which he allegedly revealed the ingredients to Mr Roots was one in which there was an obligation to keep them confidential.

Such situations demonstrate the value of confidentiality agreements and non-compete clauses being included in staff employment contracts and perhaps even agreements with suppliers. These agreements can prevent chefs and restaurateurs from having to fall back on less certain areas of intellectual property law in the event of problems arising over the appropriation of techniques, ideas or brand elements by ex-employees or collaborators.

It is commonplace in many industry sectors for employees to sign up to strict obligations prohibiting them from disclosing or using sensitive information about their employers and their products to competitors and the general public.

But, a balance always has to be struck. Many junior kitchen workers see their work as a trade-off between the long hours and poor pay in order to be paid in another commodity – knowledge. It would be interesting to see the effect on applications for stagiaire positions if the young chefs were restricted as to how they could apply the skills and knowledge they had garnered over long nights behind the stove!


Each and every fine dining restaurant has its own qualities that mark it out. Careful consideration of what makes a restaurant unique can help in protecting the restaurateur’s investment without spoiling its ambiance.

Should you have any concerns of feel an opportunity is in your midst then please contact David Hansel of Intellectual Property Lawyers Hansel Henson Limited.  David may be contacted via

© 2014 Hansel Henson Limited. All rights reserved.  HANSEL HENSON is a registered trade mark of Hansel Henson Limited.  The rights of other trade mark holders named in this article are acknowledged.

Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this educational article please let us know of any errors or omissions.  Please also let us know if you are the owner of the copyright in any of the imagery appearing in this article and would like us to remove it.

[1] Jay Rayner’s review still appears on the Sportsman’s website



AA 3/4 (Three/Four) Rosette Awards Jan 2015

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

AA Guide



Top Restaurants Celebrating New Rosettes

The AA has today announced the latest restaurants to be awarded the coveted three and four Rosettes. Of the 22 establishments receiving rosettes, 11 are in London and three are in Scotland. These restaurants have shown that they are outstanding and demand recognition well beyond their local area.

Just one restaurant is being awarded the prestigious four Rosettes – The Burlington Restaurant, Bolton Abbey. This award shows intense ambition, a passion for excellence, superb technical skills and an appreciation of culinary traditions combined with a desire for exploration and improvement.

Simon Numphud, Head of AA Hotel Services, said “We are delighted to recognise our latest collection of restaurants that have moved into the top 10% of the AA Rosette Scheme. These awards reflect the growing strength and depth of top quality restaurants across the UK and in particular the numerous impressive London openings over the last eighteen months”.

The restaurants receiving three Rosettes are:

  • Canvas by Michael Riemenschneider – London
  • City Social – London
  • Fera at Claridge’s – London
  • The Five Fields – London
  • Fonab Castle Hotel – Pitlochry
  • The Goring, London
  • Gravetye Manor – Turners Hill
  • Hampton Manor – Solihull
  • House of Tides – Newcastle
  • Little Social – London
  • London House – London
  • The Lord Clyde – Kerridge, Macclesfield
  • Merchants Tavern – London
  • New Angel – London
  • Rivea, Bulgari Hotel & Residences – London
  • Storrs Hall – Windermere
  • Swinfen Hall – Lichfield
  • Timberyard – Edinburgh
  • Tiroran House Hotel – Isle of Mull
  • Typing Room – London
  • The Wild Rabbit – Kingham

4 Rosettes

The Burlington Restaurant, Bolton Abbey

A handsomely appointed spa hotel on the northern edge of the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey estate, the Devonshire Arms is in prime position to make the most of its glorious surroundings. The Dales National Park lies all about, its limestone gorges and tranquil villages providing fine walking country for more energetic patrons, or those with an eye for a decent holiday snap. Inside, a lively decorative tone banishes all thought of bland anonymity, and recent new investment has seen the upgrading of the spa and some of the guest rooms. Staff are classically trained, and understand that a careful balance of correct attention to detail and easy-going warmth is what impresses most. When it comes to food and drink, there are two options – either the informality of the Brasserie with its multi-coloured upholstery and menu of modern classics, or the principal dining room, the chandeliered Burlington and its conservatory extension. Here, against panoramic views over the countryside and the river Wharf, Adam Smith pulls out all the stops for dynamic contemporary Yorkshire cooking full of innovation and intensity. A kitchen garden supplying vegetables, herbs, fruit and edible flowers is at the core of the operation (do pop in and have a look when you’ve a moment), and much else comes from the surrounding estate and from Dales growers and producers. Smith’s output is sophisticated, finely worked, tirelessly inventive, but everything that comes your way has earned its place on the table.

3 Rosettes

CANVAS by Michael Riemenschneider, London

No sooner had Michael Riemenschneider made his mark on Marylebone Lane than he upped sticks and headed south west to SW1. Lucky old Kensington and Chelsea. In a quiet street not far from Sloane Square, the new basement location looks dapper with its pastel tones and splashes of black and red (from luxe leather seats). There’s an oak-clad cocktail bar which is the place to head for if you like the sound of a caramelised passionfruit martini, or a classic white lady. The place has quite a buzz about it at busy times. The menu takes the tasting route, but with a difference in as much as you get to pick which of the 16 or so items you fancy – build your own tasting menu with options between five and a dozen courses. The wine list has some top-drawer stuff from around the world and care and attention has gone into making sure the wines match the food.

City Social, London

The gherkin, the cheese grater, the walkie-talkie…not an avant-garde menu choice but rather the view out of the window, for City Social is on the 24th floor of tower 42 (the old Nat West Tower). Following on the successes of Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social, Little Social and Social Eating House, City Social delivers high-end food that displays classical inspiration alongside a touch of contemporary dynamism. The interior designer went for a swish art deco look with a shimmering ceiling and rosewood panelling, with a couple of original Warhols to offer competition to the stunning metropolitan landscape the other side of the floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a city-slicker bar serving up cocktails and a seriously impressive range of spirits, plus ample bar snacks if you’re not up for the full works. Staff look natty in their Savile Row suits and the service throughout is top drawer. Head chef Paul Walsh is adept at getting maximum flavour out of dishes that reveal Pan-European and modern British roots and arrive dressed for our times.

Fera at Claridge’s, London

Claridge’s is London’s art deco gem, revamped in the 1920s and surviving intact due to good sense and good luck. It’s never been a place resistant to the passage of time though, for at the five-star level it doesn’t do to stand still. If ever there was a demonstration of this desire to remain at the forefront, it is the arrival of Fera. With a host of AA rosettes under his belt at L’Enclume in Cumbria and the French in Manchester, Mr Rogan is the UK’s culinary hot-ticket, and Fera at Claridge’s is a restaurant to stir heart and soul. British designer Guy Oliver has created a space, which has maintained the art deco spirit of the space while conveying a sense of the natural world in the chosen colour palette, burnished walnut tables and murals. A culinary journey chez Rogan starts with the ingredients themselves and a great deal of what will appear before you will have come from his farm in the Lake District, while what is sourced from elsewhere will come from his band of trusted suppliers. This passion for the produce results in a genuine freedom of expression, where inspiration and creativity meet prodigious technical ability.

The Five Fields

The name refers to the area back in the middle of the 18th century when cartographer John Rocque mapped the ever-expanding city of London, and chef-patron Taylor Bonnyman has created a singular kind of restaurant in what is now an area of prime real estate. The designers have gone for an upscale finish of soothing neutrality, with tones of cream and caramel and a signature cocoa plant motif among the many creative touches if you look closely enough. The professional nature of the service feels just right in this setting. Bonnyman and his head chef, Marguerite Keogh, have at their disposal their own kitchen garden in East Sussex growing much of the vegetables, herbs and salads for the table. This passion for provenance is evident from the menu where dishes are described using today’s fashionable brevity. The food is attractively presented, creative and full of deeply satisfying flavours.

Fonab Castle Hotel, Pitlochry

Fonab is a tall castellated pile of reddish stone with a conical corner turret and handsome gables, looking for all the world as though it features in a Walter Scott novel. Although built around a core of sweeping staircases and panelled interiors, its present-day refurbishment has ingeniously conjured a modern country-house hotel from the place, with glassed-in views over Loch Faskally from both the Brasserie and the upmarket Sandeman restaurant, the latter so named in honour of the port-shipping family who once owned the house. A display of pedigree single malts and gins adds distinction. Graham Harrower’s culinary style suits the ambience with its bold contemporary approach, producing dishes that are full of striking combinations but avoiding an excess of technical ostentation. A six-course tasting menu, with optional wine selections, offers a comprehensive tour of Harrower’s abilities.

The Goring, London

The Goring family has owned this grand hotel since its opening in 1910. It was to be the last new London hotel in the reign of Edward VII. A century and a bit later, it remains proudly within the family, and is still frequented by the international notability. It’s only a short saunter to the south of Buckingham Palace, so has always been very handy for when those garden-party invites come through. The Goring is run with impeccable old-school civility, but it doesn’t rest on its style laurels. This is clear from the lounge-bar livery of red-hot burgundy and mustard, although the dining room aims to soothe with accents of regal gold and white. Shay Cooper has worked assiduously to achieve the elusive balance between classical reassurance and modernist freshness that suits a place like the Goring, and the results are impressive.

Gravetye Manor, Turner’s Hill

The Elizabethan mansion was built by one Richard Infield as a little something for his new bride. Their initials appear above the garden entrance, and if you’re lucky, you may find yourself staying in the bedroom that boasts a wood carving of the pair, still united in connubial bliss after 400 years. A century ago, the place was owned by the great Victorian landscaper William Robinson, who laid out its acres of grounds in the style we still see today. Gravetye played an integral part in the country-hotel movement of the 1980s, and has moved with the times, for example now offering a vegan menu option, centred perhaps on open kohlrabi lasagne with forest mushrooms and chard in tarragon oil and Madeira jus. George Blogg oversees the kitchen plus a one-acre produce garden too, supplying very nearly all the fruit and veg menu requirements in summer. A modernist style rules the roost, exploring novel combinations and textural contrasts.

Hampton Manor, Solihull

The rather splendid Victorian manor house has connections to the family of former PM Sir Robert Peel (the man who put the first ‘Bobbies’ on the beat), and it remains a tranquil getaway from the nearby urban hubbub. The sleepy hamlet setting is only a few minutes from Solihull and Birmingham’s NEC. They describe themselves as a restaurant with rooms, but with 15 stylish boutique bedrooms, luxe conference facilities and 45 acres of wooded grounds to explore, they’re rather more than that. The glamorous interior design makes an impression with its bold colours and clever matching of old and new styles, not least in Peel’s Restaurant, situated in the main manor house and overlooking the clock tower gardens, with its original fire place and striking chinoiserie decor. The kitchen is headed up by Robert Palmer and offers up some dazzling contemporary food served either à la carte or from four- and seven-course tasting menus.

House of Tides, Newcastle

Kenny Atkinson hit the ground running when he set up in this former merchant’s townhouse on the historic Newcastle harbour side in February 2014. With the Tyne Bridge arching in the background, it’s a prime position in a city bursting with culinary dynamism. The action unfolds over two storeys: a ground floor with original 16th-century flagstones and coffee-coloured banquette seating, and a main dining area above, with venerable supporting beams, bare wood floor and spot lit pictures. Atkinson oversees a young, focused and enthusiastic team, and his culinary vision is right on the cutting edge with dishes that are innovative, but founded on classical techniques and good sense.

Little Social, London

There seems to be nothing stopping Jason Atherton these days, as his growing restaurant group adds character and style to central London dining. Pollen Street Social’s cousin is right opposite the original, hidden behind a discreet black frontage. Inside, it’s indisputably little from side to side, but extends back as far as the eye can see. The place was cannily chosen for a homage to Parisian backstreet bistro eating, since that is what it most physically resembles, with its oxblood banquettes, tables of antique elm, ornately framed pictures and Michelin maps. Additional bar-stool dining accentuates the cultural point, as does the busy babble of keen custom that throngs the place much of the time. Presentations are simple, emphasising the quality of prime materials, aiming for straightforwardness rather than complexity.

London House, London

They used to consume oysters on this spot back in the day when they were the food of the people (1780 it says on the gable), and today this prominent corner spot on Battersea Square is in fine fettle as part of the Gordon Ramsay empire, for he’s brought a touch of uptown glamour to SW11. There’s a classy lounge bar looking like a funky gentlemen’s club, where you can sit in front of a flame-effect fire and enjoy a cocktail mixed by the talented team behind the copper-topped bar. The restaurant areas are smart and contemporary, with splashy modern artworks and plenty of room between the tables. The kitchen is headed up by Dublin-born Anna Haugh-Kelly, and her food has refinement without an excess of fine-dining baggage. The menu du jour is the entry level option (available lunchtime and early evening), while the carte offers a sensible six or so options per course, and the tasting menu is consigned to history. Anna has worked at some high-end addresses around the world and she’s clearly found inspiration along the way, with high-quality British ingredients forming the foundation of the menu.

The Lord Clyde, Macclesfield

A stone-built inn on a quiet country lane in Cheshire feels like an odd destination for a boy from Cape Town, albeit one whose culinary ambitions matured early, and whose journey brought him here via Copenhagen’s Noma, the Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and the Fat Duck. Such is Ernst van Zyl, a prodigiously talented chef who has spread his wings here to dazzling effect. Against a contemporary rustic backdrop of chunky wood tables, tiled floor and a smattering of modern artwork, The Lord Clyde successfully exercises the dual function of local pub and dining destination, with polished but engaging service in the restaurant. Menu specifications are shorthand notes of their principal ingredients, and the distinctively presented dishes are fizzing with innovative energy.

Merchants Tavern, London

This partnership between Angela Hartnett, chef Neil Borthwick and the folks behind the Canteen group is bang-on trend with its urban-rustic appeal and the classy seasonal cooking of Mr B. The place has bags of style but soul, too, with a log-burning stove in the bar area, sexy curved banquettes and a kitchen counter if you want to get some close-up cooking action. Time spent with the likes of Michel Bras in the South of France and some top addresses in the UK has given Borthwick a killer instinct when it comes to getting flavour on the plate, and he’s created a menu that combines classical technique and a sense of Britishness.

The New Angel, London

TV foodie programmes, like French Leave plus an appearance as a contestant on shows like I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! may have brought chef-restaurateur John Burton-Race wider public recognition and notoriety, but it was his highly-acclaimed cooking at L’Ortolan in Berkshire (in the late 80s and 90s) and subsequently at his eponymous named restaurant at London’s Landmark Hotel around the millennium that showed his impeccable talent at the stove. He later took Dartmouth’s iconic Carved Angel to further critical acclaim, re-branding it the New Angel. Returning to London after 12 years, he opened this neighbourhood-cum-destination outfit in trendy Notting Hill in spring 2014, with his long-time protégé Stephen Humphries as head chef. The restaurant’s good looks are light, stylish and modern, with a brass-topped bar up front and warming neutral tones of beiges and browns enhanced by statement wallpaper, mirrors, in-vogue seating and white linen. The kitchen’s modern European output fits the bill, underpinned by classical French influence and played out with matching light modern spin.

Rivea, Bulgari Hotel & Residences, London

Alain Ducasse is one of the heavyweights of French cooking and a master of haute cuisine, but he also has restaurants all over the world that reflect his passion for more simple and humble things. Here at the dazzling Bulgari Hotel is Rivea London, a venue dedicated to the flavours of the Riviera, with the tastes of Italy and France combining to create dynamic and classic plates for sharing. Ducasse protégé Damien Leroux is the man charged with delivering on the vision, and he’s producing dishes that really punch above their weight. Take the sweeping staircase downstairs to be met with a vision of art deco glamour and colour tones reminiscent of Provence, with polished service befitting the postcode.

Storrs Hall Hotel, Windermere

A location on the shore of Lake Windermere sets off the two-tiered sparkling-white Georgian villa that is Storrs Hall to perfection. The house stands amid 17 acres of manicured grounds, its deep windows generously taking in the classic Lakeland view of shining water and brooding fells. Inside, the decor aims for strong colour contrasts rather than bland pastels, with apple green and aubergine the theme in the Tower Bar, so named as the bar itself was fashioned from materials salvaged from Blackpool Tower. The main dining room looks out over the gardens with their giant stone urns and immaculate topiary, and makes a relaxing setting for Conor Toomey’s ingenious modern Lake District cooking. Evenings bring on the choice of a three-course carte with extras or a nine-stage taster menu full of vaulting ambition.

Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield

There’s been a manor house on this spot for a thousand years or so. What stands today dates from the mid-18th century, and mightily impressive it is too. It’s not every country-house hotel that can boast 100 acres of parkland, roaming deer, meadows and woodland. Valet parking sets the tone on arrival and the house itself is brimful of period charm. The Four Seasons restaurant is a formal affair with oak panels and a hand-painted ceiling, plus food that impresses with classic combinations, attention to detail and well-judged modernity. The half-acre Victorian garden provides its bounty for the kitchen and what isn’t home grown is sourced with quality in mind.

Timberyard, Edinburgh (AA Restaurant of the Year for Scotland 2015)

Anyone looking to get a handle on the restaurant zeitgeist need look no further than Timberyard. In this old Victorian warehouse, two generations of the Radford family have created a venue that combines today’s favoured urban rusticity with a philosophy based around pride and passion for the ingredients. There’s nothing cynical about the people or the place. The main dining space reflects the heritage of the building with whitewashed walls, chunky floorboards and cast-iron pillars, and there are outside tables in the south-facing courtyard. Ben Radford leads the line in the kitchen with a forager’s instinct and the focus on small producers, with smoking and butchery taking place on the premises, and their own veg patch to call upon. The menu is structured such that you can go the small plate, tasting way or keep a larger portion all to yourself.

Tiroran House Hotel, Isle of Mull

The long and winding road that takes you out to the Tiroran House Hotel from the ferry terminal serves to introduce you to the stunning landscape and heighten expectation of what lies ahead. Once you arrive, the white-painted house doesn’t disappoint, perched on a wooded hillside with views over the loch, and you’ll find restful country-house comfort within. Another thing to look forward to is a warm welcome from Laurence Mackay, who will likely be wearing a kilt as he hosts the dinner service with considerable charm. Given the location it is likely you’ll be staying over in one of the traditional bedrooms. The restaurant, consisting of two diminutive elegant dining rooms, with views across the lawn to the loch, is a civilised and soothing spot to enjoy the contemporary and inspiring cooking of Craig Fergusson. Craig and his team have a kitchen garden to call upon for a lot of the fresh stuff, plus a host of trusted suppliers on the island, and you can expect a menu that has classical foundations without ever feeling stuck in the past.

Typing Room, London

2014 was a big year for Lee Westcott, with the opening of the Typing Room signalling his arrival on the London restaurant scene. He’s headed up joints for Jason Atherton, worked alongside Tom Aikens, tackled stages at Per Se in New York and Noma in Copenhagen, and now he’s the man in the limelight, and 2015 is looking like it’s going to be a very good year indeed. Bethnal Green’s grand old Edwardian town hall has been a boutique hotel for a few years now and there are no prizes for guessing the function the area the restaurant occupies served in the old order. The long-gone typists wouldn’t recognise the place with its open kitchen (a calm oasis of efficiency) and pale wood and natural colour tones, with unclothed marble-topped tables and contemporary images all adding to the clean-cut vibe. Service hits the spot too. Expect a menu of intricate, meticulously engineered dishes, combining colour, texture and temperature and delivering natural good looks on the plate.

The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

The good people at Daylesford organic farm have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, what with the famed delivery service and deli, cookery school, Cotswold cottages to rent, a range of women’s clothing and accessories, and even a French vineyard and chateau. Now you can add a classy country pub with rooms to the list. The 18th-century inn of mellow Cotswold stone has been revitalised by the team and turned into a delicious spot with a winning combination of country charm and contemporary style. There’s a proper bar with exposed stone walls and a roaring log fire, offering up draught ales, trendy spirits and well-chosen wines, and a dining area that keeps to the spirit of rustic neutrality. Head chef Adam Caisley and his staff have their own garden on hand to provide a good amount of the fresh stuff, and given the provenance of the owners, there’s a good deal of attention paid to the quality of everything that turns up on the plate. But don’t go thinking this is rustic, rough-and-ready stuff, for this kitchen sends out rather sophisticated platefuls.

Britain’s Top Twenty (20) Restaurants 2015

Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Guides 2015_Web

Arguably, the three leading inspector-led guides are Michelin, The AA and Waitrose Good Food Guide.  Below is a weighted formula applied to the scores in those guides to discover the top 20 (twenty) restaurants in Britain.  The weighting is 6 points per Michelin Star, 3 points per Good Food Guide mark and 2 points per AA Rosette as per the latest 2015 editions of the guides.

1) Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire.  3 Michelin Stars, 10/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 58

2) Gordon Ramsay, London.  3 Michelin Stars 10/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 56

3) L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria. 2 Michelin Stars, 10/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 52

4) Sat Bains, Nottingham, Notts. 2 Michelin Stars 9/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 49

4) Hibiscus, London. 2 Michelin Stars, 9/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 49

6) Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, London. 3 Michelin Stars, 7/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 47

6) Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire. 3 Michelin Stars 7/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 47

6) Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock, Cornwall. 2 Michelin Stars, 9/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 47

9) Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Oxford, Oxon. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide 5 AA Rosettes. Points 46

9) Midsummer House, Cambridge, Cambs. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 46

11) Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham, Glos. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 44

11) Le Gavroche, London. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 44

11) The Square, London. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 44

11) Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Auchterarder. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 44

11) Whatley Manor, Malmesbury, Wiltshire. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 44

16) Marcus, London. 2 Michelin Stars, 7/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 43

16) Michael Wignall at The Latymer, Bagshot, Surrey. 2 Michelin Stars, 7/10 Good Food Guide, 5 AA Rosettes. Points 43

18) The Ledbury, London. 2 Michelin Stars, 8/10 Good Food Guide, 3 AA Rosettes.  Points 42

19) Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon. 2 Michelin Stars, 7/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 41

19) Pollen Street Social, Mayfair, London. 1 Michelin Star, 9/10 Good Food Guide, 4 AA Rosettes. Points 41

The Top 20 Restaurants in Britain 2015 List above has been derived from guides that focus purely on the food on a plate where restaurants are benchmarked for quality of the food end product by teams of anonymous inspectors.  This process attempts to make the objective out of a subjective business but nonetheless the enduring popularity of these guides is testament to the industry and consumer respect for their output.  Michelin, Waitrose Good Food Guide and The AA Restaurant Guide have all been going for a long time and remain point in time paperback publications (for now).  In the web/twitter age the pressure must be mounting on these guides to go exclusively on-line/app driven and make real time updates of their awards.

People’s fascination with ranked lists of restaurants seemed to take off around a decade ago with the launch of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.  Now such a practice is common place with The Sunday Times, Harden’s, Zagat, Trip Advisor, Elite Traveler Magazine amongst others all producing lists, some with ranking scores.  The practice has extended to Elizabeth Carter, consultant editor of The Good Food Guide, who started championing a top 50 restaurant list with the launch of the guide.

An interesting point of departure is how these scores and lists are produced.  Some pride themselves on being purely reader feedback such as The Sunday Times/Harden’s list, Zagat, Google Reviews and Trip Advisor.  Harden’s add an element of sophistication to the Sunday Times compilation by scoring those establishments across a number of factors such as food, service and ambiance as well as factoring in a value for money ‘in category’ element.

Google LIsting Gavroche

As Trip Advisor quietly moved from the hotel feedback rating business into restaurants it quickly gained momentum as a yardstick of a restaurant’s success.  As with all purely reader feedback systems the element of ‘did they actually eat there’, ‘do they have an axe to grind’ or even ‘do they know what they’re talking about’ will always come into play.

With the takeover of Zagat by Google now into its maturity, we can clearly see the positioning of Zagat along with the rise of Google reviews.  The graphic above of a Google search for “Le Gavroche” is revealing on many levels.  The left hand side of the page shows, as of old, the Google ranking for the search criteria, naturally with the restaurant’s own web site coming out on top.  However, a recent departure, is the embedded Google reviews result for Le Gavroche listing on the left hand side of the page – some proprietary Google information hijacking the Le Gavroche listing.  Well perhaps one might argue that as it is the Google search result, this is merely one proprietary Google result promoting another? However should Google be seen as a de facto search standard then perhaps this is unfair competition, particularly for the likes of Trip Advisor.

In the example above Trip Advisor is languishing in third on the Google search and with no trumpets nor fanfares.  By contrast, Zagat (you will notice) still gets a mention on the right hand side of the listing, where Google take the opportunity to use half the page to fanfare and trumpet their own information on Le Gavroche. For the future, the example suggests that Zagat has a shrinking role, while Google reviews a flourishing one. In spite of Trip Advisor having 12x more reviews for this restaurant, the presentation of Google results is alluring toward Google reviews, perhaps within 18 months Trip Advisor may see its role a shrinking one too!

The latest version of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is due out later in early June and has certainly been successful in promoting the elite restaurant category in the media.  The hoopla extends through twitter to the broadsheet and television media which can only be a good thing for the profile of top end restaurant dining on a global level.  This list has gathered significant momentum since its inception and has become considerably more sophisticated in its production.  The question will remain with global lists that are produced by “panel” is who has visited enough restaurants outside of their own “region” to make a reasoned judgement about the relative merits of the better restaurants on the planet.  There’s even a limit to how many of these Andy Hayler can visit in a 12-18 month period.

Restaurant Review: Latium, London (Dec 2014)

Posted on: January 6th, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Fine Dining Guide first reviewed Latium in June 2014, finding an establishment exemplifying high quality Italian dining on an affordable and intimate scale.

The Fitzrovia establishment occupies an unassuming plot on Berners Street, just north of Oxford Street, and opposite the gaudy facade of the Sanderson Hotel. With intense competition, many independent establishments in the area have struggled in recent years (for example Simplice which closed in 2012). The fact Latium has survived and thrived since its opening in 2003 testifies to the quality of the offering and loyal following this has garnered.

Small is very much beautiful when it came to the finely honed craft of Chef Patron, Maurizio Morreli (together with restaurateur Claudio Pulze) and the front of house team, led by Alex Trumcin. A keenly priced menu, accommodating service and highly skilled cooking all demonstrate respect and authenticity for the cuisine of the Chef’s home region, Lazio.

Knowing of Maurizio Morelli’s passion for cooking game, we took advantage of our second visit to sample the winter menu, which includes a number of game options in season.

Fine Dining Guide visited Latium on a Friday evening in December.

Remembering from our previous visit the wonderful selection of breads and antipasti at the beginning of the meal, we were not disappointed to see this on offer again, with a light and crumbly foccacia being a particular highlight. In addition there were plump green olives, salami and ricotta made on the premises.

The menu was left to the discretion of the chef, with accompanying wines chosen from the predominantly Italian selection, which is impressive both for its breadth and reasonable prices.

Our first dish, a Bresaola, was lean and tender with a wonderful sweetness that was punctuated perfectly by the saltiness of the accompanying anchovy and mild bitterness of the wild chicory. Generous shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano gave the dish richness that was in harmony, with the other ingredients. This was a perfect progression along the antipasti food chain and whetted our appetites for what was to follow.

Latium 2 Bresola

The next course; of roast Sicilian octopus was well cooked, avoiding the many potential pitfalls to render the meat tender but not without texture. The octopus had been finished using a grill, giving a wonderful caramel flavour on the outer edges. The overall dish was well-balanced with gentle purees of red onion (not too sweet) and chilli (not too hot). Green Beans lent both freshness and crunch.

Latium 2 Octopus

The first couple of courses were accompanied by Pino Bianco Doc La Prendina from Lombardy. This was one of a number of excellent wines that are also available by the glass.

From the octopus we moved on to the first of the eagerly anticipated game dishes; a guinea fowl ragout served with fresh Stracci pasta. This was a triumph of a dish with real depth of flavour to the ragout and excellent broth. The meat was tender and flavoursome and enhanced by a crumbling of salty Pecorino on top. The vegetables; predominantly chicory and other winter staples, gave a satisfying variation in texture from the soft meat and slightly al dente pasta.

Latium 2 pasta

It was hard to imagine this was a dish to be surpassed, however the next course of venison was equally as impressive.

The roasted haunch was served atop Savoy cabbage and sauteed potatoes. The game was precisely timed to be beautifully pink and had clearly been well-rested. The sauce, a venison jus, was rich and intense and helped to bring out all of the flavours of the meat. Although this dish did not have a distinctively Italian feel to it, it was beautifully executed in a way that can surely be appreciated the world over. Not to be overlooked, the cabbage and potatoes were well cooked and perfect accompaniments for soaking up the many flavours of the dish.


It seemed amiss to visit Latium and not partake of at least one of the innovative ravioli dishes, which are a house speciality. On this occasion we sampled a range of the sweet ravioli from the dessert menu (each available separately).

There were three different varieties. The first was stuffed with apple, raisins and pine nuts to give a distinctly autumnal character. This was resting in thin vanilla custard, which contrasted with the slight acidity of the fruit. The other varieties were more adventurous; orange in a chocolate ravioli and pineapple in mint pasta. Both managed to achieve subtlety of flavour without any of the strong flavours dominating the others. The syrups and sauces ensured there was a sweetness to counterbalance the sharpness of the fruit and a wetness to balance the starch of the pasta. Although perhaps an unusual concept to the uninitiated, the sweet ravioli was a definite success and credit to the creativity of the kitchen.

Latium 2 Sweet ravioli

Coffee was accompanied by a generous selection of chocolates and traditional biscotti, produced to the same exacting standards as everything else.

As with our last visit, the service from Alex and his team was attentive and charming without being obtrusive and it is clear that the front of house team is as much a selling point for the regular clientele as the excellent and varied cooking.

With three courses on the evening menu for £35.50, not to mention the three course lunch menu at £22.50, which we will no doubt sample in the future, Latium offers the sort of value that really shouldn’t be overlooked.

Restaurant Review: The Chancery, London (Dec 2014)

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Chancery Lane, marking the western edge of the City of London, is noted for its medieval and legal associations, notably the Knights Templar, the High Court of Chancery, legal chambers and the Law Society. Steeped in longevity and tradition, amid inexorable modern development, this area of narrow streets, alleys and cul de sacs, has retained much of its historical character.

Aptly named after its judicial surroundings, The Chancery Restaurant lies at the corner Tock’s Court and Cursitor Street, a quiet but busy thoroughfare to the east of Chancery Lane. Although not as old as the distinguished institutions nearby, its ten year life as an independent restaurant is no mean achievement by central London standards. Opened by Andrew Thompson and Zak Jones in 2004, it has stood the test of time, attracting and retaining a well-heeled and discerning City clientele.

With 40 covers spread across two small dining rooms and a private dining room seating 14-15 – there is also a bar downstairs – The Chancery’s relatively small capacity makes it ideal for more intimate dining. The cleverly designed interior, with archway, white walls and ceiling and large mirrors, give an added sense of space. Pendant lights hang over well-spaced tables dressed in fine napery. Recent refurbishment of black and crimson banquettes add comfort, whilst contemporary interest is provided by the work of artists Tess Jaray, Kenneth Martin, Michael Landy and Gary Walton.

The Chancery- Graham Long

The Chancery’s tenth anniversary sees the arrival of Graham Long whose impressive Curriculum Vitae augurs well for the future. Seasoned experience as sous chef at Sir Charles Napier Restaurant in Chinnor, (2005-9), then at the two Michelin-starred Pied à Terre (2009-11), under Shane Osborn fully established his gastronomic pedigree. This was confirmed by another two years in Hong Kong (2012-14) as sous chef to Shane Osborn at Alan Yau’s new modern European restaurant, St. Betty.

Now, with his first position as Head Chef leading a team of five, Graham is able to give full rein to his passion for seasonal, top quality produce. Provenance is of crucial importance, food being sourced from small local artisanal businesses or from farmers with whom he has direct contact. Both classical and contemporary techniques are used to do full justice to the ingredients. His cooking features multi-component dishes, revealing innovative but harmonious combinations of flavours and textures. Timing is generally accurate, with clean tastes and artistic presentation.

The menus show ambition tempered with a realistic approach to choice and price point. The carte of five starters, six mains and five desserts or cheese charged at £35 for two courses, £42 for three is a relative bargain for central London. This applies also to the six or seven course tasting menu at £55 /£60, or £85 / £95 with a flight of wines. Indeed, good wine, keenly priced and with special promotions, is a well-established feature of the restaurant.

Fine Dining Guide visited on a weekday evening in December, sampling the tasting menu with wines

Firstly, a visually stunning salad of heirloom carrots was warm, soft and gently pickled. It worked well with the bitterness of radiccio, the nuttiness of black quinoa, the crispness of a sesame tuile and the aromatic fragrance of coriander. Creme fraiche gave richness, and acted a sour dressing, lifting the whole dish. (Wine: 2013 Visintini Ramato Pinot Grigo, Friuli, Italy)


The second course proved to be a delightful, well balanced dish: marinated raw hand dived scallops served with an intense cucumber jelly and rich avocado cream, a sesame filo tuile gave contrasting texture whilst the sweet and sour shiso dressing brought the whole dish together, without overwhelming the delicate freshness of the seafood. (Wine: 2012 Terras d’Alter Viognier, Alto Alentejo, Portugal)


Next came a risotto, spiked with Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnuts, and liberally dressed with shavings of black and white truffle. This combination, although luxurious, might have been improved by a richer stock and a less claggy texture. The hazelnuts proved intrusive, rather than complementing the other elements. This was the only disappointing feature across the whole menu.


The fish course saw an accurately timed fillet of Rye crumbed gilt sea bream, partnered with smoked cod roe, the two elements complementing each other well in flavour and texture thanks to the roe not being too heavily smoked. Aubergine puree, pickled salsify and lemon oil worked well with the main ingredients, adding richness and the necessary acidity. (Wine: 2012 Julg Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany)


As befitting a winter menu, game featured in the meat course. Tender, well flavoured medallions of loin of herb crusted fallow deer, cooked medium rare,  showed the virtues of precise cooking and the inherent quality of the product. An innovative bacon quenelle and roasted onions added elements of sweetness, balanced by slightly bitter qualities of steamed curly kale and a stout based sauce.  (Wine: 2009 Andrea Oberto Barolo, Piedmont, Italy)


Finally, the two desserts sampled revealed the strengths of the pastry section.

A composite dish of banana and ale bread, banana mousse, salted caramel, and peanut ice cream was highly accomplished. The cake like bread was well flavoured; the mousse delicate; the blobs of salted caramel rich but not overly sweet; and the ice cream velvety smooth. This marriage of tastes and texture was very satisfying indeed.



Similarly, soft, poached comice pear served with tiny warm financiers scented with thyme, scattered with almond crumble and anointed with a quenelle of decadently rich Gosnells mead ice cream proved to be another beautifully conceived and perfectly executed dessert. (Wine: 2011 Weingut Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett, Saar Valley, Germany)


To finish, the coffee, tea, herbal infusion menu, with helpful notes, gives ample choice.

Other aspects of the meal were exemplary. The sommelier’s choice of matching wines was expertly rendered, with descriptions being pleasingly concise rather than effusive. The service, under the guidance of Zak Jones, was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive without being intrusive. It was also extremely patient as we were over an hour late, having been stuck in traffic on the M4!

Overall, Graham Long has made an impressive start, which is not unexpected given his background in Michelin starred restaurants. Now he is master of his own kitchen, Graham, inevitably influenced by his mentors, nevertheless has a chance to stamp his own imprint on his cuisine. Given that the area is not noted for its fine dining restaurants, he should have little trouble in attracting a wider audience. Fine Dining Guide will follow his career with interest.