Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eating British

Famed chef Hester Blumenthal of the three Michelin Star The Fat Duck recently opened his first London restaurant called Dinner in the very posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  The Guardian's Tony Naylor drops by for a look see and bite to eat at this much anticipated powerhouse new comer to the London restaurant scene (see video below) and It made me think about my recent meal at the very hot, very well reviewed restaurant in the Ace Hotel:  The John Dory Oyster Bar.  April Bloomfield, also a British chef, first came to fame in New York with her amazing gastropub in the West Village the Spotted Pig.  With The John Dory Oyster Bar she manages to just prove yet again what a brilliant chef she is and how she is able to coax the maximum amount of flavor from any dish and without any fancy pyrotechnics.  Both the above mentioned restaurants are deceptive, because although they look casual and no one item on the menu is very expensive, none of the items in and of themselves are anywhere near an entree, its all about order many dishes allowing you a variety of delicious flavors, but as Sam Sifton from the Times points out in his otherwise glowing review

"In the meantime, though, that tariff rankles. It leads here to exclusivity disguised as populism."

Here we have two famous British chefs plying their trade on two sides of the Atlantic in very different venues and very different ways, both at the top of their games.  It's just funny to me, I love Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; Rose Grey and Ruth Rodger's cookbooks are well worn favorites in my kitchen.  Yet when I first visited London in the late eighties I was so depressed by the food.  It was horrid.  I'll always remember someone at a take away shop getting a styrofoam cup of canned peas as a to-go item!  Now people are spending their paychecks and waiting in line for British cooking, one of my other recent favorites The Fat Radish calls their cook "British" and Double Crown does British Colonial cooking.  Who'd have thought in a short twenty years that British food could go from roundly dispised to so roundly praised and so delicious. 


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