London restaurants (6) an amazing dinner at Brat with a Loire focus

Had a brilliant dinner at Brat last night. It was my first time, and it was one of the meals of the year.

Our theme was Loire, and we brought our own wine (corkage £20 a bottle, which is very reasonable) as well as ordering one from the list. I spent quite a while with their […]

Gezellig: a new London restaurant with a strong wine focus

Popped into new restaurant Gezellig yesterday. I’d heard a bit about it before, and it was pointed out to me by a few that this was an omission on my list of venues for London wine lovers.

So I’m happy to report that Gazellig doesn’t disappoint. The name is derived from the Dutch and relates to […]

A day in Portland, eating and drinking well

Portland is one of the USA’s most interesting cities. Famous for its coffee (I’ve had the best coffee in my life here), hipsters, the thriving restaurant scene and craft breweries, this is the place people come to retire at 30 (and it has been famously sent up in the excellent TV series Portlandia ( I […]

London for wine lovers: the best places to drink good wine

I keep getting asked by people about places to drink in London, so here, off the top of my head, is a list of places that I can heartily recommend. They are in no particular order (although the first three are pretty much where I’d start), and I apologise to anyone who I’ve missed out […]

Why are most wine lists so bad? Can anything be done?

Most restaurant wine lists aren’t fit for purpose. They drive me to despair.

Look, I’m a wine professional. I know a bit. But in most restaurants, faced with their list I’m just guessing when I choose a wine. So imagine how it is for normal people? Inspecting the wine list becomes an insane ritual. Choosing wine […]

Dinner at Neolokal, Istanbul

Neolokal is a stunning restaurant. Last night I dined there and had a great experience. It considers itself to be a ‘bridge between the past and the future’, modernising traditions in order to preserve them – ‘presenting dishes from the past in a way that will be accepted in the future.’ This, of course, is hardly […]

Nagano region, Japan, day 1

I’ve returned to the Nagano wine region, which I visited last March. It’s in the middle of Japan, which is quite a long, thin country stretching from 26 degrees south (Okinawa) to 44 degrees north (Nayoro). Nagano is at 36 degrees south, but its big advantage is altitude: 80% of its farm land is above […]

In Porto (5) dinner at Esplanada Marisqueira

Alfonso, Vitor and Dirk

The next night it was back to Matosinhos, the Port area of Porto, where the seafood restaurants are congregated. We went to Esplanada Marisqueira, a rather grand establishment, with Vitor Bento, Teresa Bento, Alfonso Bento, Dirk Niepoort and Nina Gruntkowski (Dirk’s wife, who also runs a tea company).

The food here is […]

In Porto (4) Dinner at O Gaveto

Gaveto has had a refit since I was here last. It was a memorable meal last time, so it was good to be back. Hosting us were Vitor and Teresa Bento and their son and daughter, Alfonso and Mafalda. I can’t speak highly enough of Gaveto: the seafood here is so pure and delicious, and […]

In Porto (3) Prova and Wine Quay, two nice wine bars

Prova, Porto

Porto has some good wine bars. We checked out two, on our brief visit. The first is Prova. This is a nicely situated, stylish wine bar with a great list and some nice small plates. The staff are also excellent. We got chatting, and were given a taste of a very cool wine […]