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 […]

In Porto (2): dinner at Pedro Lemos with astonishing wines

Teresa and Vitor outside Pedro Lemos

It was great to eat at Pedro Lemos, considered by many to be Porto’s top restaurant. We dined with Vitor Bento and his wife Teresa. Vitor is an Airbus 330 pilot and a complete wine nut. When he’s not on duty, he’s usually eating and drinking well in Porto, […]

London restaurants (4): Frenchie, Covent Garden

It was time to catch up with Phoebe and Chrissy for some dinner and wine, a sort of reunion of our Ireland tour. But where should we go? Chrissy had an old bottle of Fleurie she wanted to share, so we needed BYO. A perfect solution unfolded: free corkage and 20% off the bill on […]

London restaurants (3): Bright

It’s Sunday night, and I head out to London Fields for dinner at Bright, a rising star on the London gastro scene. It’s located on the site that used to house Ellory (now morphed into the excellent Leroy in a new location), and it is from the folk behind P Franco and Noble Fine Liquor. […]

34 hours in New York, eating and drinking well, part 3

Saturday night in New York. A story of two dinners. We began with am 1830 reservation at The Four Horsemen, which is the restaurant/natural wine bar of LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy. It’s based in Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Menu, Four Horsemen

This was another hit. A short menu, a great wine list of natural/authentic wine, […]