31 Dec 2008

Glad Dinings

A YEAR AGO I wandered around the partially gentrified vestiges of London’s first department store, ‘Whiteley’s’, Bayswater. I was searching for the entrance to Rowley Leigh’s handsome liner of a brasserie, ‘Le Café Anglais’ (formerly Mc.Donald’s). A lavish lunch occurred, rinsed by a glamorous array of bottles. It was this meal which changed the main course of my writing. Motivated by the flavoursome seasonal celebration, I soon expanded my focus from wine to apply intoxicating prose to the wider world of gastronomy.
Not everyone embraced this adjustment. Most notably, critic Jay Rayner said of this site, ‘read it and chuck’, inadvertantly sending me a flurry of new readers (who were hopefully not sick!)
Twelve months on, I revisited the ‘new restaurant of the year’ with many of our original group, but different bottles. We more or less followed the same menu as before, adding lissome, softly spiced Mortadella with Celeriac Rémoulade and respectfully, tenderly cooked French Partridges to the lemon doused rotisserie chicken. The liquid highlight, generously brought by my friend, Dom. Leflaive’s biodynamically farmed ‘03 Puligny-Montrachet. From Clavoillon, a famous vineyard ploughed by horse and cart and free from chemicals, the radiant, but never glossy wine delivered a dry, pervasive, spreading texture, a bright citrus squeeze and an elongated, mineral finish.
Despite having been fortunate enough to visit numerous restaurants since the original excursion to L.C.A. (although not all meals seem to make it onto this site – in particular an ad-lib late dinner with strange bankers at ‘Hush’ and a brunch of foie gras on toast at ‘Le Caprice’s bar) I was proud to be wearing the same, only slightly tighter trousers as before!
Like a vintage, which captures the nuances of a year, so do our lives. I wish you an appetising texture of glad dinings in ’09
FURTHER LINK: Le Café Anglais last year