World Food: The Good & The Bad

Observatory

There can hardly have been two more contrasting articles about restaurants this week. As London venues continue to open at lightning speed this autumn, food critic Jay Rayner laid into the awful-sounding ‘Beast’ with a breadknife. The Russian-owned restaurant has opened in London’s West End with a bizarre concept. It just sells steak and Alaskan crab (not everyone’s favourite combination) at long benches. And there’s a catch. He says you could complain about the rough-hewn communal tables, so wide you can’t sit opposite your dining companion because you wouldn’t be able to hear each other, or about the vertiginous prices, for ‘this is where it all collapses. The beef is listed at £10 per 100g. But the smallest cut they have is 600g. You’re in for £60. With the crab, which costs £75 a kilo, it’s even sillier. You have to buy a whole beast, and the smallest they have is 4.3kg, at a mere £325.50. Before service.’

I knew the photo of the dining hall reminded me of something…

Long communal tables with benches and candles on a hanging shelf at Beast1968, OLIVER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the ridiculous to the sublime there’s this, from Eater.com, about the brilliant chef Albert Adrià.

‘He and his brother Ferran will conclude their ‘5.0 Project’ in January 2015 with the Barcelona opening of ‘Enigma’. The purest version of Albert Adrià’s vision, 5.0 consists of five restaurants, five completely new culinary concepts, five partners, and one creative chef with one clear objective: to develop the first ‘culinary amusement park’ in the world, located in the centre of Barcelona. Along with the three owners of the legendary marisqueria (seafood restaurant) Rías de Galicia — Juan Carlos, Borja and Pedro Iglesias — this amusement park will be composed of the following concepts:

1. Tickets, a modern tapas bar.
2. Bodega 1900, a bar designed especially to enjoy vermut, one of the most popular culinary traditions in Spain.
3. Pakta, the only Japanese and Peruvian (Nikkei) restaurant in Barcelona.
4. Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo (below), Mexican haute cuisine
5. Enigma, which will include a reincarnated 41º Experience, a cocktail bar, and an exclusive tasting menu restaurant.

Together, these five concepts will form a map of the must-visit places in Barcelona for food lovers and el Bulli nostalgics.’

I’ve eaten at ‘Tickets’, an amazing, unpretentious restaurant that’s a whirlwind of colours and flavours – and that I suppose is the key – ‘Beast’ is some false memory syndrome of a rustic past with joke prices, and ‘5.0 Project’ is about the pleasure of thrilling food.

European restaurants are also seeding a design revolution (with the exception of ‘Beast’, obviously). One noticeable trend is the relocation of the kitchen at the heart of the restaurant, so that everything else branches out from this centre, dense decoration instead of stripped-back everything, and the opening up of exteriors to make them warm and welcoming. I know where I’d rather eat.

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2 comments on “World Food: The Good & The Bad”

  1. Chandon says:

    “Beast” seems like it sums up everything that is wrong with many new restaurants that have opened in London in recent years. The whole concept sounds deeply flawed, in that it is rooted in no recognisable culinary tradition. One wonders who restaurants like this are aimed at? Even the uber-rich expats, hedge fund managers and the like will tire of it sooner or later – especially when they see the price of the drinks.

    On the other hand, Barcelona and Spain as a whole, have no end of good restaurants, as they mainly recognise the local culinary traditions and (for the most part) are actually designed for real people to eat in. I can recommend “Cerveceria Catalana” on Calle Mallorca in Barcelona as an unpretentious, reasonably priced place to eat.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    I’m with Chandon. Food is to be eaten. Pleasant surroundings help with digestion, but much of the rest is to create a reputation for the chef. Perhaps I’m just snarly with this rotten cold and the uncivilised hacking.

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