House spe­cial

El­iz­a­beth Mery­ment checks out some top Euro­pean din­ing spots where you don’t have to eat and run

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

ES­TAU­RANTS with rooms is a con­cept that makes per­fect sense. What’s the point of a long drive home af­ter a vastly sat­is­fy­ing meal when you can re­treat to a lovely suite and make a real oc­ca­sion of the ex­pe­ri­ence? In Europe, par­tic­u­larly in Bri­tain, the chef-owned ho­tel is a boom­ing trend. So much so that even Gor­don Ram­say has got in on the act. The York and Al­bany, Lon­don: Noth­ing in the food world is a trend if it’s not be­ing done by Bri­tish su­perchef Ram­say. As if hav­ing in­nu­mer­able Miche­lin stars and too many an­gry tele­vi­sion shows doesn’t give him enough to do, Ram­say — with the help of pro­tege An­gela Hart­nett and her head chef, Colin Buchan — late last year opened this 10-room bou­tique ho­tel and restau­rant in the rapidly gen­tri­fy­ing north Lon­don sub­urb of Cam­den.

The rooms are luxe — pol­ished floor­boards, 400-count Egyp­tian cot­ton sheets, pe­riod an­tiques and op­u­lent baths — while the menu, with its Mod-Brit flour­ishes (try, per­haps, red-leg par­tridge with curly kale and truf­fle chips), is well-priced and in­trigu­ing. www.gor­don­ram­­dal­bany. The New An­gel, Dart­mouth: He’s older than Ram­say, and not half as sexy, but fel­low Brit, celeb-chef John Bur­ton-Race, is an­other hooked on the restau­rant-with­rooms con­cept. Bur­ton-Race may come across on the small screen as un­bear­ably cranky, but his es­tab­lish­ment in Eng­land’s gor­geous south­west is much loved for its so­phis­ti­cated French-in­spired fare and sim­ple but el­e­gant rooms.

And af­ter a din­ner of Cor­nish cod or Dex­ter beef, what could be bet­ter than climb­ing your own stair­case to the at­tic’s Mount Boone suite with its sit­ting room and roll-top bath? www.the­newan­ Restau­rant Sat Bains, Not­ting­ham: Sat Bains was a rather ob­scure English chef do­ing good mod­ern food be­fore his ap­pear­ance on cult cook­ing show Great Bri­tish Menu made him an in­ter­na­tional food star. At his su­per-sleek and now very pop­u­lar restau­rant in Not­ting­ham, Bains com­bines top pro­duce with cut­tingedge tech­niques. Try, for in­stance, milk-fed rab­bit with lan­gous­tine essence, roast lan­gous­tine and corn and af­ter­wards stay in one of Bains’s eight so­phis­ti­cated rooms in this most gor­geous of English rose set­tings. www.restau­rantsat­ Arnolfo Ris­torante, Tus­cany, Italy: Chef Gae­tano Trovato has been run­ning this Tus­can in­sti­tu­tion with the help of his brother Gio­vanni for 25 years and it is hardly sur­pris­ing vis­i­tors keep re­turn­ing. Set in a 16th­cen­tury stone house amid the rolling hills of me­dieval Colle di Val d’Elsa, the restau­rant holds two Miche­lin stars. Trovato of­fers so­phis­ti­cated Ital­ian fare — his pan-fried scampi with goose liver is said to be oth­er­worldly — while the rooms are sim­ple and el­e­gant. www.arnol­foris­ L’An­dana, Tus­cany: Alain Du­casse may be one of France’s most-loved chefs, but his un­wa­ver­ing pas­sion for beauty has lead him to open this ex­quis­ite restau­rant-ho­tel in Tus­cany’s Maremma prov­ince. The ho­tel is set amid 200 mag­nif­i­cent hectares that once be­longed to the duke of Tus­cany and has its own vine­yard, win­ery, or­chard, olive grove and more. And while the restau­rant is housed in a me­dieval ‘‘ barn’’ (a de­scrip­tion that can be em­ployed only in the loos­est pos­si­ble sense), the Tus­can cui­sine is hardly un­so­phis­ti­cated. Only top-notch lo­cal prosci­ut­tos and sausages make the grade here, and are served along­side veg­eta­bles and herbs picked from the prop­erty’s gar­den.­ Do­maine des An­de­ols, Provence, France: While on the sub­ject of Du­casse, it’s hard not to rave about an­other of his restau­rant-ho­tels (ap­par­ently he’s ob­sessed with them). The nine guest­houses in this Provence prop­erty, opened in 2007, fea­ture some cu­ri­ous de­signs, with tribal arte­facts dis­played along­side Andy Warhol paint­ings on the walls, and the food is in the ex­treme haute cui­sine range (try a cold green soup for starters). The ex­pe­ri­ence is re­ported to be ex­traor­di­nary.­maine-des-an­de­ Mai­son Trois­gros, Roanne: One of the ear­li­est of the restau­rant-with-rooms genre, Mai­son Trois­gros was es­tab­lished in 1930 and is still go­ing strong un­der the pa­tron­age of scion Michel Trois­gros and his wife MariePierre. While the restau­rant con­sis­tently makes it on to French culi­nary top 10 lists cour­tesy of Michel’s kitchen bril­liance, the ho­tel’s sur­pris­ingly min­i­mal­ist decor makes a wel­come change from many over-the-top French ho­tels. The Ja­panese-in­spired rooms make a per­fect re­treat af­ter in­dulging in some of France’s best food (if bud­get per­mits, try the craw­fish with vi­o­let olives and streaky Zi­bello ham). www.trois­ ElBulli Ho­tel, Seville, Spain: This elBulli is not lo­cated at the fa­mous Fer­ran Adria restau­rant, which is far away on Spain’s north­west coast, but it is run by the chef widely re­garded as the world’s best. Set in a 10th­cen­tury Moor­ish farm­house, the ho­tel aims to of­fer an ex­pe­ri­ence sim­i­lar to that of the restau­rant; that is, one that stim­u­lates all the senses. Each of the ho­tel’s rooms is dif­fer­ent and fea­tures an­tiques and art­works.

And the food? Well, I like the idea of lunch: ta­pas served by the pool be­tween a leisurely 1.30pm and 3.30pm. One of the ho­tel’s three restau­rants also of­fers a tast­ing menu from the fa­mous restau­rant which, of course, is what guests are re­ally here for. www.el­bul­li­ho­

Snack at­tack: Gor­don Ram­say’s bou­tique hostelry The York and Al­bany, in the fash­ion­able north Lon­don sub­urb of Cam­den, has a strong fo­cus on food

French dress­ing: Mai­son Trois­gros, Roanne

Full bed and board

For a stel­lar dine-and-stay ex­pe­ri­ence in Aus­tralia, the fol­low­ing get­aways fit the bill:

Jonah’s, Whale Beach, NSW: On Syd­ney’s north­ern beaches, an­chor your­self in one of 11 bou­tique gue­strooms af­ter tak­ing in un­ri­valled ocean views while din­ing on Ge­orge Fran­cisco’s ex­cel­lent Mod-Oz cui­sine. www.jon­

The Royal Mail Ho­tel, Dunkeld, Vic­to­ria: Chef Dan Hunter won The Royal Mail its GourmetTrav­eller 2009 Re­gional Restau­rant of the Year gong. Try his ex­quis­ite of­fer­ings then re­tire to your room within the Royal Mail Ho­tel or at Mt Stur­geon Es­tate, a nearby work­ing sheep sta­tion. www.roy­

The Loose Box, Mun­dar­ing, West­ern Aus­tralia: Cosy cot­tages and French de­gus­ta­tion din­ing at its best, cour­tesy of cel­e­brated chef Alain Fabregues. www.loose­

Lake House, Dayles­ford, Vic­to­ria: One of Aus­tralia’s premier gourmet des­ti­na­tions: fine diner, luxe ho­tel, spa and re­lax­ation re­treat rolled into one. www.lake­

Bells at Kill­care, Cen­tral Coast, NSW: Ste­fano Man­fredi’s Ital­ian-in­flu­enced food and re­laxed, beach-chic vil­las make for the per­fect get­away just 90 min­utes north of the Syd­ney CBD. www.kill­care­ Michelle Rowe

Pic­ture: Jo­erg Lehmann

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