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THE­dar­ing chef of snail por­ridge and ba­con and egg ice cream fame opened Din­ner by He­ston Blu­men­thal at Lon­don’s grand Man­darin Ori­en­tal Hyde Park last year. While his famed Fat Duck at Bray in Berk­shire has been de­scribed as be­ing as much lab­o­ra­tory as res­tau­rant, things are al­to­gether more re­strained in this big and airy L-shaped space. There’s a blur of ac­tiv­ity in the open kitchen, pineapples turn on a spit like spiky yel­low chick­ens (for Blu­men­thal’s sauter­nes­soaked tipsy cake) and dry ice rises in clouds from the ice-cream churner (malted bar­ley, bis­cuit and brown bread are among the mad­flavours). Dishes are for­mally prove­nanced via cook­ery-book notes on the back of the menu. Some of these tomes stretch back to the 13th cen­tury; so the ar­chiv­ist and the ma­gi­cian in Blu­men­thal in­tro­duces us to the likes of hay-smoked mack­erel, pow­dered duck breast and quak­ing pud­ding. Din­ner was High­est NewEn­try (No 9) in the San Pel­le­grino World’s 50 Best Res­tau­rant Awards 2012. Tip: Week­day set lunches are most af­ford­able. More: din­ner­by­he­


WHENin Paris . . . blow the bud­get at a three-star Miche­lin res­tau­rant. Alain Du­casse at the Plaza Athe­nee is the place, if you want the full works. The high-ceilinged ho­tel res­tau­rant is as grand as a chateau ball­room, all sil­ver and grey with col­umns and chan­de­liers and waiters glid­ing as smoothly as fig­ure skaters. Food is sea­sonal and French pro­duce is cel­e­brated — tur­bot from Brit­tany, salt­marsh lamb from Nor­mandy, and chick­ens from Bresse served with their long black legs in the air, to be jointed and cut be­side the ta­ble by a white-gloved waiter with spe­cial sil­ver scis­sors. The cheese trol­ley is the size of a car­a­van, the desserts are as de­cep­tively sim­ple as ‘‘figs in leaves’’ and then, if you or­der a ti­sane, here comes the herb tray­mo­bile, a ver­i­ta­ble kitchen gar­den on wheels lined with lit­tle pots of rose­mary, sage, mint, lemongrass and thyme, ready to be snipped and in­fused. The French are very good at such the­atri­cal dis­plays. Or, for a Miche­lin morsel, sit at the ho­tel’s groovy glass bar for pate toasts, smoked sal­mon bli­nis and fine French wine by the glass. More: plaza-athe­


NOTev­ery­one can spare the time to pot­ter about an English gar­den brim­ming with bras­si­cas, but that’s not to say we have to miss out on ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the bu­colic life of this shaggy-haired Bri­tish cham­pion of the lo­cal and sea­sonal. River Cot­tage Can­teen and Deli in Ply­mouth, south­west Eng­land, last year be­came the sec­ond din­ing spot at which Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall fans can get a taste of the re­gional pro­duce fea­tured on his pop­u­lar River Cot­tage tele­vi­sion se­ries. The celebrity cook also has a can­teen and deli at his River Cot­tage head­quar­ters in Axmin­ster, Devon. At Ply­mouth, the kitchen team is turn­ing out sea­sonal veg­etable mezze boards and her­itage toma­toes on toast; pan-roasted pol­lock with spiced lentils and green sauce; and braised lamb with creamed pota­toes and green beans. Desserts run to a very Bri­tish rhubarb fum­ble. The can­teen’s ca­sual in­te­ri­ors are true to the River Cot­tage ethos, with the fur­ni­ture look­ing as if it’s been freshly plucked from the back gar­den, and pot­ted plants adorn­ing the table­tops. More: river­cot­


WHAT’Sa­mantodo af­ter he has closed the molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy res­tau­rant that pro­jected him to in­ter­na­tional culinary fame? Open­ing Tick­ets tapas bar in Barcelona was the route gas­tro-god Fer­ran Adria chose af­ter serv­ing the fi­nal meal at award-win­ning El Bulli in the Cata­lan sea­side town of Roses. Tick­ets, in Barcelona’s Paral-lel dis­trict, is run by Adria and brother Al­bert (his for­mer part­ner and pas­try chef at El Bulli) and has its fo­cus firmly on the tra­di­tional Span­ish bar snack. But old habits die hard and af­ter 30 years at El Bulli it’s hardly sur­pris­ing the Adrias have imbued this lessam­bi­tious din­ing spot (fea­tur­ing five food and drink sta­tions and a small bar next door) with many quirky flour­ishes, from front-of-house staff dressed as top-hat­ted ring­mas­ters to some very fa­mil­iar me­nu­items, in­clud­ing pop­ping ‘‘olives’’ and liq­uid ravi­oli. And, like its more fa­mous older sib­ling, it’s not easy to get in; you’ll need to book Tick­ets at least 60 days in ad­vance. More: Avin­guda Paral-lel 164, 08015, Barcelona; tick­ets­


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