Grace Dent ‘For all the millions spent, it feels like the hell portal that is Rainforest Cafe’
You’d think that with everything the five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has on his plate right now, opening a restaurant would not be the priority. However, in recent months, the glitzy, spectacular Zela has taken root in the ground floor of the ME hotel in Aldwych, London.
You may remember that I visited Pep Guardiola’s three-storey, Catalonian molecular gastronomy experience, Tast, in Manchester a month or so back. Well, in a similar vein, yet stranger still, Ronaldo has joined with tennis star Rafael Nadal and crooner Enrique Iglesias to chuck so much money at a restaurant that they claim to have invented an entirely new cuisine. Zela, they say, is considered to be the first and best exponent of “Meppon” cuisine – an exquisite, original fusion of the best Mediterranean produce with Japanese techniques. Not since Lord Percy in Blackadder II invented the precious metal “green” have I enjoyed such bold, pioneering spirit. You want gnocchi with your miso halibut? You got it. How about almonds with your tuna tataki? Not a problem, friend. Pull up a chair, tie on a bib. These incredibly rich men – a footballer, a tennis player and a popstar – are reinventing the Food ○○○○
ME London hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2, 0208089 3981. Open all week, noon-3pm, 5-11pm (10.30pm Sun). About £60 a head, plus drinks and service.