Grace Dent ‘For all the mil­lions spent, it feels like the hell por­tal that is Rain­for­est Cafe’

The Guardian - Feast - - News -

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 ○○○○

At­mos­phere ○○○○

Ser­vice ○○○○

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.

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