A Capital Idea

Where did that week go? Mind you, a couple of encouraging things happened by not posting, namely several e mails, calls, texts and the like asking why I haven't blogged since Sunday? To paraphrase Sally Fields - this is meant to have a hint of film-related stuff, after all, plus it's award season - does this mean you like me, you really like me?

Monday was a bit of a no go on the food front - a grabbed burrito from Benito's Hat aside - and a complete no go on the movie front thanks to the really dull Gigantic, a low-key, low-budget film of zero appeal. It was one of those meandering, pointless, not-as-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is efforts in art wank. Avoid.

Tuesday improved a little, not in terms of the eating, just in terms of the conversation. I got to spend 30 minutes with Michael Caines MBE of Gidleigh Park and Saturday Kitchen fame. Over tea, we had fine chat about the recession, his new restaurant venture - he's executive chef of Bath Priory - and assorted other topics. I'll be off to Bath when it reopens in due course and will report back.

And then the food really started to flow. Not that flow is a word that springs to mind when discussing breakfast at Bethnal Green's Nico's Restaurant - or "resturant" as the sign charmingly has it. It's a London Transport favourite, apparently, and as the pics below will testify, for fairly obvious reasons. Chips are complimentary with just about every dish, from the "flillet" of cod to the big breakfast. I'm not going to argue that it's the best breakfast in London or the first stop in my scrambled egg hunt but a fiver for double egg, bacon, sausage,
chips, beans, mushrooms, tea and toast? Sometimes the cheap and cheerful plateful is all you want. It certainly stopped any need to eat the rest of the day.

Ironically, the next meal was the diametric opposite of Nico's: the double Michelin-starred joys of The Capital. Eric Chavot's restaurant seems to be one of London's best kept foodie secrets. It's tucked away on a back street near Harrod's and, while it appears in the relevant guides, it seems to have escaped the notice of the average punter whose knowledge of Michelin-rewarded eateries begins and ends with Gordon.

On a day that was already memorable - I interviewed Michelle Pfeiffer and, unlike the last time I met her, was able to construct a sentence this time - Chavot provided an astonishing finish from the Assiette Landaise - foie gras and duck in assorted forms - to the chocolates, via the venison (how do you serve such delicate medallions so uniformly pink when they're so elegantly charred on the outside?) and the cheese (oh god, such cheese). On the other side of the table, the d'Anjou pigeon was similarly breathtaking, especially the accompanying truffled macaroni gratin. You'd admire the flavours however they were served, but the presentation, the delicate vertical arrangement into a perfect cylindrical stack? Just lovely. This is event dining where everything just clicks, from the efficiency of the friendly staff to the genius in the kitchen. The room's a little odd - you'll know you're in a hotel dining room - but then the food will make your eyes roll so far back in your head you'll forget the surroundings. Going out on a limb, I'm saying top five of all time. Plus £63 for four courses? Can anyone find fault with that?


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