Wish list – 2011

The more observant of you will have noticed that I publish a “Wish List” each month of restaurants I’d like to go to, food I’d like to cook and eat, books I’d like to read, and anything else food and drink related that takes my fancy. For those of you who haven’t noticed, the latest list is on the right hand side of your screen.

I’ve only managed to tick off all 5 items on a month’s list twice; more often than not, plans get superceded or are never made in the first place. But it’s quite nice having a few objectives, even if some are likely to get overtaken by other events.

With that in mind, this year, I hope to enjoy some or all of:

1. New openings

My table at Heston’s new gaff is booked. I’m also looking forward to queueing up for a seat at Spuntino (will it be a hat trick of awesome eateries for Russell Norman?) and to trying out Yotam Ottolenghi’s new stand-alone restaurant, NOPI.

I have a good feeling about Jason Atherton’s first post Ramsey Holdings project, Pollen Street Social, and for no reason other than a hunch, think that Elliot’s Borough Market will be one of 2011’s smash hits.  I also predict the increasing professionalisation and popularisation of supper clubs and pop up restaurants – Young Turks will be big this year and I would like to get a place at their table at some point.

I heard only good things about Jun Tunaka’s Street Kitchen when it was on the go in October 2010 – I understand we’ll see it again during 2011 and my guess is it’ll be one of the summer’s best alfresco options.

Watatsumi, will either be a super success, or an unmitigated disaster.

Finally, there were a number of openings in the latter part of 2010 that, to date, I have failed to take on (most of which, I think, can still (just about) be labelled “new”). North Road, Vinoteca Seymour Place, Les Deux Salons, Hawksmoor 7 Dials, the Fish Place and Morito are places I intend to go to asap.

2. The old guard

It’s easy (clearly) to get caught up in the hype of new openings. But, actually, it’s not particularly cool to just follow fashions and trends.  No doubt the seasoned restaurateurs have seen plenty of hyped up NKOTB come and go, whilst they quietly continue to go about their business, producing the goods for contented customers, year in, year out.

So as well as running around trying to keep up with the bloggers and the critics, I intend to take the occasional step back and try out some of the restaurants that have been kicking around for a while.  Stalwarts such as Chez Bruce, Indian Zing, Cambio de Tercio, Comptoir Gasconthe River CafeJ Sheekey & Scott’s should all get a look in. I’m counting the Savoy Grill amongst this lot too; I can’t get excited enough about a re-fit to call it a “new opening”.

3. Star gazing

I don’t eat at Michelin starred restaurants very regularly. They are not, generally, what my friends and I are looking for.  I also think that if you go to these places too often, you are likely to become complacent (not to mention bankrupt); and many of the 1* ain’t all that anyway.

But in 2011 I fancy dropping a bit of cash at/being taken out to some of the top dogs.

Last year I inexplicably cancelled a table for 6 for my birthday at the the Ledbury. Huge error. Of every restaurant on this page, the Ledbury is my #1 must go to.

Hibiscus and the Fat Duck are the other 2/3 * restaurants I’m very keen for.

4. Gastro Travel

I should spread my [non-existent] wealth beyond the walls of London.

There will definitely be a trip abroad in 2011 where the sole purpose is to waste loads of money on food and booze in a big name restaurant. Noma is a distinct possibility. But San Sebastian is hugely tempting too – one or all of Akalare, Arzak or Martin Berasategui.

And there are a number of places in the United Kingdom I would like to eat at as well; probably having just walked up and down a mountain or two and pitched a tent nearby.  I’m thinking L’Enclume in Cartmel, maybe the Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, and/or as far up as Kinloch Lodge in the Isle of Skye.

5. New techniques

Finally, my own cooking. In the 6 months that I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve enjoyed having a reason to regularly cook new things. I want to take it up a notch or two in 2011 and learn a few new techniques. I will (after at least 3 years of saying that this will happen) head to Billingsgate for a fish preparation course and will probably learn some new patisserie skills somewhere too. Heck, I might even do something professional …


Quite a lot to get through then! Let me know if you want to join me and do keep checking the site to see whether any thing has been crossed off the list.  Thanks for reading and best of luck for the New Year.