St. John, London, England

“If you’re going to kill the animal it seems only polite to use the whole thing.”
Fergus Henderson

The first stop on my Magical Mystery Vacation Tour ™ was a few days spent in London, England. As soon as I knew that would be on the itinerary, I put a visit to the St. John restaurant as #1 on my to-do list in London. I’ve been to London before, but this was a place that I was not able to visit due to time, lack of funds, and the lack of desire of my travelling companion to eat there. This time, I vowed, I would eat there solo if I had to. Luckily, my two friends were interested in sampling the food too! For some odd reason, I didn’t write down any notes – during or after the dinner. But I’ve got notes on every other place I ate at during the month so I’m not quite sure what happened. Please bear with me if my memory is a little hazy on details.

St. John restaurant

St. John restaurant

Founded by English chef Fergus Henderson, there are actually two St. John restaurants in London – the original, which is the one I went to, and St. John Bread and Wine, which has a few different menu items and a bakery. The original restaurant won a Michelin star in 2009 and maintained its star for the 2010 guide. Their specialty is nose to tail eating, where they serve offal among other things.

The restaurant is rather nondescript from the outside and was almost easy to miss, especially because it is located in Smithfield, a neighbourhood full of restaurants and bars, as well as the centuries-old Smithfield meat market.

St. John exterior

St. John exterior

The inside of the restaurant is very simple too – white walls, white paper tablecloths… even the waiters were dressed in almost all white. The first thing you see when you enter the building is the bar area which is a little more casual and has a number of tables and chairs for dining. The restaurant itself is up a small staircase.

St. John interior

St. John interior

St. John interior with view of bar side

St. John interior with view of bar side

The kitchen was open to the dining room and I was able to take a slightly blurry photo. If you look closely you can see the whole pig that someone pre-ordered for a party that evening!

St. John kitchen

St. John kitchen

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas

When I decided to go on a trip to Las Vegas, I knew I wanted at least one fancy pants meal. After doing some reading about the various places in Las Vegas, I settled on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon as the place where we’d have our most expensive meal, to be eaten on the Saturday before we went to a showing of KÀ.

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I’ve actually had my eye on this upscale chain of restaurants for a while now. I had planned on going there while in Hong Kong last year, but on the only day I had free I wasn’t feeling hungry at all and ended up going to sleep early instead of trying to find my way there. Because of this, L’Atelier was high on my Vegas to-do list.

This location of L’Atelier is located right next to the casino floor and they had the doors propped open, which meant that some of the casino sounds filtered into the restaurant. Part way through my meal they closed one of the doors and most of the sounds went away, so at some point I actually forgot we were right next to the casino. Next to the restaurant is Robuchon’s other restaurant at the MGM Grand, Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (which I considered for my list but crossed off due to the price). And next to that fantastic entrance (look at the chandelier in the foyer!) was the KÀ Theatre.

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

In Las Vegas, L’Atelier is a one-star Michelin French restaurant. A majority of the restaurant’s seating is at a bar surrounding and facing the open kitchen, similar to a sushi bar. An important part of the dining experience here is watching the kitchen staff make your food. It is for this reason that Robuchon calls this series of restaurants “the workshop,” or L’Atelier.

bar seating at LAtelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

bar seating at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

The decor was very modern with lots of reds and blacks. The kitchen was decorated by large vases of fruits, eggs, and vegetables floating in water, as well as giant fake apples and round hanging greenery.
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2009 Michelin stars for the UK have been announced

Michelin gives first three-star rating to Chinese chef

HONG KONG (AFP) – Culinary bible Michelin on Tuesday gave its coveted three-star rating to a Chinese chef for

Launching its inaugural guide to restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong and Macau, Michelin inspectors gave three stars to Lung King Heen, a Cantonese restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel run by Chinese chef Chan Yan-tak.

Read the rest of the article here.

Methinks I would have liked the food better here than at the supposedly fancy restaurant my cousin took me to for below average Peking duck that made me ill afterwards. Which reminds me, I need to do a restaurant review on that place….

Feuding chefs, part 2

The Gordon Ramsay – Marcus Wareing fight that I talked about previously has gotten a new twist. It seems that Wareing’s Pétrus at the Berkeley Hotel (soon to be renamed to Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley after he takes full control on September 15th) restaurant has toppled Ramsay’s main restaurant for top billing in the Harden’s guide to restaurants in the London. What’s next, another Michelin star?

Feuding chefs

This morning during a break from work I almost swore in surprise at my computer because of this blog entry from the Guardian: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/food/2008/07/are_top_chefs_trained_to_be_di.html

Holy crap. I thought all of Gordon Ramsay’s people were loyal little soldiers. What makes this even more interesting is that I’ve actually met Marcus Wareing.

Last fall, while on vacation in London, I really wanted to go to a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. I’m a big fan of his UK Kitchen Nightmares (not the US version, that one’s horrible), and have a “I know this is bad but I can’t look away” relationship with Hell’s Kitchen. Plus, I wanted to try a Michelin starred restaurant to see what all the fuss was about. Continue reading