A New Yorker In England...Eating

By Rob Last edited 151 months ago
A New Yorker In England...Eating
Grey squirrel.jpg

In today's New York Times the fantastically-monikered R.W. Apple Junior (Associate Editor of the paper) has written an article designed to answer that age old question:

"Where does a visiting New Yorker or Parisian - or for that matter a country squire in town for a night or two - turn for a first-class English meal?"

(A country squire?)

The article is of course inspired by the now infamous comments of Mr Jacques Chirac, who said our cuisine wasn't up to much, a view that Mr Apple Jnr claims is as "stale as a year-old baguette".

However Apple does agree with Philip Howard, who runs the Square restaurant in Mayfair, whose view is that "English food in London restaurants is basically a minefield." So what's the answer?

Well Fergus Henderson's St John is the first stop on his tour, for its "Deviled kidneys, tripe (with chickpeas and bacon), ox hearts, calf's brains and pig's liver (in the form of meatballs called faggots, served with split peas)". Apologies if you're reading this over your breakfast.

Next up is the Butlers Wharf Chop House for a bit of grey squirrel: "legs braised; loin wrapped in bacon; livers, kidneys and belly meat in a puff-pastry case." It is apparently "fork-tender, no more gamy than a guinea hen and quite delicious in its juniper-flavored gravy." While The Grill at the Savoy offers "steak-and-kidney pudding (now with oysters), Cumberland sausages with Guinness gravy and the unabashedly rich omelet Arnold Bennett".

The fearles Mr Apple then moves on to the Goring restaurant near Buckingham Palace, Wiltons on Jermyn Street ("where milord can eat lunch, served with aplomb by nanny-waitresses in white uniforms"), J. Sheekey for a spot of seafood, and then, of course, to the Ivy.

Finally Mr Apple and his wife Betsey (we are not making this up) "head to Kensington Place, the domain of one of the most intelligent chefs in Britain, Rowley Leigh."

A pretty comprehensive (if rather expensive) list we think you'll agree. And not one mention of an Aberdeen Angus Steak House!

Last Updated 05 October 2005


R.W. Apple, to whom the label "Falstaffian" is invariably appled, was profiled in a wonderful essay by Calvin Trillin published two years ago. It is unfortnately not available online, but the a highlight is the description of his 50th birthday luncheon hosted by Ronald Dworkin at Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park-a Devon restaurant:

In a private dining room, the celebrants, including the Hendersons, consumed Beluga caviar, sauteed foie gras with quince sauce, salad of red mullet and lettuce with olive-oil-and-coriander dressing, tagliatelle with white truffles, partridge mousse with morels and spinach, roasted saddle of hare, Muenster and single Gloucester cheeses, mango and eau-de-vie-de-poire sorbets, gateau marjolaine, coffee, and six wines -- all from 1934, the year of Apple's birth. "Around five or five-thirty, I was as close to death by eating as I've ever been," Dworkin told me. "We were about to break up and go up to the bedroom and have a nap. Then Apple was saying, 'We have to have a talk about dinner. Just a quick word. We've eaten rather well. So something simple. I have an idea. The truffles that came with the tagliatelle came boxed in rice. You could make us a risotto out of the rice the truffles came in. Let's have a Saint-Julien, a late-growth Saint-Julien. A '79 would be all right.' "

The man knows how to eat...


Speaking of Aberdeen Angus Steak Houses, my decision to never darken their doorstep - ever - was last night confirmed by spotting a tube mouse frolicking on one of their red-velour benches. Eurgh.