Friday, 27 July 2007

Hix past Caring?

Mark Hix, chef director of Caprice Holdings, has handed in his notice. The Bill Murray doppelganger, who oversees the menus for the restaurant group that includes The Ivy, Le Caprice, J Sheekey and the recently relaunched Scott's, is thought to have a year's notice to work on his contract.  

Hix, who recently was a double finalist on the Great British Menu and is the author of several cookbooks and an award winning recipe column for The Independent, will no doubt go on to great things that don't involve working for clothing-tycoon-turned-restaurateur Richard Caring, who purchased Caprice Holdings for £57 million in September 2005.  

INCOMING... Word of Mouth has just picked up on this and Jay Rayner has Hix, West Country chap that he is, with a plan to buy The Riverside Restaurant in West Bay down in Dorset. 

Shocking news from Chi-town

Grantz Achatz, chef-proprietor of Alinea in Chicago, voted no.36 and the highest new entry in this year's The World' 50 Best Restaurants, has been diagnosed with cancer. Although it's treatable with chemotherapy he may lose his taste-buds in the process according to The Chicago Tribune. We wish him all the best in his recovery. 

Thursday, 26 July 2007

"I want something's flesh"

Can crappy boozer turned flash restaurant 
kick 'The Curse of Withnail' 20 years later?

Since providing the location for clapped-out Camden boozer The Mother Blackcap (a conflation of NW1 boozers the Black Cap and The Mother Redcap - now The World's End) in cult 1987 comedy ‘Withnail and I’, 41 Tavistock Crescent, London W11, has had somewhat mixed fortunes, the site changing hands and names enough times to get a reputation as a dog.

The venue where Withnail, played by Richard E Grant, once approached the bar and asked for “Two large gins. Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider” - he was way ahead of the curve with the ice in cider thing – has since been a Frog & Firkin brewpub, a dodgy boozer called Fudruckers, a branch of the now defunct bar brand Babushka and most recently, in a life imitating art full circle, was a short-lived bar called The Mother Blackcap.

Now it’s reopened as Crescent House, a combination of rather smart bar that serves suckling pig sandwiches, beer garden overlooking the Westway flyover and a first floor dining room with a pricey menu peppered with luxury ingredients from summer truffles and foie gras to turbot and sea bass. The chef, Daniel Ostler, apparently has a CV that includes time in the kitchen at The Square, Tom Aikens and Locanda Locatelli. 

No doubt the staff are already bored shitless with smart-arsed punters approaching the bar and, Withnail style, demanding, "We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now."

Monday, 23 July 2007

Why has Aikens suddenly lost his Pollocks?

Observer Food Monthly July 2007
Someone at Camp Aikens deserves a slapping around the head with a large sustainable fish…

All the pre-opening hype about Tom Aikens' upcoming Chelsea chippie has focussed on the fact that he'll only be battering and frying eco-friendly fishies - megrim sole, gurnard, ling and the like. All very laudable, even if Aikens shunned a perfectly serviceable pun by opting to call the place Tom's Place instead of Tom's Plaice.

Then he goes and gets himself photographed for the cover of OFM spooky-ginger-identical-twin-seaside-postcard-style with brother Rob, his partner in the business and the neighbouring Tom's Kitchen. This for an article where chefs and restaurant types gave their favourite summer recipes and where Aikens, T, pipes up with a recipe for battered cod and chunky chips, that's cod probably the most overfished fish in the sea, according to The Marine Stewardship Council who know about these things. A fish that if you're pushing your eco-credentials - as Aikens is undoubtedly trying to - should never appear anywhere near your menu.

Let's hope he manages to remain more on-message between now and late September/early October when Tom's Place, which will seat 50 in addition to offering takeaway, is currently scheduled to open at 1 Cale Street, London SW3 on the site that was once Monkeys.