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London Dine & Wine- A Bloomberg Brief Special Supplement

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Discover the capital's secrets in Bloomberg Brief's special supplement London Dine & Wine. Inside you will find London's 10 most important restaurants for visitors, sommelier tips for picking a good wine, and much more.

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Publié dans : Alimentation, Voyages, Mode de vie
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London Dine & Wine- A Bloomberg Brief Special Supplement

  1. 1. Dine & WineDiscover the capital’s secrets. Bloomberg Brief: London www.bloombergbriefs.com/london/ Bloomberg Brief: Reserve www.bloombergbriefs.com/reserve/
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Chef Raymond Blanc says that when he moved to the U.K. from France in 1972, you had to have breakfast three times a day if you wanted to eat well. He was echoing playwright and novel- ist W. Somerset Maugham, but I remember those times. He is right. Dining out was a luxury for ordinary Britons and restaurants reflected the fact that most people weren’t very interested in food. The seeds of change in the U.K. were sown by the arrival of French chefs led by Albert and Michel Roux and Pierre Koff- mann, who inspired British proteges such as Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. I remember visiting Ramsay’s Auber- gine in 1998. I had never experienced such refined cooking. The pace of change continues to accel- erate with chefs such as Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social), Heston Blumenthal (Fat Duck), Eric Chavot (Brasserie Chavot), Brett Graham (Ledbury), Fergus Henderson (St John), Philip Howard (Square), Bruno Loubet (Bistrot Bruno Loubet) and Nuno Mendes (Chiltern Firehouse). Many are from overseas. The energy and affluence of London draws talent from across Europe and around the world. Chefs are no different in this regard. Some people say London is now among the most exciting restaurant cities. It’s not only Britons.The French chef Alain Ducasse has published a book, “J’Aime London.” “I love the diversity,” Ducasse says. “Paris has fine dining, bistro and contem- porary French today. London has much greater diversity.” You don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well. Inexpensive options include Blanchette (French), Hereford Road (British), Jugged Hare (pub), Koya (noodles), Mangal Ocak- basi (Turkish), Pitt Cue Co (barbecue), Pizza Pilgrims (pizza), Polpo (Italian), Pop- pies (fish & chips), Rosa’s (Thai), Sedap (Malaysian), Tayyabs (Indian), Sichuan Folk (Chinese) and Zedel (European). Attempting to name the best city in the world for eating out is meaningless. One of the joys of food is that the pleasure is so subjective. Similarly, diners experience restaurants in different ways.Your favourite may be the one where you fell in love, or where they know your name and what you like to eat. I am proud of British restaurants. They don’t need to be the best in the world. It’s enough that they are good. Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloom- berg. Opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines. French Revolution Sees London Attract Best Chefs Bloomberg Brief: Dine & Wine Bloomberg Brief Executive Editor Ted Merz tmerz@bloomberg.net +1-212-617-2309 London Brief Editor AinsleyThomson athomson21@bloomberg.net +44-20-3525-2211 Newsletter Business Manager Nick Ferris nferris2@bloomberg.net +1-212-617-6975 Bloomberg Brief Managing Editor Jennifer Rossa jrossa@bloomberg.net +1-212-617-8074 Briefs Editor Paul Smith psmith152@bloomberg.net +44-20-3525-8653 Advertising Adrienne Bills abills1@bloomberg.net +1-212-617-6073 Bloomberg News London Bureau Chief Emma Ross-Thomas erossthomas@bloomberg.net +44-20-3525-8881 Bloomberg Chief Food Critic Richard Vines rvines@bloomberg.net +44-20-7330-7866 Reprints & Permissions Lori Husted lori.husted@theygsgroup.com +1-717-505-2204 x2204 To subscribe via the BloombergTerminal type BRIEF <GO> or on the web at www.bloombergbriefs.com.To contact the editors: bbrief@bloomberg.net This newsletter and its contents may not be forwarded or redistributed without the prior consent of Bloomberg.Please contact our reprints and permissions group listed above for more information.© 2014 Bloomberg LP.All rights reserved. London’s 10 most important restaurants for visitors What makes a restaurant important? Here’s our pick of where to dine. 4 How to beat the A-List to the best restaurant tables A guide to the top tables in London’s favourite locations. 7 Fera at Claridge’s shines as successor to Ramsay, at a price Simon Rogan’s big chance has come with the opening of Fera. 9 How to get a table at Chiltern Firehouse without being famous The secret way to dine at the celebrity hot spot. 10 Sommelier tips on the scary business of picking wines A guide to getting good wine at a price you’re comfortable with. 14 Gin craze returns to London living rooms with home brews Domestic production revival brings gin full circle from the 1700s. 17 Whisky hunter makes 1,300 percent on single malt as Bordeaux sours Investors are falling over themselves to snag iconic single-malt scotches. 19 INSIDE Pea puree served with fennel and flowers on a pea-flour wafer, one of the canapes at Fera. Source: Network London BY RICHARD VINES   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine2
  3. 3. DINING
  4. 4. London’s 10 Most Important Restaurants for Visitors EATING  BY RICHARD VINES ■■ Grain Store: Chef Bruno Loubet puts vegetables at the centre of each plate at this buzzing res- taurant. It’s the origi- nality and creativity of the dishes that is most striking, with unusual combinations of flavours. Butternut- squash ravioli with mustard apricots, rocket and pumpkin seeds is my favourite, but there is plenty for carnivores. ■■ Gymkhana: The U.K. has had Indian restaurants since 1809. Gymkhana raises a bar that was already set high.The cooking and ingredients are exemplary and it was recently named U.K. Restaurant of theYear, topping the Top 100 after less than a year in business. If you are on a budget or have trouble getting a table, lunch is best. ■■ Chiltern Firehouse: Owned by the hotelier Andre Balazs, this new restaurant has become such a celebrity hangout, it’s near-impossible for civilians to get tables. One option is to try for breakfast. The cooking by chef Nuno Mendes is good but this place is more about the buzz than the menu. ■■ Clove Club: This restaurant is housed in Shoreditch Town Hall, which was built in 1865, and the budget for renovations must have been limited. Isaac McHale works wonders with tasting menus built around little-known British ingredients. ■■ Dabbous: Rarely has a top-quality res- taurant opened with such a bang and then disappeared so quickly from view. Dabbous made No. 11 in the National Restaurant Awards in 2013 only to drop out of the Top 100 this year. Chef Ollie Dabbous is an original talent and his prices are modest.This may be the best restaurant you have never heard of. The River Cafe counts April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig and TV’s Jamie Oliver among its alumni. Source: Ian Heide/River Cafe Guinea fowl breast marinated in kashmiri chili, ginger garlic paste and mustard oil. Source: Gerber PR What makes a restaurant important? Some serve outstanding food. Some are game-changers that start trends and spawn imitators. Others are just fashionable. Here are 10 of the current stars that you might care to try if visiting London. Diners on a budget would be wise to focus on lunch, as restaurants are quieter then and offer bargains. ■■ Hakkasan: This modern Chinese restau- rant was an immediate hit when it was opened by the restaurateur AlanYau in a basement on a rundown street in 2001. He has since sold it to Abu Dhabi investors who are turning it into an international lifestyle brand. That’s a depressing thought, yet Hakkasan remains a glamourous venue with great food. ■■ Ledbury:This gas- tronomic restaurant (with two Michelin stars) is a favourite with Londoners. Aus- tralian Brett Graham is a chef who is nor- mally to be found in his kitchen. That may sound unremarkable, yet there are few with his popularity and talent who have shown so little interest in appearing on TV. His cooking is exquisite. ■■ River Cafe:This Italian restaurant on the banks of the Thames was ahead of its time in serving ingredient-led seasonal dishes. Alumni of its kitchens include April Bloom- field of the Spotted Pig and TV chef Jamie Oliver. The quality of the cooking and the produce is as high as ever. Be warned: It is expensive. ■■ Wolseley: The restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King opened the Wolseley in 2003. This cavernous European brasserie on Piccadilly has spawned many imitators but no equals. It is grand without being expensive; polished without being bland. Many celebrities are regulars and they are served with the same courtesy as everyone else. ■■ Zuma: This Japanese-inspired contem- porary restaurant has been around for more than a decade. There are so many imita- tors it is easy to forget the creativity of chef Rainer Becker in this marriage of modern design and cooking. While Zuma is fash- ionable and expensive, the best bit is the quality of the food.   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine4
  5. 5. Soho Trades Sin of Flesh for Wicked Steak Restaurants think frogs’ legs, cheese beignets and some very good charcuterie, served with bread in a brown paper bag. ■■ Bob Bob Ricard: There’s no other res- taurant in London like this.The decor is over- the-top luxurious, with almost all the seating in booths, each equipped with a buzzer to summon Champagne. The food lives up to the setting but the prices are not over the top and the wine list may offer the best value in London. ■■ Bocca di Lupo: Chef Jacob Kennedy serves dishes and wines from across Italy in this buzzy trattoria. It’s more like a tapas joint than a traditional Italian restaurant, so try to grab a seat at the bar rather than be shoehorned into a table at the back. ■■ Ceviche:This bar-restaurant helped kick- start the fashion for Peruvian food in London and can get very crowded. It’s best to arrive early and grab seats at the counter, beside the window. Watching Soho street life is more entertaining than cramming into the dining room at the back. ■■ Ember Yard: This tapas bar from the owners of Salt Yard and Opera Tavern is one of the best additions to Soho this year. The small plates are a match for any I tasted during a recent visit to Barcelona, and the Grilled Iberico Presa with Whipped Jamon Butter is as good as anything I’ve eaten in Soho. ■■ Flat Iron: The queues form outside this no-reservations steak restaurant before it opens. It’s worth the wait, especially as you can head off to a pub until you are called. Flat Iron serves properly pink meat that is full of flavour for just a few pounds. ■■ Gauthier: This is unusual in Soho: a formal Michelin-style French restaurant. The rooms are hushed as the male wait- ers simultaneously remove silver cloches. Yet chef Alexis Gauthier’s cooking is not old fashioned and he is a London pioneer of healthy cooking — his offerings here include a vegetable tasting menu. ■■ Gay Hussar: This charming restaurant has been serving Hungarian food and wines in London for more than 50 years. Its tradi- tional style of service and cooking is par- ticularly welcome in a part of London where fashion often prevails.The Gay Hussar is a slice of the past that should be savoured. ■■ Hix: Chef Mark Hix was an early pioneer of British regional cooking. His enthusiasms are reflected in the menu, featuring dishes from across the U.K. One of the main attrac- tions is the basement bar, which is open to non-diners and serves fine cocktails, includ- ing historical national concoctions. ■■ 10 Greek Street: This no-reservations restaurant serves a changing menu of inex- pensive British dishes. The ingredients are well-sourced, the preparation is unfussy and the results are impressive. The wine list is equally thoughtful and almost all options are available by the half bottle. ■■ Arbutus:This is one of the most influential London restaurants of the past decade.Will Smith and chef Anthony Demetre opened Arbutus in 2007 with the goal of serving fine food at everyday prices.A Michelin star followed, as did imitators. Seven years on, Arbutus still shines. ■■ Barrafina: The formula is simple: a long counter serving authentic Spanish tapas, reminiscent of Cal Pep and other classics in Barcelona.There are no reservations, so to get a good seat, arrive late for lunch or early for dinner. The owners are Sam and Eddie Hart who also own Quo Vadis and share a love of Spanish wines. ■■ Bar Shu: This restaurant is packed with Chinese visitors feasting on the spicy Sichuan food. It’s both an authentic res- taurant and accessible to non-Chinese diners, thanks to the involvement of Fuchsia Dunlop, a British chef who studied at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. ■■ Blanchette: This new venue is like a French version of Polpo, serving inexpen- sive snacks and small plates at a counter; The dining room at Peruvian restaurant Ceviche Source: Paul Winch-Furness/Nourish PR Soho has been a red-light dis- trict for hundreds of years. You don’t need to consult the history books to learn about its seedier side: Neon signs for strip shows, sex toys and “models” are openly on display. Things are changing. The sex shops and brothels are being forced out in favour of restau- rants, cafes and bars. Here are some of the best places to eat and drink. EATING  BY RICHARD VINES Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine 5
  6. 6. Soho Restaurants: From East to West and Everything Inbetween a menu created by the chefs behind that city’s Machneyuda restaurant. Palomar is the cre- ation of siblings Layo and Zoe Paskin, who were behind The End/AKA night spot. The early indications are promising, with praise for the eclectic menu. ■■ Pitt Cue Co:You can’t book ahead, and may face a long wait. When you do get in, you’ll eat in a tiny basement untrou- bled by designers, and the web- site offers little clue to the menu or prices.The upside is that Pitt Cue serves some of the best U.S.-style barbecued meat in London (and the prices are low). ■■ Pizza Pilgrims: Soho is filled with more chain restaurants and junk-food options than with great places to eat. Still, Pizza Pilgrims is exemplary in its com- mitment to serving quality food at low prices. Portobello mush- room and truffle oil pizza (with free sparkling water) costs £10. ■■ Polpo: This small Venetian- style restaurant/bar brought something new to London when it opened in 2009. Restaurateur Russell Norman imported a New York vibe, with low prices and a lot of noise in a cramped space. There are no reserva- tions for dinner.Along with Arbu- tus, this was a game-changer. ■■ Polpetto: Polpo’s baby sister is the domain of chef Florence Knight. She presides in the basement kitchen preparing ingredient-led dishes such as hare pappardelle; burrata, agretti, chilli; and milk pudding, rhubarb and rose. The ground- floor dining room/bar is buzzy. ■■ Quo Vadis: This is another London institution. It was founded by an Italian, Pepino Leoni, in 1926. Before that, Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital while living on the third floor of the building. The owners now are brothers Sam and Eddie Hart. Quo Vadis attracts the Soho and food crowds, drawn by the popu- lar Scottish chef Jeremy Lee. ■■ Social Eating House: This fashionable restaurant belongs to Jason Atherton, one of the U.K.’s most exciting chefs.With its exposed brick walls and copper ceilings, Social Eating House looks and sounds like a NewYork venue.This is not the place for a quiet bite.The menu is adventurous and the cooking, by Paul Hood, is first class. ■■ St Moritz: I love St Moritz. Walk through the door and you are transported into old-fash- ioned Switzerland. I only go for the fondues, but veau Zuri- choise, bratwurst and rosti are also served, along with surpris- ingly inexpensive local wines. I first visited in 1981, when a basement bar used to be filled with Swiss au pairs. ■■ Tonkotsu: This is a ramen joint, bang opposite the Groucho club.It’s inexpensive and unfussy and has developed a follow- ing for its rich stock, created by cooking pork bones overnight. April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig in New York is among the chefs who have eaten here. ■■ Yalla Yalla: This hole-in-the- wall café serves Beirut street dishes to 28 seats in a small, cramped room — not a big step up from a kebab house. What distinguishes it is the quality of the food. Yalla Yalla opened late in 2008 and now has a larger sibling north of Oxford Street. ■■ Wright Brothers: This is a first-class fish restaurant. It’s bright and buzzling, and a great place to settle in with a dozen oysters and a bottle of Cham- pagne while you decide what to eat and drink for lunch. ■■ Yauatcha: This modern Chinese establishment was created by Hakkasan founder AlanYau, theYau of the restau- rant’s name. It retains some of the originality he brought to it and holds a Michelin star. It’s not cheap. The dim sum and cocktails are good. ■■ Jackson + Rye: There’s not a lot of competition for decent American food in Soho, so this new venue sneaks onto our list. The prices are reasonable, and the food can be good. It can also be inconsistent, so good luck. The Old Vine Zinfandel, at £29.95 should help to smooth out any rough edges. ■■ Koya: This udon noodle bar is very popular indeed, with long queues.The quality and authen- ticity of the dishes is widely appreciated.Despite its modesty, the venue was voted No. 52 in the National Restaurant Awards last year, beating establishments such as the three-Michelin-star Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse U.K. flagships. ■■ L’Escargot: This Soho insti- tution opened in 1927 and was reborn this year when it came under new ownership. The res- taurateur Brian Clivaz is redeco- rating the old townhouse and he has brought in chef Oliver Lesnik to overhaul the food. The early indications are that L’Escargot will regain its old glory. ■■ Mele e Pere: This low-key basement restaurant opened so quietly about three years ago, not many people knew it was there. It has now developed a following for its unfussy Italian cooking and reasonable prices. Lunch specials cost £9.50 and the pre-theatre menu is £19.50 for three courses. ■■ Nopi: This smart establish- ment near Oxford Circus serves modern Middle Eastern cuisine by Yotam Ottolenghi. The chef has developed an international following with the book Jerusa- lem and this is his flagship. It’s popular for light and colourful dishes such as coriander seed- crusted burrata with slices of blood orange. ■■ Palomar: This brand new establishment serves the food of modern-day Jerusalem, with Social Eating House looks and sounds like a New York venue Source: Sauce Communications EATING  BY RICHARD VINES   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine6
  7. 7. How to Beat the A-List to the Best Restaurant Tables are in demand: they occupy the corners near the window. ■■ Hand Flowers: Tables six and seven by the windows are popular tables for two. If you don’t want to be seen, B2 (in the bar) is better as it is in a nook. Table 11 is another booth. For groups, B4 is good. George Clooney and Tom Jones have been spotted at this two- Michelin-star pub in Marlow over the years. ■■ Hawksmoor Air Street: The best seats are at the corner banquettes (tables 53 and 56) as they are in the thick of it and good for people-watching.Tables 34 and 71 by the windows are also popular. If you want a quiet booth for privacy without having to walk the length of the restau- rant: 23, 24 and 25 are fine. Jon Hamm of Mad Men was seen in one of these. ■■ House of Ho: Table 14 is a great table for two in the window. You can watch all the action on Old Compton Street. Guests spotted in this Vietnam- ese restaurant include Sheryl Crow and Paloma Faith. ■■ Hutong: This Chinese res- taurant in the Shard is divided into two dining rooms: Beijing and Shanghai.The main dining room (where most people would prefer to sit) is Beijing. The window tables are in the 10s and 50s but they are allo- cated on the night. To be sure of a good window table, you can book the star private dining room, Beijing 1. ■■ Ape Bird: Go upstairs to tables 50 and 51, below the mural on the right. P.J. Harvey and Stephen Merchant are among the celebrities who have been spotted sitting there. On the ground floor, table 2, by the far wall, is in the thick of things, yet not in a thoroughfare. It’s a big, solid table for six. I dined there with Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall who owns a wine estate in Sicily and is into food. ■■ Berners Tavern: The two corner tables (eight and 22) at the end of the room near the kitchen are popular with couples. This restaurant in the London Edition hotel is celebrity central, with George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Helen Mirren, Uma Thurman and Oprah Winfrey among those showing up. ■■ Brasserie Chavot: Halfway down the room on the left, there is a banquette for two guests, table 10 that is popular.I ate there with actor and restaurateur Neil Stuke. ■■ Cafe Murano: My favourite place to sit is at the bar, from which I spotted Jeremy Paxman dining. A friend saw Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice sitting together with no fuss. ■■ Casse-Croute: Table eight at this French restaurant in Ber- mondsey is best: it’s in a corner by the window. Table one in the far right-hand corner as you go in is also popular, even though it’s near the toilet. ■■ Coya: Ask for table 50: You can see the whole of the Mayfair Peruvian restaurant, the open kitchen and the wine corridor. Table 15 is good for a large group of friends and family: it’s an oval table where you can get together. ■■ Foxlow: Table 27 is a great table for two: it’s in the corner and great for people-watching in this Clerkenwell joint. Table 44 is quieter. Or, if you are in a group, 44 and other tables can be pulled together, which happened for another dinner with Hucknall. ■■ Duck Waffle:All tables have a great view from the top of the Heron Tower. Table 63 may be the best: it’s a banquette that can seat six. It faces east so guests can watch the sun rise or set over Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge and the Gherkin. Duck Waffle is a celebrity hotspot and has been visited by Will Smith, Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Pal- trow and Keira Knightley. ■■ Grain Store: Table 40 seats three to four people and has the best view of the kitchen if you like to be at the heart of the action. Celebrities include Gordon Ramsay and the New York restaurateur Danny Meyer. ■■ Gymkhana: Table 15 down- stairs is in a corner spot offering some privacy. It’s where Nigella Lawson was seen dining with Salman Rushdie. Or you can push together tables 16 and 17 for a group, which is what happened when I invited chefs Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre there. There is also a discreet private room, table 20. On the ground floor, tables one and three THE BEST TABLES  BY RICHARD VINES Grain Store, Bruno Loubet’s second London restaurant Source: Amy Murrell/Network London The joy of getting a table at a fashionable restaurant may be diminished if you find yourself sitting near the loos or jammed in the middle of a row. Just about every popular London estab- lishment has favoured locations where celebrities get to sit. While the rest of us are unlikely to get them just by asking, we can try. Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine 7
  8. 8. ■■ Little Social: When booking, ask for the window table or any of the booths at the front: three, four or five. The tables at the back are to be avoided unless you enjoy inti- macy with strangers. (Except for 50, which is semi-private.) I ran into Jools Holland. He asked if I owned the place. Sadly, I don’t. ■■ Oblix: While the window seats are most in demand, VIPs may get table one in the corner, which is a bit secluded and offers views in two directions. The seats at the counter near the kitchen are also good, offering a direct view of St Paul’s. ■■ Pollen Street Social: Diners in groups ask for table one, in the bar. It can seat eight and it’s buzzy. (I dislike dining in groups almost as much as I dislike dinner parties, so I can’t vouch for this table.) Couples tend to prefer table 19, near the window. ■■ Polpetto: Table 30, the round table for four in the window, has a great view out onto Berwick Street and you are also by the door, so you can see who is coming in and out of the restaurant. It’s already popular with celebrities such as the actor Jason Statham. The other great one is 12: It’s a booth that is semi-private, yet with a great view. Look into the room and it looks like the money table. For two people, nine and 10 are booths. continued from page 7 THE BEST TABLES … Richard Vines with singer Nicole Scherzinger at Sushisamba Source: Emma Reynolds/Tsuru Tonkotsu Restaurants ■■ Pont Street: The booth that is table five is best for a private meal as other diners can’t see you.The booths at six and seven are also good and offer a view of the whole restaurant. Table one lets you see all the comings and goings. Many celebrities - including model Cara Delevingne — have been sighted, per- haps thanks to the fact chef Sophie Michell moves in such circles. ■■ Roka: I like to sit in the open, on Charlotte Street, when the weather is good. Regulars tend to pick the robata counter, with seats 62 and 63 being the favourites. ■■ Social Eating House: Banquettes 11 and 12 opposite the bar are good for people- watching. Corner table 21 is good for groups. ■■ Sushisamba: Table 26 is a banquette that seats four and offers unobstructed panoramic views. This restaurant in the Heron Tower is pap heaven. Celebrity guests include Victoria Beckham, Henry Cavill, Cheryl Cole, Hugh Grant, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicole Scherzinger. ■■ Zuma: Table 35, next to the sushi counter, offers a view of the whole restau- rant. Some celebrities prefer table 25, which is a bit secluded. BRIEF THIS IS LONDON IN BRIEF NOW WITH OVER 19,000 SUBSCRIBERS BLOOMBERG’S LONDON BRIEF BRINGS YOU THE LATEST UP-TO-DATE NEWS FROM THE UK’S CAPITAL. BRIEF www.bloombergbriefs.com/london SIGN UP FOR FREEA SNAPSHOT OF WHAT’S HAPPENING IN LONDON, DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EVERY DAY. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
  9. 9. Fera at Claridge’s Shines as Successor to Ramsay, at a Price RESTAURANTS BY RICHARD VINES Simon Rogan is a big name in the U.K. culi- nary scene and has yet to develop a wide following overseas. His chance has come with the opening of Fera, which has recently replaced Gordon Ramsay as the restaurant at Claridge’s. The chef has quietly been working won- ders for a decade at L’Enclume, in Cartmel, a village in Cumbria. The obstacle is that’s more than four hours from London, which means many people best know that estab- lishment from the TV show The Trip. The waves you make with a restaurant in the Lake District may be little more than a ripple by the time they reach the capital. Not that I am saying Rogan is washed up. He’s just getting started. At Fera, he showcases his style of cook- ing, which focuses on extracting maximum flavour from the best ingredients, many of which come from his own farm. That may be the aim of most chefs, yet few achieve dishes that are so clean and focused. Let me put that another way: The food is delicious. You may start with snacks such as pea wafer, with fennel and flowers. It is a happy marriage of taste and texture and it is also very pretty.Then you may move on to rabbit with lovage, another canape where you hold a world of flavour in your hand. The menus are six or 10 courses, with a few extras thrown in for good measure, so let’s step away from the table and take a look around the room. It is glamourous without being vulgar. It’s grand without being intimi- dating. Best of all, it’s Art Deco without being cliched.There’s also a cute bar. If you want to feel intimidated, take a look at the prices. The set menus are £95 for six courses or £125 for 10. Throw in wine, water, coffee and service and you will be lucky to escape for less than £150 per person, even with the shorter menu. There is an a la carte menu for £85 for three courses. The pricing at just £10 below the shorter tasting option makes it an unlikely choice. There’s a lunch for £45 for two courses, £55 for three. I realise this is Claridge’s, but I would like to see some less-expensive options and, ideally, a more considered a la carte option. There are several highlights to the tasting menu, including duck hearts in a bowl of pureed potato and Winslade cheese; and an even more unlikely-sounding dish, grilled salad with Isle of Mull cheese, truffle custard and cobnuts. Bread is served as a course in itself with a mushroom broth on the side. It works. The wine list is less scary and more adven- turous than it might have been.The sommelier is unsnooty and is happy to suggest unusual options, such as an orange-colored natural wine from Georgia for £49. (While I don’t regret accepting the recom- mendation, I wouldn’t order it again unless to revisit a farmyard without leaving London.) The service is generally friendly and welcoming. In many ways, Rogan is inspi- rational, and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on the staff. They appear dedicated to sharing the joy rather than reminding you that you are in one of the world’s poshest hotels. Diners are also welcome to visit the open kitchen. If you go along for cocktails in the new bar and then have a leisurely meal in the impres- sive dining room, you may enjoy some of the best food and service in London. One of the joys of Fera is that Rogan plans to change the menu regularly, so this is likely to be a living restaurant rather than a hotel museum of unchanging dishes. The disappointment is that at such high prices, and with tasting menus the main option, most of us will only get there for special occasions. Rating: 8/10 Fera, 49 Brook Street, Claridge’s,W1K 4HR. Chef Simon Rogan and the glamorous and grand dining room at Fera Source: Network London Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine 9
  10. 10. How to Get a Table at Chiltern Firehouse Without Being Famous the caffeine. My general feeling is that if there’s time for breakfast, there’s time for an extra hour in bed. But if you are one of those power people who like to set up early-morning meetings, Chiltern Firehouse may be the place for you. Other options include steamed egg whites chawanmushi with mushrooms and greens — a Japanese custard costing £12; and French toast, smoked bacon, spiced maple syrup (£9). The Wolseley is my favourite place in London for breakfast. Chiltern Firehouse currently comes second. If you do make it in for lunch or dinner, it’s useful to know in advance that the cooking is not ambi- tious.The website gives no information and word-of-mouth about the place is hard to come by unless you hang out with celebri- ties. It’s comfort food and some diners may be disappointed not to be wowed. That’s understandable. Lisbon-born Nuno Mendes is one of the U.K.’s most creative talents.At his previous restaurant, Viajante, his kitchen was a laboratory, his menu sizzled, his dishes were like fireworks. You might consider Firehouse a damp squib if Cesar salad and sirloin steak are not your thing. But I am not disappointed. I like his cook- ing and if he is giving you a familiar dish, he will still spice up your life. The snacks of corn bread and especially the crab-stuffed doughnuts are delicious. The steak tartare comes with a twist in the shape of a chipotle sauce; the Cesar salad is topped with crispy chicken skin rather than a chunk of breast meat. If you can put to one side the celebrity madness surrounding Chiltern Firehouse, you have a glamorous restaurant with good service and decent food and a wine list that isn’t too greedy. If you show up toward the end of lunch time, you might even be able to get a table without booking. Failing that, I might see you at breakfast. Or I hope you might catch me in Hello! Chiltern Firehouse, 1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone,W1U 7PA. Info: +44-20-7073-7676. BY RICHARD VINES Chiltern Firehouse is filled with so many celebrities, it’s almost impossible to get a table. It’s like when I tried for a midweek dinner reservation at the Ivy in July 2007 and was offered a booking for January 2008. I took it. If somewhere is that popu- lar, I want in. Times change. I called the Ivy recently and got a table for the same night. Chiltern Firehouse probably faces a similarly acces- sible future. That doesn’t help right now if you want to go and are not famous enough to snag a reservation. There is a way in.The restaurant recently started serving breakfast. It’s not being promoted anywhere and there is no great crush. It’s not particularly expensive and on a sunny day, the windows are all open and the sunshine streams in. The first thing to notice about Chiltern Firehouse is that it is unusual and beautiful. The dining room of the former fire station isn’t glitzy at all.The glamour is understated, blending industrial touches with comfortable banquettes, a tiled floor and lots of cream- painted wood. The lighting is subtle and flattering. I caught sight of myself in a mirror and even I looked like I belonged there. Second, the service is good.The owner, U.S. hotelier Andre Balazs, has brought in talented staff members from restaurants across London. The fact many are also gorgeous helps.The uniforms are beautiful and the service style is American: friendly, not stiff. And so to the food. The menu is accessible, with steaks and salads and simple fish and vegetable dishes. At breakfast, you might start with croissant, blueberry compote at £6 then move on to smoked salmon, poached eggs and herbed potato cakes (£12). If you’re feeling adventurous, the spiced crab omelette with turmeric, potatoes and chervil (£17) is a specialty. It looks pretty, served in a skillet, but it’s too sweet. I go for the Iberico pork sausage and crispy smoked bacon with toast. The juices are fresh.The coffee is weak. The cappuccino is for babies or people who don’t like coffee. If they wanted to decaf- feinate it, they’d need sniffer dogs to find The dining room at Chiltern Firehouse. The restaurant is in a former fire station in Marylebone. Source: Eightyfour RESTAURANTS   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine10
  11. 11. Get In Touch With Your Inner Animal at Beast BY RICHARD VINES Beast! It’s a great name for a restaurant and not unsuitable for a dungeon-like space where you first gorge on bloody steaks and then rip apart crustaceans with your bare hands. Beast is brought to you by the owners of Goodman — some of London’s finest steak restaurants — and Burger Lobster, a mini- chain with a simple formula of a £20 menu with a single choice of dish at its heart. That simplicity is refined at Beast, where the price is £75 and you get both steak and Norwegian king crab. There is no menu and there are no starters other than snacks such as vintage Parmigiano Reggiano served with Nocellara del Belice olives, marinated arti- chokes and balsamic onion. You sit in a basement at huge communal tables so wide that it might be easier to communicate with your date via e-mail (if you can get a signal) rather than attempt conversation by that old mouth-to-ear method. It’s difficult to play footsie unless you are a basketball player and your date is a model. (It might work if you are under the table.) Beast feels like one of those Henry VIII medieval banquet halls where people throw rolls and flirt with the serving wenches. I don’t recommend this at Beast.There is no bread and staffers have a right to a work- place environment that is free of harass- ment, hostility and intimidation. And air- borne food. The steak is USDA bone-in rib eye and sirloin from Alaska, corn finished for about 150 days, with very high marbling. It’s cooked on a parrilla grill and brushed with rosemary butter. It’s fat and rich. I like fat and rich, though I do wonder if more health-conscious diners would appreciate the combination. My feeling is that the presence of smoked heritage tomatoes and dressed green salad, and the absence of fries, makes it OK. But it’s not an epic steak. It’s not the knockout meat you can get at Goodman, or Hawksmoor or CUT, at a price. It is a steak you might hang out with to get your hands on the king crab. The Paralithodes camtschaticus red king crab was introduced to the Barents Sea by the Soviet Union in the 1960s to provide a new catch for its fisherman, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. Beast obtains its haul from Norway King Crab, based at Bugoeynes, in the Arctic Circle. They are caught only by small coastal boats and make it in less than two hours to a small packing area, where each is indi- vidually inspected for quality before being given a personal identity badge with bar code. No wonder it’s expensive and rarely seen in London restaurants. The crab is sweet and soft and so fresh, you might imagine yourself out on one of those small fishing boats if you weren’t sit- ting underground listening to amplified music and to your fellow diners attempting conver- sation across the table. The crab is served with sweet-chili sauce and garlic butter.You have the option of sea- sonal vegetables if you are feeling peckish, which is unlikely. Dessert is lemon mousse with meringue or berry cheesecake. While the wine list isn’t cheap, it’s not greedy either. The Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir, for example, is £50 and the Schug Carneros Chardonnay (also from California) is £68. If you enjoy good wines and are making a night of it, it’s easy to end up with a bill of £150 a person. If you are cheap or sober, £100 should cover it. I can’t see how this much food at £75 a person can work for lunch and I am not sure it succeeds early in the evening, either. Show up at 6:30 p.m. and you may find yourself sitting alone on a bench in this room, lit by dozens of candles. Goodman is already looking at the pos- sibility of featuring options other than the full Beast Experience. The older I get, the less interested I am in communal revelry. But the food and service at Beast are of the high standard you can expect from the Goodman group. Executive Chef John Cadieux is a man you can trust with your dinner, or lunch. So if you are up for this kind of thing, I am happy to recommend it: Feast at Beast. Rating: 7/10 Beast, 3 Chapel Place, Marylebone, W1G 0BG. Info: +44-20-7495-1816. Beast is housed in a basement where diners sit at huge communal tables. Source: Goodman Restaurants RESTAURANTS Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine 11
  12. 12. BY AINSLEY THOMSON Without them, we may never have munched on super- food salads. Since opening their first Leon restaurant in Carnaby Street ten years ago, John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby have helped push healthy fast-food into the mainstream and launched a culinary phenomenon. “There was a feeling back then that you either had fast, delicious food or you had cranks, which was mung beans etc,”Vincent says during an interview at Leon on Bankside, tucked behind the Tate Modern. “There was a separation in people’s minds between healthy food and tasty food.” Today, Vincent says healthy recipes that Leon cre- ated — such as superfood salad and sweet potato falafel — have become staples on the high street, copied by sandwich chains and supermarkets alike. “What’s interesting is that not only does everyone now have a superfood salad, they have our one. Unfor- tunately, they don’t call it the Leon Superfood salad,” the 42-year-old says. In the last financial year, Leon had revenue of £12.5 million, which the company forecasts will rise to £18.5 million in the current year. In addition to 16 restaurants they have published five cook books, including Fast Vegetarian, released earlier this year. “Although some might deem us a successful busi- ness, the impact we’ve had outside the business has been greater than the value we’ve created within,” says Vincent. The two men say that’s about to change. “We now need to grow Leon to what we think it can be. It’s meant to be a global fast-food business, we just need to hurry up and get on with it,” Vincent says. “We are now single-mindedly focused on Leon growing fast and being the size it could be and should be.” Dimbleby says the goal is to have a Leon restaurant in every big city in the world. “We’ve set the bar high,” he says. “We feel that a lot of the really hard operational yards are behind us.Now, after 10 years, we have something at Leon that really delivers.” Dimbleby, 43, says they plan to open 10 restaurants this year and another 10 next year in London and other U.K. cities. They are also aiming to open their first U.S. restaurant in the next 18 months. In 2012, they hired Brad Blum, the former Chief Executive Officer of Burger King and Olive Garden Italian Restaurants, to oversee the U.S. expansion. “Brad is chomping at the bit to do it, he thinks Leon would be a huge brand in America,” Vincent says. “But we all know that going to another country is like starting a business afresh, so the challenge is great, the jeopardy is great, the risk is great.” Dimbleby and Vincent have no plans to float the company. “We created Leon to be liberating. We don’t want to have to spend our time reporting to analysts about what we are doing and why,” Vincent says, adding that the business has reached a point where it can fund its expansion with a combination of cashflow and debt. The two men are also adamant that they won’t let their expansion plans ruin the culture they created in the restaurants. “We call it ‘fast food in heaven’ — wonderful fresh food, served by angels in a lovely environment,” Dim- bleby says, a statement that prompts Vincent to lean over and kiss him on the cheek. Leon’s founders Henry Dimbleby (left) and John Vincent Source: Jon Cartwright Leon Founders Plot to Take Their Brand of Healthy Fast Food Global RESTAURANTS   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine12
  13. 13. WINE DRINKS
  14. 14. BY RICHARD VINES Sommeliers can be the scariest people in restaurants. They may hover. They may know too much. You may not want to pay so much. So what’s the best way to order good wine without emptying your pockets or having your expense claims bounce back? How should you choose if your expertise is limited? “It’s best to be direct and say how much you want to spend,” says Emily O’Hare, 33, head sommelier at River Cafe in Ham- mersmith. “I always feel confident about trusting som- meliers — but I’m the same about hairdress- ers, which isn’t true for everybody.” O’Hare and fellow sommeliers in London say they’re encouraging a trend that helps diners find great value and enjoy fine wine. It means going off-piste, avoiding big- name regions such as Bordeaux and Bur- gundy and heading to other slopes of France — and other parts of the world. That can comfort people who fear being pushed up in price or aren’t sure which regions other than the obvious offer top quality. “Sommeliers, of all the personnel in res- taurants, are the most intense, the hover- ers,” says Tom Harrow, who sources wines and hosts events for clients via his company WineChap. “They are the geeks,” Harrow says. “There’s nothing cool about wine. If you like it, you drink it. But there are people who categorise it, like collecting stamps.” Asking your wine steward for a steer away from the most expensive wines is fair play, Harrow and sommeliers say. “For value, I would look in Alsace and in the Loire Valley as well, and sometimes even in the New World,” says Kathrine Larsen, 31, a Dane who holds the title of U.K. Sommelier of the Year. “I’d look maybe atAustralia,Victoria, some- where like Yarra Valley or Mornington Pen- insula, smaller producers which are up and coming,” Larsen says. California wines from the Sonoma Valley are a possibility, “though that tends to be a bit more expensive.” Larsen, who was head sommelier at Le Pont de la Tour, Orrery and Zuma before joining Top Selection as the wine distribu- Sommelier Tips on the Scary Business of Picking Wines WINE tor’s business development manager, also likes easy-drinking Spanish whites from the Rueda region of Castile and Leon. For reds, it’s Galicia — an “unusual” choice from an area known for whites — or perhaps a trip to the Piedmont area of Italy. For diners seeking good value, “there’s some really fun Spanish stuff,” O’Hare agrees. “Southern France, too: Languedoc Roussillon can come up with some really cool things.” She recommends the “incredible white wines” from the Alto Adige region of north- east Italy. Some whites from Campania in the south of the country are “really interest- ing and offer some really good value and complexity and structure.” Harrow also likes Italy, particularly vin- tages from Puglia.And he’s high on Austria, calling it “the new Portugal” for reds. But he says you don’t have to escape France for good value. “If you love white Burgundy and can’t afford Meursault, why not look at places like Reuilly or wines from the Macon, and similarly with reds?” he says. Harrow also favours “the new seam of unoaked Australian chardonnays,” and both he and River Cafe’s O’Hare recommend German rieslings. O’Hare used to organise women-only tastings because men were taking the lead in engaging the sommelier. “There’s been a bit of a climate change,” she says. “Women seemed to be a bit timid in restaurants and that’s not so true any- more. There’s definitely an equality about payment, about ordering: He’s not ordering for her and she’s not sitting back and being quiet. There’s definitely a new kind of vibe.” Larsen, who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants Ensemble and The Paul in Copenhagen, isn’t so sure. “It’s funny thinking about it, but it’s really rare that I’ve seen women ordering wine in restaurants,” says Larsen. “Women usually just don’t go there. In 13 years of having worked in restaurants, I think the men usu- ally take care of that.” Either way, the key is to be honest. “You need to be quite candid with som- meliers,” Harrow says. “That’s important because the moment you start pretending you know more than you do, it’s not just like wolves surrounding a prey, but they won’t treat you with respect.” What if a sommelier does embarrass you? “It’s rubbish if anyone makes you feel like an idiot,” O’Hare says.“That’s a bad person, not a bad sommelier.You wouldn’t be intimi- dated by a grocer. It’s just wine.” Emily O’Hare is a sommelier at the River Cafe Source: Bloomberg/Richard Vines   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine14
  15. 15. No Need to Head to Bordeaux, Central London Has Its Own Vintage BY AINSLEY THOMSON One man’s wild ambition to make wine in the heart of London is turning into a 15,000-bot- tle-a-year reality. While the capital has a long-established wine trade, it has been centred on import- ing and selling bottles produced elsewhere. Winemaker Gavin Monery and his team at London Cru have turned that on its head by opening the city’s first winery. “At the start it was a crazy idea, but we were looking at doing something different in the London wine trade,” Monery said at the winery, located in a former gin distillery a few hundred metres from Earls Court Events Centre. “The market here is very mature. People have been buying, selling and trading wine from places like Bordeaux, for hundreds of years. So there’s a fixed hierarchy and we were looking for a way we could mix it up and do something different.” The idea behind London Cru, which is financially backed by Cliff Roberson, of Rob- erson Wine, and investor Will Tomlinson, was to involve the public in a way that hasn’t been possible in London.Instead of a formal wine- tasting experience, they wanted to create a relaxed environment where people could sample wine and most importantly, learn how it is made. “We wanted to bring people in and show them it’s an agricultural product, show them how it’s processed so they can experience the different smells and sensations of wine from when it’s harvested all the way through to being bottled,” Monery said. The refurbishment of the gin distillery, which produced the spirit from 1878 until the late 1950’s, began in February last year and involved installing a water treatment plant to remove chlorine, a UV lamp to destroy bacteria and membrane filter to sterilise the mains water.The winery has five 2,500 litre open-topped stainless steel fermentation tanks, four 1,500 litre storage tanks and 50 oak barrels. The grapes are from French vineyards Chateau Corneilla in the foothills of the Pyrenees and Mas Coutelou in Puimisson, and from an estate in Peidmont, north-west Italy.The grapes, which are hand-harvested before being transported in refrigerated trucks, arrive at London Cru within 36 hours of being picked. The fruit is then processed using a vibrat- ing sorting table, conveyor and de-stemming machine, before being slowly pressed and pumped into the tanks. London Cru will produce 1,300 cases, about 15,500 bottles, this year, with plans to increase that to 3,000 cases annually over the next two years. Monery is making Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera.The wine went on sale in Sep- tember for £15 per bottle. The 36-year-old Australian said London Cru, which opened its cellar doors to the ■■ 1,052,666,667 bottles of wine were sold at supermarkets and off-licences in the U.K. in the 12 months to 9 November 2013, according to the Wine Spirit Trade Association. ■■ There are 448 commercial vine- yards in England and Wales, the Food Standards Association says. ■■ 18 percent of Britons say red wine is their favourite alcoholic drink and 14 percent prefer white, according to the Wilson Drinks Report. BRITISH WINE FACTS public in November last year, also wants to establish itself as a wine events company. The winery offers Winemaker for the Day courses, which cost £125, and winery tours, £15, with plans to introduce further courses and events. Monery, who has worked in wine for the past 14 years, learning his trade in wineries in Margaret River, Western Australia, and in France, said the courses were designed to educate people about winemaking in a hands-on, informal way. “We’re try to make the tastings more about different sensations and flavours – instead of telling people what acid tastes like, we add acid to a specific sample and they can feel and taste that sensation. The same with tannin – we add tannin to a spe- cific sample, so they can feel the drying sen- sations in their mouth. I think once people feel those sensations they are much more likely to remember them.” Monery said he wants to use the fact that the winery is located in the centre of the city to bring wine to the people. “They don’t have to catch a train down to the South Downs to see us, or go to winery in Bordeaux or Burgundy,” he said. “If there is a winery on their doorstep then they might come down and see us and have a chat and a drink.” Winemaker Gavin Monery in the vineyard Source: www.ianstirlingphotography.com WINE Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine 15
  16. 16. Fund Manager Swaps Computer Screens for Watching Grapes Grow BY RICHARD VINES Mark Driver, who was a banker in London and Hong Kong before helping found Horseman Capital Manage- ment, is learning the virtue of patience. It’s four years since he bought a farm on the South Downs, in the county of Sussex, and planted grapes to produce English sparkling wines. He may make some next year, but there’s no hurry. He’s biding his time and watching the grapes grow. Another step in his ambition to build an international brand happened in May when Business Secretary Vince Cable formally opened Driver’s winery at the Rathfinny Estate, which covers 600 acres of rolling hillside. “There’s no comparison with working in the City,” said Driver, 49, whose workplace echoes to the sound of birdsong rather than London buses. “It’s a completely different life. I used to sit in front of a screen and now I work more outside, looking at the vines and how the vineyard is going and building the winery.” Sussex shares the same band of chalk that forms the Paris Basin, which stretches across the Champagne region. Rising temperatures have helped produce a cli- mate conducive to producing some fine sparkling wines. His winemaker at Rathfinny is Jonathan Medard, a Frenchman from Epernay who trained at Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Champagne Louis Roederer, Moet Chandon and Champagne Boizel. Driver originally planned to grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, along with Riesling for still wines. He’s now added Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc to round out the flavour of his sparkling wine. “The idea is to produce a slightly fruitier wine but not with the sugar content of Prosecco,” he said. English wineries filled slightly less than 4.5 million bottles in 2013, a record, The Drinks Business reported. That compares with Champagne output in France of 349 million bottles, according to the official Comite Cham- pagne. In England and Wales there are 432 vineyards and 124 wineries, with 3,553 acres under vine, the English Wine Producers website says. About 60 percent of the output is sparkling, 30 percent still white and 10 percent red or rose, it says. Leading producers include Denbies Wine Estate, home to the largest vineyard in the U.K. Prior to Horseman, where he co-managed the Horse- man Global Fund, Driver spent 11 years covering Asian markets. He set up and managed the Asian equity desk in London for former for former U.S. investment bank Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette, and also worked in sales in Hong Kong and London for Societe Generale (Crosby) and Merrill Lynch. He began his career at Fidelity Invest- ment Management in 1985. “It’s been a steep learning curve,” he said of his time at Rathfinny, where he hoped to be producing wine in 2013.“Everyone was telling me I was too optimistic, and they were right of course.”A cold winter and a late spring resulted in a small crop that wasn’t worth picking, and the winery wasn’t even ready, he said. This year is looking very good and he’s hoping to get a crop from the Riesling, he said. “We had a mild winter. It was very wet but that isn’t an issue because we’re on nice slopes that are self-draining and the vines are looking strong. “This time next year, or slightly earlier, we’ll be bottling some sparkling wine. That will go into storage for two years and, hope- fully, be released in late 2017.” Long term, Driver said, the hope is that Sussex wines will obtain Protected Designation of Origin status, a European Union classification that protects prod- ucts and foodstuffs — from Champagne toYorkshire forced rhubarb — from imitators. He would then aim to sell Rathfinny sparkling wine under the Sussex designation in North America and Asia. Rathfinny vineyard on the South Downs Source: Mission WINE   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine16
  17. 17. Gin Craze Returns to London Living Rooms With Home Brews SPIRITS BY CLEMENTINE FLETCHER AND RICHARD VINES Standing on a quiet residential street in Chiswick, there’s little sign you’re at the edge of a gin revolution. Behind a locked metal gate topped with barbed wire is a rundown parking garage. At the back of this build- ing, spirits maker Sipsmith has quietly installed a still it has christened Constance. Soon she’ll be joined by the company’s original pair, Prudence and Patience, as Sipsmith moves its home to this bigger site to produce brands such as V.J.O.P. — Very Junipery Over Proof gin — using the first new copper stills to work in London in more than 200 years. “Gin has had a very peak-trough kind of existence: it’s come back and forward in fashion,” Sipsmith co-founder Sam Galsworthy said. “Vodka came in through the 80s and 90s and gin was pretty uncool, a pretty dour spirit, and there wasn’t a great deal of premiumisation going on.” Craft distillers like Sipsmith, Hendrick’s, and Sacred Spirits — produced in a north London living room — are changing all of that, inspiring even mass-market brands like Diageo’s Gordon’s gin to tweak their formulas. The domestic production revival brings the drink full circle from the 1700s, when a rash of homemade brews made it the favourite tipple of the city’s poor and earned it the nickname “mother’s ruin.” Sipsmith sells a London Dry Gin made with Chi- nese cassia bark, and Sloe Gin, a sweet red liqueur made from gin and a fruit that’s a relative of the plum. The craft gin maker was founded in 2009 by a group of drinks industry veterans and is distilled by a former male underwear model.While Sipsmith’s output is small — Galsworthy said it produces in a year what Diageo does in an hour — the impact that it and other upstart gin brands is having is anything but. “The resurgence of gin is upon us,” said Spiros Malan- drakis, an analyst at researcher Euromonitor International. While gin’s invention is often credited to a Dutch doctor in the 1600s, it rose to popularity in the U.K. in the first part of the following century as unregulated distillation boomed across London until the 1751 Gin Act. Gin flourished again in the 1800s as British officers in India mixed it with quinine to ward off malaria, creating the ubiquitous gin and tonic. Upstart distillers have fuelled a 40 percent surge in superpremium gin sales in the U.K. in the five years through 2012, compared with a 1.1 percent increase for the drink overall, researcher IWSR estimates. “There’s not a lot of gin that gets manufactured in London, so a couple of companies like us doing some- thing traditional obviously touched a point in people’s consciousness,” said Sacred creator Ian Hart, who started his craft gin brand five years ago after leaving the finance industry. Gin is always created from a juniper berry base and then distilled with a mix of ingredients such as citrus peel and coriander; newbies have won notice by experiment- ing with other botanical hints. Hart uses frankincense and cardamom for Sacred, while Hendrick’s, in its trade- mark stout bottle, relies on cucumber and Bulgarian rose. “Brands at the top end have done a brilliant job bring- ing vibrancy to the category,” said Ed Pilkington, Diageo’s marketing and innovation director for western Europe. Diageo’s Gordon’s, which retails at about half the £30 price of Sacred and Sipsmith, has about 46 percent of the U.K. market, according to IWSR.Yet sales have been declining or stagnant for a few years, Pilkington said. Sales of standard-priced gins rose 2.3 percent in 2012 while Gordon’s edged up only 0.8 percent, according to IWSR. So Gordon’s is taking a leaf out of Diageo’s vodka playbook.The brand started selling a version laced with elderflower this year, following 2013’s cucumber-tinged variety.While smaller, pricier rivals create different tastes by incorporating botanicals during distillation, Diageo merely adds flavours to the spirit, a technique success- fully used with its vodkas, from midmarket Smirnoff Vanilla to upmarket Ciroc Peach. “We think flavour innovation is important and, within gin, untapped,” Pilkington said. He predicted that as much as 15 percent of Gordon’s volume in the U.K. could eventually come from the cucumber and elder- flower variants, and hopes it will spur more interest in mainstream gins. “If flavours can work for bourbon,” said Ian Shackleton, an analyst at Nomura Securities, “they work for anything.” Gin is created from a base of juniper berries (pictured) and then distilled with ingredients such as citrus peel and coriander. Source: Bloomberg/ Chris Ratcliffe Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine 17
  18. 18. Whisky Hunter Makes 1,300 Percent on Single Malt as Bordeaux Sours BY FREDERIK BALFOUR When Aaron Chan heard that a liquor store in Athens might have a rare Hanyu Ichiro Malt Japanese whisky, he phoned the shop from Hong Kong. Unable to make himself understood in English, he e-mailed photos of the distillery’s distinctive playing-card labels. The owner replied with a picture of his bottle. It was the Ace of Spades. “That was my Eureka moment,” said Chan, who paid about HK$6,000 (£467) for the bottle two years ago. “The Ace of Spades was very, very rare already.” In August, a similar bottle went for HK$85,750 at a Bonhams auction in Hong Kong, 14 times what Chan paid and slightly more than the price of an entire case of 1982 Chateau Margaux that Sotheby’s sold in New York seven weeks earlier. Forget Bordeaux first growths. Inves- tors are falling over themselves to snag iconic single-malt scotches like Macallan, Bowmore and Dalmore and Japan’s rare Karuizawa and Yamazaki whiskies. Bars dedicated to the amber liquid have sprung up around the world, and prices are rising to dizzying levels. Sotheby’s sold a 6-litre Lalique decanter of Macallan “M” single malt in January for a record HK$4.9 million. According to the Investment Grade Scotch index, published by Whisky Highland in Tain, Scotland, the top 100 single malts delivered an average return of 440 percent from the start of 2008 till the end of July this year.That compares with a 31 percent gain in SP 500 stocks index and a sobering 2 percent drop in the Liv-ex 100 Benchmark Fine Wine Index. The surge in prices is great news for Mahesh Patel, an Atlanta real-estate devel- oper who has amassed a collection of more than 5,000 bottles over the past 25 years. “Everything I have is appreciating,” says 47-year-old Patel, whose cache is insured for close to $6 million (£3.6 million). “I am a believer of buying two of everything. One to open and enjoy, the other you put away if it’s rare.” One exception to his two-bottle rule is a Dalmore Trinitas 64Year Old, which he bought in 2010 for £100,000. Only three were ever made. One reason for the surge in prices is that distillers simply can’t react to the increase in demand fast enough because whisky takes so long to age. Even a standard duty-free Glenfiddich or Glenlivet spends 12 years in the cask, and investment grade scotches many more. The 1962 Macallan the villain- ous Raoul Silva offered James Bond in Sky- fall was aged for half a century. Whisky, derived from the old Irish phrase for “water of life,” is made from a mash of fermented grain, yeast and water that is distilled and then aged in oak casks. A sin- gle-malt is produced from malted barley at one distillery. As each cask ages, some of Yamazaki in Osaka, which opened 90 years ago, was the first commercial distillery in Japan Source: Bloomberg/Akio Kon the spirit evaporates, a loss known as the “angels’ share.”A 50-year-old barrel can lose as much as 60 percent. Some of the most-coveted whiskies come from casks left over from “silent distilleries” that ceased operation decades ago.A batch from Port Ellen on the Scottish island of Islay, which closed in 1983, is still releas- ing vintages as they come of age.The 1978 sold last year, one bottle per customer, for £1,500. If you like your scotch with ice, there’s a box of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt that was exhumed in 2010 in the Antarctic, where it had been left by explorer Ernest Shackleton in 1907. Protected by the Antarc- tic Heritage Trust, the 11 bottles will never be uncorked, but a wee dram was drawn from one by syringe and a replica produced by Whyte Mackay in Scotland. Part of the rising demand is coming from wine collectors who are switching to the hard stuff after a 35 percent decline in the Liv-ex 100 from its June 2011 peak.There are only about 100 single-malt distilleries in Scotland according to the Scotch Whisky Association, compared with more than 8,000 winemak- ers in Bordeaux, which produces less than 2 percent of the world’s wine. Whisky Highland founder Andy Simpson estimates the auction market for whisky in the U.K., where the bulk of trading occurs, will reach £6.75 million this year, up from £5 million last year. In 2013, wine auc- tions raised about $278 million worldwide, a decline of 15 percent. Added to the mix are whiskies from Japan, which opened its first commercial distillery, Yamazaki, 90 years ago. Japanese malts have been made more popular in the West by films like Lost in Translation, featuring actor Bill Murray touting Suntory’s Hibiki 17-year-old blend. “They made it easier for Japanese whisky to cross the floor from the New World to the Old World,” says Marcin Miller, managing director for Europe at Number One Drinks Co. in Norwich which distributes Karuizawa, Hanyu and Chichibu single malts. Inevitably, whisky’s popularity is spawn- ing counterfeits, says Luigi Barzini, spirits specialist at London-based merchant Berry Bros. Rudd. “There are a lot of fakes across Asia and some in Italy,” says Barzini. “It’s a big problem for all of us.” SPIRITS   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine19
  19. 19. BY MATTHEW BOYLE Noah Bulkin is not the man you’d expect to be pouring your next pint of ale. The Oxford-educated Bulkin, 37, spent 15 years cutting deals as a mergers acquisitions banker for Merrill Lynch and Lazard before leaving last year to start his own pub company, Hawthorn Leisure. He’s acquired hundreds of struggling pubs and plans to turn them around by tracking everything from the price charged for beer to daily sales fluctuations to customers’ preferences. “Understanding pricing and the mix of drinks is incredibly important,” Bulkin says in an office overlooking Hyde Park in Mayfair. “A lot of pubs don’t have that data. If you can make them the core of your business, there’s a fantastic opportunity.” Over the past decade, Brit- ain’s £70 billion pub industry has fallen on hard times.About 10,000 outlets have closed since 2004, according to the British Beer Pub Association, hit by the reces- sion, a 2007 smoking ban and cheaper supermarket booze. The volume of beer imbibed in U.K. bars has declined 45 per- cent since 2000, leaving compa- nies such as Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns weighed down with debt. The industry is fighting back, thanks in part to investors like Bulkin. After years of declines, sales at pubs open at least a year have grown for 14 consecutive months, according to pub indus- try data provider CGA Strategy. Shares of pub companies JD Wetherspoon, Spirit Pub Co. and Fuller Smith Turner have all bested the FTSE All-Share Index over the past 12 months. Britain’s 50,000 pubs are split into three parts: managed out- lets, controlled by companies like Wetherspoon; tenanted or “tied” pubs, where the property is run by individual tenants who pay rent and buy their beer from a corporate landlord such as Punch Ex-Merrill Lynch Banker Uses Big Data to Save Britain’s Pubs PUBS Taverns; and free houses, which operate independently. The tenanted industry has suffered most, due to what a Parliamentary committee has called “downright bully- ing” of tenants by the pub companies, who it said often kept them in the dark about how rents were calculated. Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, this is where Bulkin is focusing. So far this year, the entrepreneur has bought 363 pubs in two separate deals and he says there are over a thousand more on his radar.To boost sales, he’ll add food, repair tattered pool tables, and widen the beer selection — offering popular ales like Doom Bar. A former Lazard colleague has built analytical models for each pub, estimating potential sales and earnings. “Applying some granular analysis of what a person might drink and what they will pay is an incredibly impor- tant element,” Bulkin says.“This hasn’t been done in the bottom end of the sector.” For instance, two beers that are identical in price per pint and taste similar could deliver as much as an 80 percent difference in profit per keg to the pub, Bulkin says.Area managers will check in on tenants more often, discussing which drinks to offer and at what price. There’s a risk, though: replacing, or changing the price of, a popular ale can send customers fleeing across the street to a rival establishment. Hawthorn Leisure is backed by New York-based Avenue Capital Group, a sign that “private equity is coming back to the sector with a vengeance,” accord- ing to Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, an industry publication. Last year, Cerberus Capital Man- agement bought Admiral Tavern, which it plans to use as a platform for more acquisitions. In July, Risk Capital Partners of London invested in The Laine Pub Company, a 45-pub chain based in Brighton. The fresh money has inspired new business models. Oakman Inns Restaurants, a chain of nine high-end pubs in Hertfordshire, generates 60 percent of its sales from food. Founder Peter Borg-Neal uses the same meat supplier as Windsor Castle, and spends about £1 million refurbishing the pubs he buys, adding dining rooms, cozy outdoor areas and services like Orderella, a smartphone ordering app. Oakman’s pubs are data driven, linked by systems that allow managers to analyse sales and customer traffic patterns hourly, rather than waiting until the end of the month. One supplier of such technology, Zonal Retail Data Systems, will increase sales to about £50 million this year, more than double sales in 2010. To be sure, no technology can improve the camara- derie that attracts Britons to pubs. “I feel special here,” says Bruce Brunson, 37, at the White Horse in Welwyn, Hertfordshire. “When I walk in, it’s like I’m Norm from ‘Cheers’.” Investor Noah Bulkin last year left banking to start pub company Hawthorn Leisure. Source: Bloomberg/Simon Dawson   Winter 2014/2015  bloombergbriefs.com Bloomberg Brief: Dine Wine20
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