Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Why you won't find me in any of the world's 50 best restaurants

Why won't you find me in any of the world's 50 best restaurants? Because I'm too tight.

But that apart, when I heard on the radio this morning that the 2010 'World's 50 best restaurants' award winner had been announced, I couldn't help think 'SO WHAT?' Yes, I thought it in capitals. (The awards' website is here, but seems a bit flaky - there's a little bit about it from the BBC here.)

Part of the problem I have with this award is that the chances are high I will never experience anything in the list. I certainly won't find myself at the #1 restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen, and I'm highly unlikely ever to cross the threshold of Britain's top spot, which is Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck at Bray coming in at a respectable #3.

Compare this with an awards ceremony that's faintly interesting like the Oscars or one of the book prizes. It's highly likely that I will experience at least some of the contenders there. That's what makes it interesting. But why should I care about restaurants I will never visit? (I can't help but feel the media go on about this kind of thing, because media people are kind of people who end up in these restaurants.)

It's not that I'm anti-food, quite the contrary. I'm happy to enjoy anything from a basic family restaurant up to a local quite-expensive eatery. But I can't get so excited about a meal that I'm prepared to travel any great distance to experience it - and I'm certainly not about to contemplate our Heston's £150 per person menu (without wine or tip). That's just obscene. (On the subject of tips, I love the way Heston's menu says 'An optional 12.5% service charge will be added to your bill. Someone should point out it's not optional if it's added.)

My biggest problem with the sort of restaurants that are likely to get on the list is that they are overwhelmed with a sense of their own importance. If I want to eat somewhere, I want booking a table to be a painless experience, not something I have to contemplate fearfully a year in advance. And I want the restaurant to treat me as if I am customer who deserves good service, not something the waiter has scraped off his shoe.

So, frankly, you can stuff your award with a nice chicken liver parfait, oak moss and shaved fennel. Enjoy.

2 comments:

  1. I'm a bit of a foody and tried some well-known, upmarket places and was really underwhelmed.

    You're much better following local word of mouth about the pubs/restaurants serving food in the area. Around Swindon, The Hare at Lambourn Woodlands is very good.

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  2. Thanks, Joseph - yes, we've been to the Hare a couple of times and very much enjoyed it.

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