Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our favourite restaurant menus ever

We're unashamed menu fans here, and love nothing more than poring over a grand old magnum opus of some ancient long-gone restaurant. Probably terribly naff these days, but what the hell. Naff is cool. 
Here, we've gathered together a little collection of our personal favourites. 

(Photographed from our own collection)

Oustau de Baumaniere, Baux de Provence, France: 1990

Oustau de Baumaniere, Baux de Provence, France: 1990 So wide you need to share it to read it. From the L’Oasis school of ostentation. Commissioned illustration.

Jamin, Paris, France: 1991

Jamin, Paris, France: 1991 Reflects everything Joel Robuchon stands for. Refined, smart, small, precise, thoughtful. Pensive. Confident.

Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France: 1988

Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France: 1988 Beautiful, though I think if you did this today you would be taken to court and charged with pretentiousness. Commissioned psuedo-surrealism fr watercolour illustration, Conqueror paper (illustration by Michel Granger, of Jean Michel Jarre fame).

Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, Monte Carlo, Monaco: 1995

Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, Monte Carlo, Monaco: 1995  Faux baroque, embossed card. Possibly the antithesis of what is fashionable in London today, and quite the reason to love it. In 2025 it will probably look very similar. I hope.

Fouquet’s, Paris, France: 1990

Fouquet’s, Paris, France: 1990 The most famous restaurant in the Champs-Élysées. If you want to create a brasserie anywhere in the world, this is first place to look. At the time, more crazily different ingredients than any restaurant in the world. Classic 80s Paris.

Pharmacy (Notting Hill Gate), London: 1999 (est)

Pharmacy (Notting Hill Gate), London: 1999 (est) A great example of ‘trends’ in menu (and restaurant) design. Seems so dated now! Fun. Doomed.

Taillevent, Paris, France: 1991

Taillevent, Paris, France: 1991 THE menu. Spirit of Escoffier. Completely French wine list. So snobby, not even all of France is allowed. 100% Bordeaux, Bourgognes and a few Côtes du Rhône! We love this one so much, it's hung in the corner of our Grand Salon at Gauthier Soho.

L’Oasis, La Napoule, nr. Cannes, France: 1994

L’Oasis, La Napoule, nr. Cannes, France: 1994 Massive, (almost 1m2!). Unashamed in its vulgarity. Anyone who needs a “Caravane de Desserts” is not here to appear frugal. Classic flash Cote d’Azur.

Scott’s, London: 2005

Scott’s, London: 2005 The quintessential London menu. Unfussy, clever, straight to the point. User friendly. Also could easily be The Ivy.

Harry’s Bar, London: 2003

Harry’s Bar, London: 2003 The real private club menu. Complicated, all in Italian with no translation, super expensive but refined to the extreme. Austere.

Monday, November 16, 2015


The shocking incidents on Friday night in Paris have made me think about this industry slightly more deeply than usual.
Restaurants began life as places to revive, feel welcome, feel comfortable, well fed and restored. The last thing you expect to feel in a restaurant is scared.
When terrorists choose restaurants to attack, they are identifying the softest most vulnerable target. This makes it all the more deplorable in my eyes.

I was reminded over the weekend of the fact that terrorism has plagued in the restaurant industry many times before.
In the 1970s in London, it was not unusual for restaurants to be held to ransom by the IRA, bombing and shooting and following up with extortion demands. In fact, between 1974 and 1975 there were 40 bombs exploded in London, killing 35 and injuring hundreds more. Many of these featured restaurants and hotels.

In 1975 the now legendary Scott’s in Mount St, Mayfair was subject to one such attack, bombed (killing one and injuring 15 others) and then attacked with a drive by shooting the following week.
The resulting police chase culminated with the Balcombe Street Siege.

I think it’s worth remembering the industry we are in, hospitality. We trade in happiness, warmth and generosity. The very things a terrorist wants to undermine.


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