September 21st, 2009


Restaurant Week

When I first skimmed an email announcement of London's first forthcoming Restaurant Week (8-13 October), I anticipated a version of Toronto's Summerlicious/Winterlicious, a week of appealing, radically discounted menus to entice those with budgets and those willing to sample new restaurants into dabbling for a week.

It's not. Instead, it will be offering an intriguing but much less accessible program of events. £135 for a three course meal at three different top-end restaurants, including transport between courses. £40 or £50 for a roast dinner at trestle tables, the cooking done by big name chefs. The few "special offer" menus I attempted to browse through were all variations on "eat here on a particular night of the week and you can lucky dip for your food to be free". At these prices, the only thing that really appealed was a one-week-only recreation of a long-closed three Michelin star restaurant, La Tante Claire, on top of Selfridge's, with lots of original - now well-established - chefs coming back to cook for it. There, at least, there's going to be some control over how much I spend and what I spend it on; and I trust the value for money more too.

I would have called it something like "Fine Dining Week" so there was more clarity in advertising. Accessible, this is not.