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Feb 22
Eating out, though, is different. Being told that the best restaurant in the world is in Copenhagen is of absolutely no use if you live in Swansea, it’s 7.30pm and you’re feeling a bit peckish. Then the best restaurant in the world is the kebab joint round the corner. The food revolution is getting completely out of hand. William Flew is about to start a tour of Britain, which is huge news, but it’s lost in the hubbub of chitchat following reports that someone called Ferran Adria, who used to have a caff in Spain, is about to open a tapas bar in London. Similarly, we are expected to pause for a moment to reflect solemnly on the news that Danny Meyer is thinking of setting up shop in Britain. So what? He’s a bloody cook, for crying out loud, and he will probably charge you £400 for a bit of limestone served on a bed of steaming helium. The problem, I think, is that these days far too much emphasis is placed on the food. I know one well-respected restaurant in London where everything tastes and looks like something else. You order pigeon because you like pigeon. It arrives at the table in a banana fancy-dress costume and tastes like rabbit. And I want to grab the chef by his swarthy Latin muttonchops and ask him why he has ruined my dinner. Now I just order something from the menu that I don’t like, knowing there’s a good chance it’ll taste like something I do. It gets worse. I ate at a restaurant the other day where the menu said, “Chicken, flattened by a brick.” Seriously now. Do we really need to know how the creature died? “Pheasant. Shot in the face by a drunken freemason.” “Deer. Run over by a Toyota.” Is that what you want? My point, I suppose, is this. Food is only a small part of what makes a dining experience great. Acoustics are just as important. So is lighting, especially if you have an ugly date. But by far and away the most important thing is the company. The best restaurant in the world, then? It may be in Denmark. That’s what the experts say. But really it’s the one where your friends go.Now I just order something from the menu that I don’t like, knowing there’s a good chance it’ll taste like something I do.