He founded legendary London eatery L’Escargot, has been the restaurant critic for the Financial Times for 25 years and, married to Jancis Robinson MW, is one half of the most formidable and knowledgeable food and wine couples in the world. In his latest book On The Menu, Nicholas Lander looks at all aspects of the menu – the world’s favourite piece of paper – from its history and evolution to 80 examples of menus from the most sought-after tables on the planet. We ask Lander who delivers the best menu and also, when dining out who picks the wine – him or Jancis?
Nicholas Lander answers Who has the best customer-friendly wine list? and What are the latest dining out trends?
You would expect the FT’s restaurant critic of 25-plus years and founder of the legendary Soho eatery, L’Escargot to know a good menu when he sees one. When you consider that he is also one half of the most perfect food/wine pairings in the business, you can be sure he does.
For Nicholas Lander – aka. Mr Jancis Robinson MW – dining out is quite literally a living.
So, who could be better placed to cast an expert eye on the history and evolution of the menu?
In his new book, aptly titled On The Menu, Lander celebrates the history, design and evolution of the ‘world’s favourite piece of paper’. It is an expertly curated collection of menus from leading restaurants around the globe, sumptuously presented in a coffee table format.
From the bizarre – a Christmas menu of zoo animals served during the siege of Paris in 1870 – to the historic – Ferran Adrià’s valedictory menu from the closing day’s service at the five times voted ‘best restaurant in the world, elBulli in Spain – it includes 80 full-colour reproductions of menus from the most sought-after dining tables of the past and present.
On the eve of the book’s official launch, we invited Nicholas Lander to give his expert views on what makes the perfect menu.
What is the biggest menu turn-off?
Any menu that is handed over to the customer in a plastic cover or coating
Which current UK restaurant/s deliver/s the best menu, in your opinion?
Which has/have the most reliable and customer-friendly wine list?
When you’re not ‘working’, where are you most likely to eat out?
When you are dining out with Jancis, which of you chooses the restaurant and who the wine?
As you would expect…….
What is the most memorable dining out experience you have enjoyed (anywhere in the world)?
Our first couple of meals at elBulli in Roses, Spain, at a table overlooking the Mediterranean…….
Where in the world would you most like to try next?
What are the current trends in dining out?
Sharing plates; tasting menus, with or without wine pairings; and, finally the re-emergences of sherry.
On The Menu by Nicholas Lander (Published by Unbound – 3rd November 2016, hardback £30)
A sequel to Lander’s first book The Art of the Restaurateur, On the Menu features new contributions from 12 of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, Bray) René Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen), Mario Batali (Babbo, New York), Michel Roux Jnr (Le Gavroche, London), Michael Anthony (Untitled, New York) and Peter Gilmore (Quay, Sydney). Each offers insights and intelligence on creating an exemplary menu, gleaned from their years at the cutting edge of culinary innovation.
It studies the principles of devising a menu, from selecting the dishes, wines and cocktails, to the design and layout of the physical menu, with a dedicated chapter on drinks menus. An instructive memento for gastronomes, a chronicle of social change, and a manual for contemporary restaurateurs, it’s all On the Menu.