Top positive review
17 of 17 people found this helpful
Another helping, please
on 30 August 2008
I have not read too much of Jay Rayner's work in the papers, or his novels, so this is my introduction to the man and his appetite. I completely fell in love with his writing - I think he has the most beautiful, original, and apt turn of phrase of any food writer I can think of today. And so funny! It must take him days to think up some of those lines. They continue to give me pleasure now.
But he has a lot of acute and important observations to make about the fine dining restaurant business, and like another reviewer, I was particularly appreciative of his comments re: Ramsay et al, and global brand domination, and insights into the dubious world of the Moscow restaurant scene. This all sounds very dull - in his skilled hands, it really isn't, it's absolutely compelling, and good to know someone (thankfully a warrior-sized someone) is pointing the finger.
I don't agree that Rayner likes restaurants populated by stick-thin posh types - in fact, he repeatedly asks questions about the nature of who it is that eats in top-class restaurants, and whether or not they are the kind who would most appreciate what it is that they are eating, and paying top dollar for. And he's scrupulously honest about his own membership to this elite club, and what that means about him, and his future eating habits and pleasures.
This reads like a novel in some ways (which makes sense, I guess), in that Rayner goes on a journey, there's a learning curve. He starts out starry-eyed, ambitious, somewhat in thrall to the restaurant auteurs, but falls out of love on more than one occasion with them, with the excesses and wastage that attend fine dining, and with writing about food for a living. He challenges himself. He has revelations. He is humbled. And finally, towards the end, finds a way back to loving to eat, and to doing what he does best.
I find Jay the perfect dining companion. I urge others to seek out his company - and a good few interesting dinners - in these pages too.