Magazine article The Spectator

Restaurants

Magazine article The Spectator

Restaurants

Article excerpt

Half-term, and a choice. I could try the latest place in Crouch End, as there is always a latest place in Crouch End, and could, as ever, attempt to disguise the fact that I have been to Crouch End (again!) by calling it west Highgate, south Muswell Hill, north Finsbury Park or even Haringey Village, which never fooled anybody but was a stroke of genius nonetheless. On the other hand, though, I could fly to Mauritius, tropical island, jewel of the Indian Ocean, and visit Le Saint Géran, frequently voted one of the most exquisite resorts in the world, and dine at the restaurant there. This is Spoon des Isles, one of Alain Ducasse's gourmet establishments. Alain Ducasse, as you may or may not know, is the French chef who has garnered more Michelin stars than Michael Winner has had hot dinners which, as you must know, is really saying something.

It's a tough call. Haringey Village has a lot going for it, including a family bakery that's proud to have been there for over 100 years but still can't make nice bread, and a W7 bus route that would be second to none if a bus ever came and you didn't have to pay before you got on, which is a great faff and fiddle. Come to think of it, the only thing Haringey Village does have going for it is the fact that it's on the doorstep. I so hate to travel. All that setting off for the airport several decades before departure and still making it with just a minute to spare and then having to walk 768 miles to Gate 4567. (Who gets to leave from Gate 1? The Queen?) In the end, Mauritius has it, I'm not sure why. Something to do with Mark Twain having described it as paradise on earth and the average sea temperature of 77°F. (Sorry, can't do Celsius at all. When they say on the radio it's going to be 26 degrees today, I'm out there in a balaclava with snow shovel wondering why everyone else is wearing shorts. Fools. I'm not lending them my de-icer.)

So, off to Mauritius then - from gate 6789, inevitably - and Mauritius is paradise on earth: white beaches, warm clear sea, more coconut palms than you can shake a stick at, not that you would ever want to shake a stick at a coconut palm as it can, apparently, fight back by dropping a coconut on your head, which is no joke. (We don't, by the way, have a coconut problem in Haringey Village.) Le Saint Géran is on the west coast, on a private peninsula overlooking a bay, and set in its own tropical garden with an amazing islet-dotted swimming pool winding its way through the dining and bar areas. Also, every room not only opens on to the beach but also has a wet-room shower thingy that's bigger than my house and your house and the houses of everybody you know put together. What a trial going to Mauritius is turning out to be, with its F-off showers and warm clear seas and coconut palms. But I suppose I shall just have to grin and bear it.

Anyway, to the restaurant, which is also breathtaking in its eclectic way, with its blood-coloured walls and decor that ranges from 18th-century church paving through to Philippe Starck couches and bar stools. The kitchen, which is open-plan, has been built in Zimbabwean granite and is stunningly theatrical, with laser lighting effects that change it from turquoise to red to blue to aquamarine to orange. My partner and I are seated at a table next to one occupied by a Premiership footballer and his family. I have to take my partner's word for this, but am pretty sure it is a Premiership footballer as his toddler son is dressed in Burberry shorts and that is certainly enough to convince me. Ducasse also has restaurants in Paris, New York, Monaco, St Tropez, Hong Kong and London (Spoon+ at the Sanderson Hotel) and the menu here is similar to the London one. …

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