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Eat out in James Bond style

12-Nov-2008 • Bond Style

Five restaurants in England where 007 could find great grub, gadgets and romance his Bond girls - reports The Times.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond is as sophisticated as his predecessors but leaner and meaner. All that video-game style action must make for one hungry special agent. So where would a thoroughly modern 007 eat in England?

One suspects that he’d move discreetly between classy country boltholes serving updated British fare and chic contemporary restaurants with playful, exotic dishes.

A short stroll from MI6 headquarters and with views of London’s skyline, Skylon is a suitably stylish restaurant in the Royal Festival Hall complete with a Thames-side getaway. Staff dress in retro Thunderbirds-style outfits, the cutlery is designed by David Mellor and the food, like Bond, is modern British. Signature dishes include butter poached Dorset lobster with grapefruit and cashew nut salad, Scottish wild salmon confit with watercress cream, and caramelised lamb shoulder with Swiss chard. Set menus are good value - the three-course chef’s market lunch costs £26.50 (0207 654 7800; skylonrestaurant.co.uk).

It’s easy to picture Bond shuffling off his footwear on the tatami mats at the entrance to Sake No Hana, Alan Yau’s Japanese culinary temple located among the stuffy gentleman’s clubs of St James. Initially, the staff’s ninja uniforms, jet-black surfaces and central escalators smack of the villain’s lair but give way to cedar wood, soft light and screens on the first floor. Bite-size treats on the lengthy menu are eaten at low-slung tables; they include blue swimmer crab and avocado sushi, grilled Wagyu beef with mountain yam, grilled seabass with wild mushroom and wasabi, courgette flower tempura and a sake tiramisu. Items are individually priced on the menu and soon add up – expect to pay around £50 per head (0207 925 8988; sakenohana.com).

The new Bond film’s title, Quantum of Solace, seems to suggest that our hero would relish the bold trickery of molecular gastronomy. At the Fat Duck in Berkshire, chef Heston Blumenthal (whose name sounds like a Bond villain) presides over his creations like M does her deadly gadgets. Take the seafood starter, for example; it arrives with an iPod that plays the sound of the waves and seagulls.

Blumenthal’s mighty staff dispatches artfully assembled experiments in colour, taste and texture from the three-Michelin starred kitchen “laboratory”. An eight-course tasting menu costs £130 and may include snail porridge, sole Veronique reinvented with champagne jelly containing grapes and slivers of radish, parsley foam and chips, and nitro-green tea and lime mousse (01628 58033; fatduck.co.uk).

Set on the wilds of Dartmoor, Gidleigh Park provides a chance for Bond wannabes to don a dinner jacket and wine and dine their own Olga Kurylenkos. This splendid 24-room Tudor-style country house hotel offers outdoor pursuits and some of the finest food in England. Head chef Michael Caines’s innovative menu changes according to season and relies on the freshest local products. Ravioli of Brixham crab, Ruby Red Devon beef and Cornish sea bass are all on the menu with one of best stocked wine cellars in the country. Set lunch costs £35 for three courses and the dinner tasting menu is £85 (01647 432367; gidleigh.com).

Finally, Bond’s Aston Martin DBS V12 wouldn’t look out of place on the drive of Terravina, a plush boutique hotel on the edge of the New Forest, in Hampshire, with a focus on good food and wine. Chef David Giles cooks mainly English ingredients with a few Californian twists in the hotel restaurant’s open kitchen. On the dinner menu (about £40 per head) are duck breast with sweet potatoes, bass fillet and herb risotto and crème brulee with Earl Grey tea cream. Order a bottle of Bollinger champagne, the current Bond’s preferred fizz, or take a tour of the vaulted cellar with Master of Wine Gerard Basset, one of the world’s top sommeliers. The restaurant’s strict environmental ethos would be sure to rile faux green Bond baddie Dominic Greene. (023 8029 3784; hotelterravina.co.uk)

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