Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana
Many rushed to see the “authentic” Cuba before it became too “Westernised”, but after yet another terrible meal in a paladar (a restaurant in someone’s front room) they probably wished for the chains. With food supply much steadier, places such as the Kempinski are serving up reliable, simple, crowdpleasing breakfasts.
Where The Light Gets In
When the mission is “restaurants in places not renowned for good food”, there’s a large percentage of the world’s population who will see that as a chance to bash Britain. Get lost below the line on many a travel site and you’ll see comments complaining that British food is bland, boring, overcooked and under-seasoned. Whenever possible, I’ll push back – our ingredients are some of the finest out there, many of our chefs are ludicrously talented – but I have to acknowledge that the reputation was deserved for far too long. Even today, get away from key cities and the food revolution can still seem many miles and many years away, with Wetherspoons and microwaves about as good as it gets. I’m sure even the good citizens of Stockport would agree then that their town is not the obvious setting for a restaurant such as Where The Light Gets In, a venue that had The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin declaring it “the most exciting food I’ve had in years” back in 2017.
The place has 26 covers. There’s no menu. It’s a fixed price, payable in advance, and at £90 (add £60 for wine matches or £30 for juices), that puts it closer to London’s sensibilities than a northern industrial town’s. The fact that WTLGI is thriving hopefully speaks volumes for the shifting attitude to food in this country. The menu changes daily, based on whatever’s good that day, be it from the market, the butcher, foraged in the fields or scooped from their own extensive collection of fermented ingredients, so expect, well, the unexpected. Cod’s roe with radishes, tartare of local trout, salt baked beetroot, mutton served with sour plums and burnt garlic... Or, indeed, slices of breaded bull’s testicles – foodstuffs that others would waste is a big theme in this most open of open kitchens.
Wetherspoon’s it’s not. Creative, clever and bang on trend for this decade it most certainly is. It’s also, as befits its location, nowhere near as stuffy or pretentious as the above may make it sound. WTLGI is not, of course, for everyone. But for anyone seeking an accessible, fun exploration of produce and flavours, and a glimpse into the future of food, then Stockport is probably the place to go.
In recent years, the Moscow restaurant scene has leaped forward, first via versions of every world cuisine, latterly – thanks to import sanctions – with versions of Russian dishes. Oblomov, named after a character in a classic Russian novel, is one of the best for such food – think borscht, think pickles, think stews – served in a setting like a wealthy merchant’s house.