Gastropod

THIS TIME last year, Nicholas Lander of the Financial Times, a former restaurateur, came up with the wheeze of persuading restaurants to offer lunch for a fiver. The period from New Year's Day to Valentine's Day is the quietest in the catering calendar, and restaurants took little persuading. The scheme was a tremendous success.

So, a fortnight ago, on hearing that the FT was running a promotion entitling subscribers to a hefty discount on restaurant bills, the impecunious Gastropod perused the pink 'un's Food & Drink pages. Here Mr Lander explained that readers who signed up for a Transmedia credit card could not only expect a discount of 25 per cent on food and beverages in participating eateries, but would also be entered in a draw to win one of 1,000 free meals. Tempting? Yes, until one noticed that - apart from those of Stephen Bull and the Red Fort - the names of critically acclaimed restaurants were conspicuously absent, while the Cafe Rouge, Deals and Wheeler's chains were conspicuously present. It is claimed that 'more than 2,500 restaurants in the UK and the US are taking part in the 1994 Financial Times restaurant promotion'. That is right: there are 2,300 in the US - and a mere 200 over here.

ALL IN ALL, in the miserable depths of midwinter, the Gastropod would rather be in Barcelona, ambling along the Ramblas in search of robust Catalan cuisine. He will, however, have to make do with Craig Allen's evocative new guidebook, Eating Out In Barcelona & Catalunya (Rosendale Press, pounds 8.95). Mr Allen, a buyer for the Conran Shop, has made a selection of restaurants in and around this most design-conscious city. He has good taste and an eye for decorative detail. A glossary that translates Spanish into both Catalan and English will come in handy on the Gastropod's next visit, but until then this evocative guide will do nicely.

KILT-WEARERS and connoisseurs of kitsch will not need to be reminded that Tuesday is Burns Night, which calls for a meal of haggis, champit tatties, bashed neeps and clootie dumplings, washed down with a wee dram. Nowhere south of the border is this celebration taken more seriously than at the Brasserie On The Park at the Park Lane Hotel in London. Every night for the next week, the haggis will be piped in, and that 'Great Chieftain o' the Puddin-race' will be addressed in Burns's own words before being ceremoniously slain. Tickets cost pounds 23. Call the manager, Robert Bayne on 071-499 6321 to book.

WHEN IT comes to toasting the great poet, the Prince of Wales will doubtless be raising a glass of Laphroaig, the single malt from Islay, which is officially his favourite Scotch. The distinctive 'peaty reek' of Laphroaig makes it something of an acquired taste, and neophyte whisky drinkers are urged to seek out something smoother, such as The Singleton of Auchroisk, which has won universal acclaim and prestigious awards since its launch in 1987. The Gastropod has 50 miniatures to share with anyone who can tell him what a haggis is. Write to The Gastropod, Weekend Features, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine