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Hedone


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#91 Harters

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 03:16 AM

but he's dead right on the utter irrelevance of bloggers. :smile:


Makes sense. In comparision with how many folk might read a review in a national newspaper, the number visiting most blogs must be tiny. But, I assume, most bloggers would not regard themselves as being in the same "business" as newspaper reviewers - for one it is a profession, for the other a hobby. I have no interest in starting a blog (although I gather it can get you freebie invites to places) and am content with posting my notes about meals we've had on egullet, Chowhound, local sites as the mood takes me, as well as sending them off to the Good Food Guide (which I've been doing for some time before I discovered internet discussion boards).
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#92 Scott

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:15 AM

Scott - I did add the words 'locality and budget' in that statement and I have acknowledged their sourcing is incredible in an earlier post. I think you need to consder the point in context.

But! Hedone ain't cheap and has to be judged in those terms. I'd like to see anyone pull this concept off in a town or city beyond London. I doubt the pricing would fly so (with one or two notable exceptions) regional chefs simply don't have the option to go to these lengths.


OK, I don't think you were taken out of context at all. the words and implication are clear.

I also think Hedone *IS* cheap. it is incredibly great value for the level of ingredient provided. Go for lunch if you like, the tasting is still available and is incredible value.


And is the quality of the turbot really better than The Ledbury, or (since he keeps coming up in the thread), Ducasse, to name just two? Those are restaurants who, albeit with different styles, manage to produce dishes where there's a lot more technique going on around the main ingredient. Admittedly, they have much larger kitchen brigades, but that's part of my point - it's there to be seen on the plate.


Actually yes. that is the whole point, it is not just better, it is markedly and observably better. if I have one tiny criticism, is that sometimes Mikael serves his turbot too fresh, but hey, that's not the worst crime. and it is the teensiest of criticisms at that.

if you want to know the difference between good, great, and passable turbot I would recommend passing on a couple of meals out, flying to Biarritz, hoping in a car for 35-40 minutes until you arrive in Gataria. stump up about 10eur for a bottle of the local txacolina, and order the turbot at Elkano.

if you are feeling a bit extravagant, you could do worse that back to back meals at Mugaritz (all technique, passable ingredients), and Extebarri (cathedral to ingredient quality). between these 2 you have the finest technique, and the finest ingredients, and the borders of what each is capable of are illustrated beautifully.

NB. I am aware of just what a load of pretentious toss that sounds :D but its still true. honest, guv.

if you don't get ingredients, extebarri will fix that for you. Elkano is a masterclass in turbot. really. Go for the earliest table at lunch, when they have time to guide you through eating the damned thing. the 7 or 8 zones within the fish, the differences in flavours and textures between the flesh from the cheek, from the chest cavity, between the ribs, and dark vs sun side up.

I think there is a mistake commonly made that there isn't a difference ingredient quality between one decent restaurant and another, but its just not the case. if you eat a tomato (or basic rendition thereof) at Louis XV in Monaco, 'L'arpege in Paris, and Mikael's sublime gazpacho (using finest sardinian tomatoes, home ripen, and macerated in their juices) and then take a look at something else in London you will be shocked at the difference.

The vegetables on the riviera markets are still head and shoulders above what is farmed here. Now if someone goes to the effort of getting their hands on that, they are 1. taking sourcing to further lengths 2. providing a clearly higher quality product.

I once had a really interesting conversation with Theo Randall about sourcing, when he opened his new place (good food, shame about the room). He was telling me that it took him 6 months before opening to get his sourcing in line, visiting people all over italy, and the UK, and how there wasn't a magic directory where people can just buy what they want. sourcing is an art, and it is very, very hard work.

When I spoke to victor at Extebarri, I asked how his Spiny Langouste (god's own lobster) was so good, and so much better than what was served by the 3* restaurants around him, when the baseline quality all round was so good? his answer? with a smile "we try harder". before they settled on their milk supplier, they tried samples and visited over 60 dairies. people just don't do that, not unless you are a produce focused pyschopath :D

All that being said I have to admit, it's nearly a year since I've been to Hedone and should really give it a second chance.


you really should.

** also some of that pretentious, rambling nonsense was also in relation to Man's post below.
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#93 Scott

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:24 AM

Well that is interesting to hear from a restaurant the impact bloggers have on business compared to that of professional reviewers. I imagine this is the experience of many restaurants.


I think he's right, but I wonder how much of that is do with the surfeit of crap bloggers out there?

which I don't mean to be harsh, but what I do mean is that plainly some are more prolifigate than they are knowledgable. Just because you have the time, and interest, you write something up without any real basis for your conclusions. it is a lot like the "every man" school of film criticism which basically says that someone is not reviewing as expert, or with any knowledge, they are just an every day joe. problem is, there is no such thing.

I think in many ways, and it is a personal opinion only (and there are squillions of people more knowledgable than me), that the decline in internet forums is a bad thing for the quality of criticism. I mean this in the way that someone would post and write about their experiences somewhere, and they would hone and sharpen their skills in the cross fire. Without this refining and guiding process, what we have a disintermediated forum in the sense that every poster now has an untested blog. they write these blogs, cross promoting each others, in some sycophantic love in.

at the heart of it, many of these people do not know very much. and in turn, I think people might read them as a form of food porn, but do they take them seriously when it comes to allocating their entertainment spend? I am not so sure.

but then keep in mind, these are my views and they are worth about as much as you paid for them :D
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#94 Scott

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:28 AM


but he's dead right on the utter irrelevance of bloggers. :smile:


Makes sense. In comparision with how many folk might read a review in a national newspaper, the number visiting most blogs must be tiny. But, I assume, most bloggers would not regard themselves as being in the same "business" as newspaper reviewers - for one it is a profession, for the other a hobby. I have no interest in starting a blog (although I gather it can get you freebie invites to places) and am content with posting my notes about meals we've had on egullet, Chowhound, local sites as the mood takes me, as well as sending them off to the Good Food Guide (which I've been doing for some time before I discovered internet discussion boards).


I promise you, that many of these bloggers ABSOLUTELY think they are on a par with newspaper reviewers.

you only need to see the genetic rejects trolling the saturday guardian reviews, to see how highly some people rate their views vis a vis a nationally published reviewer.

and as for freebies, the early contestants on Big Brother have nothing on some new breed bloggers were it comes to expecting freebies.

** full disclosure, there are some excellent blogs out there, run by credible and knowledgable people but equally they can be drowned out by the noise and multitude of the masses of other blogs.
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#95 Scott

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:30 AM

God I sound like I hate bloggers with an enormous chip on my shoulder about it. I don't hate them at all, although I am suspicious of the way the medium and form is used. I think Jon Tseng's outstanding revelations about Dabbous, Raymond Blanc and Jori White are worth 75 random student food blogs :D.

Edited by Scott, 17 September 2012 - 03:32 AM.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#96 Sidney

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:47 AM

I too wonder what goes on Scott. Take for instance 'Good Food Guide restaurant of the Year' The Plough at Longparish which opened earlier this year ,the chef here names Maze in his pedigree. We went to try the a la cart menu. We had a starter and main course each, we then left without risking a dessert. Three of the dishes were poorly presented, average uninspired cooking, one was disgusting. The only dishes coming out of the kitchen that looked good were fish & chips.
The next day we went to Bluebells at Sunningdale (not in any guides that I know of) the three course lunch was great, they have an excellent chef, though not well known, the owner/maitre'd and staff are friendly and efficient. The bill, including coffee, a dessert and home made bread (none was even offered at The Plough) was only £10 more.
I would be interested if anyone else has been to The Plough.
Sid the Pig

#97 Harters

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:13 AM

Much as I'm a fan of the Good Food Guide (and usually send it the contributions I also post here), you do sometimes wonder what on earth they've been up to.

For example, the 2012 issue credits The Manchester Midland Hotel French restaurant with a 2 - only the same score as a decentish pub down the road in Cheshire and the same as the cafe at a nearby art gallery. 'Tis a nonsense.

I was also gobsmacked to read that the North West restaurant of the year was Grenache at Worsley which was only average food and less than average service. Frankly piss poor in comparison with many other places at which we've eaten in the region. No doubt, they actively touted customers to fill in the nomination forms - just as we witnessed happening at Nutters in Rochdale a couple of years back.

Edited by Harters, 17 September 2012 - 05:17 AM.

John Hartley

#98 MaLO

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 01:22 PM

Lunched at Hedone on Saturday.
We ate the tasting menu and sat at the counter.
I like counter seating and enjoyed the food.
We ate from the tasting menu at £55 at lunch. The other options ranged from a no choice three course lunch for £23, alc £35 - £45 for three or four courses.

We got

Crab and Grapefruit amuse

Cevennes Onions with Pear Shavings

Wild Dorset Turbot with Potato Skin Emulsion and Beef Juices

Cuttlefish Tagliatelli with its Ragu

Hare a la Royale, mushroom ravioli

hedone hare.jpg

Roasted Breast and Leg of Squab, Cepes and Rowan Berries

Lemon Variations

hedone lemon.jpg

Chocolate Bar

hedone chocolate.jpg

We drank by the glass some rose Champagne, Riesling and Beaune. I suppose the booze was a little pricey but the not bad value for the quality. The sourdough wasn’t bad either!

I enjoyed this all. The pear and onion was a little bit dull, perhaps, although the lemony butter sauce was very good. The squab was excellent as was the hare (caramelised leg meat was so good) although the rowan berries were quite stunningly tart.
I also liked the beef juices with the turbot. The fish was nicely golden and the beef juices were great. The fish was a little bit little but not too tiny. I love turbot and would happily eat it by the lb. I was a little less keen on the cuttlefish although I ate the lot.
Chocolate bar was good and much more interesting than it was on my first visit. Lemon variations was nice too.

Phone pics are a bit dull - sorry - but you get the idea.
Martin

#99 olicollett

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:47 PM

Excellent choice of venue and day, Martin ;)

By coincidence I was there on Saturday as well - first visit, v impressed. I can't believe I've not been before given it's pretty local to me.

Slip sole is a must, fantastic. Really enjoyed the apple meille feuille as well.

#100 Gary Marshall

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:16 AM

A mini northern rampage down south last Saturday to Hedone with my local pub chef/patron mate to meet some old ‘foodie friends from the internet’ as my wife likes to call them. The internet as a means to meet like minded people of whatever persuasion being an unusual pastime in the North. Witchcraft and cousin/ferret marrying, fine , meeting people ‘from the internet’ still raises eyebrows.

It’s been a year since I worked in London and Kings Cross was a twice weekly trip, what’s happened to it? It’s so transformed I couldn’t get my bearings and so distracted by the changes to the point where I appeared to forget how the tube worked and was very confused as to why I couldn’t find the District line! Just as i thought i'd mastered it, I decided to dispense with changing tube at Hammersmith, an excellent idea until we whizzed past chiswick park and ended up taking the district line back from Acton.

Eventually we found ourselves at Chiswick Park and after a long morning of travel thought we’d earned a pint of Chiswick’s finest, despite my local being probably the northernmost Fullers draft ale stocking outpost, a pint near its spiritual/actual home is always worth looking forward to. We were more than slightly crestfallen to discover that a) our favourite fullers pub conveniently located to hedone was closed undergoing refurbishment and b) the new meeting place was a particularly grim Irish bar opposite Hedone offering a miserly selection that saw me having a Fosters for old time’s sake and heading across the road for lunch, leaving any pub early is not my usual modus operandi.

Once ensconced in Hedone some Champagne was called for, I’m not sure I managed to see a wine list all day but it kept appearing so if it aint broke don’t fix it. My internet friend had kindly brought along some 89 La Rioja Alta 904 and IIRC a Gevrey Chambertin, but both were decanted so actual detail I’ve lost, we also drank a fair amount of the 2009 white Marsannay from the list which was most excellent.

A crab amuse kicked things off at the bar/kitchen area, this is certainly a busy area now and not just a finishing /plating up area a la Robuchon, the majority of the cooking is done here and there are noticeably more staff here than on previous visits.


We had- little crab amuse on a delicate pastry case, poached oyster (instead of umami flan) , Egg Florentine, turbot and potato emulsion, squid and cuttlefish ragu, Hare a la Royale, squab pigeon with foie ‘sauce’, cheese, chocolate dessert, mille-feuille and another dish pineapple? A work in progress.

I’ve got iPhone photos but they’re a) more an aide memoir for me, b) I don’t know how to get them on here anyway, and c) they’re not very good.

But just to give a few highlights, the egg in Florentine was perfectly slow cooked and this was a variation on a theme my internet friends had previously had, the turbot displayed perfectly the ‘mother of pearl’ sheen that shows the quality of the fish, and a delicate crust from butter and pan, not bag.

The potato emulsion was well, buttery and potatoey – to get all adjectivised verbs on your asses. (The things you learn from the guardian restaurant reviews reader comments eh?) . The cuttlefish another unique dish (and nice not to see another copy of squid risotto!) and even a minor power cut couldn’t dim the excitement, though it made for an even poorer photo.

Then the hare, a stunningly cooked piece of loin, a filled ravioli, the sauce.... I won’t spoil it, it’s a killer dish. 2* comfort food.

The Squab I tried even though I have a mixed time with Pigeons nowadays ever since an early sous vide experience at the Fat Duck,I liked it but couldn’t manage the full breast, though there were plenty of willing takers on the table.

The desserts were all good, but all kneel before the king, the millefeuille. There’s a few trade secrets in there some of which Mikeal disclosed but others remain secrets, suffice to say it lives up to its billing and although I couldn’t quite count a thousand layers they were all distinct and it even holds its shape once cut straight down. And let’s not forget the bread, oh the bread.

So all told a restaurant that is quietly but noticeably ramping up the scale of its ambition since my earlier visits, where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. It’s solid one star of course but the hare, the Millefeuille and the Cevennes pear dish* would all easily grace a 2* menu, so that is certainly an achievable ambition.

*My friend hadn’t tried it so an additional course for him was kindly prepped by Mikeal.

To finish after coffee we had a quiet beer at the bar whilst the staff had their tea, c.6 hours had elapsed by this point, so we thought it time to move on, we did find a few pints of Fullers and a random wander to Bubbledogs to meet a friend at the chefs table, but soon Kings Cross beckoned, and it would be rude not to round off the day with a counterbalance to an afternoon of some of the world’s finest ingredients and wine with a nice Big Mac for the train home. You can take the boy out of York etc….

Edited by Gary Marshall, 23 November 2012 - 07:18 AM.

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#101 Julian Teoh

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 02:55 AM

Gary,

I had a very similar menu at Hedone last week. Will report in more detail with photos but I disagree with you on one aspect. On food alone, I reckon it's on a two-star level already. Certainly, if you use Darroze at the Connaught as a yardstick (I'm not sure I can but there you go), the food at Hedone showed a lot more thought in execution and progression, and was also far more enjoyable.
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#102 Gary Marshall

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:48 AM

I'm sure there are plenty of two stars that won't fare well in a direct head to head with Hedone, but they are all quite different beasts at that level.

Two stars apparently involves the OK from European based Michelin inspectors not just UK, so it's quite a big jump, however Hedone is more continental than British in much of what it does! It does feel like being transported to Paris for a meal.
you don't win friends with salad