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tony h

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  1. hmm... just read Jay's review and the food does't seem to have changed/evolved all that much. Maybe a trip to the superb Terre a Terre in brighton to nick a few ideas wouldn't be a bad thing - or even Morgan M to sample the veg tasting menu (assuming they still do it) up the road.
  2. Vanilla Black, Took’s Court, EC4 Dinner, August 2008 I love vegetarian food but rarely order in restaurants and the offering is usually so poor and unimaginative involving goats cheese or other culinary horrors. I’ve only recently heard of Vanilla Black which is curiously located in the Inns (i’d have thought most lawyers dined on raw meat). Rather than the usual bit scruffy around the edges restaurant/cafe this is aiming at haute dining for veggies in a rather lovely space – perhaps a bit international anonymous but a welcome change to the usual militant vegan pinewood and gingham overdose. Front of house were pretty friendly and happily moved tables around for us. Bread is always a key indicator of restaurant and i have to say the offering was shockingly poor – one type of miniature bun – very soft, no crust – a bit like the kind my toothless gran used to gnaw. However, the menu itself read like a dream with things like - Sweetcorn Créme Brulée and Smoked Paprika Biscuits with Tomato and Chilli Salsa - Spring vegetable terrine and Mustard Panna Cotta (ok maybe a bit out of season) - Deconstructed Puy Lentil Dhal, Potato Purée and Curry Oil Per-starter of tomato juice/puree with celery oil was fine but lacked something – vodka, i think... a bloodyless mary is simply no fun at all On to starters. The sweetcorn brulee was tiny, sweet and a little too grainy for a brulee. I could not really tell if that was because it had curdled or because of the corn husk bit which had not be sieved – either way – not nearly as nice as it promised. Veg terrine lacked a major component: salt. Without it it came over as tired and flavourless – a great shame. The accompanying mustard panna cotta was genuinely flavourful but a little too much setting agent caused to come over as a over rubbery. My own amateurish attempts aside – veg setting agents like agar agar just don’t seem to have the finesse of gelatine – an obvious no no here. However, the true disaster was the dhal. Puy just doesn’t work – deconstructed or otherwise – it holds itself together too well for something wonderfully sloppy like dhal. And presentation – at least the other dishes look beautiful – this look a little too much like what happens to a curry at the end of a night. We were all very disappointed by now so mains were going to have a tough time. Truffled Potato 'Bubble and Squeak' was, I have to say, a bit of a non-memorable blank for me. Although I tried it – I have no recollection if it was good, bad or otherwise. My dish: Mushroom Duxelle Torte was very good in places – specifically the burgundy sauce - a triumph with superb taste profile and a great compliment to the mushrooms. I have to be honest, I am not entirely sure i know what a mushroom duxelle torte is, however, I am also not quite sure that the chef here does either. What was presented was something which look a bit like a Greg’s sausage roll cut into three sitting in a plate of competently cooked veg – hardly appetising. So far the restaurant scored high because it didn’t try to that awful thing of presenting stuff to look like meat. Taste was good – just need to work a little on the presentation. Desserts were sadly forgettable. Strawberry and Burnt Pastry Mile Feuille with Chantilly Cream, Milk and Strawberry Syrup did what it said on the tin – but the burnt pastry just dominated everything and not in a good way. My Olive Oil and Vanilla Roasted Pineapple, Mango Purée and White Chocolate Ice Cream was five pieces of pineapple, shockingly small amount of ice cream and some rather clawing puree. Maybe the smallness of portion worked in its favour. With £24 for two course sand £30 for three the the real shock of the evening was the bill –over £200 for the three of us, gulp. The wine list was eye watering. It was quite a small list to begin with – 3 or 4 dozen wines – but they rose steeply in price when you got the stuff you’d actually want to drink. Very disappointing. Guess I’ll be sticking to pinewood & gingham.
  3. Akelarre in San Seb is pretty wonderful as is Arzak. challenge you to do both in the same day (Akelarre for lunch becuase of the views). Haven;t done Mugaritz Tom A is persona non grate after recent antics although I think he is hands down a more intesting chef than waring
  4. Hi. After about 7-8 years my magimix ice cream maker finally packed in. Ice cream was always OK but the machine itself was always a little too temperamental – mostly working but sometimes it just refused to freeze anything. I am looking for a new machine – preferably not one that requires the bowl to be pre-frozen as that requires a little too much planning on my part. Robot Coupe is out of the question as just too expensive – as are the use of dry ice and liquid nitrogen - although the latter is very, very tempting. Out of these – is there anything to differentiate them or are they all pretty much the same? Magimix Cuisinart Gaggia Simac Other suggestions welcome. Thanks Tony
  5. upmarket bistro - sounds a bit like keller's bouchon where some french laundry dishes make occasional guest appearances. if so it'll be a very welcome addition to the london scene
  6. Thanks Phil No longer in cornwall - was just there for a week. now back in wonderful inner london
  7. NO was in the kitchen that night – we passed him on the way out. We were a bit too pissed off to stop & talk. He has since sent me a PM – below. Not quite sure quite to make of it. >>Dear Tony >> >>I am very upset that your experience of my food was not >>up to your expectation. >> >>I take all feedback, good and bad and will definatly take on >>board your comments. >> >>All the best >>Nathan
  8. Vines - dinner 2009 Longer drive from Fowey than expected - about 40 min. also a bit worrying as seems to be tucked away behind a trailer park - but dining room pleasant enough although had horrible loud muzak playing (acoustic guitar rendition of stairway to heaven playing - yoiks) anyway - starters of: scallops, double cooked souffle & foie gras foie is very good although the accompanying bread is pretty miserable portion wise scallops - came with grapes cooked in muscat - intersting - but v disappointed only get two scallops – complete rip off at £8.50 souffle was another thing altogether - small timbal of souffle in the middle of a moat of cheese suace - sort of a piss-coloured homage to st micheal mount. what where they thinking? this was truly terrible - disgusting cloying cheesy mess - yuck mains - monkfish, fish medley & hake monkfish was described as char grilled - what was delivered was char-fucked - sent it back. fish medley sounded great - lots of different which fish with filo and some white-ish sauce. well - portion so small i've no idea how they managed to get more than one tiny piece of fish in the filo basket let alone a "medley" - quite preposterous & fish completely indistinguishable hake & pork belly - rather than staring in its own dish the poor hake was relegated to bottom of the plate & covered with tomatoes, olives, capers and whatnot. The pork belly was completely lifeless - it looked as though it had been revived from a previous service in the deep fat fryer although the MD assured me that nothing is deep fried. so - they've found another way to crucify it then... pitiful still no monkfish veg arrived to the table - a thing (v large spoon?) with crushed potatoes on it. i yanked that waiter over - is that really for three? sigh, ok - will bring more when the monkfish arrives she needn't have bothered - it was really really - disgusting - sort of lumpy/vomit-like mass and not in a good way. still no monkfish everyone else is finished and the wine is almost gone. time to throw the towel in. please cancel the fish - kind of lost my appetite very sorry - everything else ok well no - not really - tore into the MD about how appalling the food was - esp. the pork belly sorry - i'm not the chef no but you are french and surely your french sensibilities should have told that mistakes like this don't leave the kitchen he sulks off fetching the bill monkfish eventually arrives as we are leaving
  9. Tiffin, Fore St, Fowey - dinner June 2009 wandred into tiffin's for dinner - what a lovely place. attentive staff, interesting menu & very large portions indeed linguine with crab was packed with flavour and substantial amount of beautifully tasty crab steak frite just perfect - fab chips cod with brown shrimp, broad beans and sauté potatoes is a triumph what's better - we had a double take on the bill - nope - it was very reasonably priced even with two bottles wine highly recommended (ps - shock horror - Eden Project is pants! - really disappointed - more so at 16 each to get in, gulp. But Lost Gardens of Heligan sublime - go there twice instead)
  10. well - what can i say that hasn't already been said by this fine establishment a superb restaurant run obviously by a dedicated & tiny team of 3 just the kind of place you want at the end of the street - expect you don't 'cause you'll never get a table. good to see Margot's is now completely booked out for June & July with august also almost full. says it all really starts of mackerel with cucumber, capers and salad - well - fish couldn't really have been any fresher. cucumber sliced down the middle into thin strands and rolled to form a spiral - very pleasing scallops with bacon was a dream to eat - astonishingly good dressing & scallops to die for mains - all went for pan roast cod with herb mash. regretted not going for the risotto after seeing someone else have it. i thought it might too heavy - but gee - the cod wasn’t exactly small puds were also fab - pears poached in saffron with clotted cream and jelly made from poaching liquor - perfect sticky toffee pudding - looked heavy - anything but adrain came to chat afterwards - a pure gentleman On the way home it was voted best meal of the holiday by far
  11. Nathan Outlaw - Dinner June 2009 Hmm - have been putting off this review as I know NO has a large and loyal following on this site. However, I can honestly say I had my worst meal so far this year here last week. Actually, the worst in food terms was, hands down, at Theo Randall's - but Outlaw took just under £350 off me for a meal for three, so he gets the prize. And i was sooo looking forward to it. Booked well before I knew he was on GBM. The restaurant itself is lovely - understated with superb views of Fowey harbour. The menu described the food lovingly - but the tasting menu had nothing to say except 7 course & £70. Amuse of smoke mackerel fish balls were wonderful. We also got superb little tart of tomato jam which was equally sensational. Unfortunately - it was downhill from here on with the exception of one dish and superb FOH staff. A prestarter of fennel soup was truly disgusting. A drop of lemon oil and some crushed nuts (almond, i think). I have no idea what he was thinking - the baby food like texture of the puree was not at all pleasant and, as so often in this meal, quite devoid of any real flavour Next was charcoaled quail egg with asparagus & leaves. Mine arrived eggless although I did ask for a replacement course. So - what I got was a 3 or 4 asparagus heads with some salad leaves. you have got to be kiddin'... my fellow diners got the egg but it hardly seemed worth the effort. Lobster risotto was a triumph - full of lobster meat & cooked without that odd bitter taste some chef's can's seem to help. had interesting orange undertones. Covered in a lovely foam. v similar to a dish at LeCS last autumn although nowhere near as accomplished Rabbit and ham was almost OK - although the rabbit was lacking any depth. I forget the rest Think there's another course somewhere in here - but again I forget beef which came with a barley risotto got a hang on - risotto twice in one meal double take. don't care if one is rice & one barley - that's just laziness pre-dessert was a taste of mango - done 5 different ways. overkill really - but there was a particularly nasty cream "thing" which was quite rubbery final pud was pineapple tarte tatin. the pastry was not cooked. Neither was the pineapple - just warmed through with a little caramel on top. All this took over three and half hours making it about one course per half hour. with the miserly portions we all left hungry which is really unforgivable. Clearly there is talent in the kitchen - but portion size and general flavourlessness of the meal left us quite angry as it was so bloody expensive. Saw this tweet from him on May 29 "Private Party at Restaurant and 50, yes 50 covers at the Seafood and Grill. Where is the number for the Aston Martin Garage?" can't help feeling i've paid for one the tires.
  12. wish he'd do something about the york & albany - the food tastes good but the portions are pretty miserable
  13. looked more turd-like to me - don't know if that says more about you or me
  14. Theo randall – the rematch To be frank – we really weren’t looking forward to this and found it very hard to bring up any enthusiasm. Anyway we were shown to an end table which had a great view of the restaurant. Muzack was playing in the background but thankfully they switched it off as the pace filled up. It’s a good menu with lots of interesting combinations and i found it satisfyingly hard to pick as there was quite a lot i wanted. So we decided to start by splitting anti-pasta of scallops and lentils which they kindly plated separately for us. Also chosen in part because the waitress said the scallops were particularly plump . Well – I was a bit disappointed – i was expecting a master of the universe sized scallops of the kind DEM serves at LeCS – what were substantially smaller. Also, it wasn’t quite cooked through and for much of the meal I was left playing tongue tug of war with scallop strings stuck in my teeth. It tasted fine – lentils cut with a little chilli and parsley – but just OK. Next we had pasta – i went for crab & fennel - fpic went for brown shrimp pasta – a favourite of hers. My crab was a delicate and lovely marriage of flavours - very enjoyable. The brown shrimp pasta however was saturated with a butter sauce and not in a good way – quite cloying – needed a serious dash of acid to help balance it. For secondi i went for roast monkfish with pancetta and baby artichoke – a good dish – the artichokes particularly wonderful. Fpic went for roast sea bass which came with some roast tomatoes, asparagus and some green “things” which we couldn’t quite work out – looked like samphire but thought not as didn’t think it was in season yet. The bass was definitely the star of the meal – cooked and seasoned to perfection and complemented so well by the sweet roast tomatoes. We were pretty stuffy by now but went for desserts any way. I had a fabulously soft chocolate cake with some cream (mascarpone?) – very indulgent and sinful. Fpic went for blood orange sorbet which was incredibly refreshing – quite luxurious. We were give some champagne when we arrived and a bottle of wine plus desserts on the house – they ever brought us another glass when we ran dry which was quite sweet of them. Service was very good and the food was so much better than last time which was just as well as theo was in the kitchen. However, i can’t honestly say it was a memorable meal or that i enjoyed it all that much – all the ingredients were finely cooked etc. but it was fairly forgettable. The room is in that “international anonymous” style – so you could in any hotel restaurant in any city of the world. The food came to just over £50 each – if we had to pay for wine & desserts too, well, I really don’t I would have all that happy to part with £80-90 each for a meal here. There are far too many interesting places elsewhere (sorry - fpic: food partner in crime)
  15. wonder if there's a section on outsourcing/rightsourcing in the new(ish) book: Great British Pub Food
  16. hmm... works in cambridge does not a cambridge graduate make (unless i am mistaken)
  17. hmm... i though he came over as a bit of an arsehole
  18. Rather than merely writing a gushing “wow, book looks great – best food porn in ages” I thought I should give a recipe a try out. The apricot & pistachio cake looked so inviting – it also looked like one of the easier ones. So - got the ingredients together then, oops – that's not 75g of apricots but 750g. Back to the shops. Ok now ready. Damn – that’s icing sugar for the pastry not caster. Will it work – let’s not risk it – back to the shops. (Note to self – read the sodding recipes next time – all of them...) Apricots soaking nicely – don’t have apricot brandy so used white port instead. The only thing I had was calvados which seemed too strong. Pastry is coming together nicely. hmm – don’t have 3 hours – let’s put it in the freezer instead. Oh – just realised i’ve used self-raising not plain – bugger - not starting again or going back to shops. There’s a reason why I don’t do desserts. Not a good start. Frangipane – reworked the order a little to fit around use of thermomix - worked a treat. (also just realised I could have made icing sugar out of caster sugar – not really good at this cooking thing...) Apricot puree – done - tastes great. Superb syrup from the marinade. Pastry chilled – could have done a bit longer but suppose better than dealing with solid block. Hate this bit. Anyway – huge amount of pastry for one tin – also seems to be huge amount of filling. So – quickly prep another smaller tin. Pastry in – blind baking – fine. Edges & sides rise a little – but rework with back of spoon. Looks ok – lot bit better than expected. Apricot jam/puree done and first layer of frangipane filling. Apricots layered – slightly overlapping. hmm – that’ a lot of fruit. Just jam on small tart with some diced apricots. Both now covered with filling. Look good. Now very worried about self-raising vs plain flour thing. Too late now ‘suppose Pistachios scattered on top & in they go. v pleased to have remembered to pre-heat the oven. 40min come & go but tarts nowhere near ready. Move them around the oven – little one now on top. Another 20min – little tart looks done – hurrah - but its another 30 min for the big tart – very worried that outside fucked but centre still gooey. Too much moisture in apricots - dunno. Did i miss a step – frantic reading of recipe – no, all steps done. Now fretting . god i hate making cakes – why didn’t i try the ice creams first (pop corn or croissant?) sound completely barking mad & completely irresistible. Big tart now out & looking very impressive. Little tart didn’t last long – devoured while still warm. Tasted absolutely delicious – thankfully not too sweet. The big tart – yes – i put in way too much fruit – and the edges were a little dry – but over all i’m fairly pleased. Here’s photo. Yes- that is a lot of tart... Anyway – don’t let my being a crap cook put you off – the tart is delicious & the book quite wonderful. Now, where did i put the pop corn...
  19. jon - where you last year when i was doing my MBA exams!!
  20. More on Ramsay's troubles in today's Guardian Guardian
  21. anyone tried lunch at Capital recently? used to be a favoutite of mine but haven;t been in a while
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