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Gary Marshall

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  1. I never met Steven, but seeing news of his death on twitter was a real shock, and I thought for his family and especially his son, it would be appropriate to pay respects here and say thank you for what he & Jason created. The UK board launched many high profile writing careers, that was never my aim, but I did buy a Pub, and that was probably largely in part due to feeling part of a UK food renaissance that was fuelled by eGullet and meeting such a range of likeminded people who I still meet and eat with regularly has made a massive impact on my life. Now no-one bats an eye-lid if I say 'I'm off to Spain with my foodie mates from the internet'. No matter we now have the immediacy of twitter and facebook, EG is where most of us started out. It is a legacy to be very proud of. RIP Steven & My sincere condolences to Ellen, PJ & his family.
  2. Menus are now on-line .... http://www.starinnthecity.co.uk/sitc_allday.pdf http://www.starinnthecity.co.uk/sitc_breakfast.pdf http://www.starinnthecity.co.uk/sitc_nibbles.pdf
  3. Although very proud of my home city, it has to be said its never been a mecca for foodies, yes there's a very well organised, and attended food festival but it all seems a little 'knit your own sprouts' to me, and restaurant wise other than the most excellent Melton's there's never really been anywhere else that can compete with the likes of the Star at Harome, the Pipe & Glass or the St Vincent arms for me to in that hard to define quest of cracking cooking and conviviality. I'm sure the rents and transitory nature of the tourist trade that encourages chains and italian restaurants are a large part of the food gap so the opening of an outpost of said Star at Harome in York town centre can only be described as very-big-news indeed. In days of old I'd have been there at 11.59 for the first days lunch service but times have changed, the original intention was for a boys lunch on the first Friday with some other like minded foodies where the full menu and any passing ortolans, foie gras, turbots and burgundy would no doubt have been consumed with gusto, but unfortunately things like 'half term' now have to be factored into dining plans. I managed to wait a whole four days before venturing through the door, having decided on Tuesday I had to go, arranged a baby sitter, hassled anyone connected to the restaurant to confirm the table by phone, email, twitter stopping short of carrier pigeon, as they were incommunicado due to technical problems, though unfortunately for them I am not the sort to happily leave something as important as dinner to the vagaries of the internet. Reservation then confirmed, and relax..... Upon walking to the restaurant on said saturday night, it struck me how unusual it was nowadays for me to go to a restaurant pretty much blind, I didn't know what it looked like, what was on the menu or wine list, which were the 'best dishes' , it was very much like the start of my napkin sniffing career where a small cabal of like minded food nerds would meet on the web and discuss restaurants, you wanted to know what Winteringham Fields or the Merchant House, or what that funny chap in Bray was up to, this was how you'd find out. Though given my history of fine meals at the mothership the Star at Harome I was content I'd be in safe hands. From across the river the scale of the place hit me, a substantial stone building with a glass extension to the side glowing with light from under giant 'grandma' lampshades, it's quite a sight. We took the side stairs down to the river along 'Judy Dench Way' (who knew?) and up into the SITC, I was amused to note the smell of wood smoke just before the entrance, exactly what hits you at Harome and it is so evocative. I have read complaints about the smoke at Harome, and also witnessed diners ask for the 'fire to be turned down' - 'yes sir, which glowing coal or burning log would you like me to remove?' both the barman and I no-doubt thought, whilst also at the same time again thinking - southerners'. I love the smell and in no small part led me to my current obession in sourcing the driest smokiest wood for my fires. Upon entering, it was apparent the source of the smoke was not some Heston-esque 'eau du country' being spritzed around the place, but a good sized wood burning stove. A good start. To the right appeared to be an attractive wood pannelled dining room, in front a long, if overly brightly lit bar, where to uncharictaristically, I made a bee-line. I was a little surprised not to see more in the way of real ales on offer to continue the 'sticks in the city' feel but started with a pint of Wold Top Yorkshire Lager as a change, with Mrs M her usual glass of champagne. We milled around in the bar for a bit noticing the old Molteni range from the star now cunningly converted into a coffee station and wondering where to confim our arrival , It was at this point I noticed the large reception desk. It appears we came in the back way. Table confirmed we headed into the glass dining room, having noted the scale of the place on the way in, it's actually a reverse tardis, inside it is not a cavernous Quaglinos-esque space its 120 odd cover capacity might suggest, but cleverly arranged into smaller areas, the central tall banquette effectively splitting the room in two so you'll never feel lost in the space if it is quiet, or you can escape the irritating loud bores in the corner if you are unfortunate enough to be in when I return with said food nerd mates. Having in my mind expected a more stiripped down casual offering I was pleased to see nice table cloths and for my extavangantly padded posterior, good comfortable chairs and already at this early hour (7-ish) a nicely buzzing room, the atmosphere punctured every now again by over loud music something forgivable as a snagging point. The large menu featuring the now familar artwork work of Tim Bulmer packed a lot in, including children's menu and hot drinks, at the time I thought it was a little too busy with the dishes not quite leaping out at you, but can understand the desire to not have too many bits of paper around the place. Again anticipating a more stripped back affair the menu thankfully is still very Star-like and will not be unfamiliar to regulars at Harome, with plenty of interesting garnishes and local produce which although ubiquitous now, was a trend very much started in Harome. Given this was a quiet dinner a deux rather than a stumps up blow out, we were reasonably restrained on the ordering , resisting the special of turbot with a lobster salad and chateubriand with toad in the hole that would usually have my name all over it, having grown out of ordering the most adventurous things on a menu, to following Mrs M's approach of ordering what she fancies eating. I doubt it will catch on though. So we finally after much deliberation, decided upon a prawn cocktail for Mrs M, my innate nerdism only just saw me off ordering that myself, I had Cassoulet of Hodgsons Smoked Haddock, one of the finest comfort food dishes known to man beans, haddock, potato, cream. The fish makes it healthy I reckon. Mrs M's prawn cocktail came complete with a good chunk of hot smoked salmon, again another gift from the food gods that I am almost convinced must be good for me due to its sheer deliciousness. A little intermediate course of scallops and brown shrimps arrived next from the kitchen, repete with addictive curried picallili blobs, samphire and fried air dried ham. It didn't last long. Mrs M couldn't get past the burger for her main and again after forcing myself to step away from the grill section of the menu I had Harome shot venison cottage pie. The mooreland tomme chips and truffle oiled fries that were ordered as a side with the burger announced their presence from a few feet away, needless to say they soon became a side dish to share, i also got a bite of the burger and was immediately very impressed with the sweet/savory balance of the patty and its accompaniments, a very good burger. My cottage pie was somwhat fancier than the dish that emanates from my kitchen being served in a recatngular cast iron pot and studded with parmesan crisps , fried ham and micro herbs, plus a sprouts and bacon garnish, as country a dish as you could wish for, the long cooked venison an umami foil to the celeriac & thyme mash on top. Although by now the calorie count would safely have fuelled Chris Froome through a particularly mountainous Tour de France stage but I pushed on regardless, with the upside down cheesecake catching my eye, 'what's the upside down cheesecake?' I enquired to the super friendly and chatty waiting staff, 'it's like a cheesecake that's upside down' she not unreasonably responded. Arriving not unexpectedly with the biscuit on top with a dairy curd cheese ice cream, it was a suitably somnolent finish to a lovely meal. With an espresso and mint tea to complete and honorable mentions to the pint of two chefs ale with the dessert and bottle of Jaffelin bourgogne with the mains, a most pleasant evening concluded. If you're a fan of the Star you'll love that the attention to detail and country DNA of Harome are very apparent in a slightly logistically easier venue, if SITC is your first taste of the Star, I suspect you'll be plotting a visit to the mothership in the near future, and very grateful for something new, independent and genuinely bar raising in the York restaurant scene. Your visiting friends will be very jealous. I'm certainly very pleased to have another option in York for one of *those* lunches, factor in it's walkable from the train station, a new Leeds Brewery pub, an osset brewery pub and the Maltings across the river and you've got the makings of a very dangerous day out, now there's an idea......
  4. I noticed this new venture from the team behind the Blind Swine with interest, though I haven't yet made it to the Blind Swine, a combination of laziness, a preference for lunches over dinner, it apparently being a hard reservation to get and a fear that it might well be the emperors new clothes meant our paths have yet to cross, however when I saw Chef Michael O'Hare tweeting that they were opening a new place and it would be 'As French as f*ck' my interest was piqued with me being far more interested at the end of the day in a bit of classic French cooking than something foraged, served on a tiny plate, or worse still 'to share'. A very rare non -races night out in York presented itself, my first thought was to try the Blind Swine but this appeared to be shut, only open Wednesday - Saturday but Cochon was open so we booked, like the Swine, there is little in the way of a web presence for either venture so quite what was being served remained a mystery, but we'd give it a go. With the blind swine being shut we not surprised to see Chef Michael O'Hare behind the stove in the open kitchen and the FOH manageress from the Swine, though we did later find out the swine was actually open so it is worth a call on the quiet nights it seems. Having seen various references to the décor I was a little wary, I'm too old and grumpy for 'fun' anymore and thoughts of quirky décor, underwear hanging from the ceiling and straw in the toilets is more likely to induce a cynical eye-roll and think of a nice proper restaurant with actual chairs and tablecloths. I have to say though that even jaded old me enjoyed what they'd done to the admittedly tiny dining room, they have taken mismatched chair chic and turned it up to 11, it is very kitsch but it works, I had my eye straight away on a giant chair , looking like a refugee from a very over the top Chinese restaurant where I sat, in vaguely Dr Evil style quite happily for the night, overlooking even that I was a good few inches low than ideal dining height, that's the sort of catastrophe that could ruin a night. The décor had clearly worked its magic on me. Starting with drinks there is a short list covering the important bases, fizz, red, white, Kronebourg and Gin and on a four choice list of wines I was pleased to see Trimbach Riesling, so pleased in fact it seemed rude not to have it , along with a beer and later a pleasingly rustic Faugeres. the handwritten menu was similarly concise with a 4:4:2 formation or 4:4:3 if you count cheese, we did. French onion soup, oysters, frogs legs , charcuterie, so far so good. I'd usually only have a frogs leg as part of a garnish on a dish, one of the few things that I find delicious but have a mental block with like baby eels and brains and most sous vide meat, but we ordered them anyway and a plate of charcuterie. My mate a similarly Franco-phile Chef was very impressed and I bravely tried a few so as to not lose my hard won go anywhere, eat anything (properly prepared in a nice kitchen) creds. they were deftly cooked to moist perfection and the sauce was killer, almost spicy hot tomato garlic sauce just as you would want in your dream French provincial bistro. The charcuterie was as good as buying some meat and laying it on a plate gets, with a nice chicken liver pate and gerkins and good with the smoked Maldon salt provided with the bread. It really is the little things that make a difference. With our usual strategy of ordering a fish course to split and share as an intermediate course looking a little difficult as the option in question was boulliabase, we did it anyway and although i'd said we'd happily wade into a single bowl, they kindly brought us a bowl each with a decent razor clam, aioli and a really well made shellfish reduction that had the edge taken off it by a heavy hand on the salt and for my mate's taste an over-preponderance of salmon, but to be fair rascasse aren't too common in York or on the East coast. Our 'other' main was Steak Frites with Café de Paris butter and watercress, cuisson was spot on for the decent sized ribeyes, a med/rare and bleu, good depth of flavour to the butter and crispy chips, what's not like? We had some cheese too, from the cheese trolley wheeled through the restaurant, Comte, reblochon and something else that escapes me, always good to see a trolley of anything in a restaurant in my book. Finishing off with Lemon tarts as is the law if available, we reflected on a very pleasant evening, with bonus marks for a nice sound track of Thin Lizzy on the record player, upon chatting with Michael later I was pleased to hear that although 'Ex Noma' is the most banded about part of his CV there's a strong classical background too with John Burton-Race, and if my memory serves me Seaham Hall. Service throughout was spot on, with obvious care and attention and would not be out of place in a serious fayne dayning gaff, but as the likes of Russell Norman have shown you can have young edgy staff & great service - if they've been properly trained, and it only enhances the experience. Overall a great night out, and would be high on my list for a convivial night out more focussed on the craic than a photo of every course, though of course I did. And with my pre-conceptions about the Blind Swine thoroughly shattered into the bargain, a trip there is on the cards too.
  5. Haha, glad to see everyone's popped the brave pills and suddenly become so precsient in their thoughts to have predicted the demise of anthony's! I think there's a confusion of the issues here, the closure of the business involved 3 businesses, the pattisserie, anthony's and the piazza. Now i'm not privvy to the numbers but i'd wager that the cause of the problem wasn't anthony's or the pattiserie but the piazza- corn exchange, so to start blaming the wacky combinations , the decor etc at anthonys is pretty pointless if the biggest business in the group isn't doing the numbers and pulls everything down well that's the issue, i don't think anyone in the flinn family would deny that Anthonys fine dining suffered because of the other interests, but once you're committed to a lease and costs of a property like the corn exchange and a recession hits you've got to manage your way out of it, and it looked like they'd done it. Relocating anthonys made sense, out of another lease , a proper setting and Tony fired up again, but Trinity opening and everyone trying the new places probably was the final nail. That's the shame, to have got this far and be tripped up just as it looked like things were improving. I take your one/several meals that gave the impression is wasn't all that (hence the inevitable demise naturally) and raise you the 30 - 40, maybe 50 i've had, often in the company of some of the most knowledgable foodies/chefs in the food world,( that i've paid for too,) and rest in the comfort that i know on his day Tony's up there with the best, so he gone bust? That unfortunately is not an unusal position for a chef/restaurant to find himself in, it isn't a call on ability, Pierre Gagnaire gained stars in st etienne, went bust relocated to Paris , rest is history, and whilst i'm at it, you all must know about the Fat Duck's earlier financial problems? http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/14/world/europe/heston-blumenthal-fat-duck/index.html
  6. Wow, that's a pretty mean spirited post. Obviously hyperbole is to be expected from a local newspaper writing about a favoured son. The point I think they are a little clumsily making is that Anthony hit the ground running at 23 iirc with his own restaurant and was the talk of the foodie world, with recognition from every national critic and guide bar Michelin, way before Gordon or Marco who at the same age were working under others, yes they gained kudos once established very quickly, Anthony gained other restaurants very quickly. The business as a whole pulled Tony's attention away from fine dining alone, and the recession put paid to a planned move from the original Anthony's site which was only ever meant as a cheap start up and had obvious issues. I don't think the other chefs you mention suddenly got a whole load better (or Tony got worse) as a result of him spending the last few years firefighting a large business on many fronts!
  7. Very sad indeed, having fought the recession this long to close as hopefully things are finally picking is up is a kick in the teeth. The classic dishes menu at Anthony's was also interesting that despite being at the vanguard of creativity at the time, they hadn't dated, they were just great dishes and combinations. I thought the move to the Corn Exchange would mean that his cooking finally got the surroundings it merited and would get the recognition it deserved, Boar Lane was never meant to be a long term site. I'm sure Tony and the family will bounce back, but in the meantime it is no doubt a very depressing time for them and their c.70 staff.
  8. Had a cracking lunch at the star recently to celebrate the arrival of number two child, and a return visit was long overdue! (last year for my wife's birthday, work, living away and babies all conspiring against me!) We decided to construct our own menu from the a la carte and began the truly difficult process of looking at what could be easily spilt by the kitchen into two and what we fancied - which was pretty much everything to be fair, into a not unreasonable amount of dishes for the kitchen to create and us to eat. We originally thought between two of us we could split 2 starters, a fish main , a main each, cheese to share & dessert, but a short spell of clarity as the initial celebratory glass of champagne kicked in and I thought we’d better add another starter, better to over-order than under I believe. So we reeled off our suggested menu to Stelian the restaurant manager who didn’t bat an eye at our fairly outlandish menu and headed to the kitchen with the good or bad news , depending whether you were cooking it, eating it, or thought you might get out early on a Wednesday lunchtime – sorry! First course was a vivid chlorophyllic green wild garlic risotto, with nettle pesto and homemade pancetta & poached egg, this had a real kick of garlic, and unlike a commentator on a well known travel advisory web site, I was not at all surprised by this and indeed would have been more annoyed if it hadn’t, seeing as I wasn’t planning on kissing my dining companion anytime soon. We moved onto a minestrone soup, locally shot roe deer ‘minestrone’ with venison and juniper meatballs, curly kale, moorland tomme cheese shavings and white spring truffle, served in a Chinese teapot, the stock for the soup was superb with clarity and depth and all in all very satisfying umami rich dish. Third starter was a smoked haddock cassoulet, a super comfort food dish that I thought would make a great ‘tea’ in a bigger format – only to find Chef/Patron Andrew was one step ahead of me and it is in his excellent book foie gras and black pudding as a main course, here it made an excellent bridge to the fish course. The fish was from the specials some good fillets of John Dory with an eel croquette, brown shrimps and a flavoured hollandaise which escapes me at the moment, it was very nice to see some fish cooked in an actual pan with butter giving it the caremelisation and residual heat required to make a moreish dish. Main was also off the specials beer fed dexter fillet, morels, madeira jus, duck liver, cardiologist appointment included. It was as rich and satisfying as expected and really when all said and done, it’s not a celebratory meal without a steak is it?! Again these small dexter fillets would have been hockey pucks in the wrong hands but again a med/rare and bleu cuisson were perfectly executed in the pan and were all the better for it. A shared selection of Yorkshire cheese followed, all in great condition and explained patiently, whilst working our way through these I did momentarily worry that perhaps the kitchen had thought that was us finished as it was by now nearer evening service than lunch, but no worries our requested ‘cheesecake’ & Yorkshire curd tart were rustled up without fuss and our contented afternoon continued. Good espresso and the traditional Yorkshire pint digestif finished the ‘lunch’ marvellously and we were picked up and whisked back to my dining companions own pub to continue….! It was one of those great lunches with not a duff dish or even out of place element, we drank well with the highlight a G Roumier 2004 Chambolle Musigny that I brought and paid corkage on, plus a couple of whites from the list, a 2010 Ponsot Rully 1er cru also doing a good performance as a Meursault ‘mini – me’. About the highest praise I can give is one of the few lunches I can recall (and trust me, I’ve had my share) that matched this for conviviality, superb luxe-comfort food and wine was a lunch several years ago at Auberge De L’Ill in Alsace a long standing Michelin 3* , the star is really firing on all cylinders and I can’t wait to return.
  9. I think you'll find Hedone hits the spot, and the ratings are country specific, though at 2 and above european inspectors apparently have a say. Fair to say it is not a new issue.
  10. Well I spent the floor on the bathroom of my hotel after a meal at an early proponent of this technique so fair to say i've been circumspect ever since.
  11. I'm sure time will soon tell if those chairs are comfortable enough for Bapi's usual 4 hour chassange montrachet-athon, aka lunch. Agreed re the chandeliers, and look forward to a trip.
  12. The tomato dish looked surprisingly like a 'homage' to Heston's meat fruit.
  13. Well after nine years, (where did they go etc.) Anthony's is closing, but fear not, it is to be reprised and re-launched within the Corn Exchange in Leeds where Tony can keep his eye on both the piazza and Anthony's without having to sprint down the road. Looks a very sensible move and one they mentioned years ago, Pool Court in Leeds had a similar set up of fine dining and brasserie which Tony has always fancied. There will be a run in March of the classic Anthonys dishes of old and then on to the new. Exciting times!
  14. I missed friday's and have completley forgotten to watch it this week, it's made that much of an impact. Surely now there is a market for watching dishes being created to a high standard by decent chefs with no need for the pointless briefs and the care in the community aspect.
  15. I love the series but can only imagine how tortured the brief will make the judging.
  16. A very canny move by The Midland, interesting times.....
  17. 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.
  18. 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….
  19. I wondered if you were heading to The Sportsman when you mentioned it on twitter, glad to find i hadn't missed a gem during my time down south! One of my favourites, must get back there..
  20. I think its a shame, like many I look back fondly on the early days when taking an over developed interest your dinner was an unusual interest confined to those in the trade and a few enthusiastic amateurs. I remember coming back from France wide eyed and (partially) legless after my first Michelin starred bonanza with some actual photographs that I had to get developed (remember that) thinking 'everyone needs to see these' and being roundly p8ss extracted at work for them. Finding egullet let me into a community of like minded geeks, before they were really invented too. I appear to have joined essentially the same core people across many boards and formats, I don't see why there isn't a role for boards anymore but twitter has certainly put it on the back burner, we can all tweet a photo in seconds, after however many years I'm still not sure how to post photos on here, and the last time I did do 'my bit', and post a whole collection/write up about Heston's Dinner (after the second night of opening when it was the hottest ticket in town), I got berated for going off topic asking how to post pics, not 'cheers for the scoop Gaz'. That doesn't help. Neither did the virtual banning of off line social events many years ago, which is all history now, but the most vibrant forum I am a member of, wines pages, distinguishes itself by several factors - one it is all real names so no trolling or abusive behaviour, secondly a very active off-line planner, and thirdly off topic conversations are fine, all of which make it a pleasant place to hang out and post.
  21. AA Gill on michelin http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/11/whats-wrong-with-the-michelin-guide
  22. That's not quite right Gary. The criteria for a 1* restaurant is "Very Good Cooking in its Category" but the "in its Category" qualifier is dropped from the 2* and 3* criteria ("Excellent cooking, worth a detour" and "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" respectively). My understanding has always been that 1* hopefuls are judged against other establishments of their category (whether that is pub, dim sum or posh French) but that the 2* and 3* categories are judged against some objective level of quality regardless of category. This limits the ability of pubs to climb beyond 1*. Hand and Flowers does seem a bit of an anomaly on that rationale (much and all as I liked it, The Sportsman would seem more deserving) but no more egregious than lots of other anomalies we could point to (the UK&I 3* list is in particulalry dire need of pruning - Ducasse/Ramsay/Waterside Inn...) The categories remain things like small hotel, big hotel, red to donate extra luxury etc, so the hand and flowers is still rated as a pub, not a restaurant but the cooking is merited 'worth a detour' . Don't forget at the end of the day its roots are as a guide for drivers of these new fangled automobiles in unfamilar areas, pre -internet and food critics (probably) so the key still works. Turn up at le manoir on spec and lo and behold it's a luxury restaurant with luxury rooms with good food, the H&F is a pub with better than most food etc. Does anyone put the same thought into the GFG or AA scoring methodology? I'm sure you'll find they are equally as idiosyncratic, but it just amuses me the arguments that are started all over the internet whether it be '50 best' or michelin when hardly anyone bothers to read the criteria before questioning the judgement. For what its worth I think the value of Michelin is at the 1* and below level in an unfamilar place where it can guide you to the one decent place in a street full of tourist places. Above 1* most are so well known they're not hard to find if you're looking for that sort of experience rather than, 'i'm in a small town in france which is the best of these places'. the 1 & 2 knives and forks are especially useful i think, which people rarely talk about.
  23. For approximatley the one millionth time , if anyone actually read the michelin guide criteria, (which is on the web site and in the releases) it all becomes if not blindingly clear, certainly the logic is apparent. Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense. Whilst a star is a fantastic boost for pubs (and they remain mainly my favoured dining environment, and indeed, i owned one) it does also bring the cross of 'you're not worthy of a star, no amuse, table cloths sommellier etc'. For a proper restaurant it allows you to charge the proper rate, without a star you get 'how can you charge so much? You don't have a star'. As to Michelin in the TV, I think that is just blatant free adverts from the BBC primarily which amuses me greatly, can't blame them if some researcher or producer has decided that's the benchmark, but there you go......it's obviously got into the mainstream, a customer at Champignon Sauvage once asked them 'If they'd like one of those Michelin Stars' to which they had to politely reply, 'well actually, we've got two' .
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