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Gary Marshall

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  1. I'm being dragged virtually as far as is possible from my beloved North tonight for a wedding in sussex tommorrow, my payback is dinner at the fat duck! looking a the menu on the web i'm a bit perplexed, i would normally go straight for the tasting menu in a place like this, i expected the menu degustation to have the 'classic' dishes (lime tea/quail/mustard ice cream etc) on it but they seem to be on the a la carte? (not that i'm moaning as it's £20 cheaper!) anyone have thoughts as to which one to plump for to get the best out of the kitchen? (and don't say don't go )
  2. from memory gaucho grill is the sort of place that looks reasonably priced but the devil is in the detail, a few side dishes, sauces and suddenly it's not as good value as it looks. food was ok, in a chez gerrardy type of way. if it makes you feel better tony this charging method hasn't helped them much, they were spectacularly unsuccessful as a plc (gioma restaurants) think management took it private in the end after repeated profit warnings!
  3. Adam i would second l'Apostrophe ( i think its on place drout d'erlon), the food is simple cafe but the place is more akin to a great parisian brasserie, tons of atmosphere, and huge, personal fave salade paysanne! It's where i'd stop en route to beaune from calais for sure! You can park in the big free central car par that runs down the middle of reims, opposite the station/ibis (and the location of the stage finish of the tour d france, fact fans). Also i would second 'la vingeraie, (not to be confused with le vigneron). It is on rue thillois and is fab, and very good value, it is open for lunch but is more formal than l'apostrophe, it has recently doubled in size but i would call ahead on the mobile and resverve, just top be sure as restaurants in this area seem to go from empty to full v quickly between 12.00 and 12.30 with locals (though you'll be ok at l'apos as it is huge). It's bit further off the autoroute but if you find yourself in Epernay, then 'Au cave de champagne' is good as is 'le table du kobus' (but would require reservation if late). both are in michelin and central. kobus is signposted (don't you just love the way the french singpost decent restaurants )it's near the station hope that helps gary
  4. gavin, they say nine am and they mean it, one month in advance, it's a case of keep hitting redial until you are through. Then expect to go on hold for a not unreasonable length of time! They also (wisely) stagger table slots so they can greet everyone by name and not have a huge 8.00/8.30 rush, so don't be surprised to be offered 8.15 or 8.45 must admit i found lunch more relaxing and they do set lunch, full a la carte and menu prestige so you don't miss out. might be easier to get a table too if it's a thursday/friday you wanted a table for. gary
  5. when travelling to france i tend to take the tunnel to calais, as it's a long drive from my house in York i sometimes stay in folkstone overnight and take an early train the next day, however it would be better to actually get to france and stay there overnight. Calais looks a bit of a foodie wasteland according to michelin and i was wondering if anyone knew of any hotels/reatuarants with secure car parking, within about 30 mins drive, doesn't necessarily have to be gourmet food a decent brasserie/bistro would be fine, with accomodation even better!
  6. improving?? my subscription (boo) copy came through yesterday and i read it last night and today, until your prompting would be hard pressed to remember anything about the mag other than the cheese article and J Rayner interview. i thought it significantly better at the outset.
  7. i too have noticed this inflation, another little example, a can of coke was 10F ,about £1 sterling, is now 2 euros, £1.20p a nice 20% difference but what can you do? i can't give definitive examples but my recent pre-euro trips to france certainly seemed cheap in comparison to the Uk but now it is nearing parity. won't stop me going though! but does further my already eurosceptic stance as far as Uk monetary union is concerned
  8. whatever happened to the recent little chef plan to turn themselves into 'french bistros' in the evening? anyone going to admit to trying that?!
  9. The american hot is the king of pizzas. It fits a time and a place, the places are buzzy & staff generally good, wines ok and got to give them credit for introducing the uk to peroni! maybe i feel obliged to go as i seem to spend a signifcant part of my professional life discussing the merits of the company
  10. i liked the first few issues and eagerly awaited publication day, but find now the focus has moved away from 'chefs and their restaurants' to more general topics. I also took adavantage of the cheap subscription, the saying 'buy in haste repent at leisure' springs to mind! don't think i saw a single article of merit in the 'music' issue and what was the 'bacon sarnie' issue all about??? it's becoming more a trade paper than a consumer/trade and i think the caterer pretty much has the trade angle covered.
  11. peter, i agree the conditions of the visit can make a big difference, i went to ramsay's in the evening and again the next day at lunch for my birthday and it could have been two different restaurants, we were certainly going to L L 'in the mood' and with high expectations. with regard to flavours i thought it hit the mark, very little in the way of messing about with the ingredients just simply cooked and prepared. I can't comment on the italian-ness of the place, having only spent 3 weeks in italy but there were certainly similar dishes on the menu i'd enjoyed there, the lobster spaghetti & wild boar tagliatelle for example. There also seemed to be plenty of italians in there too eating with gusto! we'll have to see what the return visit brings!
  12. i always ask and have never been refused, however they do often give old menus out which does slightly rankle as i want to be able to remember the dishes i ate. i read cabrales comments re tour d'argent selling menus with interest, i thought it was about the worst i'd seen in a two star, covered in felt pen additions and deletions and was of little interest . At guy savoy they gave the full menu and a relais chateaux guide book in a guy savoy carrier bag so i expect they're well used to being asked! ramsay in the uk seemed reluctant to part with the full a la carte but i did eventually recieve one. i often take photo's too and have never had any complaints, although abroad i think they put it down to eccentric englishmen!
  13. i was in London last week and had a very interesting couple of foodie trips. First stop, lunch at Club Gascon. I went when it first opened on the back of AA Gill's punchy write up but unfortunately the staff didn't explain the tapas-esque ordering well and my female client blanched at the mere mention of 7 courses! but i could see the potential in the few dishes we did manage, a later christmas foie gras menu confirmed this, so i returned with great expectation. We had the set menu, with wine (mainly country wines) which was £55 . a spiced melon ball atop a shot of melon juice kicked off proceedings, followed by the usual foie gras starter, then another course, served in a glass that for the life of me i cannot remember what it was! fish was john dory served with a fine mirepoix then a roasted quail. Desert was a cheese/honey concoction. All good well executed and imaginative. Dinner at the Ivy was a savoyarde tart to start, roast poulet des landes and sticky toffee pudding. Chicken is an excellent dish, roasted breast, boned and stuffed thigh served with a truffle jus. We did also sample the shepherds pie which i'll have next time as it was outstanding. I thought there's little that can be done to the humble pie but this was way better than expectations. A hungover friday saw locanda locatelli liven up the morning with the offer of a table ( i called the day before and asked to be on the waiting list). We were the first in as we wanted to try and catch a reasonable timed train back to York and were well looked after by the attentive friendly staff, the room had a nice feel to it even when empty. Georgio was around and very chatty, showing us his mountains of truffles and telling us tales of collecting 'moon rocks' with his grandad in alba as a kid! The menu is quite understated and looks like refined versions of traditional dishes. I had broad beans and pecorino cheese salad, a refeshing light dressed salad with beans and a pecorino crisp atop. pasta course was ricotta parcels with aubergine and walnuts with a dollop of tomato sauce on top, all divine. main course was roast rabbit with parma ham and polenta, again simple, top ingredients , perfectly cooked. Desert was something else, feeling the pace i had a light dish the strawberry and mango lasagne, perfect stripes of 5mm thick fruit layered and glazed on top served as a thick slice with milk choc ice cream and a violet sorbet i think, an amazing looking dish. wine was a perfectly reasonable panizzi vernaccia di san gimignano. for two with aperitfs, digestives, coffee bill came to £140 not cheap but worth every penny. My meal of the year and i'd definately go back (indeed i am, booked it already!)
  14. I had a great evening in Guy Savoy (booked when it had 2 on a similar philosophy to Bux's). I picked it out of the ranks purely on the basis of the gordon ramsay connection, i wasn't disappointed, though i thought the prices had risen between booking and dining and the awarding of the 3rd star.
  15. I agree with cabrales, as we used to say in the UK 'let the train take the strain'. my view the wine is a significant part of the enjoyment , having spent 4 hours in bocuse with only half a bottle of meursault, i feel well qualified to talk! A less than enjoyable night out, i arrived at 7.45, left past midnight and had to drive to my hotel at porte de lyon. I got to my hotel at one am, got up at 5.00 am and drove back to york, england, home for 5.00 pm now that's a day trip! ps it was quite cool whizzing through the burgundy vineyards at 7 am in the mist, and reims services provided a good opportunity to stock up on one of my favourite champagnes, gosset, only in france do they stock decent wines in their motorway services!
  16. i recently dined at comme chez soi in brussels and after booking heard about their kitchen table, i emailed and requested it thinking it to be a Claridges style table. I expected it to be booked up, as i didn't get another reply from the restaurant. I was surprised and pleased to be met at the door and told 'oh , you wanted the kitchen table , follow me' . We went through the kitchen past the pass, through pastry to a long corridor where approx 30 diners were sat! It was like a long refrectory table and although service wasn't in anyway compromised what little i could see of the kitchen didn't make up i felt, from the usual 'interest' of being in a fine dining room and watching the evening unfold. I'll be careful what i wish for next time! i believe claridges is more interesting as i understand (from the staff at rhr) that you get a custom menu and a chef to serve you and explain the process behind the dishes.
  17. Adam, if you've time san gimignano is worth a trip, it's between florence and siena. Had some great meals at trattoria chiribiri, piazza della madonna 1 tel 0577/941948 closed weds but open 11am to 11pm. SG is a beautiful, walled hill top fortress town.
  18. My best in terms of surpassing expectations was the star at harome. the best in terms of all round (and expected given its rating) excellence a tasting menu at Winteringham Fields (a well deserved chef of the year award too for germain schwab i see!)
  19. bux The course unfortunately was not at troisgros, i'll start a separate thread though!
  20. I had my first 3 star experience at Boyer late last summer (i was on my way to a cooking course in roanne and by myself so thought i'd treat myself!). when they asked if i'd like aperitifs on the terrace i expected to see maybe 20 people sat outside, couldn't believe there were acres of land and probably 50+ customers out there, whole generations of families including the babies (and this being france) the little dogs! and the terrace and gardens are absolutely immaculate. the sun was setting over reims and there was a slight mist, it was truly magical. Can still picture it now!
  21. Bux Actually it's true about the locals talking you out of vivisiting the stars, my local french restauranteur is always shrugging his shoulders at my trips to starrred places in 'tourist' spots such beaune and paris. Though i wish i'd listened to him about 'tour d'argent' which was certainly more a surroundings 2* than a food 2* if you get my drift!
  22. cabrales, re your earlier talk about 'merenda' in nice.... i dined there last year, just before they closed for their summer hols. It's a v odd little place, almost cellar like, big stove at one end and two rows of refectory style tables, banquette down the wall side and stools on the other. They have two sittings per service think dinner was 7.00 or 9.00. wine list is 3 bottles, red white or rose! 1 waiter, 1 kitchen assistant and le stanc is the staff list. Caused a huge local fuss when he left 2* chantecler and everyone in there seemed to know his past, despite the setting it's attracted a lot of obviously well-heeled diners. There's no phone so you have to make reservations in person and no credit cards. so the food must be exceptional right?! well not quite, V short nicoise menu can remember a lentil and sausage dish that tasted separately did nothing but togther worked brilliantly and seem to remember having an excellent daube of beef. Other dishes on the short blackboard menu included tete de veau sauce gribiche and a stockfish dish i think, another local speciality. I remember leaving thinking, well if i didn't know he was a 'famous' chef i'd have thought nothing particularly of the cuisine, it made me think a bit more about what i was eating and what he was trying to do. next door is Lou Pistou, serves similar type of nicoise food but much more relaxed and friendly, had great night chatting in franglais with the chef-patron's wife and even left with a recipe for the sea bass cannelloni (sp) that he had as a special. they also warned us off splashing out on chantecler said it 'was for the tourists'!
  23. Gavin, Jardin les ramparts is a great place, lovely old house, just in the walls but sympathetically renovated and quite minmal and modern. food was excellent, great saucing. Sent my parents there (who are not great foodies) last month, they thought it was brilliant. Also across the road from the ibis central if you want somewhere cheap to crash post visit!
  24. I've not been, but friends have and highly recommend it. Gordon Ramsay's Head chef also worked there for a while too, trivia fans. Whilst in the area, in the walls of St Malo is a 'a la duchesse anne' one of best places i've been for classic french comfort food eg steak bearnaise, turbot beurre blance, tarte tatin etc. Had a star for many years but lost it somehow this year. Regulars i know went recently and said nothing had changed so it'll be fine.
  25. like yourself cabrales i wanted to visit la tour d'argent out of curiosity rather than expecting a great foodie experience. I had dinner there over easter and had the quenelles, the duck and the beignets, many of these are available on the set lunch which having paid one of the largest bills of my eating career would heartily recommend! (however it is one of only a handful of starred places open on sundays). The quenelles were nothing special and certainly under-delivered for the £20 or £30 i seem to remember they cost (and certainly not vastly better than the ones i had a few days later at 'la rottisserie de beaujolais' virtually next door). The duck was, well interesting, but the sauce not only very intense was also v spicy. At £80-odd for 2 i was very pleased with my celebratory postcard! beignets were just boring. THought the menu's were also tatty with crossings out in pen etc and not up to two star standard and unusually for me i couldn't even be bothered to take one with me. wine list was great but hardly customer friendly weighing around 10kg, almost put my back out lifting it! Sommelier only warmed up when he realised i had a (vague, admittedly) idea of what i was talking about and an interest in wine. They say it's a popular place for engagements, i can believe that, it's a romantic setting but unless you're seriously rich i think it's a place you'd only want to visit once. The only 2 star i've ever begrudged paying the bill.
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