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Everything posted by silverbrow

  1. I'll second/third or whatever the recs for Margot's - here's my write-up. Reports elsewhere have bigged-up Adrian's crab soup. Can't vouch for it myself but his haddock chowder and sticky toffee pudding are things of wonder. Only other place we ate in Cornwall was The Lugger. The food wasn't astounding but it was good. Finally, depending on where you're coming from or going to, try out The Riverside Restaurant: my views and their website.
  2. Sorry, I can't agree on all this gushing support. My meal wasn't as roundly successful as everyone else's appears to be. Had lunch here earlier this week. The two rooms that make up the restaurant are light and airy and very Soho meeja. As for the food it was good. I had my arm twisted into two starters each plus main course, plus dessert. I can't remember what the other two ordered so will let them post for themselves, if they so choose. I however, went old school in my choices. I found both my starters disappointing For starter #1 I ordered what is described on the menu as 'Asparagus, soft boiled egg, vinaigrette, Parmesan.' What I got was asparagus on top of a gooey sauce that looked like hollandaise but wasn't, with flakes of Parmesan. When I asked the waiter what the sauce was he couldn't really explain. This was my least enjoyable dish. The asparagus were slightly overcooked and the sauce lacked any taste. I couldn't even taste the Parmesan. Starter #2 was a salad of Jersey Royals, watercress and goats curd. It was good but generally bland. The watercress didn't have any kick to it. It need some sort of vinaigrette to lift it. Main course was far more promising. I had the Dover Sole, field mushrooms, crushed potatoes spring greens. The sole was served as two fillets, sitting one on top of the other, with a thick layer of pureed mushrooms between them. There was some mushroom reduction/veloute liberally 'dribbled' around the plate. The puree was delicious - very earthy and the fish itself was fantastic. It's the best sole I can remember having for some time. It was a modern enough take to make a change from meunieres, but not so radical as to lose the pleasure of this great fish. Dessert of a creme brulee was also a bit disappointing. It didn't pass the crispy topping test for me and gave in to my spoon far too easily. Mr Dennis' vanilla cheese cake was fantastic though. I had a carafe of '04 Domaine de L'Hortus that was cold, crisp and just fruity enough for a light lunchtime wine. As you can tell, when they did well, they did really well, but when they didn't it was a bit bland. Charles Campion was in there eating lunch. At the end of his meal the chef went and sat down and had a chat with Charles. The first thing he said was "Sorry, it didn't quite come together today." I found this pretty interesting as that's what I felt. It had really really great potential but for me didn't quite hit the spot.
  3. Depending how many of you there are you might be able to take over the whole of the downstairs at Cay Tre - you'd be able to make your own atmosphere then.
  4. Another great place in the area is Fratelli La Bufala in South Hampstead. Very good pizzas. Don't be too downhearted at the lack of decent restaurants in SJW, it is well located for good restaurants and has easy access to the West End. You might find this thread helpful (or possibly depressing).
  5. It depends slightly on how religiously you have to stay in St John's Wood i.e. NW8. St John's Wood High St is a bit of a food wasteland. Off Abbey Rd you'll have a bit more like with the likes of Rosmarino. If I were you, I'd ditch ideas of SJW and go to Belsize Park/Primrose Hill where you'll have much better meals at Sardo Canale or Artigiano. Check out this page on Squaremeal
  6. There is obviously a ubiquity in current food photography that seems to tell us more about the photographer than the food. However, food photography covers a multitude of sins, are we talking about photos of dishes, of ingredients, of meals, of restaurants, of events? In terms of food photography, I was looking at White Heat recently and think the photos in there are fantastic, as they are in Thomas Keller's Bouchon and French Laundry books. In all of these, I don't feel like the photographer is intruding. The food is fantastic and somehow that comes through in the photograph, no need for arsing around - a bit like Basildog's pears. I say all of this as a photographic ignoramus - but then again I blame my camera.
  7. I don't get why Coren's article gives the impression he doesn't like being a critic or a journalist. He's entitled to his views about what makes a good critic. This goes back to the age old issue, on eg anyway, why one reads restaurant reviews. Is it purely for the info they impart, is it for entertainment, do you assume you will get the same service, should you assume you get the same service and so on. Just for clarity, it should be noted that he's not arguing reviewers should phone up a restaurant saying they're a critic and expecting special treatment. His point is, go in incognito, false name, phone number etc, but don't bother with the make-up. I don't see how that's a dig at Marina (O'Loughlin btw), he makes very clear he's having a go at Reichl and her vanity, as he sees it.
  8. silverbrow

    Matzah Balls

    As far as I can tell, the addition of onions to any matzo balls is relatively unusual. I follow my grandmother's recipe which includes them, but virtually everyone outside of my family thinks this is bonkers - until they taste them. Her family came from Holland and given the Alsace, Nord-Rhein Westphalian, Dutch link between Swisskaese, Jackal and myself, there appears to be a fairly tight corridor of Northern Europe that uses the addition of onion. I'd be intrigued to hear of people with other backgrounds that also add onions. What I find particularly odd is that fried onions feature so much elsewhere in traditional Ashkenazi cooking they seem an obvious addition to matzo balls.
  9. The Bell at Sapperton is excellent. The food is very good, the staff very helpful. Dogs, children and the like are all welcome. If there's one criticism it's the car park stuffed full of Chelsea tractors - but that's the clientele's fault, not the restaurant's.
  10. When it comes to choosing the food give a lot of thought to exactly what you want. Above and beyond all the normal prissy stuff you get, think about food that is robust enough to endure longer time overruns - also think of the weather. If it's sweltering you don't want sweaty smoked salmon or a stodgy stew. I got married in December and wisely (I say modestly) went for a version of coq au vin for the main course. Might not be the most stunning thing to look at, but warmed the cockles and didn't suffer for being cooked too long.
  11. I think people are being a bit harsh on the food in this part of London. Whilst I accept we're not overflowing with excellent food there are some real bright spots in and around NW London. I'd include Kalendar & Cafe Mozart in Highgate; Pane Vino in Kentish Town; Dizengoff in Golders Green; The Lord Palmerston in Dartmouth Park. As for why there aren't more decent places I agree that it's a reflection on the general culture - attitudes to going out and also the way London and it's suburbs have developed. The only advantage for a decent chef to open a place outside of the centre are the far lower overheads - a significant advantage but one that is counter-balanced by the loss of visibility. Morgan M in deepest darkest Holloway is a case in point. I also think that often the gems to be found outside the centre of town are the ones that focus on local communities viz one or two of the restaurants in Golders Green and the multitude of decent Indian restaurants in Southall. The strong presence of gastropubs and excellent cafes / pizza places, rather than high-end gastrodomes is because all too often people associate going out with going into town (the West End).
  12. Got to agree and disagree with some of the above posts. The Engineer: the food is repeatedly the blandest in London. They seem to take pride in food that never ever has any flavour. The Queens is much better, although can get rammed and doesn't have the outside space. The best meal in PH is a bottle of wine, some chips from the chippy, some mayo, a few nibbles from the deli on Regents Park Rd and sitting half way up the Hill watching the sun go down over London. In West Hampstead the only rays of light are the sushi places on Finchley Rd, especially Wakaba and Yuzu. You could go slightly further west to Vijay's in Kilburn, one of the finest South Indian restaurants in London. It's a travesty that Retsina is no longer in Primrose Hill. It's an equal travesty that Lemonia is still so popular (and there are two of them) There's a fantastic bakery in Hampstead called Gail's, part of the Baker & Spice group. Zen is pretty decent chinese and Villa Bianca has old school Italian charm. Otherwise it's a bit of a culinary desert. Daniel's are the best bagels - no question. For good sushi Camden way, there's a place behind Mornington Crescent tube called Asakusa, truly excellent
  13. No idea about the peel, but Divertimenti do the stones. I'd try Selfridges or Nesbits for the peel.
  14. Moby These guys are great - really useful stuff. I've bought equipment off the site before. The forum is particularly helpful, with lots of advice of minimising the chances of salmonella etc.
  15. I second the rec to go to Marylebone High St, good foodie place. You'll enjoy both of the restaurants you've booked into. If you can squeeze in tea, go to the Wolseley on Piccadilly, at the southern end of New Bond St.
  16. sorry to but in, but that makes no sense. why would anyone go cap in hand to someone who doesn't own a shop, begging them to open one? that might be the way someone likes to tell their side of the story, but it seems a bit far fetched. ← Scott As Moby said, she did own a shop at the time, the one in Highbury, that is and was very successful. When the De Walden estate asked her to open a shop in or near Marylebone High Street, they did it as the first part of a plan to make it a food dominated area. They realised that by getting someone of her calibre in would attract others. My understanding is that as part of her deal, she got to play a crucial part in who else came into the area. Divertimenti may have been, Ginger Pig certainly wasn't. Neither was the organic store next door, neither was Rococco, neither was Paul, neither was Pain Quotidien. I'm not saying she was responsible for every last one of these, but we can thank her for turning MHS into a food street - even if most of the shops are v expensive.
  17. To be fair, the de Walden estate did most of the running in moulding Marylebone High St - not entirely altruistically, thinking they'd get higher rents by regenerating the area and ditching the charity shops. Patricia Michelson did apparently give them advice and helped cajole other shops in once she got on board, but the idea was already firmly in place. Having said that I agree with Silverbrow that La Fromagerie still provides a service that it's difficult to find elsewhere, despite the prices. ← The De Walden estate decided that the way to regenerate MHS was by making it a themed street and they hit on food. This was part of a wider regeneration of the area to the North of Oxford St. My understanding is they went cap-in-hand to Patricia Michelson asking her to open a shop and advise on other shops to invite into the area. So although the plans were definitely well on their way she was crucial to their plans and to the general devpt of the area. I think she still has some involvement in what opens there.
  18. If I paid four times the amount La Fromagerie charged, I'd be bankrupt. The quality is marvellous, but the mark-up is beyond insulting. ← there you go - la fromagerie is a great example of the london dining scene - although the product can be good, the whole experience is over processed, over marketed, just over done...so it is no longer a traditional cheese shop with fantastic product, but rather an absurdly expensive, pretentious, modern boutique, with a good product an unknowledgeable staff - the result: poor value for money. -che ← I have no interest (financial or personal) in La Fromagerie but I think that is a deeply unfair summary of them, especially the staff. Yes it is hyped, but that is not really of their own doing. It is because the likes of Jamie Oliver and other TV chefs and foodies are forever talking about them. The Marylebone branch also benefits significantly from its location in what has become the pre-eminent food lovers street in London - a transformation brought about largely by Patricia Michelson owner of La Fromagerie. It is expensive, but also they generally have products there that you can't get easily elsewhere. No I don't mean the tomatoes or other fruit and veg, I mean good quality truffles, interesting oils, rare honey, hard to source drinks etc etc. It isn't Tesco's and it is not attempting to be like them. It's not the sort of place you go to for all your grocery needs and never was supposed to be. It is expensive but that doesn't mean it's bad value for money.
  19. Would I be right to assume there isn't an English version?
  20. It's also worth trying Square Meal, especially good for central London. I also find other food forums helpful in gauging the wo/man on the street's opinion of any given place.
  21. I'm with the stay at home crowd. However, last year went to Morgan M which was fantastic. It did have a special V day menu, but was well worth it. Can't remember the cost, sorry.
  22. I'm not sure if this has been posted previously, but I just came across a podcast from The Restaurant Guys on which they interview Doug. They make very clear that they disagree with many of his views. The interview is from 26 Oct 05, so apologies if a link is already posted on this thread.
  23. One of the best I've come across is The Restaurant Guys. They tend to talk about restaurants, what goes into running them etc than food itself. Guests they've had on in the past include Charlie Trotter, Ruth Reichl and Michael Ruhlman. They also had Doug Psaltis on and recreated on air the "discussion" we had here.
  24. With regard to the different chefs cooking on a theme, I was watching some of Nigel Slater's early stuff on UKTV Food over the w/e. He picked a theme, like sausages or chocolate and then got great chefs like Rowley Leigh and Alastair Little. Nigella Lawson even made an appearance in her pre food porn days. The problem is, all TV commissioning has been taken over by reality crap. There was the Top Gearesq programme recently, can't remember what it was called but it got widely slated - rightly so. Why is John Torode so miserable?
  25. I forgot Mosaico as well - felt expensive, can't remember if it was
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