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  1. did it get a refurb and other interesting things in the end? (was planning to eat in huddersfield but seeing as the train's only 20 minutes...) Last time I went to A's was a few years ago, and it was good but not as impressive as a couple of visits a few years before that -- I wondered at the time if focus had become at all diluted with other ventures, so keen to hear of special attention it's received in 2010.
  2. an old thread I know, but not seeing much said about Huddersfield lately, can anyone recommend somewhere decent for lunch within taxi distance? seems that Golcar is no longer an option, and after something more serious than light lunch in a cookshop... perhaps tapas at ripponden is the best bet?
  3. are you implying the Ledbury managed somehow to reverse centuries of sicilian heritage? there's culinary innovation...
  4. Hmmm... start of a cod war...? I don't mean to imply monkfish is superior in itself, just that cod sometimes seems to be used where something more macho -- a more robustly textured and less subtle fish like monk -- would work better. I've had some very enjoyable dishes based around monkfish, where it's not at all watery and good use was made of its slight bite/chew, i.e. the way it tends slightly in the shellfish direction in texture. I think of cod as a subtler fish, working better with treatments like that Ramsay recipe where it's infused with predominantly herbal flavours during steam cooking. IMHO that was why it didn't work brilliantly at the Ledbury -- there were no delicate, interesting flavours combined with the fish, instead the cod was up against the roasted cauliflower, a robust but relatively unsubtle and simple flavour, and I didn't feel that in this setting that the cod, plainly treated and with the texture it had ended up with, was capable of carrying the dish.
  5. Me too, I wouldn't seek to ban it from the kitchen. I guess it has the same sort of middle-class-ketchup associations as truffle oil, but it remains a perfectly useful ingredient. (I even dare on occasion to mix a touch of it with olive oil for bread, which makes me highly non grata around here. Speaking of which, the excellent black olive bread at the Ledbury was served very slightly warm -- highly contentious stuff!) I've not had good experiences of balsamic being added to things tableside though, in this case it strayed the beetroot slightly too far in the pickled direction for me. (It doesn't do much for chocolates either! Foliage??) As for cod, although I like it I can't remember any really impressive dishes based around it that I've had in a fine dining sort of place, it usually seems to get used in a slightly macho context where something like monkfish would pull it off better. But no doubt it can and has been done...
  6. Going by last night, it seems the turbot/sea bass has changed again -- into cod this time... which is a shame as it's just too boring a fish, with too uninspiring a texture, to carry a dish with such nice-but-unremarkable accompaniments. This said, the combination of raw and roasted cauliflower slices was deftly handled, and the beignet didn’t seem fish-and-chip-like to me… though the choice of fish itself was straying in this direction .. I suspect the raw-plus-cooked trick was also used in the puree that accompanied the scallop, this one combined richness and freshness very successfully, and paired with the liquorice note of the scallop as well as you would expect – a simple course but really first rate. I substituted the grouse for the foie so can’t comment on the latter, but the grouse was superb, and they generously gave us a (presumably starter-sized) raviolo each. The flavour of the egg combined in with the grouse filling came across strongly but not displeasingly, put me in mind of Café Anglais. The veloute was lovely, and the elderberries were subtle and effective. The beetroot was sound enough but I didn't think it an outstanding course – albeit beautifully presented, I found it a bit too simple and rustic in flavour, with nothing to sufficiently elevate it in the accompaniments, in spite of the successful incorporation of the marjoram. Didn’t manage to convincingly make a root vegetable the centrepiece in the way that the celeriac baked in ash did, and I agree the balsamic vinegar detracted rather than added… its serving at the table also seemed more fussy and needless than usual. The mackerel was the best course – a truly impressive elevation of this humble ingredient – and various other touches, such as the use of hibiscus with the strawberry terrine, were very successful. I’m rather keen on the combination of basil and chocolate, so had no objection to the last course, and thought the pave was very well judged, extremely rich but light in texture. Also, the wine pairings were very well chosen, and fair value at £38 I thought (more enjoyable than some recent £60 pairings at hibiscus imho, and the meal too for that matter…) Admittedly, nothing really stood out as much as the last time I was here, but the standard was extremely high, rather like pied-a-terre in the sheer level of consistency course after course… but not quite the same level of excitement, not so many things that really stand out and amaze. But a few more courses like the mackerel, the celeriac baked in ash etc. and it’ll be a different matter…
  7. "York & Albany will offer a lifestyle experience with food at its heart" is this sort of foul language being intentionally targetted at consumers these days? http://www.gordonramsay.com/yorkandalbany/ not sure white balsamic jelly sounds so appealing with lemon panna cotta (then again it doesn't sound that great with strawberries)... more distinctive than old spot with couscous and apricot at least.
  8. I'm a big fan of Alimentum, though I wouldn't say it comes close to more 'high end' 1*s like Ledbury, Greenhouse etc. I've noticed that Alimentum seems to have a similar model to Wild Honey/Arbutus in some ways -- no extended seasonal/tasting menus, no amuses or other free courses, all main list wines by the 250ml carafe pro-rata'd, reasonable prices etc. -- very welcome in Cambridge of course. This said, the food is less basic in presentation etc. than WH. I like WH a lot too, but only really for lunch or a quick dinner -- tables are very close packed, rather noisy/echoey, and food not particularly playful or arresting, but to a good standard none-the-less...
  9. does wanting the 25% discount mitigate against this sort of thing...? anyway, ahem, interesting meal here yesterday... and overly long write up below, but mercifully no photos (agree about the flash). The room is certainly striking -- walls and ceiling all dark purple, very dark carpet, internal dividers 'tiled' with padded white squares and flanked by mirrors, white tablecloths, white leather/chrome chairs, a general eschewing of natural materials and an emphasis on white/purple contrast. the surroundings are not entirely inviting, there's something too forward, uneasy and incomplete about them, but perhaps credit should be given for avoiding yet another smart wood, white-walls and beige-banquettes scheme. In spite of the temptations of the a la carte (a consensus seems to be emerging that this is the way to go at present) I failed to resist the tasting menu... preliminary crispy vegetables and 'tempura'd herbs were good, herbs could have been crisper but were pleasingly strong-flavoured. Amuse of clam in saffron sauce was superb (served on rather nice truncated teaspoons) and a gingerbread-around-crabmeat sandwich was lovely, a great combination though the sabayon seemed rather under-flavoured, and thinner gingerbread would have improved the texture and the flavour ratio. Foie starter was delicious, a quivering dome with a white foam/froth and a spear of asparagus inserted to create a disconcertingly mammary whole... the pattern for the evening was rather set though, incomprehensibly rich with generous use of butter and egg. the portion wasn't small either. I'm congenitally incapable of remembering details of wine pairings I'm afraid, but the sommelier chose an excellent sweet wine to accompany, compatibly rich and deeply flavoured (could stand up to an amontillado). Langoustines were memorably presented in a silver box designed to imitate a rectangular sardine can, complete with silver scrolled-back lid, accompanied by Iberian ham and melon roasted with black pepper. This was very good, a nice texture variation and not-overplayed sweetness from the melon, and all ingredients and execution hard to fault. This was followed by more shellfish, in a buttery veloute with a flavour dimly redolent of soft cheese. The scallop was good and went well with the veloute, the oyster was really strong in flavour and quite wonderful with the scallop, but to my mind the oyster did not work with the veloute, which was too rich and mild for the intense seaweed and blackcurrant overtones of the oyster. When I spoke to the chef later (who, reassuringly, was enthusiastically visiting all tables for feedback) it seems that this, along with most/all of the other courses, is a classic from their 2* in Lyon, so perhaps I'd be in the minority on this. Next course was a white fish, not one I was familiar with (as usual the name escapes me), with various mushrooms and a long, thin shard of crispy skin, the latter projecting vertically from its former contents. The lightly cooked fish had cooled rather by the time it was served. I enjoyed the almost 'earthy' note in the fish, which complemented the excellent mushrooms well. However, it was another rich course with a cream-based sauce, no vegetation and no particularly contrasting flavours, contributing to the vein of over-richness and similarity running through the menu. The next course did little to change this: a thin piece of veal served on mashed potatoes with a token (and not particularly attractive) few rocket leaves and a 'confit' cherry tomato resting on top. A good, strongly flavoured but not outrageously salty demi-glace type of sauce accompanied. Again, the ingredients were good and their natural flavours were strong and only enhanced by the accompaniments. The mash was not gluey, but (once again) was extremely buttery and rich. Had previous courses contrasted more, I would have been in a better position to enjoy this further extravagance. No pre-dessert as such, but as I'm never keen on the usual 'refreshing' over-concentrated mango/orange/passion-fruit sorbet/mousse/foam/air/jelly/shot I was not too bothered. Unusually though they did bring the petit fours before the desserts, and they remained there when they later brought the coffees. The petit fours were raspberry popcorn (nice intensity to the raspberry powder, but overall pretty pedestrian), macaroons (chocolate was nice but a bit chewy, raspberry not a patch on Sketch, too jam-like rather than fresh-raspberry-like) and sable biscuits (fine but unexceptional). The dessert was good but not particularly outstanding or memorable, based around apricot halves with rosemary, though the rosemary seemed rather underplayed to me. They did later bring an additional pair of tiny ice-cream cones, whose ice-cream's anise/liquorice flavour was a tad over-pronounced for me. Coffees were excellent of course (and why not at the price?), service throughout was faultless, pacing was good (with a long but welcome pause before the main, to finish the admittedly unrequested-yet-charged-for top-up of the white that came with the last of the fish courses) and presentation was generally restrained and judicious, though not a major feature of proceedings aside from the langoustine course. Overall there wasn't that much excitement, an avoidance of striking flavour-marriages (many will no doubt be delighted to hear) and rather less variety than I'm accustomed to in a tasting menu; also, for me, too much richness -- from after the amuses through to the main course I rather felt I'd been delivered a treatise on butter. Of course I'm as keen on butter as the next pikelet-eater, but I'm also keen on vegetables, and not just as an ingredient for stocks. Greenery through the main service was confined to one spear of asparagus (only really the tip) and about 3 rocket leaves, which even in for classic french cuisine would seem rather conservative. Given the comments on Andy Hayler's site, I think if I do go again it will be for the a la carte, which may allow my vegetable predilections to be better satisifed, and will also open up some more interesting options than on the tasting menu.
  10. why naturally...? am going imminently and was vaguely tempted to go a la carte or shortened-tasting-menu in light of the comments. (is it bad etiquette to link to another board?)
  11. Surely, so long as you can wait for a day on which there's a 8pm-8.30pm reservation available, there should never be any need to have tables turned on you (except in chinatown, some chains, etc...) well unlucky, as they've no a la carte!! (I take it they did at the time...
  12. Hibiscus and Texture are two recent(ish) openings with some reasonably adventurous options, both very central... for a full-on mg-experience-even-if-not-openly-declared-as-such I believe Bacchus in Shoreditch is still one of the most unusual, though it doesn't count as new or dramatically changed.
  13. do you reckon the food could be ambitious enough for a second star if they continue in this vein? (and if so how long do they have to put in?) It sounds like their consistency is good, and I must admit I enjoyed my last meal there more than recent experiences at The Capital or Midsummer House, albeit tending towards the more straightforward.
  14. It's something you encounter a lot isn't it... the darkly caramelised black olives they're doing at Midsummer House at the moment are the best thing about the desserts on the tasting menu, matched in this case with fennel and pear. I'm pretty sure I had something similar at Bacchus not long ago too, again with caramel (as with the pineapple tarte tatin at Anthony's)... in fact their website currently lists black olives with mango, sounds rather reminiscent! I think it's largely just the old salt caramel trick, not so different from maple syrup on bacon etc., but there is a special affinity with a certain kind of olive -- those very dark, rich treacley wrinkled black olives you can get (forget what they're called) are already half way to a dessert as they come. I suppose accomodating green olives in a dessert might be more of a challenge...
  15. Hmm... I suppose that subjective reactions are likely to vary more wildly with a new, generally 'unknown' cuisine of this sort, just as they do at some of the worst/best excesses of mg/culinary constructivism. I also wonder how much my having prior experience of eating and preparing raw vegan cuisine influenced my interpretation of the dishes... e.g. Jay and I have pretty much opposite subjective reactions to the chive dish -- I found the 'caviar' to have a strong chive flavour, and the overall effect to be a much cleaner and more pleasant treatment of onion-based flavours than, for instance, the rather nasty warm balloon of onion murk encased in a too-thick and overly-persistent skin that they serve down the road at Bacchus, but about which I have read positive comments in reviews... but it's hard to deny that the thought "how did they manage to get raw sweet potato to be like that?!" was foremost in my mind when eating that much-derided component of the dish. As for the suggestion "if you want cheese, eat real cheese", I enjoyed the cleaness and freshness of the nut-based 'cheeses' not as a substitute for real cheese (try some of the cooked vegan "imitation cheeses" from health food shops for something really horrific) but as an different, enjoyable food in its own right, just as when I eat houmous I don't lament that it's not real curd cheese, etc. Perhaps if they dropped the label "cheese" it would help, but there are sufficient commonalities, particularly with cream cheese, for it to be understandable that they use the term.
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