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Corinna Dunne

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Corinna Dunne

  1. I’m sure most of the weekend bookings are tied up for residents, still, it makes it more difficult for them to prove damages if they decide to sue Doorley. In any event, it would be complete folly as I don’t think that there was a single bit of Doorley’s review that could be considered libellous. They may do well to heed long standing advice: "never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel”. Bring it on, I say, it would be great drama if they were stupid enough to take an action.
  2. Delia is getting plenty of publicity for ‘Delia’s how to cheat at cooking’ (£9.99 on Amazon), her new approach to cooking: in the Telegraph last Saturday, a piece here on how she thinks we should focus less on organic, in the Irish Times today and in the Observer Food Monthly tomorrow along with cheat tips form other chefs. We need two-tier cooking now, she says, quick fixes for during the week and more leisurely cooking for the weekend . I’ve had a flick through a copy of the book and some of her more suspect cheat’s ingredients include instant mashed potato and M&S tinned lamb/beef mince (which I must admit I haven’t tried), but in general, the store, fridge and freezer lists are good for someone who isn’t up to speed, and I never spotted the Tesco Whole Foods cooked chickpeas in the freezer section before which she maintains are far superior to tinned chickpeas if you’re making hummus in a hurry. I think that jars of soupe de poisson are a wonderful larder staple, she recommends Perard du Touquet (although I wouldn’t fancy throwing tinned lobster and crab meat in). She’s not getting a penny for her recommendations, she says (she’s sprinkled her magic dust quite liberally across the multiples, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S), and the relevant suppliers and stores where sent a list of the blessed ingredients in advance so that they can gear up for the increased demand. I was in M&S and noticed the signage beside the book informing customers that all the Cheat’s Ingredients are clearly marked with their badge of honour. The book is nicely designed, a plastic cover for ‘all of those annoying spills’ I’m sure, there’s some lovely photography and the recipes are clear and well written. I’d be more likely to get ideas when flicking through the book rather than be tempted to follow many of the recipes to the letter (and I have shelf loads of cookery books already which do this trick). But for people who want to learn to cook 'not from scratch’ it is on the whole responsible, much and all as it pains me to see a recipe for 'Carbonara real quick' made with ready-cooked crispy smoked bacon instead of pancetta (which keeps vacuum packed in thick slices in the freezer, no fuss). It's a very quick dish in its own right, but then again, the emphasis is on break neck speed and I’m not the targeted market. But it certainly looks like down to earth Delia is back. I bet the book will be hugely successful.
  3. I meant to post this ages ago. There have been plenty of mentions of The Tannery on various topics dealing with restaurants in Ireland, so here's a review I did a while back minus the prelims: “What Nico excelled at is flavour,” says Paul Flynn. “He drummed it into us. Take your time making things, he said and be aware of your senses when cooking. That’s what I learned, and that’s where my strengths lie. As well as attention to detail and consistency.” After nine years at Chez Nico, he returned to Ireland, did a stint as head chef at La Stampa and then opened the Tannery in Dungarvan with his wife Máire. It took a while to find his own voice he says. He didn’t want to do the stuffy Michelin-style bit, and over the years he stripping everything back and focused on traditional food and less glitzy cuts of meat. A distinctive and refined style evolved that is rustic but crisp, with food that is clean and elegant on the plate. Without doubt, Paul Flynn has his own voice. The Tannery is a handsome and interesting building which has been comfortably transformed into a great restaurant space. It is modern without being lodged in any iconic decade. You get the sense that it is always going to look good. We arrive just two minutes on the right side of lunch time. It is not a problem, we are assured by Valerie Maloney who works front of house during the day. She has a lovely touch. Up the stairs, past the semi-open kitchen, the room is airy, low-key and relaxed. A large animal hide hangs on one wall and interesting themed photography is displayed around the room depicting the building’s former life as a, well, tannery,. The furniture has nice clean lines and white linen runners on the tables add a “good food without too much pomp” note. The room is about half full; there is evidence of some less tardy customers who have just left. Our menus arrive swiftly, followed by glasses of cold water and a bucket of warm, crusty ciabatta bread. The starter of minestrone of crayfish (€7.50) is nothing short of stunning. It looks simple enough. A crouton of artisan-style bread is topped with crème fraiche, the soup is poured around it and the crayfish is sitting on top. But the textures work so well with the soup, with the crunch, the cream, the tiny dice of vegetables and the soft bite of the crayfish. More spectacular is the deep savoury flavour in the soup with the distinctive taste of prawns coming through. Paul Flynn tells me afterwards that this is in fact two soups. He makes the prawn broth first and then adds the minestrone which allows the flavours to layer and become more complex. The crayfish he explains are brined because they’re not always available fresh, and that keeps it a consistent product. Our other starter of wild mushrooms à la crème with organic leaves (€8.50) is simple in concept. Creamy without being too rich, it is beautifully balanced and expertly seasoned. The baked monkfish with chickpeas, garam masala and cucumber raita (€22) - a dish which features on the à la carte dinner menu - sits comfortably in its Irish environment. It is a considered, gentle sort of dish. The fish, which is very much the texture of fish you get in India, pairs very nicely with the chickpeas in a mellow, creamy, garam masala sauce. The raita, with finely sliced rather than grated cucumber, balances out the dish. And keeping things solidly Irish, our other main course is a farmer’s-sized helping of seared bacon, sliced into generously thick slices on top of creamy mash with minted summer greens (€14.50). The detail on the plate is in the vegetables this time, which are a lovely mix of beans, peas and cabbage in a light cream. Probably not necessary and a bit sweet and sticky, is a side swipe of balsamic reduction. A moot point. Desserts (€6.96) are in the same simple, considered vein: the summer berry trifle has just the right balance of fruit, sponge and cream; the chocolate mousse could have been a bit more chocolaty for my taste and I’d prefer it without the ginger, but this is just a personal thing. The food here is simple, but there is a complexity and understated sophistication to it that is not immediately obvious. Our overwhelming feeling is one of relaxed contentment and delight at having such a wonderful meal. The service throughout has been fantastic. Everyone is personable yet extremely professional. In terms of the full experience, it has delivered impeccably. But the lunch - with a menu that changes daily - is not the only bargain at the Tannery. A €28 early-dinner menu runs from Tuesday to Friday, Sunday lunch is €30, children are catered for graciously and charged €10 and the broader dinner menu compares very favourably with Dublin prices. The Tannery is well, well worth a visit.
  4. Apologies for being so late posting my review (and it is very kind considering the experience we had), here it is in full (and it anyone is suing, I think that diners who paid full whack while they were ironing out their problems might consider suing under the 1980 Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act): “Ta siad ag teacht”, was the famous catch line on a Guinness ad many years ago as Aran Island natives surveyed the watery horizon for a keg-laden currach. But our move from turf to terroir has been swift and the nature of the landings has changed. This time, it’s the culinary Vikings, and we’re meant to be lovin’ it. Gary Rhodes rowed in first with a load of mashed potatoes to be distributed north of the Liffey, Novelli went on the telly, talked about his love life and left, and Marco Pierre White (well, probably just his name) is en route to brand Harry Crosbie’s planned 300-seater brasserie beside the new Point Theatre. But the big news of course is Gordo, his Gastro Greatness. With promises of culinary supremacy using the fresh, local and seasonal bounty from our land of milk and money, we too, he tells us, can have the type of restaurant that makes Michelin men weep. He’s taking us there, to the top of the mountain, albeit in Enniskerry, a Ryanair suburb of Dublin. What joy, I can hardly wait. So I pop over to Ramsian Utopia in London to get a good indicator of what to expect. A flawless dinner in Pètrus, Ramsay’s Michelin two-star restaurant in London is followed by a text book perfect lunch in his three-star restaurant on Royal Hospital Road. And guess what, Ramsay is no more at the pass in either kitchen than Armani is at the sewing machine in Milano. It’s just business, and if it works, it works. And so far, it’s worked to the tune of £67 million in Ramsay’s Rock & Republic back pocket. Getting a table isn’t easy, but ‘the gastronomes’, our Michelin-eating friends invite us to join their learned palates for our first taste of Ramsay in Ireland, albeit the only reservation to be had is 8pm on a Sunday evening. We start with champagne in the bar, we sip a little cappuccino of sweet corn which is paired with a blue cheese beignet and we nod sagely and smile as we ‘get’ the sweet-salty idea of the amuse bouche. A waiter offers us another drink, the menus please, we ask for the second time, and the third. We wait nearly an hour for the menus which have found much more deserving eyes in the bar upstairs. This is obviously the part where bitter is introduced into the repertoire of tastes and the amuse is firmly wiped off our bouches. We are guided to our table for four, a monstrous six-seater Round Cow Roundabout, positioned strategically between the service station and the computers with a perfect view of the half pinned notes blowing on the notice board each time the kitchen door is opened. We ask for an upgrade, we battle against the arrival of bread, water and whatnot as we wait for the superior table to be prepared and eventually settle into the cosy bosom of a wall. Our second amuse bouche arrives, a langoustine in a crispy spring roll, and smiles are dutifully reunited with their owners. Our starters arrive. The single roasted sea scallop with crisp pork belly (€24) is one of the new Irish dishes, but it is practically cold. Not just sorta, kinda, left-on-the-pass-too-long cold, but get-your-ice-cold-beers-here cold. The caramelised veal sweetbreads (€24) are appropriately golden, but are overcooked and lacking in creamy rudeness. A major disappointment as the sweetbreads in Pètrus in London, served with a deeply savoury sauce are outstanding. And Ramsay’s signature lobster and crab ravioli (€25), a perfectly poised dish from his three-star restaurant in London takes a nose dive into bland mediocrity in the back of beyonds in Ireland, irredeemably spiked with a heavy hand with the lemongrass. This is an incredible dish when made correctly, but a complete joke when it’s not. Where’s that amuse bouche when I need it? The risotto (€22), which requires no wait (always worrying), is a little wetter than I’d expect, but the rice has a good bite, there are plenty of fresh cèpes and the black truffle, oh yes, there it is, is completely tasteless. But on the whole, I enjoy it. We experience highs and lows with the main courses too. The roast partridge (€40) is delicious, except his poor little leg is overcooked and the fondant potato is underdone. The mead sauce is too sweet for my palate, but everyone else loves it and it is mead after all. The venison (€40) is cooked perfectly, but could have been gamier, and the gnocchi (which looks and tastes reheated) in a chocolate sauce wins the misconceived prize of the evening. The tarte tatin is off, we are informed, a dearth of apples and pastry upon thy house, we check our Sunday night watches, and our consolation desserts finally arrive. They are good, there’s a nice tempered crack to the bitter chocolate tower (€12) and the chocolate fondant (€12) comes with a deliciously restrained milk ice-cream. We have asked to have desserts served at the same time as the cheese (€18). The gawd-help-us waiter explains that two of the cheeses have dried up since lunch time. This is an Irish goats’ cheese he continues, pointing to an Ardsallagh. The poor fellow just needs some sleep. So too do the front-of-house staff who have started setting some of the tables for breakfast, a stark reminder that we are in a hotel. Which makes getting our bill even more difficult as we skip coffee to get out before the Monday morning rush hour kicks in. We munch through the lovely petits fours, our bill eventually arrives, our dessert wines have been comped (possibly at the suggestion of the wonderful young French sommelier) we part with €567 and a 10% tip and we head off home. I’m not one for ruminating, but as I’m so disappointed, I ruminate for days. It is almost, I surmise, as if Powerscourt is the red-haired stepchild in Gordo’s culinary family. He misses the birth, arrives nearly a month late to give his blessing and as the days progress and our friends receive no response to the politely worded letter they’ve sent, it seems that this absentee chef just doesn’t give a damn. But three weeks later the phone rings and it’s Gordo’s people. What a dreadful experience, they say to our friends, thank you so much for your very helpful comments, actually we’ve made some of your suggested changes already, please, please, do come again, we’d love you to be our guests and we’ll be in touch to arrange things for you. So we’re back on track with the Ramsay Rollercoaster. This is the sort of professionalism we are entitled to expect using his own custom made yardstick. And I, for one, am happy to give him time to get this place squared away. A week later, the written invitation to dine as Ramsay’s guest in Powerscourt pops through the letterbox of the gastronomes’ home. It is for two people only. Just half of the offended party; so we, I’m afraid, are not going to the ball. The culinary emperor’s ball. So, the sainted Emperor Gordon Ramsey, master of all he surveys, holder of 11 Michelin stars around the world, the man pummeling the air of your living room with expletives every time you turn on the telly, is it all hype or is it real? Does the emperor have any clothes? Well, having enjoyed extraordinary dining experiences at his restaurants in London, it’s clear that, yes, he does. Or, as the great man himself might put it, “Clothes? I’ve got a whole ****ing wardrobe of clothes!” The only problem is that, for the moment, he’s left all his best clobber in London.
  5. Below is the press release announcing the regional finalists of the 2008 Roux Scholarship The judges have announced the line-up for the regional finals for this year’s Roux Scholarship – the 25th anniversary of the competition. There will be a total of 19 young chefs competing for a place in the finals, four of whom have been national finalists before. The judges were overwhelmed by the number of entries this year – well over 50 per cent higher than before. “The quality of entries was better than usual, and we were delighted with the level of response.” said Michel Roux, co-chairman of the judging panel. “Lemon sole was an easier and more popular choice than last year’s veal kidneys, and entries ranged from the very simple to the extremely sophisticated. “It was interesting to see that many of the recipes submitted involved filleting the fish – showing strong consumer appeal, but rather sad to see when a beautiful fish like lemon sole tastes so delicious when cooked on the bone. However, most entrants who did fillet the fish used the bones for stock, in order to extract maximum flavour. And, of course, the filleting process will allow them to demonstrate their knife skills at the regional finals!” This year’s line up includes: four past national finalists, all of whom were in last year’s final (Stephen Stevens, currently at Mill House Hotel in Oxford; Matthew Wilkinson now at Martha & Vincent in Ilkley, Andrew Wilson of Gregg’s Restaurant in Sevenoaks, and Christopher Golding now at Nahm Restaurant at the Halkin Hotel, London), three past regional finalists (Daniel Cox of the fine dining division of Compass Group; Ryan Simpson of Winteringham Fields and Alistair Dale of law firm Ince & Co). It also sees four contestants with strong links to Roux Scholars: Kevin Tew of Galvin at Windows, which already boasts two Roux Scholars; Adam Pierson of Claridge’s (Andrew Jones) Ryan Simpson who formerly worked for Simon Hulstone and Irishman Kenneth Culhane who trained under James Carberry at Dublin Institute of Technology. In addition, Ryan Mcfarland of the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, is in the brigade of past national finalist Brett Sutton. “We are proud of the importance that Roux Scholars and past entrants place on the competition and how this enthusiasm is passed to their colleagues.” adds Michel Roux. As usual, the first part of the judging was "blind": the judges did not have any idea whose recipe they judged – the finalists are selected purely on the merit of their initial submission. “We are looking forward to tasting the recipes at the regional finals and seeing so many familiar faces of past competitors determined to try again.” he adds. Other contestants to win through are: Kenneth Culhane of The Queen’s Club, London; Anton Scoones from the De Vere Oulton Hall, Leeds; Jonathan Hayes of the Copthorne Hotel in Cardiff; Canadian Cameron Rutherford from Chewton Glen; Robert Barham from The Stafford Hotel in London; Frank Gigas from The Gleneagles Hotel; Robert Stephens of The Millenium Hotel Mayfair; Mark Birchall from L’Enclume and last, but by no means least, Stephen Thompson from 114 The Arch in Pudsey The regional heats will take place concurrently on March 6 at Birmingham College of Food and Thames Valley University . The contestants will cook their lemon sole dish as originally submitted and be asked to prepare a dessert from a list of ingredients given to them on the day. The best six competitors will be selected to go through to the National Final, which takes place at on March 31 at Westminster Kingsway College and the result will be announced at the awards ceremony at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London a few weeks later. This year's judging panel comprises Albert and Michel Roux, chairman of the judges, their respective sons Michel Junior and Alain, Brian Turner, Gary Rhodes, David Nicholls , Heston Blumenthal and Andrew Fairlie. Guest judge is restaurant critic and broadcaster Tracey MacLeod. The Roux Scholar not only wins the renowned three month stage at a 3-star Michelin establishment, plus £5,000 cash, courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust, which is to be used to enhance his culinary education. As well as numerous prizes from supporting companies, he also receives a week’s paid work-experience in New York, courtesy of Restaurant Associates; an expenses paid trip including travel and overnight accommodation to visit the wine cellars of Champagne Gosset at Aÿ, and a trip for two to visit the Caffé Musetti roasting factory in Milan. The Scholar also becomes a member of the elite Roux Scholars Club, which meets on a regular basis for education trips and events, offers special privileges to members and forms a unique networking opportunity. Each national finalist wins a cheque for £1,000 to further their education, a day’s butchery course, courtesy of Fairfax Meadow, an engraved commemorative saucier from All-Clad, sets of knives from Global plus a year’s complimentary membership of the Institute of Hospitality . In addition to the aforementioned supporters, the Roux Scholarship is also kindly supported by a number of other companies including British Airways, Castello Monte Vibiano Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Direct Seafoods, Fruisana Fruit Sugar, L’Unico, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, The Winterbourne Charitable Trust and Yes Chef! magazine.
  6. Café Paradiso on Lancaster Quay, run by Dennis Cotter is a great recommendation, it’s vegetarian, but you wouldn’t notice it even if you’re a hardened carnivore. The room is nice and casual with a buzzy atmosphere. Les Gourmandises in Cook Street, is good for an authentic snatch of France in the centre of Cork. Patrick and Soizic Kiely cut their teeth with Marco Pierre White, Michel Roux and John Burton Race and spent quite a bit of time in Guilbaud’s before opening up their own place. They have the sort of specialities you might find in regional France: foie gras, confit, Boeuf Bourguignon and fish. It could fit the bill. A newer place which has been getting good reports is Augustine’s on Washington Street, a simpler set-up from what I understand, but some interesting things on the menu like carpaccio of west Cork beef, seared mackerel and caramelised onions on toast and plenty of game options in season. Everything is cooked to order. The Bell Tower at Capella Castlemartyr Hotel is well worth a visit if you don’t mind going a little bit out of town (it’s near Midleton). The head chef is Roger Olsson who previously spent nine years in Pied à Terre. Very competent cooking with some lovely sauces, but more in the fine dining category. Also a bit out of town in Kinsale is Fishy Fishy Café on Crowley’s Quay. It’s very different from the original Fishy Fishy (which I think now closes for the winter). It’s the chichi spot in Kinsale, the mood is grown-up and yachty and breezily exclusive. It’s great for fish, but they’ve carried over the no reservations and no credit card policy from the original place which is ridiculous. It feels to me like an upselling tool, they get to sell more wine while you wait for a table to come free (no, they won’t let you wander off and call you on the mobile).
  7. Corinna, you're some cynic. ← Nothing wrong with playing it McSafe (much more commercially viable, and Oliver Dunne’s 3 course dinner menu for €67 is good value)… but if I’d only one vote, it would have to be for McMental. He’s streets ahead… a rare commodity. I think he just uses agencies on an ad hoc basis, he doesn’t have the budget for a retainer. He certainly could do with a little bit of coaching if he wants to appear on chat shows. Although… he probably wouldn’t listen
  8. Hi sidoyle, I got a different read on the documentary. Maybe it was against the backdrop of all the Dylan the Devil media coverage to date, but I thought he came across very well. Very much as himself. Yes, a totally driven lunatic in the kitchen, but basically a nice guy. He was clearly nervous on the Tubridy show. He’s very direct and focused, and this does come across as arrogance some times, particularly in an interview situation. And yes Simon, I think Dundon played to the crowd, but they loved it. He is, after all, a celebrity chef. On the begrudgery rumblings from other chefs about him getting a Michelin star too soon, augustine, I couldn’t agree more. What amazes me is how conveniently everyone forgets that Dylan McGrath had been head chef at Tom Aikens for years and was well known to the Michelin men. He has certainly served his time and proved his worth. And not only has he maintained the standards he learned, he has clearly found his own voice. He is constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries whilst maintaining consistency. Yes, I am biased, I adore his food. I think he is the best chef in Ireland and I applaud his dedication. So, from my POV, Dylan McGrath being awarded a star ‘so quickly’ gives the Michelin Guide credibility. BTW, nice cameo from the gastronomes, Hazel and Simon, on the documentary last night!
  9. The chat show clip is still on the site, but for some reason, there doesn't seem to be a 'play' button at the moment. In case it changes, here's the link: http://www.rte.ie/tv/tubridytonight/ It's under the following heading: For the record, former bad boy Kevin Thornton is an absolute angel in this interview and doesn't get involved at all when things get heated, so completely at odds with the Sunday Indo piece.
  10. The latest Michelin guide is still big news in Ireland. Kevin Thornton, head chef in Thornton’s, publicly rubbished the guide in the Sunday Independent, saying now all you need is a publicity campaign to get a star and singled out Dylan McGrath of Mint as being unworthy. A bit bizarre considering Thornton’s media profile has been much higher than McGrath’s over the past year. Thornton goes on to say that he doesn’t like McGrath’s food, as if this is enough reason for Michelin to ignore him. Dylan McGrath, for his part, seems determined to lose friends and alienate people. There was a big spat on a TV chat show when McGrath, Thornton and Kevin Dundon walked out like the latest crop of three tenors and McGrath (the least TV savvy of the three) did himself no favours by coming across as completely arrogant and charmless, saying that he got the star because he deserved it and leaving out all the usual humble begging and scraping that plays out so well on TV. The documentary on him airs tonight. Oliver Dunne of Bon Appetit is quite sensibly keeping his head down in his elegant McMichelin restaurant in Malahide, although he did disingenuously comment that Mint getting a star was an added bonus for him (he worked there before McGrath), and it was like getting one and a half stars.
  11. And there’s more…. Gordo is to set up his own UK Chef Academy:
  12. Raymond McCardle is still at the Nuremore as well though isn't he, or is their website out of date? ← Restaurant 23 is owned by Raymond McArdle and his wife Andrea, but he’s not cooking there (yes, he’s still at the Nuremore). The head chef is 26 year-old, Pétrus-trained Trevor Cunningham. The price/quality ratio is spot on and the intention was very much to get a Bib Gourmand. It’s modern bistro cooking but they’ve also introduced a completely separate fish menu - 23 at Sea – making the most of the local catch from the harbours in Kilkeel and Clogherhead. McArdle also co-owns (with the Gilhooly family of the Nuremore) Rosso Restaurant in Dundalk. Cooking here is under local man Conor Mee and the concept is very much along the same lines. I haven’t been to either but have heard very good reports. McArdle freely admits that he’s following the Ramsay model.
  13. That's the spin, certainly. But doesn't it all look a little too PR-caressed for an elephantine corporate beast like GRH? It's instructive to take a quick look at what's in the Ramsay portfolio at the moment: 1- The "Ramsay At" brand (Ramsay at Claridges, at the London, at the Bastille, at Wynn Las Vegas before long I'd imagine). This is the A-grade international brand for holidaymakers and locals needing a special occasion. A cross between Nobu and Hard Rock Cafe. 2- Maze. The B-grade brand, with a slight edginess rather than a slight luxury. This does exactly the same job as as "Ramsay At" but for an audience that's 10 years younger. If Ramsay were Starwood Hotels, this'd be the W chain. 3- Boxwood. The C-grade brand for business lunches, dinners with parents, dates with people you don't fancy, etc. This is the one that's being rolled out under various names to airports and mid-ranking hotels in C-grade places like Prague. The pitch is: "it's not the best thing in the world, but it's the best thing you'll get here". 4- The gastropubs. This is the E-grade brand for Saturday lunch and evenings when suburbanites who can't be bothered cooking or travelling very far. Appearing in a local boozer near you soon. It doesn't take a genius to work out that the group lacks a D-grade brand - a place on the high street to soak up after-work birthdays, weekday lunches with the man from head office, etc. Foxtrot Oscar looks to be his first stab towards the market currently ruled over by Carluccios, Balans etc. (Of course, by the time the brand reaches Slough High Street, it's unlikely that the chef making your Ceasar salad will have done two years at Guy Savoy.) By the way, I think I was wrong further up the thread. I'd now guess that the business will be floated in its an entirity - posh restaurants as well as pleb ones. Foxtrot, assuming it works, is there to complete the Powerpoint slide titled "Group brands - A to E". "Sentimental value"? You're kidding, right? ← Would love to see him push it further. If you’re sliding down the culinary curve, you may as well go full circle. A nice tidy offering from McGastro to McGordo.
  14. It seems that Ramsay is targeting a new niche in the market, the neighbourhood bistro. Jan Moir is not too impressed with Foxtrot Oscar
  15. New Stars Mint One Bon Appetit One ← Yes indeed. You know, I really wasn't expecting *both* to get a star, but it seems that Corinna called it earlier in the thread: ← I have to say, I’m impressed with the job Michelin did in Ireland this year (Ramsay not a shoo-in), and great to see that The Winding Stair got a much deserved Bib. Wonderful news for Dylan McGrath of Mint and Oliver Dunne of Bon Appetit.
  16. Rumour has it that there were two tables of four from Michelin there one night.
  17. Amazon says 25 Jan. ← And I think the announcement is 24 Jan.
  18. Was there any mention of Irish restaurants in the Caterer piece? Derek Bulmer has been busy following up on inspector visits over here. He was back in to check 2* Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, which has had a refurb, but I don’t see there being any change there. Definitely not a third star. Their great room, great service and consistency are what keep them at the 2* level more than the food (which is good but short on wow factor, with the exception of the crubbeens and a few other dishes). There’s speculation that Thornton’s will get its second star back now that the room has been brought up to scratch. I prefer the food in Thornton’s to Guilbaud’s but just don’t feel that their front-of-house is 2*, which is a shame, but not enough to put me off. It will be interesting to see what happens there. Mint is the one that everyone is watching. Dylan McGrath is a serious talent and it will be nothing short of disgraceful if he doesn’t land a star. He is the best chef in the country as far as I’m concerned. The room unfortunately is too small, approx 36 covers, with tables way too close together and there’s no reception area. But this is the only down side. On a recent visit, I couldn’t believe how much he had moved on, he is continuously improving on everything he does, he’s highly original and there seems to be no issue with consistency. The food is wonderful, sublime at times. He’s got the whole shebang in terms of glassware, plates, customised serving dishes etc, service is great and there’s an excellent wine list and sommelier. A television crew is following him at the moment, the obsessive chef reaching for the stars slant, so 24th Jan is going to be the bit that wraps up the story. Loads of talk about Oliver Dunne in Bon Appetit. Bulmer has been in here too (v Michelin room, plenty of textbook stuff, much safer than Dylan McGrath and he’s very accomplished and accessible). He’s playing it cool saying he’s not thinking about stars, which is highly unlikely since he used to refer to his upstairs restaurant as ‘the Michelin contender’ until the media set about pitching him against McGrath, as if there’s only one star to be had and it’s an either or situation. No reason to assume this (although Michelin and generosity aren’t two words that normally appear close together), but if it comes down to a choice, my money is on McGrath on the basis that one star is meant to be all about the food. Probably not going to get a star, but very deserving, is Paul Flynn in the Tannery, an excellent chef to the core, it just comes naturally to him in a very unfussy way. As for Ramsay’s new place in Powerscourt, well the service is a complete shambles so it will be an outrage if he gets a star based on the pedigree of the name. Apparently things are picking up, but they’d need to. As far as I know, Ramsay was overlooked in the Michelin round in Japan, so hopefully they will see fit to allow things to get in shape in Ireland before they declare this place worthy. Alexis should get a bib, but it’s probably too early, certainly next year, and the Winding Stair deserves one. From a UK perspective, I enjoyed Wild Honey, it will be interesting to see how Michelin progresses with their stars in the haute bistro category, certainly if they keep going in this direction, I would expect Locks in Dublin to be in the running in 2009. I’ve only been to RHR once, but have to say that I found it excellent, it was quite simply faultless and the service was nothing short of outstanding, just perfectly pitched. Petrus excellent too.
  19. Patrick, have you booked Petrus or RHR yet? RHR is two months in advance, but if you ring them you may get a lunch opening (they serve the same menu as well as a very well-priced lunch menu). Petrus is also booked out quite a bit in advance, but if you’re not looking for a Friday, you should be OK. I would certainly recommend Wild Honey, I think it’s exactly the type of place you have in mind. Racine is lovely too, but is more solidly French than modern bistro (moules, excellent tete de veau). If I was heading over, I’d definitely be interested in checking out Le Cafe Anglais, mentioned above, Rowley Leigh’s new place and even though it’s been on the go a long time, if you haven’t been to Kensington Place before (his old place) I think it is the sort of thing you’re looking for. Hibiscus, which has had plenty of discussion here would also be interesting, but maybe not what you’re looking for this time round. And St John is great, lovely for lunch. I presume you’ve had a look at the Where are the interesting openings in London? topic.
  20. It’s a fair point about waiting for a restaurant to bed in before reviewing it, but it’s not acceptable to expect the public to subsidise the multi-million pound learning curve of the big boys like Ducasse, and from an Irish perspective, Ramsay. That’s just a joke.
  21. Ramsay in top form a month ago... plenty of character lines.
  22. Tom Doorley is not a bit impressed with Ramsay’s new Wicklow restaurant in the Irish Times… “it’s not up to snuff”. The best front-of-house people were obviously off the night we went too, but to add to our misery, so too was the head chef. Although from Doorley's description of the food, it sounds like it may have made little difference. However, I should balance all of this against the fact that the people we dined with (the gastronomes), sent a letter to Ramsay Inc. It took about 3 weeks to hear back, it was handled extremely well and their feedback was genuinely welcomed.
  23. Jan Moir is (click) but Ducasse apparently, not so much. ← Ah yes, we should have guessed… the importance of being red. The start of this interview is hilarious, with Ducasse going through Jan Moir’s review line by line. He has some interesting taste in food too:
  24. It sounds like she absolutely loves it! I remember going to Kensington Place shortly after it opened and being astounded at how good and 'cool' it was. Looks like Rowley Leigh hasn't lost his touch.
  25. naebody, I love your hammer... nail bang on the head again. In Ireland, the Ritz Carlton expects to attract 50% US customers, 25% UK and 25% Irish (to fill in on the Sundays and Mondays when no one else, including the staff, want to be there).
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