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Everything posted by alanbalchin

  1. I've been given a very old bottle of Reisling........a 1976 Eltviller Taubenberg Auslese........any one help?! Not even sure if its sweet or dry??!! And what would you serve with it!!!!????
  2. Have to provide a breakdown of the $598 bill - pretty simple really......2 'grand menus' $290 (there is no a la carte, so its 'grand' menu or veggie equivalent), accompanying wines at $170, service $83, tax $55. can't be too specific about the wine pairings I'm afraid, other than to say the most interesting aspect was the wide-ranging geography - ie including Austria, Chile and Spain. But on relfection I think it would have been better to have selcted a single bottle - the wine list is extensive and even at Trotters $170 gets you something very decent.
  3. OK - we finally made it to Chicago, and to Charlies. Highlights? Well. some of the dishes were stunning - steamed salmon with duck gizzards in yellow curry sauce (yep, we thought the same....) turned out to be genious. The choc pud matched with Bodegas Castanos 2003) was genius. We went for the 'Grand Menu' with matched wines. Looked good.....But............$598 for two???!!!! Wow........there are many London restaurants I can think of where you can eat a whole lot better. AND if you go for menus with wines you get more than the miserly splash of wine at the bottom of each glass too. Service was slightly bizarre in that we had four (maybe 5?) different waiters attending - it was almost a new face per course! In summary - not convinced. It had its moments but really, if you're gonna charge these prices you need to raise your game!
  4. So.......me and baby brother are coming over from London UK. Should it be Charlie T's or Alinea? And can anyone tell me what the current degustation menu prices are at Charlies? And are the menus given on his website up to date? PS a clue to our tastes.....for those gulleteers who have travelled over here and visited the gastromic temples in Bray - ie 'Fat Duck' and 'Waterside Inn'............we definitely prefer Waterside Inn! Looking forward to my first visit to Chicago since 1976.....guess it may have changed a little??!!
  5. Dinner last night - it has to be said that on a sunny evening the views over Hyde Park are simply stunning. Food is pretty good too. Of the starters, The seared foie gras with salsify and raisins was top notch, the marinated sea scallops with Jersey Royals less convincing. Lamb was superb, John Dory just OK. Which - admittedly on the basis of a very limited sample - suggests its best to stick to the meat options. Cheeses were good - excellent Eppoises, a few too many Goats, and only one English (stinking Bishop) - but priced at what unfortunately is becoming the 'norm' - £11. We shared a plate which was fine. It certainly adds up - came to over £100 each. There's a degustation menu of course which looked OK value at £65 (or £95 if you go with the wine per course recommendation - which did look interesting, I have to say). Would I go again? definitely.
  6. By London standards yes. I would put this on a level with Chez Bruce and the Ledbury, both of which have stars. ← it more on a par with lola's (when lola's was good) good - but not star material ← Wow......I'm obviously going to have to go back a couple more times (and pay full price for the real comparator).....don't get me wrong, I love it - but its no Chez Bruce or Rhodes 24 to my mind. Lola's in the good old days - yep, I'd go with that.
  7. The Masch, of course, was glamming it up on the Ile de Re in this weeks Standard - and generally when she's blagged a trip abroad, the following weeks reviews suffer by comparison. btw - Michelin star?? are you sure?? the foods good, but that doesnt get you a star from Michelin, does it?! PS shouldn't we start an e-Gullet pre launch restaurant review website for the masses, and bit the Masch and Coren et al to it every time? Maybe we can offer them a job,........
  8. Jesus, when exactly are all you e-gulleters eating there?! I was there for lunch at 1pm today (tues 16th May) and at a rough guess there was only about 4 or 5 other tables occupied! It was 3/4s empty. PS going back for more on friday - that Roast Hereford Rib on the next table looked bloody marvelous PS watch out for unchilled carafes of white.
  9. Jesus, when exactly are all you e-gulleters eating there?! I was there for lunch at 1pm today (tues 16th May) and at a rough guess there was only about 4 or 5 other tables occupied! It was 3/4s empty. PS going back for more on friday - that Roast Hereford Rib on the next table looked bloody marvelous PS watch out for unchilled carafes of white.
  10. Can I put my hand up in support of the much abused 'squid and mackerel' burger?? OK, it feels a litle out of place amongst the general Frenchy pigginess - but its really really good! and the bbq sauce takes no hostages either. Be brave!
  11. Dinner at Galvin last night. Good points: Prices - its astonishingly good value - how long can they keep these prices? Great wine list - strong on regional French - again very reasonably priced Textbook endive, roquefort salad Superb daube of venison, quince and chestnuts Bad points: The much talked about 'lasagne of crab' - it was just OK, nothing special The St Emilion au chocolat - fridge-cold, too thick, too almondy But all in all a fine experience - will go again!
  12. Hi - I'm planning a trip to Hungary (Budapest) and am thinking of spending a few days in the Tokay region. Anyone got any tips on how to get there, which wineries accept visitors, where to stay etc!? thanks!
  13. For some bizarre reason I've found myself eating at the branches in Paris, Geneva and Beirut (yes! there is one there!) - and someones said, its nothing special - but there are times when all you really want is a decent salad, steak frites and a good bottle of red - and the Relais is a reliable source! The 'special sauce' is just stock, butter and black pepper as far as I recall - its fine, but you can give it a miss. The London one's not open yet - but its only round the corner from my office so I'll report back soon!
  14. The simplest reason, I guess, it that while there are restaurants which are similar to the Waterside Inn in New York, there is nothing really like the Fat Duck here, and the curiosity is killing me. ← Wow?! Is there really a restaurant like the Waterside Inn in New York?! Tell me more - I'm in NY next month! (and - wrong forum I know, but while I'm here..... where's good to eat in Soho/Tribeca at the moment - and will be possible to get into in 2-3 weeks time?!)
  15. Why go to the Fat Duck (except for a very expensive laugh) when you could have a fantastic 'proper' dinner round the corner at the Waterside Inn?! Went to both within the space of a few weeks and I definitely know which one I'd rather go back to! Let the shouting commence.....!
  16. Thanks guys. I really like the look of Starfish and Crush so will definitely give them a try. And good to see some of Englands best Stilton on the cheese list at Crush! we have Canadian cheddar over here (sorry guys, but it doesn't compare too well with the 'real' thing!).....but fascinated to see lots of other Canadian cheeses on the list.....any good?? I'll give them a try for sure!
  17. Thats great, Geoff - many thanks! More tips welcome!
  18. Thanks - yes, that was a bit of a broad-brush request wasn't it?! What I'd be particularly interested in is any restaurants within walking distance of the CN tower serving either (a) really good bistro-type food with a decent winelist or (b) a great seafood restaurant. In either case I'm not looking for Michelin-star type places - just quality food in decent surroundings. Anything come to my mind?!
  19. Hi - I'll be in Toronto for a week in October (staying near the CN Tower) - where's the best places to eat?
  20. Try this place in Chelmsford - its really rather good - don't be put off by the setting (not especially interesting looking hotel) - the guy can really cook! www.countyhotel-essex.co.uk PS I'm the restaurant reviewer for an Essex Magazine - here's what I had to say about The County a few months ago: THE RESTAURANT AT THE COUNTY CLASSIC BRITISH FOOD IN A MODERN STYLE “If this restaurant was in London, Gary Rhodes would have a run for his money” Something a little further afield from our usual stomping ground this month – a trip out to Chelmsford for a visit to “The Restaurant at the County”. I’ll cut to the chase – this is a really fine restaurant. If you lively locally, then lucky you! If you don’t - look it up on the map (there are directions at the website) and head out here as soon as you can. ‘The County’ is in fact part of a privately-owned hotel of the same name. The restaurant accurately describes its menu as ‘classic British food in a modern style’. Dishes change with the seasons, so in winter months you might be lucky enough to find ‘a salad of English Cox’s apple, with celeriac, walnuts and Montgomery cheddar’ (£4.95), or ‘Battered Lowestoft Cod with mushy peas and hand-cut chips’ (£10.75). We gave both of these a try. A perfect winter salad, clearly prepared to order - crisp seasonal apples, crunchy shredded celeriac in a light mayonnaise, and a wonderfully mature cheddar (all the cheeses are British and supplied by Neals Yard Dairy in Covent Garden). A thick chunk of cod was encased in perfect batter, balanced precariously on a lattice of thick, chunky homemade chips. Delicious. ‘Potato and nettle soup’ (£4.75) was uncomplicated and all the better for it. ‘Traditional Irish Stew with Spring Greens’ (£11.25) had a school-dinnerish look – but then its supposed to look like that – and the meltingly tender shoulder of lamb was cooked on the bone as it should be. Head chef, Clive Gathercole goes to great lengths to source the best available from local producers and the enthusiastic manager Frank Green (bringing with him serious experience of working at Michelin restaurants in Scotland) makes sure all the staff taste everything on the menu so everyone understands what’s going on. You can sense a team effort here. We were already completely bowled over….but desserts really were the icing on the cake. ‘Bakewell tart with English Custard’ (£5.75) was the real thing. And the homemade ice-creams were simply superb – we chose spiced plum, clove and coffee bean from a list of more than a dozen choices. The winelist is a paragon of brevity and desirability, with plenty of interesting choices available by the glass and the quality of the food at THE COUNTY means it pays dividends to match your wines to your menu selection. If this restaurant was in London, Gary Rhodes would have a run for his money. Get there before it’s discovered by the restaurant guides and it becomes impossible to get a table.
  21. Hey - thanks all! Brilliant advice - I've now got both the Jane Grigson book (which is just incredible - I love the way its written too, very francophile!) and Hugh Whathisnames as well. Excellent. Looks like its going to be 'brawn' (head and trotters'), rillettes, porchetta, woodfired loin, sausages, maybe chorizo.....mmm! thanks again all. Will let you know how it goes.
  22. A little summer project for when me and my brother go to France in the summer. We have a good local butcher there, and are planning to buy a whole pig and make lots of wonderful porky things with it. We're not particularly interested in cooking it whole (though we do have a huge wood-fired oven) - we're thinking 'rillettes, hams, brawn, sausages' etc etc etc. So - any suggestions? In particular, we're looking for authentic, old-fashioned ways of making ham (I mean of the Parma/Serrano style here)....got lots of very loose ideas on this, but really would appreciate detailed recipes - it'd be a terrible waste of a leg if it all went terribly wrong! Many thanks - we will let you know how it goes!
  23. Snap! I'm planning a trip to Lebanon (Beirut) in the Summer too.....lets hope things calm down and the elections in May run smoothly, eh? Anyway - some guidance and recommendations, please?! 1. Anyone been to Pepes Restaurant at the Byblos Fishing Club recently? Is it any good now? Any menu recommendations? 2. Any suggestions for good Lebanese restaurants on/near the Corniche? I want to avoid tourist traps! 3. Chateau Musar - is it worth a visit? Anyone bought wine there? Their responses to my e mails for prices have been a bit bizarre (looks like I can get it cheaper in the UK?!). Can you buy Musar in Magnums? Cheers!
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