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Andy Fenn

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  1. Here is my Top 10, with the Top 5 being truly outstanding: 1. Michel Bras (Laguoile, France) 2. Oud Sluis (Sluis, Netherlands) 3. Troisgros (Roanne, France) 4. Ledbury 5. In de Wulf (Dranouter, Belgium) 6. Gordon Ramsay RHR 7. Brindillas (Mendoza - ex Sant Pau chef) 8. Sushi Tetsu 9. Dinner by Heston 10. Sushi of Shiori Disappointments: Louis XV (Monaco) And I am generally loving London's mid end places: Zucca, Trullo, Jose, Hawksmoor, Bone Daddies have all been great places to eat this year
  2. Is this going to be another example of a chef from a restaurant dipping into forums/ consumer websites when a comment dares to question his or her food? Respectfully, I suggest that it does you no favours. Nor, I suggest, does chiming in with thank yous to a reviewer to whom you have sent freebie courses. Others may disagree. Others may think it is I who is speaking out of turn. That is fine - their opinion of my personality will not impact whether or not they come to my restaurant. I have had my fair share of sous vide meat that looks exactly like the duck shown in David's photos. Almost invariably, I have wished the meat was cooked differently. Particularly where that meat would normally have a prized layer of skin and fat sitting on top. They become grey, joyless pieces of protein. If you read my question - I was suggesting that the duck looked like another example of this. David is likely to have had his fair share of sous vide meat too. He may like it more than me, he may not. I was simply pressing him to see whether the method was really a success with the duck.
  3. That skinless fatless duck breast looks like the worst example of sous vide in action. Did it really taste any good?
  4. Just wandered upstairs to my room after an absolutely stunning meal at In de Wulf. Mind-blowing. 8 amuses and 11 courses, without a single dud. Some dishes left me speechless. Lightness of touch, but without the reluctance to season properly that you find in some modern chefs. Intelligent use of local herbs and flowers, top quality ingredients, and wonderful flavour combinations. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. Only 40 minutes from Calais - go.
  5. I agree with Matt. There are already too many 3 star restaurants in the UK.
  6. PdT losing one was inevitable given Shane Osborne's departure. Has Michelin done away with Rising Stars?
  7. For a Big Ticket Dinner, I don't think anything touches the Ledbury at the moment. Go. If it's a nice day, have lunch outside. Otherwise, my firm view is that 'fine dining' in London is not the way to go. I have had so many mediocre meals at this level that I don't think it is worth it eg Ramsay, Wareing, Ducasse, le Gavroche. Much better are the mid level restaurants that do what they do very well. Hawksmoor is a brilliant restaurant. Great cocktails, great atmosphere, and great steak. Also the mid-level Italians - Trullo or Zucca are both brilliant, and provide much more joy than posh Italians like, say, Aspleys. Soho is a fun place to do a tapas crawl these days - Wright Brothers for seafood, Fernandez & Wells for hams, Brindisa/Barrafina/Dehesa for more Spanish tapas, Polpo/Polpetto/da Polpo/Bocca di Lupo for Italian tapas. Perhaps Hix for dessert and a cocktail. Start early on a weeknight and you could do 4 or 5 without booking (and some you can't book anyway). I agree that Moro is a great place, and I like Sheekeys and Bentleys too. St John is hit and miss in my experience, but I can see why people would want to go to the mothership. I hear that St John Bread & Wine and the new hotel are more consistent, but that is hearsay. Tayyabs is always great for Pakistani food. I'm also a huge fan of Sushi of Shiori near Euston station. It's a VERY basic space. The best way to do it is to call the day before and ask for omakase - £40 per head is about right. Lots of care goes into the preparations, and the fish is top notch. What about Hakkasan or Yauatcha for dim sum lunch one day? Not much is written about them these days, but the standard is still high, and better (although a different experience) than the trolly dim sum you find elsewhere in London and in other cities. That little lot should give you a sense of what London has to offer. If you do a day trip just for food, do the Sportsman in Whitstable and make sure you pre-order the tasting menu. For me, the most exciting place to eat in the South.
  8. A friend of mine who is not a member of eGullet has put a report up on london eating, and she asked me to post it here on her behalf. I have also been to Shiori a couple of times, and I agree with her views. It really is a great place. "My partner and I are always on the lookout for the best Japanese restaurants we can find in London, searching for the quality and freshness of the sushi and sashimi we’d experienced in Tokyo, or on our travels elsewhere in Japan, New York or California. Despite its unlikely setting behind Euston Station, tucked in among the Indian restaurants of Drummond Street, Sushi of Shiori is the closest we’ve come to the atmosphere and flavours of a true Japanese sushi bar. This little place only has about 7 or 8 seats, three ranged along the inner bar and the rest looking out of the front window. (We like to perch at the bar, where you can watch the almost preternaturally skilled chef at work, slicing into the finely textured wedges of tuna, or shredding daikon to lacy thinness.) If you’ve been to Tokyo, you’ll recognise the set-up from the multitude of micro-eateries dotted around that city; like those, Sushi of Shiori manages to feel at once pared-back and homely, thanks to the charming husband and wife team who run it. For years we lamented the lack of a North Londoner’s Sushi Hiro – when it comes to the food, Shiori is it and more. The style of the food at Shiori initially seems on the traditional side – what you might expect from Hiro, or the Edoko – Tajima-tei – Matsuri trio around Holborn – but marked out by the delicacy of the cuts of fish and their presentation. Before setting up on his own, Shiori’s chef first came to London to work at Mayfair’s Umu, and it’s in the kaiseki-like flair of the way he sets up his plates – the placing of a daikon-curl just here, a spray of spring onion just there – that his training shows. (Though in our opinion, the omakase at Shiori far exceeds what you get in the sushi and sashimi courses at Umu!) This attention to detail might mean that with a full house orders can take a little while to arrive, although thanks to the intimacy of the restaurant and attentive service, you know you’ve never been forgotten. The little, inventive touches, like a creamy scallop touched with black truffle, or a slice of octopus brought to life with a fragrant homemade shiso-leaf pesto, show that something interesting is happening here, which you won’t have encountered elsewhere. That’s not to say that it’s full-blown fusion, as at Dinings say, but rather an entirely Japanese palate and aesthetic, with hints of modernity. Because of its size, Shiori does a healthy take-out trade (if you call in advance, you can pick up your order already made-up) and we envy those working nearby who could pop in for a quick sashimi salad at lunch. Over the last few months – it’s still relatively new – we’ve tried a range of the set sushi plates, but what keeps us coming back week after week is the outstanding omakase option, where you name a price from £30 a head and let the chef do his thing. (I think they prefer if you let them know when you call to reserve if you might want omakase.) His combinations will vary slightly each time and according to the seasons. So in winter you might expect a warming egg and mushroom stew (chawanmushi) in place of the regular miso soup, and in the summer months the nigiri start to include refreshing and flavoursome vegetables (bamboo shoot, grilled aubergine topped with bonito) in among the expected yet ever-varying selection of fish. In spring the lovely proprietress has bunches of the first cherryblossom FedExed over from Japan, so a pink bloom will appear, salted, atop a seabass nigiri, or as the killer ingredient in one of their homemade sorbets. Certain things stand out: the rich sea urchin folded in a creamy scallop, an appetizer of translucent squid tartare laced with green chilli, the huge and succulent spot prawns, the razor-thin slices of sashimi (usu zukuri) laid out in a fan, all made from ingredients sourced with loving care. Of this last, try both the glisteningly tasty salmon and the edge-seared tuna, which are lent a ceviche-like inflection by the tangy citrus in the ponzu dipping sauce. We rarely leave without a scoop of one of the homemade ice creams, topped by a sesame and sunflower crisp. If the cherryblossom sorbet is out of season, don’t miss the sweet pumpkin, or the most recent addition to the menu, a black sesame ice cream of charcoal-like intensity, that quickly became our favourite. Don’t expect the instant trendy ambience or expensive interiors of a Roka or Sake No Hana, but for a quiet meal with a couple of friends, in our experience you won’t find better sushi in London (and incidentally at such reasonable prices)."
  9. Phil - we're off to this area next week. Did you go, and did you find anywhere good?
  10. After reading Giles Coren's review a couple of weeks ago, I tried this place for dinner last night. Very impressed. Starter with veal sweetbread, lobster, peanut and peas was great. Another starter of braised short rib with beetroot and pickled girolles was the standout of the meal - easily michelin star territory. Wild sea bass was poached with watercress sauce and samphire - well timed and good quality fish. Desserts were also interesting and a highlight - toasted honey bread with wild sorrel ice cream was very good. I was really pleasantly surprised with everything. Friendly and accommodating service that seemed genuinely intent on making sure we had a good time. It's not far from me, and the menu changes monthly, so I'll be back.
  11. I had two poor meals there. Won't go back until there is consensus amongst people whose tastes match mine. I should add that I have no anti-Ducasse prejudice. I have not eaten at his other 3 star restaurants, and was very much up for the meals I had there. Save for the rum baba, they fell very flat indeed.
  12. The Harwood is a very different kettle of fish to the Pot Kiln. Technically it's at a higher level, thanks to Steve Williams, the ex Ledbury chef who runs the kitchen. He's there all the time, so there should not be any variability due to the chef not being there. The most difficult thing to get right is service. The Harwood genuinely is a pub. It's not like many of the 'gastropubs' that have a dining area with tablecloths and amuses bouches. It has a pub quiz on Tuesday evenings that I go to regularly. But it now has a michelin star, which means people expect a certain level from the trimmings ie the service, the wine list, the tableware etc. But it's difficult to sharpen these areas up whilst maintaining its identity as a pub. I think it's a great place, and I hope it sustains the level and the atmosphere that has made it so successful.
  13. I have to second the recommendation for Public House. Simon Sheena is responsible for the best cocktails I have had in London (first and Loungelover, then at Anam, now at Public House). He has done an amazing job with the decor too - lots of very individual pieces of furniture, all of which are for sale. I went to both 69 Colebroke Row and Public House in the same night a while ago, and the latter was the clear winner for me. Also not expensive - I think around £8 a cocktail. And I should mention the beers list too - a lot of interesting beers from around the world. Too often these get overlooked in decent bars.
  14. I also had a superb lunch there on Sunday. I eat at the Ledbury frequently, and this was the best meal I can remember. Every dish was a resounding success. Particular mention goes to: Celeriac spaghetti with bone marrow, wild mushrooms and mustard sauce Egg yolk and potato raviolo with shaved chestnut and the first black truffles of the season - cut into the large raviolo and you break the runny yolk inside. The combo with the chestnut and truffle was off the charts. Roast foie gras with christmas pudding puree 24 hour cooked shoulder of lamb with artichoke mash They have recently changed their cheese supplier to la Fromagerie, which is a notable improvement. AND, finally back on the menu is my favourite dessert in London - the date tart. It is a vanilla custard tart with a very thin layer of date puree on the pastry base. A while back, a lot of people got very excited about Marcus Wareing's custard tart. I have tasted both, and the Ledbury's tart is in a different league.
  15. I had a similar experience too - I thought there were too many misses and not enough hits (this was two years ago). And the service was too frenetic to enjoy, which is inevitable I suppose, given the number of courses. I was actually very impressed with the room and location, which don't usually get much mention. As for expectations and reputations, I think it's an odd thing. Sometimes people do expect too much. But I actually think the reputation of a restaurant can sometimes make you too forgiving. Take my meal at Mugaritz a couple of weeks ago. The first few dishes came out, and they were not good. But it took us a good few dishes before we let ourselves believe they were not good. Until then, you assume that it is you who is at fault. That you're not getting it. That you must be missing something. Truth is, if you were served the same food in a regular restuarant in your home city, you'd be much less forgiving.
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