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Everything posted by cheeekymunkey

  1. Someone at some point is going to mention the Blue Bar at the Berkeley, so it might as well be me... Here's a link.
  2. I like Knights Bar above Simpsons on the Strand. Perhaps not the place for a 'serious booze up', as it tends to be a bit quiet, but it's great for a relaxing drink - or three. They make a good martini.
  3. Having been, I'd agree that the Koffman food is probably not, in itself, worth £75. What is, is the experience, the knowledge that is not going to be repeated and the chance, for those of us that weren't in dining mode in the Tante Claire days, to taste a little bit of history. On another topic, those of you who are going should be ordering the scallops. Simple dish, yes. But, if it's exquisite ingredients and excellent cooking you're after, you will be happy.
  4. It's not so much that Koffman's cooking wouldn't cut the mustard - the quality is plain to see. What made it old fashioned was the structure of the menu and the individual dishes. As you say, more of the hearty dishes and less of the delicate, pretty plates that feature more widely these days. If there was a trotter-style dish on a regular menu elswhere, I expect it would comprise a smear of the mash (rather than a dollop) and possibly another balancing item for a break from the fatty pig and buttery mash. Not here, this is pure indulgence. The heavily reduced sauces and big flavours were relentless - though I could have chosen differently. Maybe I'm talking gibberish, but I think that's the key difference. In the 80s, people ate top-end food to feel decadent, to indulge and to finish the meal contently stuffed. Today's palates are different. We want surprises in flavour in texture. We want picture perfect presentation. We want more balanced flavours and the satisfaction is less from feeling stuffed full, than from feeling as if we've completely a journey.
  5. I won’t bore you with details of what the place looks like – the other reviews out there cover that ground. Essentially, it’s a posh marquee on the roof of Selfridges accessed by a dedicated lift manned by a terrifyingly tall, blonde lady. We started with three glasses of Mumm Rose, one of which survived, one ended on my lap and the third over the table. An unfortunate start by our young waiter, but mistakes happen. The menu comprises 5 or 6 starters and main courses, with a similar number of choices on the dessert menu. It’s three courses for £75, but we veered off piste and added a fish course (+£25) and a cheese course (+£10). The amuse bouche was a celeriac remoulade with pigs head. No surprises here, just solid cooking. My starter was a game pithiver. For me, it was slightly overdone. The filling had dried out and the pastry was both too thick and a fraction too dark. The sauce, served on the side, had started to congeal, so my guess is that it had been waiting under the lights for a while. The other two had the foie gras with potato galette, sauternes (or was it jurancon?) sauce and an apple puree. I didn’t taste it, but they were both happy with it. My fish course was exquisite. I encourage all of you that go to choose the scallops. Three of the largest specimens from the Scottish West Coast were cooked perfectly to give that delicious combination of a seared, crisp outside with a sweet, soft inside, served with a squid ink sauce. The others had the lobster cocktail and the langoustines with pressed leeks. For the main course, two of us had the pig’s trotter, the other had the challon duck breast. Right, I’m going to admit it – I didn’t like the trotter. I have no reason to believe it wasn’t as it was meant to be, but I found it too fatty and too rich. If there was a mistake, it might have been that there was a touch too much egg in the mousse filling, for it was rather more sweetbread and morel omelette than mousse. There was a vast quantity of creamy buttery mash too, which added to the overall heaviness. I had a small taste of the duck, which was great. The cheeses were a set selection, including a young epoisses, Roquefort, mature brie, plus one hard cheese, I forget the name, and an unusual (in that I haven’t come across it) very soft goat’s cheese. For pudding, I had the apple tart, the others had the pistachio soufflé and the chocolate ‘mousse’. The tart was a simple affair presented with a lot of (too much?) filo pastry stacked on top. The mousse was rather more like a Louis XV of the Ducasse / Roussillon type, rather than the lighter type you might expect. The soufflé looked excellent. A note on the service. As has been observed elsewhere, the waiters are all temporarily employed from a catering company so the service was rather haphazard, but they are trying hard and we enjoyed chatting with them. They have a real issue with their wine, in that all of the white was served far too cold. Chatting with the sommelier, they are aware of the issue so I hope they get that sorted. We were comp-ed a glass of Chablis each after our Puligny-Montrachet never made it up to drinking temperature. All in all, the food was good, but not exceptional - except for the scallops – and felt a touch old-fashioned, which perhaps is to be expected. I would suggest tempering any high expectations driven by the hype, and just go hoping for a very pleasant meal in an unusual setting.
  6. p.s Jay Rayner was in the restaurant tonight, so perhaps we'll see a review from him soon. MINE WILL BE FIRST!
  7. Just wrote a long review, fresh back from the restaurant and then lost it I'll have another go tomorrow morning. In summary: memorable, old-fashioned, tasty, lovely but clumsy service, options to go outside the £75 menu if you pay, cold wine, ENORMOUS scallops. More to come...
  8. Heh! I did, but it was deleted because it only contained links... Anyway, sorry if your table isn't ready in time, I might be going through the menu twice.
  9. I'm interested in the same questions as Matthew! I'm going tonight and am wondering if I can stray from the 3 courses for £75 that seems to be the norm. Ideally, we could order 2 items from each course with slightly smaller portions to create a tasting menu... I guess there's a time constraint. We've only got a 2 hour slot
  10. They're cheaper than I realised, to be honest. Anyway, it was tasty.
  11. Went in for the lunch menu yesterday - managed to bag a last minute cancellation. Absolutely exquisite cooking as always. On the menu was a whole roast partridge too, which I wouldn't have expected to see on a lunch deal. Gregg Wallace was in there. Unfortunately, I wasn't close enough to eavesdrop, but we were entertained by imagining his critique of Michel's food. "Phhhrrwwoooaaaarrr, that haddock gratin is delicious. I would happily have a bath in that. The smokiness just comes through and the sauce is balanced perfectly by the citrusy lemon, with a touch of sweetness from the leeks. NIIiiiiice. You can cook, Michel." Grrrrrrrrrr.
  12. Bookings re-open today. I think Coren suggests £80 for 3 courses, which probably counts as expensive!
  13. It's not long now until Pierre Koffman returns to the stove temporarily at Selfridges. What are egulleteers expecting? I see Giles Coren got a preview, which has got me excited for my reservation on 12 October. Am I falling for a gimmick, or is this a genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
  14. Sound like safe, unexceptional dishes too, except the pud. When the website sample menu is as copied below, the lunch options just seem to have had all the fun sucked out of them! Watermelon salad "Matthew Norman" Courgette flower, feta and tapenade Almond gazpacho Smoked paprika prawns and tomato sorbet Foie gras Espresso syrup and amaretto foam Warm Scottish lobster Caramelized endive and vanilla brown butter Brouillade Organic egg and sea urchin Braised veal sweetbreads Mosaic of vegetables, red mustard and dandelion Icelandic Cod Pickled cucumber, ajo blanco and Teruel ham Poached wild turbot Jersey royales, snails confit and beurre rouge Landais Chicken breast en cocotte Girolles, rice pilaf and vin jaune Veal belly Mussel tartare, veloute and coriander condiment White and yellow peach fantasy Pink champagne sorbet Sunshine vacherin flambée Strawberry and tarragon
  15. Did that just once, in 1992, and I can STILL remember the horror of the final bill. What Le Gavroche's lunch menu compels you to do, IMHO, is to go back and have the lunch menu again, and again, not to go back and spend what, three times as much? for the al a carte.... ← There's certainly some element of that. But, if I'm looking for dinner, albeit an expensive one, I would now consider le Gav on the back of the quality of the lunch. Back on topic, Eastside is unlikely to see us return, lunch or dinner. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good.
  16. Three colleagues and I tried the Eastside Inn today – Bjorn van den Horst’s new restaurant in Smithfield. I wasn’t a fan of La Noisette so, hedging our bets, we went for the ‘Business Express Lunch’: £35 for 3 courses, plus £10 for two glasses of wine. The menu was limited, as one might expect, but the starter options were rather uninspiring: smoked chicken season salad or chilled pea soup. We all opted for the pea soup. Well executed but, well, not very exciting. The splash of rather good olive oil on the plate and some decent ham added to what was otherwise a rather monotonous plate of pea cream. Main course choices were pan fried fillet of plaice with fondant potato and mussels with a bouillabaisse style sauce, or duck breast with spiced root veg and baby pak choi. These certainly read better on the menu but, again, failed to impress. It was just very safe cooking. The duck portion was small – probably half a breast (?) – and a few pieces of veg. The sauce was little more than soy, honey and some stock. Some potatoes wouldn’t have improved the mediocrity of the dish, but would have bulked it out to a reasonable lunch. Pudding was a choice between cheese and a chocolate, praline and tonka bean concoction. Visually, this was much more what I was expecting from van der Horst - a large hollow ball of dark chocolate with miscellaneous fillings. With warm chocolate sauce added at the table, it broke its banks and a tonka bean and praline ooze gushed onto the plate. Popping candy in the base was a surprise element. So far so good, but the eating failed to meet expectations. A colleague remarked it tasted like a Toblerone the other like a Magnum, and they were not far off. In the end, the taste didn’t live up to the vision. And that was it. No bread, no canapés, no extras, except for some average olives while we looked over the menu. So, nearing the price of Le Gavroche’s deal, this failed to offer equivalent quality or value for money. While Le Gavroche’s menu works, in that it compels you to return and dine a la carte, you leave the Eastside Inn wondering, “is that all they are capable of?”.
  17. Thanks! I passed the Windmill the other day and realised it was missing from the list. That may be the case but, by that stage, our opinion will at least be backed by thorough research!
  18. Good spot - thanks. Liked by Maschler, less good from Dos Hermanos. Looking forward to seeing who's right!
  19. Only went once, but it was atrocious. Shame, because it was great when it was in Upper Street. ← By the looks of it, it is also stupendously pricey. Still, one has to try them all to declare any one the best!
  20. I have started out on a Quest to answer this question once and for all: which is London's best chippy? You can read about it as we go here, which, I hope, is preferable to clogging up this board. The write-ups are tongue-in-cheek but we take the FISH© and CHIP© scoring moderately seriously... Here's a list of places on our hitlist for the coming months. Any suggested additions would be very welcome! Fish Bone: 82 Cleveland Street, W1 Fish Central: 149-151 Central Street, EC1V 8AP Fishcotheque: 79a Waterloo Road, SE1 Fryers’ Delight: 19 Theobald’s Road, WC1X Golden Hind: 73 Marylebone Lane, WC1H North Sea Fish Restaurant: 7-8 Leigh Street, W1U Two Brothers: 297-303 Regent's Pk Road, N3 1DP Seafresh Fish Restaurant: 80-81 Wilton Road, SW1V Sea Shell: 49-51 Lisson Grove, NW1 Mr Fish: 9 Porchester Rd, W2 5DP Fish Club: 189 St John's Hill, SW11 Masters Super Fish: 191 Waterloo Road, SE1 Fish Club: 57 Clapham High Street, SW4 Livebait: The Cut, SE1 The Laughing Halibut: 38 Strutton Groun, SW1P Costas Fish Restaurant: 18 Hillgate Street, W8 Geale's: 2 Farmer Street, W8 The Fish Shop: 360-362 St John Street, EC1 Ollie's: 65-69 Norwood Rd, SE24 9AA Brady's: 513 Old York Rd, SW18 1TF Toff's: Muswell Hill, N10 3RT Faulkner's: 424 Kingsland Rd, E8 4AA
  21. I had a good meal at Murano last night. Some very well executed dishes, with some overdone partridge being the only real slip-up. There was one moment of extreme cruelty, however. With starters finished, cutlery was laid for the main course but also an additional fish spoon provided for all. We had seen the table next door served the red mullet freebie that Howard describes above - surely we were in line to receive the same? No! Our fish spoons were left unused! What a sad moment that was... Very cruel.
  22. Thanks. How about the lobster pot or poissonerie de l'avenue? Any one tried them?
  23. Any views on the restaurant offering the best plateau de fruits de mer in London? I'm talking Brittany-style shellfish galore: raw clams, oysters, langoustines, whelks etc. Thank you.
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