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Everything posted by Kropotkin

  1. Richard and Lindsey are back in business at the Falcon Inn, Withernwick, near Beverley, East Yorkshire. See: thefalconatwithernwick.co.uk I've not been yet, to my shame (not that I get out these days...), but all reviews have been very positive. Why not give them a visit and report back?
  2. A couple of suggestions a little closer to your NW roots, Harters... 1) The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey. I went there last year with some nagging reluctance at the prospect of handing over my hard-earned cash so directly into Aristocratic coffers (yes, I know...). However, I was charmed by the place, the staff and a very fine dinner and I'd happily subvert my class-warrior instincts again for the same (yes, I know...). To my mind the rooms were not quite as stellar as their website / brochures suggest, but they were perfectly good. 2) The Pheasant, Harome, N. York Moors. A first visit here for me just last week: the public rooms are very nice and comfy and the setting is lovely (next to the village duck pond). I expected all this, but the impressive food arrived at a level beyond our anticipation. Some salmon with langoustines in a smokey, light batter with hazelnuts and broccoli were a real highlight, as was the spectacularly good beef - but there were no bum notes at all and a genuinely neat balance all through the five course menu. Very good, I'd say, and a relative bargain at £45 (if I remember correctly).
  3. Thanks for the comments John - interesting as ever. The Kropotkins did this same combo in late October. We're longstanding fans of L'enclume, although this meal was perhaps the weakest we've had there. We were underwhelmed by Sharrow Bay on this first (and probably last) visit, however. I'd seem some tempting pictures on here (hence the booking) and I did enjoy the lakeside setting and skipping back to the last century briefly, but the food just left us uninterested. The only thing I can remember (aside from the sorbets) was a grilled brill on a squash risotto that was pretty insipid all round. Each to their own, of course! And in fairness I should note that it was busier at Sharrow Bay at lunchtime than L'Enclume in the evening, so the punters perhaps saw something we didn't.
  4. I read Rayner in part because I’m an incorrigible Guardianista, but also because I admire his commitment to a wider range of restaurants than some reviewers will try. And also, he’s prepared to broach the M25 and schlep around the regions. An example: he’s reported on perhaps five places around me in East Yorkshire in the last four or five years. Contrast this with the near deafening silence of some other critics on the regions and it’s another point in favour of JR.
  5. And further to these plaudits I'll add (given recent debate about cancellation fees) that I booked a table for 8 colleagues recently at the Pipe and Glass and the deposit was a mere £10 per head (forfeited for cancellations within 24 hours). Good on them! And what are your top 3 places then, Gary?
  6. I wandered past Il Pagliaccio in March and noticed its prices had risen - although with 2 stars, presumably it is attracting enough business to be sustainable at that level? By contrast, I visited Trattoria Monti on that same trip and was impressed (not least by the good value).
  7. I haven't been to Winteringham since a disappointing meal just before they lost their star. I would have given them another chance, but the prices remained at 2* level while the guides suggested that the standards had slipped quite a long way. I know why they had to maintain their prices, but it must have put others off too? They did look more enticing on that TV farrago, despite an unfair bashing from Rambo. Anyway, North of the Humber Bridge Artisan in Hessle could be an outside shout for a star: a small operation, but doing very well and improved each and every time I visit (infrequently, alas, due to junior Kropotkins). Also nearby, Whites, in Beverley, is also improving markedly - one to watch for the future I think. The best meal I had in the UK this year was at the Sportsman, but that place probably messes with the Michelin categories and criteria too much for a promotion. By contrast Apsley's, often tipped for another star, didn't quite reach those levels on my November visit.
  8. Very many thanks for this, Rogelio. I'd been reading about Pla recently, but didn't know he wrote on the region's food cultures as well. I can't find trace of el que hem menjat or El Cuaderno Gris in English yet, but there's time to go - and I could understand the basics in Spanish. Thanks too for the recommendations in Palafrugell and Girona. We're staying in Figueres, but I'll lobby for a trip further South... And thanks again for your help.
  9. Dear all, I write for some advice, please... I'm a British academic visiting Empordà province of Catalunya shortly to work on a small research project about the region's landscapes and regional identity. As part of this, I'm keen to explore the traditional cuisine and artisinal food production of Empordà and how this is marketed and celebrated as connected to, and representative of, the regional landscape. I'm interested in how producers, local and regional development agencies, restaurants and others use ideas of a rooted, traditional cuisine to mark their regional food cultures as distinctive and high-quality. I'm very impressed by the quality of your debates about Catalunyan cuisine and restaurants on this forum; I've learnt much already. I'll be looking out for the rustic Mar i muntanya emphasis, the snails, and the various traditional sauces you've noted (Aill i oli, Picada etc), but further advice on other typical produce would be much appreciated. I will also be exploring whether the local food sector talks about terroir and how far distinctive elements of the local soils, landscapes, geographical contexts and historical cultures are said to contribute to its food cultures. The Celler de Can Roca website, for example, talks of 'landscapes, memory and cuisine' - is this unusual, or does it reflect more common understandings in the region? I'm in the hands of two Catalonian colleagues so can't go ahead booking some of the restaurants I've learnt about (although I'm strongly tempted to return to do so...). I've noticed, however, that Restaurant Bonay (Peratallada) sells itself as embodying Empordan cuisine - are there other places that I should know about also? I've read the Spain & Portugal threads that seem relevant, and searched the system - but my apologies in advance if I've missed anything. I don't think I've ever written on this subforum, but have contributed to the British and Italian fora over a few years. If you have time and interest, any information and advice you can provide for me is appreciated; the beauty of a board like this, of course, is that the information is then preserved for others! With thanks in advance, David
  10. We zipped into Holbeck Ghyll on a February Wednesday for a (lonely) lunch... all very nice, and they were very good with our two young nippers, but the food and presentation felt a little dated by contrast with other M* places and, indeed, with a previous visit in 2008. You can't sniff at £25 for a four-course lunch at that standard, though. Plus, the views are stunning and the building is built on a very neat, human scale that 'feels' right. They had a change of ownership earlier this year, but the intention was to maintain the place as it was (they said). We always try to go to L'enclume when in the Lakes - no interest there???
  11. I found myself in Kent last week and made time for a sneaky lunch at the Sportsman. This meant whizzing across the strangely compelling landscape of saltmarshes, levees, caravan parks and ad hoc seaside houses that stretch beneath the big sky of the Thames estuary. I'm wierd enough to like such isolated and distinctive places, and all this amidst a bright, breezy day had me cheered anyway. This was compounded by the ready charm of the Sportsman's light, airy rooms with their pale shades, simple decor and fresh daisies on the tables. The effortlessly chatty staff compounded my unanticipated cheeriness still further - I don't want to be best mates with the staff everywhere I go, but they pitched it just right here. I'd not had time to read this thread beforehand, but seem to have hit lucky with the ordering: I did remember to have the breads and butter - which were simply great as stated above (they churn their butter in an old bread-maker, apparently...) The Crab rissotto was just as good as everyone here says. Ditto the Turbot with vin jaune, asparagus (this month) and pork belly. The pork was a little drier than I expected but nevertheless, and as above, it all worked together beautifully. Both these dishes stood comparison with 2* places up the road in big London. Finally, the Lemon tart with ice-cream and meringue crumble was very decent. 60 quid all in (including drinks)... So I find myself parroting everyone else inanely - this place is excellent: splendid food, an accessible winelist, friendly staff and amazing value all round. Go while you can - surely it can't last forever, and then we'll all be really sad. PS! Weekday taxi's are hard to come by from about 3-ish, they say, when the school-run kicks in.
  12. Yes, Cantina Cantarini, that's the place. I've never eaten there as I've failed to get a table three times now on week-nights as it was full (while surrounding restaurants were empty)... so I'm assuming it must be decent. Let us know how it is - if you get there!
  13. @ Kyeblue: although I don't eat much (if ever) around Via Veneto, I often stay near Via XX Settembre and have seen a small, simple seafood restaurant on the South-West side of Pzza Sallustio that always seems busy - it's on my list for a future visit, and within an easy walk of Via Veneto. I don't have a name, but it's the only place on that side of the piazza and has a small wood and glass frontage with a hand-written menu board. This might help? Also, thanks to DaleJ for recommending Pizzaria Remo, via G. Branca, Testaccio. This was a very buzzy and very Roman place full of locals (and me) on Tuesday night last week. The Tables are crammed together, but the service was good (in that there was no hussle to order or clear the table - despite the queue outside). The baccala' was huge (think UK Fish & Chip shop portions) and a little stodgy, but the dimensions took the breath. A fiore di zucca was likewise gargantuan, and an excellent example. The pizza was very good: my companion had Pizza fiori di zucca which looked excellent - my cappriciosa was very good, but above all it was the great atmosphere that marked this place. I also went to Baffetto 2 with a friend - this ticked many of the boxes above, although it was not as busy as Remo, nor as packed as the original Da Baffetto. This too was good pizza, with very good service - but a little more relaxed (on Sunday evening) if you want less bustle; it's also just North of Campo dei Fiori if you want to be more accessible to the centro storico. And to add my thoughts on Il Bocconcino: I've visited twice and not been over-impressed. It was fine, but nothing more than that in my opinion.
  14. I was working in Trieste two weeks ago. I've always found it a particularly striking and compelling city given its setting sprawled across the hills between the limestone plateau and the sea; its evident literary and public-intellectual culture; and the striking architecture that makes this Mitteleuropa on the Mediterranean. I'm always surprised that so few appreciate this often neglected corner of Italy. Aside from the great coffee and cafes, though, I've never regarded it as an especially great eating city. The fusion of central European and Slavic cuisine with Italian staples is, of course, interesting (especially at the Buffets)- but the standard restaurants don't match the levels of Rome, Bologna, Milan or many other town and cities for example (although admittedly, my longest time in the city was on a student budget back in the Twentieth-century...). But for any other visitors I can recommend: Al Nuovo Antico Pavone - Riva Gramuda - this consistent place serves very fresh and reliable seafood in an old-fashioned but pleasant and calming room with a gracious and hospitable host. They only serve what's available from the market, and complement this with very decent wines from Eastern Friuli. Very good value. Nothing else really stood out on this trip, although: Pizzaria Copacabana (on Via del Teatro Romano) is solid. I always visit them as, having grown up in 1970s-80s England, I consider this to be the place where I first tasted tomatoes properly. It is a decent Pizzaria and popular with the locals, but had improved quite a bit since my last visit. It is handy for the main square too, and open seven days a week. There's also a Bier hall down the Riva Sauro which I discovered and that is vastly popular with the locals (also serving Pizzas). Also, I had a quick lunch of Goulash and Gnocchi in basic trattoria - Ristoriant Pizzeria O'Scugnizzo (Via 30 Ottobre, I think) that was surprisingly good. I was also impressed by Cafe Torinese which I'd overlooked on previous visits: it has a beautiful interior and friendly service. There are also a few more lively bars in the Borgo Teresiana these days, and some serving snacks after work also - as this trend reaches Trieste too...
  15. So, in 2002 Restaurant Magazine identifies Hornsea (East Yorkshire) as a potential foodie hotspot... Unfortunately, no-one bothered to tell Hornsea about this and their food remains stubbornly embedded in the 1980s and immune to any improvements since then. Even the Fish and Chips can be ropey. There is potential in the area -as the Pipe and Glass outside Beverley, plus Artisan in Hessle both prove- but Hornsea has not kicked-off quite yet...
  16. 'Milliards' - a long forgotten friend! Many thanks Bertie, I'll join your campaign to rehabilitate this excellent word. I'd also agree with the various Yorshire comments upthread, but also add that the Cleveland way from Helmsley across the North Yorks Moors, then Southwards down the coast to Filey (especially the sections through Staithes, Whitby and Robin Hood's bay) crosses great countryside. There are also some good foody-pubs en route. The Fox and Hounds at Goldsborough for example, is supposed to be impressive.
  17. Clarification for any potential foodie-visitors: Gennaro Esposito's Torre del Saracino (2*, and with a thread somewhere on here)- is in the hamlet of Marina d'Equa, 300 meters or so from Vico Equense duomo, and a little further by road, but it's not far from town. Thanks for your considered thoughts, Fortedei. I guess whether we like the food in Vico, or rate Michelin is, of course, another matter. My point was that here is an emerging destination for some who like visiting restaurants. And these latest stars add to those already sprinkling the Sorrentine peninsula. For me at least, this makes the prospect of a return to Vico more tempting...
  18. The 2010 Michelin Guide also throws up four starred restaurants for the small town of Vico Equense on the Sorrentine peninsular. This is more than many major cities in Northern Europe: it's certainly more that anywhere in the UK outside London (except perhaps Edinburgh?). See Campania Slow's report here I used to work in Vico for five days each year - but its culinary regard seemed to revolve around the entertaining Pizza a Metro (the self-styled Universita' della Pizza). But perhaps I should give it another chance...
  19. Well I'm with Gareth and shocked by this attitude: Beck appears to state that women can be assessed and valued according to their appearance; while men, presumably, are not subject to these same criteria. The fact that he judges women able to answer the phone, take coats etc only serves to reinforce his prejudice to my mind. If this is perfectionism, its a perfectionism informed by ignorance. And I'm pretty sure making these distinctions between employees is also illegal in the UK.
  20. Possible movers based on my experiences of late... I'll further endorse L'enclume for two - it never disappoints (me); with Wisharts as a deserved riser too. The Pipe and Glass (East Yorks) might get a star in the pub category this year or next. But I was very underwhelmed by Mallory Court - not star standard on my visit. The Capital was a weak at its 2* grade also, and that before Chavot left. And I still see nothing at re-branded Northcote to merit a rise (although I saw someone arguing for this somewhere this year). I'd like to see some regrading -up and down, as deserved- but as ever, I suspect, it will be another year of over-cautious stasis from Michelin.
  21. Yes! A wierd frog peering over a waterfall, and brightly-lit balls whizzing around on the pool below... Let's hope that 'What happens in Vegas [in this case], stays in Vegas'...
  22. I was in Las Vegas in the spring and wandered into The Wynn hotel: all very glam and very bling, so I thought I’d be guaranteed a decent dinner. By a featured-pool (where a spectacularly odd performing light show was staged, I soon discovered) was Daniel Boulud Brasserie, and they had a table free… Yet the dinner was underwhelming. The menu was relatively limited, but as a Brasserie that’s fair enough. A Caesar salad, however, was uninspiring and, in truth, pretty bland. The duet of beef which followed was perfectly fine save for the crunchy vegetables atop that seemed to do nothing for the dish. The fries were nothing special either. Perhaps I should have had the beef and foie burger, but I allowed the waiter to up-sell me to the more expensive beef ensemble. I was offered dessert but had decided to pass by this stage. Service was haphazard throughout (I had to ask for a fork to eat my main course for example); and had to request water (of all things), twice. So, I was rather mystified by the whole experience – as the Wynn, and US service levels in general, promise better than this. I left thinking I must have hit an off-night but then spotted a One Michelin Star plaque on the way out (I hadn’t realized they’d reached Vegas). And, of course, with M’s focus on consistency, their listed places shouldn’t have off-nights. Yet this experience wouldn’t inspire me to travel far to any of Boulud’s other lower-end outposts…
  23. I’m pleased to see a thread on Artisan, so let me contribute something… I’ve visited Artisan about four or five times over the past couple of years: it’s quickly become one of the best places to east in East Yorkshire (alongside The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton). Unlike a hybrid pub-restaurant such as The Pipe and Glass, Artisan operates at a smaller scale. It has c. 5-6 tables and there are often only two people involved: the guy we know as Food1 cooking, and Lindsey as FoH. It is also, and unashamedly, a sincere and pure restaurant in ethos and purpose: there’s no bar, nor a subsidiary brasserie menu, and the place simply offers two options at each course, or a tasting menu of everything. At first sight this might seem limiting, but I’ve never found it so. These parameters also mean that there can’t be anything overly experimental on the menus - although on reflection I’d say that the food has become more adventurous as the place has settled down. A recent meal involved starters of smoked salmon with watermelon cubes and a pile of tasty crab; or a very generous stack of duck and mushrooms on a brioche with just enough balsamic to ease all these elements together and keep them moist. The duck dish was especially good. Main course for most of us was pork three-ways: roasted, a tasty, textured sausage, and a long, thick strip of beautiful belly pork that melted in the mouth. One of us had a perfectly cooked halibut fillet that rested on a bed of crab, prawns and potatoes. This piece of fish was indecently generous by comparison with some of the apologetic morsels provided by some places. As Food1 implies up-thread, no-one goes home hungry. Desserts were white chocolate pots for most of my party, which they all seemed very pleased with. I had a strawberry and vanilla cheesecake that was exceptionally light in texture but clear in flavour - very impressive, and the best cheesecake I can remember in ages. In sum, this is all very well cooked, high-quality food with clarity of flavour and classical combinations that therefore always work. The food has got better on each visit and, to my mind, several dishes here have outstripped comparable offerings in much longer-established, and Michelin-starred places. Artisan also introduced us to the rather entertaining Deus beer-champagne as an aperitif (which at that point we couldn’t trace anywhere in the UK - now at Waitrose). Very decent chocolates accompany the teas / coffees, although they once provided a paper bag of kiddies’ sweets at this stage, and Mrs. Kropotkin mourns their passing. Finally, a special word for Lindsey who coordinates everything in the dining room and is simply excellent. Someone told me she’d been a copper in her past life. Whatever the source of her conversational and diplomatic skills, she’s born to the role and does it so effortlessly that you wonder why can’t everyone in FoH be like this?
  24. No, the bear was much hairier! And it also boasted a nice red woollen jumper with a gold star in the middle. This is important - as possession of such a bear distinguishes the discerning gourmet-toddler amidst the mayhem of the modern nursery...
  25. We had another good meal at the Star recently with that assiette of duck mentioned above the stand-out dish for me. It was virtually the same composition -but taster and more generous of portion- than one at the Capital a week or so earlier. Special mention also for the very impressive kiddies option of fish and chips. In my opinion, the Star's food improves perceptibly each time we visit. I also liked the new room with the lighter, more spacious surroundings and the view out onto the gardens. Yes, it contrasts markedly with the older room, but I sometimes felt just a little cramped in there and certainly for the summer months I'd now ask for a table in the brighter, new space. Yet parents beware the clever positioning of a basket of teddy-bears at child's eye-level just inside the new door; Kropotkin junior raced in and immediately grabbed one - £12 down without even a drink to show for it!
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