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Tom Roberts

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Everything posted by Tom Roberts

  1. I would second Pizzeria Aurora and would also strongly recommend (in order of expense, highest to lowest) Il Buco, La Lanterna and Da Emilia. Il Buco and La Lanterna are in the centre of Sorrento and Da Emilia is down in the old fishing port (marina grande).
  2. Looks like a pretty good list already. Maybe also consider Dos Pallilos and Tapac 24. I'm also very jealous - I need to get to Cinc Sentits for that suckling pig in the near future! Not sure if you have already been to Jamonisimo, but if not someone posted this map on another page which may be useful: http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=jamonis...li=lmd&z=14&t=m <http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=jamonisimo&near=Barcelona,+Catalu%C3%B1a,+Spain&radius=0.0&cd=1&cid=41387917,2169918,11306889112942706484&li=lmd&z=14&t=m>
  3. If you find yourself near spitalfields, Market Coffee House on Brushfield Street deserves a try. Not freshly roasted beans but damn good coffee. Unlike a number of independent shops in the area I think this place has actually benefited from the influx of chains - it remains busy but the starbucks has diverted those who go to coffeeshops for frozen yoghurt and diet muffins and because they have a sofa like the one on Friends. Roger - how do you roast the beans?
  4. I had an excellent lunch at Roussillon recently. £35 for 3 courses (decent choice) amuse, pre-dessert, coffee + pfs, wine and water. Amazing value given the quality. That said, you can't go far wrong with the set lunch at Gavroche either.
  5. I would second the Sampler and Vinoteca, particularly if you want to try a selection of wines before purchasing.
  6. Apparently the official opening is today. I have just booked for tomorrow night.
  7. I suspected that my attempt to classify those restaurants may be woefully incorrect - I have much to learn! Il Fico is my choice for Sunday night so the options are more limited - I am more than happy to eat good seafood. I was put off Monti by all the hype and a few negatives reviews, but I may give it a try for lunch. Taverna del Capitano sounds promising - I have just found Kropotkin's favourable review from a visit last year. Do you think it is feasible to travel from/to Sorrento for dinner by taxi as we will not have a car? It does not look that far on a map, but I am conscious that looks can be deceiving (and, in the case of taxis, expensive). On a more general note (and this should perhaps be a seprate thread), I often struggle with the boundaries of upscale trat and restaurant (as with upscale bistro and restaurant) since in the UK we do not really have these disctinctions (although I suppose, more recently, we have the gastropub/restaurant distinction). Obviously some places are clearly restaurants and some clearly trats even to the layman, but closer to the boundaries what are the key distinctions? Food, atmosphere, history etc. (or a combination of these elements)?
  8. I am heading to Rome and Sorrento at the end of this week (4 nights Rome, 4 nights Sorrento). My eating/drinking plans are roughly as follows: Rome: I plan to make dinner my main meal of the day and have provisionally decided on Il Fico, Antico Arco, Colline Emilaine and Uno e Bino. This is my attempt to get a mix of classic tratoria (Il fico, Colline Emilaine), upmarket trattoria (Antico Arco) and inventive Roman (Uno e Bino). Obviously this is driven by my personal preference of what and where I think I would like to eat, and there are endless other inviting options out there. Notably absent is Jewish/Roman and michelin*, for which, if I had time, I would probably have selected Paris and Agato e Romano respectively. No specific plans for lunch and snacks but I am hoping to get to at least Da Baffetto, Da Michelle, Antico Forno and Volpetti. Gelato - San Crispino, Giolitti and anywhere else that looks good. Coffee - Tazza D'oro, Sant'Eustachio and others. Wine - Cavour 313, Cul de Sac and Palatium. Sorrento: Less defined plans but I intend to eat at Il Buco and Da Emilia in Sorrento. I am also considering Don Alfonso up the coast. In terms of resources (other than the various forums on egullet), Maureen Fant's website (http://www.maureenbfant.com/) is excellent (and has other useful links). One big caveat to the above is that I have not actually eaten at any of these places yet so please view them as informed suggestions rather than recommendations. Howeverm I will report back before your trip in May. As always, any comments on my plans and additional/alternative suggestions for others in this forum would be very welcome. In particular, I would be interested in recommendations in Sorrento, Positano, Pompei or Capri (whether for lunch, coffee, gelato, wine etc).
  9. I may as well be the first to say that Arbutus or Wild Honey would fit the bill. Not strictly central London, but I would also consider the River Cafe, particularly as the weather might be good enough to sit outside by then (might push the budget though depending on your plans for wine). That said, I wouldn't discount The Wolseley - excellent room, good atmosphere and from my experience (although i havent been for around 6 months) decent food. Yes, you can get better food elsewhere for the same money but it sounds like you are looking for more than just good food.
  10. Thanks, Adey. I'm in Manshester over the Easter weekend so I think a trip to the Wirral may be in order. Interesting take on the pebbles, I have had the Mugaritz version and, while they were certainly a novelty, taste wise they were not much above eating a real pebble. The black rice and squid ink sounds more promising. Marc - out of interest would you always recommend the bespoke menu over the signature? When faced with the dilema between "standard" tasting menus and a suprise/bespoke menu (life can sometimes be cruel), I would instinctively go for the latter but I often wonder if (particularly for a first visit) the normal tasting menu would give you a better overall meal since this will contain the signature dishes perfected over time (both in terms of composition and execution). Also, I assume from Adey's posts that there was no (or little) wine involved - do you go in for a wine pairing with your menus?
  11. Surely the arrival of Gilgamesh was the answer to your prayers for a decent, relaxed local restaurant? Anyone know the phone number for Market? I'm keen to give it a try despite my reservations about the lack of a retractable roof.
  12. Is there a tasting menu yet, or any intention of having one in the future?
  13. Despite recent moves there is still some truth in Heston's statement in relation to "cutting edge" restaurants - Sat Bains, Anthony's, Juniper and he may have been including the Fat Duck since it is (just) outside London. That said, while I have no first hand knowledge of the reason behind any particular moves to the SE, I would be suprised if the desire to achieve greater national/international reputation, michelin recognition and perhaps ultimately financial sucess on a larger scale were not key factors. In terms of enhanced reputation and media coverage, the proof of the pudding has been in the eating for Hibiscus (or at least will be shortly) - as some on this forum have reported there have been more critics visiting in the first few days than a few years in the old location and I'm sure we will be seeing numerous high profile reviews in due course. As for L'enclume, if it had been in Henley rather than Cartmel since the start you would have to think that Heston would be sharing his limelight with Simon Rogan by now. Michelin recognition is more tricky, and everyone on this forum has there own view on this, but the recived wisdom seems to be that London and the SE is favoured. In my view there are many examples of restaurants outside London which would have some or more stars if they were in London and vis versa. Financial sucess of restaurants (or not as the case may be) both in and out of London is a hornets nest with which I am not intimately familiar and therefore will not stamp on it, although I would be interested to hear any views on this.
  14. Petrus for me. Never been on a Friday but I suspect the vast majority of business lunches/dinners are midweek so you should be safe. Also worth considering Hibiscus, it will definately tick the box for quality of food but you will need to wait until it is avidly reviewed on this forum and elsewhere to see if it will be sufficiently romantic.
  15. Mark - we stayed at La Villa for a week at the end of August (sadly pre-truffles, although apparently someone in the village had found the first truffles of the season the day we left). Chris and Nicola are excellent hosts and I have no doubt that they will be able to source good product if you want to eat at La Villa and will also be able to direct you to the pick of the truffle menus at local restaurants. I would recommend eating at La Villa at least once - the food is simple but relyies on the quality of the local ingredients so the results are good and the communal dining approach works surprising well. Nicola also has a good and well priced selection of local wines - it is very easy to end up drinking much more than you planned, particularly as driving is not an issue. Given that dining in was so enjoyable we didn't eat out as much as I had expected but icaffi in Acqui was the pick of the restaurants within easy driving distance (15/20 mins). Enjoy.
  16. I ate a close to perfect meal at Arzak in October last year. This was my first visit so I can't tell you whether the menu has deveoped much from previous years but the execution was faultless. Jaun Mari was still in evidence but I suspect entertaining guests more than cooking. Service was the only slight let down - there were a number of larger groups which absorbed most of the service attention.
  17. Anyone can subscribe. Previously you could subscribe over the phone but I suspect that now the wesbite is up and running this has changed to an online process. You can also buy it from larger newsagents.
  18. Patara (the Maddox St one) is very good.
  19. I think this a wise move in terms of smoothing out the service and getting consistency in the execution, which has also been my only minor complaint of previous visits. From a business perspective I suspect it also has the advantage of tempting more people into 6 courses (or 9 for those that would have gone for 6 anyway). The obvious downside is that you may scare off those who require more choice (or groups of people with a fussy eater who requires a relatively plain option), but then I doubt that this change will worry the return customer base or most potential first time visitors who would have gone on the basis of the old menu (and I can't imagine Phil get's much passing trade given th location!).
  20. Tea Smith have a small range of cakes and pastries to compliment the teas. The are also amenable to food being taken in from elsewhere which may solve the coeliac problem.
  21. Mugaritz has a similar style of trying to enhance the dining experience by appealing to memories - the menu contains small descriptions of what kind of thoughts a dish might evoke and ceratin dishes are accompanies by cards with short messages. Pretty pompous but interesting nonetheless - didn't work for me at all on a sensory level but I supopose it did increase the theatre of the meal which is probably half the point. An example from the webiste: "As the sea has its limits, its confine, its bounds and ends on the sands and the pebbles and the rocks of the coast, of the seashores. There it breaks, it crashes, it calms and even the worst, the most thunderous and vain of storms end".
  22. On a related subject, does anyone know why St Ervan Manor closed and whether there are any plans to reopen it in a similar format?
  23. Just to report back - we ended up in Rafas on the Thurs night, Grill on the Alley for lunch of Fri and Stock for dinner Fri night. Sadly no time for curry. As promised Rafas was very good, I agree with RDB that this is at least on a par with Barrafina (albeit in a different, less polished way and with less queing and spending). This was followed by drinks in Revolution on Deansgate which is not something I would wish on anyone. I was pretty impressed with Grill on the Alley, we all went with the Kobe burgers and got one normal burger to share by way of comparison. The Kobe was definiately superior with a much richer, beefier flavour (although my judgement may have been clouded in part by a desire to justify spending £16 on a burger). This was served with tripple cooked chips and home made relishes and caremalised onions. Staff were knowledgable on the menu and provinence of the meat. Other dishes that came passed looked tempting. All in a pretty slick operation, as Thom notes very much of the Restaurant Bar and Grill mould and I would think likely to be as sucessful if it keep up the same standards. Cocktail list looked decent also. Stock was an interesting experience. Impressive dining room but with an overall 80's feel of fine dining to it, complete with a soul/jazz singer in the corner who frequently took leave of his post to circulate the dining room seranading people with Lionel Richie classics. The atmosphere was clearly special occassion and attempting to be romantic - as a group of 4 blokes I suspect many of our fellow dinners (almost all couples) were questioning our status. We started with Morretti at the bar (amusingly served in pint galss rather than the standard morretti glasses as the bar tender stated that he doesn't like to use the morretti glasses as the are little bit gay). The menu was short (about 5 starter and 5 mains) but well practiced and execution was good. We started with a mixed seafood platter (for 3 rather than 4 at the suggestion of the waiter - I'm always impressed when waiters actually try to offer decent advice and save you some money) and mains included a rib roast (for 2), rack of lamb with almond and pistachio crust and quail stuffed with cous cous. It was all decent but (with the exception of the lamb) nothing to get excited about. We had a good Gavi with the starters and a sterling red (sadly I cannot remember any detail apart from the it was called "Blau Blau" - I would be interested to know if anyone has come across this before as it was definately worthly of seeking out again) with the main. A good night but not somewhere I would rush back to. As usual (and as discussed at length on this forum) this trip cemented my view that the quality in Manchester dining is at the lower end. Next time I will insist on curry or Juniper.
  24. Definately worthy of its own thread. I ate there back at the end of Feb and have been neglecting to write it up ever since - had the surprise menu (about 13 courses) and matching wines (about 8 glasses). Most course were very good, some were outstanding. Wine pairings were good (fairly predictable in most cases, but this is not necessarily a bad thing) and predominetly French - I think they were about £60 and there was a lot of quality for that money. The meal was further enhanced by only having to walk about 15 yards back to my room. Excellent breakfast - cooked by Sat, who must be putting some hours in. Sat is a great guy with a lot of talent and is doing some interesting stuff with the taste, temperature, texture idea (think one raw and one cooked scallop with almond, candied lemon and truffle shavings as a teaser). I'm happy to give more detail on what I ate if you are interested but don't want to spoil the suprise. Although, from talking to Sat I got the impression that the suprise menu changes quite frequently.
  25. Also considered this place for dinner tomorrow night (partially based on the Kobe). My mates' girlfriend works FOH and he recons its generally pretty good. From the menu on the website (www.blackhousegrills.com) looks like an 8oz kobe fillet is £50 which is a big leap of faith. It's part of the same empire as EstEstEst, the Living Room etc.
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