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Jon Tseng

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Everything posted by Jon Tseng

  1. Culinary artistry is a sine non qua. Dornenburg and pages other books I wouldn't bother with they've never managed to live up to their earlier stuff. On the technique side also look up Happy in the Kitchen by Michel Richard. Its got lots of really innovative techniques - richard's background in pastry serves him well. I wouldn't bother with Charlie Trotter stuff as learning material. They drop you in it too fast to really learn from (this is based on his main cheffy books - maybe his other stuff is more approachable) Elements of Taste I have mixed opinions about. At first it seems a bold attempt to systemise flavour in the same way you have with wine. Then you realise some of his flavour categories (e.g. "meaty") are so ridiculously wide as to be pointless. Good recipe for short ribs though. J
  2. The argument against that is that - give or take not having some ridiculously turbo-charged wood fired oven - I can do most of that at home with a bit of judicious shopping in the right places. Its like I just had a look at petersham nurseries website and noticed they were charging twenty three quid for a bavette with some artichokes. I can nip down to jack o'sheas, get an absolutely honking top notch piece of bavette and DIY? (give or take the nuclear powered wood fired grill). Yes have had the sardine (if i recall, at the time it was the only alc option i could afford and they don't do a cheap lunch set). Its nice. But then again I can pop up the road to Soho Japan which has an awesome charcoaled grill and get as good a grilled mackeral as you can ask for (and salmon belly - absolutely killer) for a quarter of the price
  3. I think if there is a criticism of foliage the food is sometimes too precise, at the expense of flavour. I remember a cold foie gras dish (their cold foie gras is some of the best in london, btw) with perfectly arrayed balls of apple gel alginate which didn't taste of much. It was a perfect picture on the plate but seemed to sacrifice presentation for flavour. That's probably the distinction between Capital which is a bit messier, but can be a bit punchier flavour wise. Yes Chris Staines (and I guess the other chef at the hotel - theres the foliage chef and the overall hotel chef I forget) very underrated. The hotel has done a good job of maintaining a reputation for food down the years, from MPW down to Hywell Jones and the current mob.
  4. I'm getting the distinct feeling this is becoming the most over-hyped place in town. Dropped in before xmas. Its good but not life-changing. Certainly not as good as the notices suggest. The seafood is fresh but not at the really great ingredient quality you expect from somewhere this garlanded (thinking on the level of a really good Japanese place - say sushi hiro). The other peculiar thing I noticed is the menu read fantastically well but had a curious habit of completely failing to exploit dishes with premium ingredients. In a wonderful sounding risotto with bone marrow the marrow was completely undetectable. Orange-muscate head cheese too where had no idea where the orange muscat was (I think it was the wine used to brush a glaze over the head cheese, if I remember). Same with the foie gras and pork sausage. Picking over the sausage foie gras chunks where they but they were entirely overcooked little livery studs - not surprising given the dish is prepared by basically roasting in a very hot oven for ten minutes. It was simply a badly thought out way of using what should be a very good ingredient - I got the feeling the chef had wanted to put dishes on the menu with "premium" ingredients for the sake of the ingredient themselves rather than because it made any contribution to the dish. Maybe it was just me being hyper-sensitive, but it was something that niggled me. J PS although the fresh almond milk was absolutely lovely
  5. Interesting I was having a discussion with a colleague at work about what restaurants I hadn't visited in London and thought were overrated - basically the two categories went together. Funnily enough that category basically encompassed Petersham Nurseries and the River Cafe. There's something about their price-gouging menus and luvvie-tasting media over-exposure that just turns me off. Then again as I said I haven't been! Circular argument. J PS I get the same problem with Locatelli. Every time I wander past meaning to drop in again and knowing that the food they cook is absolute fantastic. Then I check the menu and realise its going to cost me twenty five quid for a grilled sardine and I pop round the corner to Texture instead.
  6. I assume most fairly modern gastropubs will have something available. A private room is an obvious money spinner (so long as its kept utilised!). I'm sure all the gordon ramsay pubs will have facilities, although quite corporate. To be honest though if you're really looking 60-80 ppl (was that a misprint?) you won't be able to do it in a pub. No way any pub will run a kitchen with that much excess capacity just on hand for events. You basically will need a large restaurant or banqueting venue. A good place to start will be whatever reference guide there is for ppl looking for wedding reception catering - that is basically the scale of gig you are looking at. (hopefully you won't get stung with wedding reception rates though) J
  7. Good precise food. Fairly priced. One of the few places you can get a great haute french lunch on a sunday in lunch and quite easy to book in the bargain. Although for my money the capital has slightly more punch to its cooking (and is also open on Sunday and highly bookable). But foliage is close.
  8. Madness The theory behind a foam is that far more surface area is expose to the taste buds, so it can taste more of the thing than the thing itself. Chef should know that. J.
  9. Erm shouldn't the point be that #1 and #2 shouldn't both be absent. After all isn't that the whole point of having a capable #2???
  10. Yes andy watch out. There is a big hot bread/cold bread debate amongst informed circles. I personally prefer the bread hot and the butter ice cold, but watch out. Don't automatically assume cold bread = bad. J
  11. Neither. Go to Bonds in the Threadneedle Hotel.
  12. Good restaurant but the sausage roll was wildly overrated at the launch by fawning food critics. Its an OK sausage roll but thats about it. The pastry isn't anything that special. The forcemeats too crumby and not fatty enough. Yawn. Was Mrs B on FoH? One of the strengths of the place is that it was always a family operation, which should mean consistency front to back. J
  13. There is a recipe for a water-based ganache in Chantal Coadys chocolate book Oh theyve got that st hubertus guy back? He guested at foliage a couple of years back - we went and weren't that impressed. slightly strangled italian food trying to speak haute french - the usual lost in translation issues... J
  14. Jay Rayner and Terry Durack are generally reliable. Durack particularly good on Asian stuff given his pac-rim background. Over the years I also find that I generally agree with the Time Out reviews (with obvious exceptions such as Bacchus). Because they employ a team of reviewers often the review will be done by someone with particularly familiarity in a particular area of dining. Most others I am fairly ambivalent about. Jan Moir I am finding increasingly erratic. AA Gill and Giles Coren are completely useless for gauging how good a restaurant is (but highly useful in gauging the extent of their egos and the limitations of their pens). Bloggers as a whole are a reliable guide - if only because their articles are more substantiated. Because they generally don't need to spend two thirds of their blog writing about the extent of their ego, they have to pad it out with discussions about why the food actually is or isn't good (radical I know...). The only problem comes when they haven't a clue what they are talking about, but to honest this is a problem you're far more likely to find with a newspaper critic than a genuine blogger. J
  15. Colin Buchan in a talented chef. During his early 2000s his post-amaryllis funk he set up shop at the Old Barn in Ruislip. No idea what he was doing there (* mich food in a faux elizabethan manor in zone 6 suburbia. hmmm). However the several times I went there the food was uniformly excellent. Good to see him back in the swing of things J
  16. Oh Bonds too There's a level of haute restaurants cooking at the * level, particularly ones in corporate/hotel backgrounds, where whether you get a * is basically a bit of a lottery - Bonds and Pearl def fall into this category. 1-0-1 too. J
  17. Morgan M and Pearl immediately spring to mind Oh and that other Not Alain Ducasse At The Dorchester place J
  18. Monk more highly regarded by cod because you can cut it into big firm steak-like pieces. Its an anomaly of western cuisine that big firm regular sized pieces of protein are particularly prized even if they don't taste as good as other cuts. Particularly true re: chicken breast vs. chicken leg (why do you pay a premium for the dry tasteless big of the chicken???) and any steak you can name. On the fish side this basically explains why dover sole, turbot and to a lesser extent monk go for such a silly premium. Would also observe that monk is a much more forgiving fish to cook than cod, and also stays in better shape when it is not entirely fresh. Which are all arguments both in favour of selling monkfish and against actually ordering it. J
  19. A very fair point. I always have a go at Fay Maschler for passing judgement ridiculously early - should listen to my own advice more often. I suspect my opinions on continentals trying to do fusion is forever scarred by my experience at Lucas Carton (in the senderens days) when the amuse was a single pork shumai dumpling. I think it was his idea of being "exotic". Doling out flippin' dim sum. The vanilla flavoured lobster noodle wasn't much cop either.
  20. Ah that makes it clearer so it was your fault not theres! ;-) As far as I can see it Darroze almost certainly has a guaranteed deal for a couple of years (unless her business manager is a complete idiot) and anyhow the Connaught will always need a haute flagship of some description. My suspicion is Andaman will struggle (slightly asiany fusiony haute might still be an original idea back in the fatherland but it is absolutely nothing new over here) and may well evolve towards serving more straightforward club food to make margins (I observe that Texture has now moved away from a tapas style lunch offering to a more trad prixe fixe). Ambassade I am most worried about, if only because there isn't a hotel standing behind it. As far as I can tell from the decor, vibe and style it is really pitching towards the expat French crowd who live in he area. That's a target market which is very exposed to city banks and financiers - if they retrench then parts of the expat market will quite literally pack up their bags and leave. What could help them is the fact that the space could probably be partly used as bar/lounge/club which will bring in cash. Plus I assume with falling property prices rents should be coming back (or at least not going up). But I really do worry about this place, which is a shame because of the three Ansanay-Alex is clearly the guy who's gone most out on a limb to make it over here. J
  21. Was that a tasting menu you picked yourself or did they choose it? One thing what immediate jumped out at me was it if it is their choice it sounds pretty unbalanced. A watermelon soup amuse, and two consecutive soup-based starters? Two consecutive dishes featuring prawn/langoustine? I'm not personally doctinnaire on menu structure (I'd be happy to order foie gras for starter and main if thats what I felt like eating on the day) but most decent ***s are careful to avoid that sort of replication. One other thing - we've had a wave of Continental chefs opening up at the very high end in London this summer - Ambassade, Darroze and now this place. They are all trying to come into the market as outsiders at a high price point heading into the first recession we've had in twenty years. To be honest that strikes me as financial suicide. I wouldn't be surprised if only one of the three was still operating this time next year. Sounds good otherwise though! J PS one more thing. could someone please explain the logic of sticking a thai prawn curry soup and a faux chinese duck consomee together on the same plate? sounds like a fairly unthinking "oh they're both vaguely asian dishes so they go sort of together" approach to food. imagine if you were served a dinky duo of rabbit rilette and fish and chips in a restaurant in hong kong... :-0
  22. You have repeated specific allegations in public that a) the chef isn't in the kitchen much nowadays, and b) it has been suggested by persons unknown that the restaurant will lose a star. It occurs to me that if these were untrue they are potentially libellous, given they are clearly defamatory to both the chef and his business. The current economic situation is difficult for any fine dining establishment. Hearsay comments that standards could significantly impact trading. Could you please substantiate these comments. Do you have any evidence the chef isn't in the kitchen much? Could you clarify who thinks it might lose a star and why? I suspect a little clarity is the least Shane Osborn deserves. Im sure if there are specific problems you can point to the restaurant will be very welcome to hear constructive feedback. J
  23. FYI I was plundering the remainders section of Waterstones Gower Street yesterday and spotted a secondhand copy of Quentin Crewe's "Great Chefs of France". Its the definitive account of the provincial ***s of 1970s France which were the vanguard of nouvelle cuisine. Really excellent write-ups, illustrations, recipes. Fabulous book. Worth snapping up if anyone's in the area (I've already got a copy). I don't see it on the market very often (although it can be had on amazon). Fifteen quid, bottom left shelf of the cookery REMAINDERS (not the main cookbooks) section, first floor. J
  24. That sounds interesting. More like what you expect a *** kitchen to be capable of. I do wonder if Fat Duck could manage the same thing at the drop of a hat. I do worry that its full stagiares cooking production line degustations ("open n02 tub. drop in lime tea foam quenelle. remove quenelle. repeat 100 times per service"). J
  25. it's a twenty quid cab into Oxford so you may as well camp out there for the weekend (although not sure how it works if you are driving an boozing. There are very infrequent buses from carfax to great Milton) The big hotels in town are old bank, malmaison and Randolph though I'm sure there are cheaper places. Ta J
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