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Posts posted by PhilD

  1. I seem to remember from my visit to Mugaritz last year that he already has a number of rstaurants in his stable. Can anyone confirm this?

    The only one I have ever heard of so far is Mugaritz. Could you perhaps be thinking of Martin Berasetagui who definitely does have other restaurants besides his eponymous one? If he does, they are quite low on the radar.

    You may be right - my recollection is based on the selection of business cards that they had by the front door. I had thought these were related restaurants, but I think one was the Kursaal which is a Berasetagul restaurant. Is there a tie up at all or are they just good freinds?. I must admit my memory is slightly compromised by a very, very long lunch fueled by the excellent sommelier....!

  2. its def in the book foie gras with tea jelly, i think its a great book up there with the french laundry and im not a big fan of mr ramsay!!!

    wasnt talking about the foie gras with tea jelly.......

    Anyone interested in the "Roasted potato" Consomme recipe????

    I have it straight from the horses mouth, so to speak...

    Maybe not a good book for professionals but good for us amateurs - especially if you get it cheap from Amazon.

  3. What an outrage!!!!!

    I really respect nigel hawarth as a chef and his food is great, but how did he win tonight?

    Modern British, not really, was it not obvious from the first comments he was going to win?

    Anthony looked gutted and rightly so,  Matthew Fort, probably the most respected critic in the trade, knows what he is talking about, but the others ?

    What right does Oliver Peyton have to judge this competition when one of his restaurants has been fined for mice infestation? does he really know what he is talking about?

    Sorry for my rant but it just really pissed me off tonight, excuse the language,

    as mentioned before in this thread, the judges obviously knew who was who and it was clearly rigged

    I wonder what food the top chefs attending the dinner would rather eat?

    Obviously i was not there to taste but............

    Why isn't Nigels food "modern british"...? OK it is different from Anthony's but Anthony's is simply one derivation of modern in a broad range of options. Dining in restaurants would be so boring if there was such a narrow definition.

    I really liked the look of both chef's work and it was good to see the different interpretation of the brief. Anthony's cooking pushes the boundaries, is experimental, and risky. Whilst Nigel's seems to be more reflective, focussed on getting to the core of the dish i.e. deconstructing classics and reinterpreting them for the modern taste (my mother never made hotpot like that).

    Compare and contrast that to Heston, yes he pushes the boundaries and is experimental but he also deconstructs dishes and reinterprets them in a pared back simple way. For example my last meal at The Fat Duck had the spectacular, cutting edge dishes like "Sound of the Sea," and innovative flavour combinations like "Salmon Poached in Liquorice" similar in many respects to Anthony's style of cooking. But also on the same menu I had a simple "Roast Foie Gras" with an almond and a cherry gel as accompaniments - few ingredients, lots of white space on the plate, and great technique to focus on three core flavours. And on the same menu a "Ballontine of Anjou Pigeon" with deconstructed black pudding, and baby turnips and onions - again a focus on the flavour of some outstanding core ingredients - for me, two dishes that seem firmly in Nigel's territory.

    Is the judging poor? I wouldn't agree. The three judges do seem to hold differing opinions and seem to have a fairly robust debate. They loved Anthony's meat course, but found fault with some of his other dishes (the tobacco was a taste to far). They really enjoyed Nigel's cod and tripe (is that traditional cooking?). They seemed to equally dislike both desserts. To me it seemed quite balanced criticism,

    My guess is that the guests who eventually eat this meal will enjoy good food. Be it Anthony's or Nigel's style. After all didn't Anthony really like some of Nigel's food?

    OK it isn't perfect TV, but it is a damm site better than a lot of the alternatives, and it is good to see serious cooking on TV. Give me the flawed GBM rather than another Ramsay. The production team did a good job with the "anthony looked really gutted" sequence. Was it me or were they using the same shot over and over again for his reaction. I hope these tricky TV people don't edit this for dramatic effect...maybe we should ring OFCOM, they must launch an inquiry...!

  4. One thing I noticed is that Nigels dishes very much seem to be parts of a three course meal whereas Anthonys are better thought of as part of a tasting menu.

    A good point. I question whether the format of the competition meal actually suits an avant-garde modern menu, rather than traditional modern (not meant to be a oxymoron).

    Every cutting edge meal I have enjoyed has been structured into a number of small dishes, the extreme example being Adria's 30 different elements/plates (I won't call them courses). By constraining this sort of cooking into the traditional, classical formula it will inevitably impact the outcome. It would be interesting to see the impact on Anthony's meal if he was able to deconstruct four courses into something more in keeping with his cooking.

    Maybe this also influenced the regional heats - were the more innovative chefs disadvantaged by the two dish competition...?

  5. . And I'm cheating with #1, because it's 61 klicks inside French Switzerland.

    1. 1984, Fredy Girardet blew us away, so much so that while we had to go from there to Vienna the next day, we booked a "last meal" there when we got back, just before streaking off to the airport.

    John, Yes you are cheating, but you're forgiven. As host I guess you can get away with it; I on the other hand wanted to make sure I stayed sort of within the rules.

    If not then Girardet would have been at the top of my favorites. We had several notable meals there in the early & then the late 80's. One where I told my then newly wedded bride that we were completely changing our holiday plans at short notice because my friend Pierre had called and said he had Girardet reservations & did we want to come?

    Another where I hosted a lunch for 14 as the prize for the most successful sales competition I've ever run. They actually offered seconds on the truffled chicken dish, but only to the gentlemen!

    Any memories of Girardet are more than welcome as far as I'm concerned. Its still my standard by which others are measured.

    Edited to correct Girardet.

    Dave, you have got to be careful about bending the rules. Us young turks will head west. After all Roses and Donostia are only 30kms over the border.

  6. I think it is very definitely a battle of traditional vs modern!

    It is interesting to see the two approaches. I disagree that it is traditional versus modern, instead we are seeing two branches of modern food. Nigel's is simple but interesting, Anthony's is complex, and challenging. Both seem a million miles away from British cooking of 10 years ago.

    I would be very happy to try both sets of dishes. My guess is that I will enjoy them both equally but for different reasons. I think this round is going to be a tricky call. Both producing great food.

  7. About what the chef has to do: My argument was based on the fact that Legendre used to do what I describe, as do their obvious competitors Roth at le Ritz and Fréchon at le Bristol. Maybe that's precisely what Briffard is negotiating right now. In les Elysées he clearly does not care about room service or the bar and is entirely devoted to the restaurant.

    I had heard that one of the challenges that Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) had had in London was that one of the requirements of taking over a hotel kitchen like the Connaught, Claridges, The Savoy etc is that the kitchen has to do breakfasts and room service. Obviously a challenge for a chef focussed on the lunch and dinner service no matter how large their kitchen brigade. Rumour has it that this is one of the reasons GRH gave up on The Connaught and Angela Hartnet moved on.

    As a result we can now look forward to Hélène Darroze opening at The Connaught in June.

  8. Last night we dined at Charlton House which is the small country house hotel owned by Roger Saul is the owner of the Mulberry empire and now an organic farmer who has revived the production of the grain called Spelt – which not surprisingly features throughout the menu. The chef is Elisha Carter who has a good reputation and is the next chef for us to sample who is participating in this year’s Great British Menu.

    You choose between a menu gourmand at £68 a head (with selected wines at £108), or three courses from the ALC for £52.50. We chose the menu.

    We stared with good glass of Chablis and canapés in the lounge/bar – a good game pâté on a spelt wafer, a crispy olive biscuit, a tricky to identify crispy bread stick, and a small wheel of salmon and cream cheese – very ‘70’s. The lounge is a comfortable area full of over-stuffed sofas and the knick-knacks you associate with country houses.

    The wine list is reasonable with a good range of French regions and a section that lists “Roger’s Specials”, we asked the waitress about these but got a worryingly vague answer including the Medoc being a blend of Pinot and Merlot – interesting. We managed to grab the French restaurant manager and he was more forthcoming, explaining each wine and helping us choose a “Nero d’Avola” a Sicilian red.

    After drinks and ordering we were moved to our table, the dining room is quite a mish-mash of design concepts, which didn’t really work. It isn’t really contemporary, it’s not really classic, and the best description is homely; lots of ideas collected together rather than designed. OK, it is a country house hotel, but remember the people behind the British design company Mulberry own it, so I would have expected more.

    The food. Good bread, in fact very good bread, a good variety of homemade rolls, including onion and multi grain. First up, the amuse bouche, best described as half a quail scotch egg, surrounded by a thick cauliflower soup, served in a small cast iron Karhai. Flavours are deep and intense, a really satisfying dish.

    Next, was a sashimi of Pollack, served with an intense, deeply flavoured earthy beetroot puree, a herbed crème fraiche and what we thought was a Pollack brandade. Each element was good, but the ratios are wrong, miniscule pieces of fish overwhelmed by the dressings. It is a small portion, almost the same size as many restaurants will serve as an amuse.

    This was followed by what seems to be one of Elisha’s signature dishes of duck four ways, which consists of sections of foie gras, rillettes, rare breast and sticky chorizo, all rolled into a large sausage. You get a very thin slice of sausage with separate quadrants with each type of duck. It is served with a horseradish cream, walnut “melba toast” and chutney. Great technique and an impressive looking dish. However, again the main feature of the dish was swamped by the accompaniments. The slice of “duck sausage” needs to be more chunky or you need a few more slices.

    We moved on to “Scallops three ways”. A good plump roasted scallop on a smear of puree (parsnip?), a small sashimi wrapped in seaweed (like a sushi roll – but no rice), and a scallop cerviche with a nutty paste. Again all very good, but miniscule. Over halfway through the meal and I am starting to get worried about the Lilliputian portion sizes. For the set menu have they simply halved the protein content on each plate? Is this why the ratios feel wrong? At £68 I am also starting to get nervous about value for money, I wonder if the “Best Fish & Chip Shop in Britain (The People 2005)” which we passed on the way in will still be open on the way home?

    The main course is a plate of venison loin, with slice of venison confit sausage; the two are wrapped together with a sticky, intense jus, which has a fantastic depth of flavour. Really tasty, luckily the portion size is a bit better, although still not large.

    The cheese board is brought over and it has a good variety of three blues, three goats, three hard, and three soft. With two local and one French in each category. We both chose five, and surprisingly the serving size was good. The cheeses are served with three types of homemade biscuits (a spelt wafer, a seed wafer and walnut bread), a quince paste and an apricot and almond paste. All in all it is a very good cheese board with each cheese in very good condition, and the accompaniments well judged (the only small gripe was that the board could have been refreshed before it was presented. It was getting a bit scruffy with only small remnants of some of the cheeses remaining). All too often I find English cheeseboards will have a few cheeses that are past their best but this one was great – they were all in the best condition. At last the hunger pangs were easing…!

    For dessert we had a sort of cherry ice cream, in a sort of millefeulle, sandwiched between thyme infused crispy sheets of sugar, and surrounded by colourful but intensely flavoured yellow, light green and dark green dots that we discerned to be lemon butter, spearmint (?) and lime jelly. Not a bad dessert.

    Service throughout the meal was quite patchy. The maite’d and our main waiters, both French, were exceptional. Very knowledgeable, confidant and good personalities. But the other staff were not as good, service was OK, but the knowledge about the wine and food wasn’t strong. Other little things let it down: good Riedel glassware, but red wine served in white glasses with intermittent top-ups; all the cutlery set out at the start of the meal, which crowds the table; and, dire piped music, Carol King’s greatest hits and a guitar band (including a ‘70’s solo) on an endless loop, another table asked for it to be turned down, which luckily made it simply intrusive rather than irritating.

    Overall verdict. The cooking is very strong, but given the portion size I didn’t really feel it was good value for money (£180 for two including a bottle of red, two glasses of Chablis, but no coffee or water). I assume the sizes of each dish are cut down for the tasting menu and the ALC dishes are more robust. If there had been a few more courses this would have been fine but on quite a small tasting menu it seems penny pinching. Another clue to this is that the menu is “seven courses” however one of these is an amuse bouche – most restaurants don’t count these as one of the courses.

    The other element that is odd is the way the food is presented. Each dish is artfully arranged on a variety of modern plates – the Karhai for the amusee, oblongs of slate for one dish, a glass plate edged with gold for another, a classic white plate for another. This is good, but it jars with the country house style of the hotel. Contemporary modern food, artistically presented in your grandmother’s sitting room. Odd.

    I guess Elisha is constrained by the restaurant/hotel he is cooking in. He seems to be out of context. I look forward to eating his food again, but maybe when he has moved to a venue more in keeping with his style and panache.

  9. That was the point of his thread. It's a combined effort from everyone on here to give readers who haven't had a chance to go to a 3 star place some idea on where is worth it.

    I will note that I think people who are younger and/or inexperienced when it comes to high end dining tend to make a major mistake when they skip directly from not knowing much to 3 star restaurants. They don't know very much about food - and they wind up trying to measure things without a ruler.

    I wonder if this is more of an issue at the lower end of the market rather than at the top end? Meals in two/three star restaurants tend to be good enough to impress. OK the less experienced may find it tricky to differentiate the best from the very best. However, it is a subjective art and much depends on individual likes and dislikes. I disliked Lameloise - but it was nothing to do with the food, it was simply too stuffy. So I would not put it on my list of top 3 stars, others I know disagree.

    Like Simon I worry about the "all opinions are equally valid" democracy (and agree about the irony). It is fascinating that so many of the - "...we found this delightful bistro La Petite Erreur just down the hill from Sacre Coeur; we had the terrine de grandmere, steak frites, and wonderful profiteroles which the waiter told us are a speciality of the chef 'M. Picard'..." - become rallying points for amateur reviewers producing repetative, self reinforcing, closed loop reviews.

  10. When we moved from Paris last year we drew up a list of all the restaurants we had wanted to try, and those old favorites we wanted to visit before we left. By the time we got to the last week we had booked a full programme of dinners and a few lunches.

    Even though we had physicaly working hard (prepareing a big apartment for packingpacking) we got two thirds of the way through the week and started to struggle to continue eating. We perseverd, but as a result I don't think we really enjoyed some of the restaurants as much as we should have.

    We went to Spring early in week and really enjoyed it, but Senderens was towards the end and it hasn't resonated. It looked good, it felt good, it tasted good, but it isn't a meal I remember that fondly. My suspicion is that our critical senses were dulled, we had reached overload. What should have been a really good meal was "so so". I do plan to return because I feel it should be a great memory and I feel I have missed out (prompted by Julot).

    I often read comments from people who haven't enjoyed restaurants that I have liked, often they have been made by people on eating marathons. I wonder if this is a factor? Should you ever trust a review in these circumstances?

  11. It was the Saturday before Christmas a few years ago and we ate lunch at the Auberge de l'ill.

    It was a beautiful crisp winter day with a clear bue sky; the welcome from all the staff was warm and freindly; the restaurant was full of large extended families haveing a pre-Christmas celebration; and food was good, really matching the ambiance of the room; and the sommelier guided us to some wonderful inexpensive wines. A perfect, very memorable meal.

    A good meal to me is always the result of the combination of food, company and environment. The food doesn't have to be great, but it does have to match the time and place. Fresh lobstor simply grilled over coconut husks on a tropical beach can be as memorable as a three star meal. However, bad food, is always bad, and usually makes a memorable meal for the wrong reasons.

  12. It’s interesting to see how times have changed. People walk out of “three star” very, very expensive restaurants and there is disappointment in the food, service and ambiance.

    I’m going to date myself, but when you walked out of Alain Chapel in the mid 70s, you thought you’d died and gone to heaven. Everything, everything was perfect. Not even a minor miss. Same with Troisgros, same with La Mere Blanc (when Georges had only two stars), same with Haeberlin, same with even with Guerard (when he was still in Paris).

    What has happened to cause the change?

    Are we simply more educated and thus our expectations are higher? Educated in terms of tastes and experiences, we have a broader base of experiences, travel is easier etc etc. Chefs are now having to cook for a more sophisticated audience. An audience that is more self assured and therefore comfortable in giving their opinions and criticisms.

    In order to cater for the more educated palette do chefs need to push the boundaries. And pushing boundaries gets risky with more chance of failure, In the '70's was it such a narrow "cuisine" that practice made perfect?

    Has the relative cost of high end dining fallen to our current disposable income and as a result access to this level of cooking become broader? Can we afford to eat more often at top restaurants? Because the experience has become more frequent we are more comfortable in expressing an opinion.

    Or maybe it is more simple, the standards have dropped. Are there more 3 stars than there were in the past? Is there enough talent to go around?

  13. I don't think Gagnaire was ever my cup of tea - but I've thought of trying Gaya for lunch.  Lower prices - lower expectations - maybe a good meal.  Have any of you Gagnaire fans dined at Gaya?  Robyn

    Well I'm an ex-fan and I liked it shortly after it opened and said I'd go back but have only been back once.

    I have eaten at Gaya a few times and Liked it.It's been awhile however.

    Stick to seafood dishes and the ones with gagnaire inprint.THey are not wildly inventive,thus easily likable.

    I have eaten at Gaya quite a few times. To me it is a medium priced fun restaurant rather than a temple to gastronomy. It is a young team, and they show a lot of enthusiasm.

    My wife and I always tried to sit at the bar (and definately avoided upstairs), the menu structure is non-traditional so we usually chose a number of dishes and asked the kitchen to split them and serve them sequentialy thus creating our own six course meal.

  14. Last week's cooking felt much more interesting. Or am I just getting bored by the format?

    I agree, the cooking this week hasn't been interesting. I also think we are seeing the flaw with the format. Last week Glynn and Sat worked well as a double act with good banter flowing backwards and forwards. They were both interested in each others food and there was a good atmosphere.

    This week Angela and Stephen come across as one dimensional, it's not modern British, its italian wasn't a great comment the first time, let alone the fiftieth. I also thought Sat & Glynn appreciated each others food - this week there are less positive comments. I would like to hear what worked in a dish, what is good about it, rather than simply it's not modern British, its italian .

    I ate at The Hardwick last Sunday, and it is indeed a fine pub with good food, however it's not modern British, its italian.

  15. After last night's disappointment at Pierre Gagnaire - see my earlier post - tonight it was on to one of JT's favorites - Ze Kitchen Galerie.  In many ways, although more modest in its aspirations, or perhaps because of that, it was a more successful meal.  Here are some reactions upon my return home.

    Ambiance:  Way too noisy, but otherwise pleasant modern room. 

    Service:  Amateurish.  You're supposed to write down who has ordered what, not ask the customers when you bring the food to the table.

    Food.  Given what it was trying to accomplish, I thought it was very good indeed.  Since there were four of us we were able to taste a wide range of the offerings, and none failed.  The scallop and Bullot with lemongrass was very good, especially the sashimi scallop, the duck ravioli was the best of the starters, and the macaroni with spider crab was not far behind, although the pasta was a tad too al dente.  The mains were an excellent citrus flavored lotte, lamb, chicken and very succulent ris de veau and a special of suckling pig.  All very tasty, definitely one of the better attempts at fusion I've had.

    Having said this, my thought upon leaving was: Although the food was very good indeed, why did I need to travel to Paris to have this? It is a testament to the standard of internationalization of food that this restaurant could have been in New York, Los Angeles, London or a number of other cities around the world; things have changed in the culinary world, and restaurants like this are examples of the result.  The food is great, but there is little identification with their locale, or as wine folks would say, their terroir.

    In contrast, restaurants like Gagnaire, with its faults, are distinctively of their place.  I adore the French Laundry/Per Se, Jean-Georges, etc, but I will still travel to Paris to eat at the ilk of Gagnaire, Savoy, etc, etc.  (although I have not, and doubt I ever will, experience Savoy or Robuchon in Las Vegas - if I die without setting foot in that place again, I'll go a happy man!)  Paris over time will perhaps slip in to being another great city to eat, but no longer the pinnacle, but on a par with New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London and other places. 

    Just some thoughts . . .

    I agree about the room. Service was OK. But I disagree about the food, on my visit we found it to be very average.

    The room reminds me of a chain hotel (was it/is it part of the Citadines hotel next door?), it lacked character and was quite sterile. Pleasant in an anonymous way, and no I don't expect a Parisaian salon, because I would find the room poor in any major city.

    I am intrigued by others opinion of the food. So many people say it is great and many rave about ot on this and other boards. I admit we visited it over 18 months ago so maybe it has changed. Maybe I need to revisit to see if it has...? But part of me wonders whether it is well thought of purely because it is different?

    Paris is the home of traditionalism and classism, I loved the food when I lived there but really missed the variety you get in other cities. We hankered after different flavours and tastes. OK ZKG does provides this. However we moved to Paris from Sydney were this style of food is fairly common, so maybe it simply didn't measure up when compared to that type of yardstick. ZKG excites the tastebuds of those rooted in the Parisian/French way, but fails to stimulate people like me.

    I also wonder if this is why it won its Michein star. The French inspectors were wowed by the difference and didn't have a good referece point to measure, maybe the same was true of the star for Chamarre in the 7eme (since closed?), and a bit like the British inspectors and their strange assessment of London Indian restaurants.

  16. we all know the deal with the anchor and hope, we know that if we arrive late we will have to wait and the food will have run out.  so if you know this and arrive late and the food has run out, don't bloody moan about it.

    With all due respect, We don't ALL know it. Some of us are tourists who are recommended to the pub and do not know its intricacies. My post makes a very good point that there was no way I could know food would run out or that some dishes require an hour+ preparation time. In fact, the chick that took our name handed me a menu so that I could start to choose what we might want; she had a perfect opportunity at that point to tell me that by the time we sat down, some dishes might not be available. That information was not provided.

    it is also bloody poor form to go off to another pub, what was wrong with drinking in their bar?  if you thought it was too packed or noisy or not enough choice maybe (which there is), then you shouldn't have been there in the first place.

    Again, there was NO ROOM (get it? NONE) for five of us in the bar area except to stand with our backs to the wall where people were trying to walk in and out. And, being a tourist, wanting to explore the neighborhood (you know, explore the country in which we are visiting?!?!) is not unusual.

    Maybe if you had been more patient and waited in the bar more room would have opened up as other tables were seated and you would have had more space to chat. It is also a pub so standing around having a drink is sort of what it is all about.

    Did you really not know the intricacies of the restaurant and that you would have to wait? I thought your first post mentioned that the "first people to arrive would snag a table for five". You also say you were recomended the Anchor and Hope so you must have understood it didn't take bookings, either from the person who gave you the recomendation, or from when you rang up to make a reservation?

  17. Maybe you'll just have to weigh Anchor at the bar and Hope to get a table!

    (I just thought of that. Just now. What can I say, it's a gift.)


    On a side note, I love the A & H, as well as their other place, Great Queen Street. I don't really mind the atmosphere, esp. after a bottle of wine waiting in the pub. Everything seems very chaotic, but they always bring the delicious food promptly. For those against waiting I'd recommend coming on a Sunday when they take reservations.

    Yeah, Great Queen Street is fantastic, and my experiences there have been uniformly pleasant. And you know why? Cos you can book a frickin' table.

    Isn't that the point - you can book at one one and take pot luck at the other. One suits one person the other suits another. I like having the opportunity to take pot luck and "no reservation" restaurants meet this need. For the times I want a definite time to sit down I choose a restaurant I can book.

  18. Morning all,

    visited here last night, generally everything was cooked very well indeed, just thought it lacked a bit of something to bring everything together

    Restaurant was very nicely done i thought the tables were a little close together, lovely little room downstairs on the way to the toilet with a plasma of the kitchen, i popped my nose in to have a look.

    3 course £35 we also had an additional scallop tasting course, staff very friendly and happy to accomodate this request

    started with some potato crisps and taramasalata they said, lovely texture bit garlicky, not very taramasalata like amuse was a cauliflour truffle cream hot and cold thing, very good and nice service dish to drink from then followed the scallops, perfectly cooked but served on a stone, looked good but a little difficult to eat, it was standing on sea salt and you cant help but eat it off the plate aswell so get some additional salt which was needed,

    followed by home smoked salmon with a glass cloche full of smoke, lovely smell no taste, the other half had roast foie gras rhubarb, again beautifully cooked and very tasty, very small portion and no spoon to eat the something milk i think served with it, my bowl was also a little wobbly on the table

    Mains suckling pig for him, cooked to perfection again, lacked seasoning again in potato salad very tasty pig not much of a portion though, i had veal a very big portion compared to the pig purple sprouting brocoli and a pure beetroot puree which was spot on, wild garlic, best dish of the night

    pre dessert brulee type thing in an egg cup, where have we seen that before

    dessert chocolate for the man, very good indeed with porridge oats and bay leaf ice cream and i had lemon slices with thyme which was ok, did note the apple charlotte to share both tables next to us had and  that was a massive portion maybe to make up for the smaller portions earlier in the meal  both tables commented on this, good expresso and chocolates thmye again and a little packet to take away which was in a very tacky package, would of been nice touch if done a little better

    Overall very accomplished cooking, could clearly see the ramsay influences, just felt it need to come together a bit more with service, seasoning and a little bit of thought into how people are going to eat the dishes, all of this with a bottle of reisling and a very good argentinian malbac, a glass of juracon about £166

    Sorry forget the cheese 5 british cheeses, colston basset outstanding of a good board

    Lizzy - interesting review, but tricky to read as some of the puntuation seems to be missing.

  19. We ventured into Wales on Sunday to sample Stephen Terry’s cooking at The Hardwick in Abergavenny. We decided to let the “Great British Menu” drive our restaurant choices over the next few weeks and try and visit as many local ones as possible (Wales and the South West) - it seems as good a way as any to expand our restaurant horizons.

    We had read in a Mathew Norman/Guardian review that finding The Hardwick was difficult. It is. So if you visit allow plenty of time. They serve food in three rooms, the first two double as bars, the third is more of a dining room. Tables are simply dressed with slate placemats and a linen napkin.

    The menu is extensive, with a strong Italian influence. It has an interesting mixture of souped-up pub classics and restaurant dishes - and fried eggs and black pudding feature in a healthy number of the dishes! There is a set menu with a choice of three starters and three mains at £21 for three courses. The ALC has approx ten choices in each section £6 to £7 for entrees and £14 to £19 for mains (from memory).

    We went ALC and started with Carpaccio of Beef, served over rocket with pesto and Parmesan, which looked slightly too well cooked (we love raw/very rare Carpaccio), but nevertheless had a superb flavour. The other entrée was a Smoked Duck Breast Salad with blood oranges and a tapenade; again really good flavours, and a well-balanced dressing on the salad. Mains were a Lightly Oak-Smoked Haddock, poached egg, green vegetable (kale?) with new potatoes; and a Stuffed Pork Shoulder, soft white beans, and a salad with crisp pancetta. Again all the flavours balanced well and both plates were wiped clean. We also had a side order of thrice cooked (Fat Duck) chips which where great.

    Deserts are based around a broad variety of interesting ice creams (peanut butter and jelly for example), but we chose some traditional alternatives, a Sticky Toffee/Date Pudding and a Rice Pudding with Apple Compote - both good if a little pedestrian. The wine list was quite extensive with some reasonable wines by the glass – a Viognier to start and a South African Shiraz to follow.

    When my entrée arrived I thought the portion sizes were quite small - but by the end of the meal I needed to be rolled out of the pub - as the portion sizes grew as the meal progressed…. you don’t leave hungry.

    The cooking isn’t leading edge, or really modern British - I would say the best description is that it is a mélange of really good, high end, pub cooking (but not pub cooking that is pretending to be Michelin starred restaurant) merged with hearty/rustic Italian restaurant food. No complaints at all, we ate every morsel, and would happily return. Total bill for two was £81.30 - three courses each, with four glasses of wine and a coffee.

  20. Very timely, I'm staying in Deia for a few days in May!

    Did you need reservations at es Racó d’es Teix and Sebastians?

    Matthew - we didn't book es Racó d’es Teix, however it was the Wednesday before Easter so the village was very quite, that said I think we bagged the last table. Looks like they have a nice terrace which will be good in better weather - hopefully it will be good in May. I would recommend booking al the restaurants as they are all relatively small - you can probably book most on the day.

    Deia had a number of other interesting restaurants that looked good - although the menus/style similar so it could get a bit boring if you did one after another. We checked out the El Olivo at La Residencia and it looked good, but highly priced. Another one that looked good was Restaurante Jaime.

    I would be interested in a more extensive review of the tapas bar in Deia (El Barrigon Xelini) we tried a few dishes however I suspect the menu could repay a deeper dive.

  21. Rabbit trifle? F*** me. (I know, I'm a bit late but its been a busy week).

    That is one dish I thought I would like to try - really pushing the envelop which is good to see. I also thought Glynn's veal last night looked very good.

    At Mugarittz I had a beef in a charcoal coating which this dish reminded me of, looks like he has extrapolated that in an interesting way.

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