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Everything posted by PhilD

  1. If I remember correctly I had it as part of a menu and it was only one course. They bring the whole "pie" to the table and cut a very healthy slice, what happens to the rest I don't know, as every other table that ordered it received a fresh uncut one. It was so good I suspect I could have finished the leftovers from my table as well as all the others in the restaurant.
  2. Try this: http://supperclubfangroup.ning.com/main/authorization/signUp?target=%2F It is a link from: http://marmitelover.blogspot.com/2009/08/upcoming-dates-at-underground.html I would be really interested to read a credible review, all the stuff I read seems to be rather gushing prose from "friends and family". The media luvvies do seem to have championed the concept and in particular msmarmitelover at The Underground Restaurant and so it is difficult to sift through this to get a feel for the standard of food (or is that secondary?). I thought the backlash against her in the WoM piece about Warners stopping her Harry Potter theme for her Halloween Party was interesting.
  3. The Mark Addy is a blast from the past; memories of staying with a mate in the dodgy "deck access flats in Hulme, nights across the road at the Hacienda, a curry in Rusholme, and lunch by the canal....but in those days lunch never really involved solid food.
  4. Looks like it has played out: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/6430858/Fat-Duck-food-poisoning-Heston-Blumenthal-will-face-no-action.html The local council, who is responsible for food safety in their area, has decided not to prosecute The Fat Duck. It appears from the press report that the"blame" lies with the supplier or the water company in Essex. Reading between the lines IMO this vindicates Heston's assertion that the report from the HPA was flawed i.e. it put too much emphasis in FD elements rather than the real problem contaminated raw ingredients. Although the Telegraph still highlights the D-list celbs who are milking the media attention and continue to talk about suing, I imagine their lawyers may well be pointing out that the councils decision not to sue weakens their case. Why don't they sue the supplier instead, but I wonder if the publicity for suing a small fish farm in Essex would be the same? It seems only the Telegraph picked this up, strange given the breadth and depth of the publicity surrounding the original outbreak. Clearly good news doesn't sell newspapers.
  5. From: http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2008/02/28/319259/shaun-hill-takes-the-reins-at-the-walnut-tree.html
  6. Did James head anywhere interesting?
  7. Casamia isn't that far, quite a simple and inexpensive cab ride, a really worthwhile. Bells Diner is good, interesting food and a nice place (in a grungy area) and more central, I think he was on GBM as a contestant for the SW slot. The Albion Public House and Dining Room in Clifton Village is excellent for good pub food. The "Queen Square Dining Room & Bar" has a very good reputation but I never managed to secure a table as it was often booked out for private functions. The Good Food Guide regional winner for the south west was a place called "Ronnies" in the suburb of Thornbury, sorry didn't there either. There area couple of BBC Masterchef winners in the area. James Nathan now cooks at Michales Caines very good restaurant "The Priory" in Bath (he isn't head chef), and Mat Follas has "The Wild Garlic" in Beaminster....which is a bit of a trek.
  8. One amusing incident at our RB&G meal, I asked if the chips were triple cooked, assuming Neil and Heston's friendship may have seen recipes traded. The waiter looked at me as though I was crazy and said no just double cooked like all chips. Does anyone know if Heston's triple cooked chips have reached Aus, if so where...?
  9. And isn't this the burger Heston Blumenthal practically lived on when he was in Aus?
  10. PhilD

    Burgundy Update

    Exactly the same happened with us, it felt like the "system" couldn't cope with deviants who wanted a white wine rather than the aperitif. I also had the same suspicion that it was a restaurant for regulars and house guests rather than "tourists" (like us) as it did appear that other tables received more attention.
  11. ...and yes, I have been to all 13 of them (apart from Berowra Waters) and no doubt over the coming months we will try them again now we are back home. From last nights experience RB&G fits into its niche very well. I don't think it is trying have the best food in Sydney, but it does deliver the "steakhouse/grill" concept really well. For a big, show-off celebration there are few places as good. It is good that the competition at the top of the Sydney restaurant scene is so strong. PS - I will also let my wife know how disappointed I am that she only took me to the 13th best restaurant in the state for my surprise birthday dinner.
  12. A birthday treat and a trip to Sydney’s hottest new restaurant “Rockpool Bar and Grill”. Be warned book early, we first called three weeks ago and could only get a late table on a Saturday night. It is a spectacular space with the restaurant located in what I assume was the old banking hall of a beautiful 1930’s Art Deco building. Neil Perry has really done the space justice and has built a very stylish restaurant that adds to the grandeur of the space rather than detracting. Along one side of the restaurant is a large open kitchen, which reminded me of the some of the Terrance Conran “gastro-domes” which opened in London in the ‘80’s (Quaglinos etc). Table settings are basic, it isn’t set up to rival the fine dining subtlety of the main Rockpool restaurant, but stylish. The menu is quite lengthy with lots of choice, clearly steaks are the main event here but there are lots of other options from the grill plus interesting salads and pasta (including the signature goats cheese tortellini). The wine list is really awesome; it comes in two volumes, one for red one for white. The cellar is founded on a portion of David Doyle’s wine collection; David is a US software billionaire who now collects great wines. He has approx $9 million of his cellar at Rockpool and it is available for us mere mortals to try. As you would expect then it is a list with lots of Grand Cru’s from Burgundy and Bordeaux but also some more reasonable wines. We drank a great ’07 Spanish Fefiñanes Albariño at $78 and a 2008 Battle of Bosworth Cab Sav from McLaren Vale at $50. Both are really good wines and were great recommendations from the barman and Sommelier respectively. I think the $50 bottle is the cheapest on the list but it is a fine wine at that price. OK the food. My partner started with a fantastic “Tuna Tartare, Moroccan Eggplant, Cumin Mayonnaise and Harissa” at $29. The tuna is good and chunky and spankingly fresh, and the Moroccan spicing adds a wonderful dimension to the dish. This superbly conceived and executed. I chose the “Trofie with Hand Pounded Pesto, Green Beans and Potato” at $19, which was very good, the pasta (trofie) in this classic Ligurian dish was very fine and all the elements worked well, my only slight criticism is that IMO there could have been more pesto with the dish to give it a bit more punch. We could not go past the steak section for main courses, the menu reads like a carnivores dream. My partner went for the classic “My Steak Tartare with Chips” at $25. It was good but oddly the rawness of the meat seemed to be lost in the preparation, the mixture hid the natural quality of the beef, which she had hoped would be the feature of the dish. It was good, but she felt not really as good as ones she has eaten in France. I chose the on-the-bone 79 day, 350g “Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed Rib-eye” at $58, this was an outstanding steak, quite possibly the best tasting and best cooked I have had. The flavour and texture was divine. A couple of niggles though, my steak came with a béarnaise sauce, and I love béarnaise, as it is perfect with great beef. Disappointingly this is a “new” béarnaise where the tarragon (and other herbs) is added as oil on top of a hollandaise sauce. For me it really doesn’t work. I did ask for another portion hoping the first wasn’t right and the waiter had more oil added it didn’t really make much difference. The other niggle is the potato puree at $9. This isn’t an easy dish to make as it is really an emulsion of potato and butter (with an equal weight of butter and potato in the best), the result here is quite tasty but the oil had started to split out of the potato, which was disappointing. But all credit to the FOH staffs who are superb; they happily removed the dish from the bill. What is Neil Perry’s magic with FOH teams? He manages to build teams of very skilled people yet ensures they retain their personalities; they are always so good. Overall it is a really good restaurant for a big night out; a stunning building, great service and good food. At $259 for two (50% booze) I thought it quite reasonable value, we left happy and very full – no desserts we couldn’t fit them in….!
  13. Adrian it is an interesting question but does depend on what you mean by restaurant culture. Some places are good because they are crowded and buzzy, the hype creates the atmosphere and the experience is based on the complete package not simply the food. Other places do lose their direction and the original proposition gets a bit lost in both the hype and crowds: Spring is a good example, I loved it when it first opened and wasn't impossible to get into, but towards the end the hassle of getting a table outweighed the benefits of the place i.e. I could get better food more easily elsewhere. You could also cite examples of restaurants which get to popular and drop the standards that made them popular in the first place, Le Comptoir could be an example, although I personally always had good meals there, but it did seem more fun when it was easy to get into. In other examples the crowds can limit the experience, a 2 hour table limit meaning you need to rush your meal, OK this seems more of a problem in London, but I have been moved to the bar in Chez L'Ami Jean (and Le Regalade is going this way) before now as they squeezed the 15th sitting in that evening (OK an exaggeration and they did give us free Champagne). As I result the food here starts to take on a production line quality, the food is still good but you shovel it in and lose the sense of enjoyment. But bottom line isn't a lot of this down to the restauranteur, each rides the wave of publicity in their own way to their own ends. Some will seize the moment and milk the cash cow for all it is worth, and as a result erode that original culture that made it good. A few though will stick to their original principles and maintain the quality. One last thought. Is it only a Paris and maybe Barcelona phenomena? Both towns with very large numbers of tourists, both towns with reputations for gastronomy, and thus both towns where tourists need to tick off good restaurants as well as the usual suspects of the Louvre , etc. When you get home after a trip to Paris your friends will want to know what you ate? How were the great French restaurants, cafes, boulangeries etc? When you get back from a trip to NYC, or London I would guess that friends ask about the shopping or the experience but not the food. So the pressure is on for writers to find hidden gems (because tourists need to satisfy the urge to be explorers)and the pressure is on for tourists to follow the advice.
  14. PhilD

    Burgundy Update

    Based on postings not simply the name - I of course could be wrong. I don't agree. My experience of 3 stars is that they have excellent service, in some places formal, others less so (but always correct). We found the service at Lameloise to be formal but also stiff and not very friendly. It was quite odd and obviously could have been an exception (or they simply didn't like us). I think you are missing my point on the wine. I too only send bottles back if they are faulty, and I agree one should never send a wine back because you don't like it, or it doesn't meet your expectations. However, there is a grey area: if a sommelier recommends a wine and it isn't true to their recommendation/description, then isn't there a good reason to send it back? I have never done this myself, and like you have enjoyed some great recommendations under the "return it if you don't like it" caveat. However a sommelier is a professional and if they get it wrong then why should the customer pay the price? Re your experience with repeated flawed bottles. I have had this twice, once in a restaurant once at home. As far as we could deduce the faulty wine came from one side of a case and we suspect it had probably been left outside and that side had been "cooked" in the sun. Obviously TCA can get into a batch of wine (via contamination during production not through the cork) but you would expect the wine maker to catch that before release.
  15. Have you tried any of them? Do they add any value?
  16. "Frenchie" if you can get in (it is small), it isn't a tasting menu, but the cooking is modern, almost Italian in its ingredient driven simplicity, and interesting. My two meals were great, it has been "discovered" so the ratio of English to French speakers may be heading the wrong way, although not to many on our visit. At a slightly higher price €45 a head you could try Le Chateaubriand (11eme) which has cutting edge food in a great space. One set menu of 5 course, plus you can add cheese. I can't see you getting a decent tasting menu at €50 a head and would be suspicious if you could (to me tasting is at least 7 courses without the "inter" courses).
  17. PhilD

    Burgundy Update

    Ken, isn't Pierre French? Isn't there a world of difference between simply asking for, and accepting a recommendation and the above. If I had had a lengthy conversation and requested a wine of a particular style I feel I would be justified in returning it if it failed to live up to the sommeliers description i.e. if I wanted a good composty Pinot and get a very light fruit driven one. I ate at Lameloise a few years ago (in it's two star period) and wasn't that enamored with it. The food was OK, but the overly formal service got in the way for us. I can see the attraction, but as they say, horses for courses.....
  18. Countryboy do you know if Ian did adapt the menu to the downturn? As I said of my last visit it did seem to have slipped but I thought that was more a function of the price point of the menu rather than skill in the kitchen.
  19. I will be really interested to hear your thoughts on The Wild Garlic, hopefully you can get in as it books up in advance (both lunch and dinner). I ate lunch there back in July and was underwhelmed, I was quite intrguied by Matthew Normans review, it seemed we had been to two different restaurants. Hopefully, it has really got better, I went soon after opening, maybe too soon, and lunch seems to be a different beast from dinner. I think Mat does cook, but he sensibly bought in a professional chef to give himself space to learn. In the vicinity is the Mark Hix fish place in Lyme Regis, we had a great lunch there in the sumer. Simple but very well executed and a good wine list. I have tried a few "good" eating pubs as well but sadly none that lived up to the "good" part.
  20. Depends what you mean by "guidebooks". Both Sydney and Melbourne have local guides, in Sydney it is the Sydney Morning Heralds - Good Food Guide. It is pretty accurate and covers both fine diners and good hole in the wall places.
  21. A really great review and it echoes many of our thoughts based on a meal in September. We thought the cooking/price ratio really delivered, and if you understand that you are eating at the leading edge then you expect occasionally to fall over it. I bet if you went frequently enough the hit rate would still repay the effort. I think on our meal I felt only one dish was sub-par although my partner loved it. I put that down to maturity of palette, and she is definitely ahead as she appreciates the mouth feel (kou gan) of food more than I. But it isn't a restaurant for the "inexperienced" diner or for one who wants mainstream food, that is for certain. Interesting point about "Cause". I wonder what Iñaki, or for that matter Daniel Rose (Spring), would do in a superb kitchen with a full brigade. Does their "format" naturally constrain them or are they cleverly choosing a playing field that plays to their strengths....?
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