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Everything posted by PhilD

  1. John - you are right Lasan it was. Although for someone from Singapore I suspect it will be quite routine as Singapore has some very very good Indian food (the banana leaf restaurants). One tip, if the OP want to go to Purnell's (which he should) then book as soon as possible it's getting booked out a month or two in advance.
  2. Malcolm, of course it could simply be a reflection of how professional chefs judge the guides. Michelin is mentioned because it is the professionals "gold standard". GFG, Hardens, Zagat, etc not mentioned because they are not (in the profs opinions) in the same league. It is the same with actors, would the dream be an Oscar, a Golden Globe, or a Emmy? Obviously it is nice to be awarded anything but there is a hierarchy. Back to the OP. IMO isn't it easier to get into a top restaurant as a trainee, there will be lots of churn and thus lots of opportunity. As someone with experience you will want a higher level job, there will be fewer opportunities and more competition. Wouldn't an employer choose someone for this type of job from a). their own team; b). a mates kitchen of a similar (Michelin) standing; or C). from another REstaurant with a top reputation, with Michelin being the obvious yardstick. OK you may be lucky but talent is tricky to judge on paper the best evidence is who employed you, what progress you made and did you stick around. Whilst on the MC topic. I am in Australia now and we have just started the "Australian Masterchef" franchise. The first series (which I missed) was a great success and was purchased by UK TV for UK broadcast. The current series is "Celebrity Masterchef" and this has people who can cook...! The format is also different, they first cook their signature dish, it is judged by two successful chefs and a professional critic. The winner of that round then chooses one of two dishes to cook from a working chefs menu, the chef then sticks around to comment and give 90 seconds of coaching. Week one was Matt Moran of Aria, week two Brent Savage of Bentley Bar and Grill, and last week was Kylie Kwong of Billie Kwong. Each dish is true restaurant standard and involves many complex processes i.e. Fig and Vanilla Bombe Alaska (http://www.masterchef.com.au/fig-and-vanilla-bombe-alaska.htm). There are no stupid "build the tension" moments, the judging is skilled and accurate, and the contestants turn out good food in reasonable time frames. It is good to see that serious cooking, real criticism, without the false tension the tired UK format has, really works. Hopefully the BBC will take note of how Channel 10 in Australia breathed life into their format.
  3. No, I think he just got the shits because he couldn't get a reservation.....!
  4. ...and here is a German writer ( Jörg Zipprick) recycling the claim that the food at El Bulli is bad for you: http://www.caterersearch.com/blogs/guide-girl/2009/10/ferran-adria-accused-of-poisoning-diners-with-additives.html I assume it could be if you popped in for dinner once a week....!
  5. Why not start a new thread?
  6. Matthew Norman and I seem to have different tastes, although it does look like Mat has lifted his game a little in terms of presentation. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/03/the-wild-garlic-dorset-mat-follas-restaurant-review
  7. We popped out for Yum Cha today and tried Fisherman's Wharf at the Fish Market. It was quite busy at 1:30 on a holiday Monday but we only waited about 15 mins for a table. The room is good, modern and fresh with lots of natural light from big windows overlooking the water. The food was OK and met our needs. However, they use the cart system rather than cooking to order which IMO means the food loses something along the way. Would I go back? Maybe, if I was in the area and didn't have an option without the cart system. When I got home I re-read the SMH GFG section on Yum Cha and they seem to like carts. Is this because it is the common practice in Sydney? Or are there good Yum Cha restaurants which make to order? Interested in recommendations.
  8. I am very impressed by a man who seems to like beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although, it is probably more impressive that he has found a partner who lets him...!
  9. Fishface has been around for a long time and was our cheap and cheerful option when we wanted a quick, good quality, meal without the hassle of reservations when we lived in Darlinghurst. Since we have been away it has gone up-market with a focus on only serving the best fish at, not surprisingly, top prices. In many respects it is the same operation: you can’t book (OK they take bookings for tables before 7:00pm) but they take your number and there are lots of good places for a drink in the area; it is still small, cramped and basic; it is still mainly BYO; and it is still only fish, although they now have a shashimi/sushi counter as well. What has changed is the quality of the fish, and the overall quality of the cooking, which have reasonably led to higher prices. On Saturday night we waited 30 mins for a table which was fine. Lots of choice on the menu with quite a number of specials. To start we had a Mediterranean tuna salad and a beetroot and eel dish. Both are very good, the beetroot, horseradish cream and eel work wonderfully well together. The tuna is served really pink, which is nice after many massacred tuna dishes in Europe, but the salad is a bit odd why sun dried tomatoes not fresh? After all they grow lots of tomatoes in Mediterranean countries, and use them with other seasonal ingredients i.e. salad leaves to make salad. For mains I opt for fish and chips and my partner chooses ocean trout in filo. Both very good renditions, the Flathead in the F&C is very moist with a crisp batter, the batter has done its job of sealing the fish for cooking, chips aren’t bad either. The ocean trout in filo also works really well, with a perfectly cooked piece of fish complemented by mushrooms and spinach then wrapped in pastry. The bill with BYO wine comes in at $110 which is OK for the food, we skipped dessert because it was getting uncomfortable on the tiny chairs and cold on the pavement. So still a very good spot for a quick, last minute feed, but now serving top quality food.
  10. I seem to be on a mission to eat in all the recommended Thai restaurants at the moment, but after four years in Europe we can't get enough. Chat Thai is no bookings, you put your name and phone number on the list and they ring you, on a busy Thursday night we waited 30 mins, time enough to find a bottle shop as it is BYO. The place is nicely designed (it isn't a hole in the wall), with an open kitchen at the front where satays and grills are prepared. The place has quite a funky/trendy vide which is good. Service was quick and efficient. You get a few menus to work through, one with some specials, but as this is laminated they are really permanent specials rather than "of the day". It is a pretty broad menu with lots of dishes I wasn't familiar with, I liked the variety and we did try a few new (to us) dishes. Overall we thought the cooking was as good as Spice am I, nicely authentic, but without the subtlety of the higher end thais. However you get what you pay for, here our meal was $55 which compares well with Spice am I, although Chat Thai has the edge on the decor and service. We ate: Sai Qua, a really interesting sausage; Som Dtum, fresh and spicy with lots of dried prawns; Fresh Spring Rolls, very different to the Vietnamese version, these had smoked fish sausage, shredded chicken, and I think fish sticks in them; and Gaeng Panang Nuea, a well flavoured beef curry. More than enough food for two, some good new flavours and good authentic spicing. Permalink | Report | Edit | Reply
  11. Nick - my guess (and that is all it is) is that the action will be over by then, 7:00 is the time for the retail bit to open which is seperated from the wholesale bit. It is getting light at 5:30am at the moment and if Sydney is typical of other fish markets the action takes place pretty early. I wish I had seen this last night, I am staying so close I could have nipped over and checked it out.
  12. I went to Taillevent when it's star was waning, and just after it dropped from 3 stars. We had a really great meal, and where really looked after by the excellent staff. It does seem to have gone out of fashion on the boards, but my suspicion is that this is simply a bandwidth issue i.e. those that influence the trends have moved on and everybody has followed. For example Le Cinq is one of the new favourites, and I love it as well, but my meal at Taillevent was as enjoyable. Whilst there is a Taillevent thread has anybody eaten there in the last few years?
  13. Couldn't agree more, I will definitely be taking the opportunity to eat well over the month - it is good to see he breadth and variety. I also wish I had gone to Sa.Qua.Na when I was in Honfleur, I knew Alexandre Bourdas was starting to get a reputation in France but was surprised to see him on the list....!
  14. I suggest "Benoit" (http://www.benoit-paris.com/index2.html) which in the area you are staying in. It is a very old bistro that was taken over Alain Ducasse and "saved" to continue in business (it has all the classic features - although I think big clocks are more likely found in Brasseries) . Ducasse gets his fair share of flack on the boards because he drives high standards and very high level of consistency and many don't like this because they feel it stifles individuality and creativity. I actually like it for these reasons, I know I will have a good traditional meal. OK there are cheaper, but I have never left there disappointed. I hope you don't think Chez Robert et Louise is a traditional bistro - it is quite a quirky restaurant whose fame is meat BBQ'd on an open fire.
  15. Nick - it looked great until I tried to book a ticket. At $285 each I thought it was pretty steep, especially as each of the speakers seems to be punting their new book.
  16. We headed to an old stalwart (BBQ King) last night, as it is around the corner from out hotel. It has had a few coats of paint since we were last there, and seemed to be quite empty. The duck was OK but nothing like we remember, and it is now very expensive for what it is. The question: where do we go in Sydney (pref CBD) for good chinese roast meats? Where is the new BBQ King?
  17. You really can’t get great Thai food in Europe, even David Thompson’s Nahm isn’t a patch on his old Darley Street Thai, I know lots of home sick expats would argue there are some good ones but I think that is simple a result of fading memory. So back in Sydney a week and we already have two under our belt, and wow, it is so good to be back. We think it must be the quality of fresh ingredients that makes the difference, everything has a zing and freshness that lifts the taste of the food. First off a trip to “Spice I am” in Wentworth Avenue. It has got a little more fancy since the early days, but is still pretty basic. A 40 minute wait for a table which shortened to 20 (and they take mobile numbers so you can head off for a beer, or pick up BYO as it isn’t licensed). The menu is good, with a broad range of dishes and 3 or 4 specials of the day. We opt for three mains, a Som Tum (green papaya salad), Basil Crispy Pork Belly and a Green Chicken Curry. I know the last one is a cop out but if you haven’t had a good one for a few years it becomes a craving. The food is good, in fact very good. Maybe not quite as vibrant and interesting as I remember, but still good value at approx. $50 for two. One worrying aspect was the waiter asked how hot we wanted some of the dishes, and warned us about the green curry. Have they “de-tuned” the cooking for the suburban palate, we thought it may have been. The next night we find ourselves at the Opera Bar, it is good to see how popular the place is and how much bigger it is, but maybe they need to add more bars as well as more space for punters, 15 minutes for a $7 beer is not fun...! So we decided to retire to another old haunt “Sailor Thai Canteen”, we managed to grab a seat on the balcony rather than the shared table. Again a good menu with some specials. We shared a mixed plate of specials to start, a very prawny spring role and a fried spinach dumpling which was great with lots of spice. For mains we chose another Green Curry, this time with beef, and Som Tum. Both dishes have a lot of depth and complexity, the beef has been simmered for hours (in coconut milk?) so it simply falls apart. The Sum Tom seems fresher and crunchier than Spice I am’s version, it also comes with wonderful chunks of glazed pork, which is so much better tan the Spice I am deep fried pork. But, and it is a big but, both the main course dishes lack heat, there is simply no spicing. The green curry is a bit muddy in colour, is this a sign there aren’t many chillies in the paste? And the Sum Tom is really quite flat without any chili kick. It is quite strange, the dumplings to start had a good kick but nothing else has, I ate here in March and the spicing was good. Is it a new chef? A mistake? Or again de-tuning for a suburban audience. We will try it again as it is an old favourite we have eaten in many, many times. Hopefully, it was a one off. It is interesting to compare the two places. Sailor Thai cost $70 without booze, and Spice I am was $50. We ate about the same amount in each, and as Spice I am is BYO the booze costs pushes then further apart. But, I do believe you can see the difference in the quality of the food. Both are good Thais, Sailor Thai has the edge in terms of quality of ingredient, coking techniques and quality of ingredient. If Sailor Thai get the spicing right then for me it is far better food than Spice am I. However, are both restaurants becoming too mainstream for serious Thai food enthusiasts. We aim to get to Longrain soon to compare. Where else should we try? Which is the latest happening Thai?
  18. Having just returned from the UK we are out searching for apartment and Saturday took us to Bondi Beach, after checking out the apartment we strolled along the beach and by chance came across NBIF. I had heard a lot of great things about it, and so took this opportunity to give it a go. As you would expect on a sunny spring afternoon it was mobbed, they don’t take bookings so we added out name to the list and were told it would be two hours (and no they don’t take mobile numbers). Off we headed for a longer walk with the aim to get back for a few beers before a late lunch. We arrived back 40 mins later (we were thirsty) to find our table ready. Good news but a bit worrying on the time estimate front. A good position on a shared table (more later) at the front with a prime view of the beach, this is really one of the best located beach side restaurants I have eaten in, and given the location the scenery inside isn’t at all shabby either. It is quite a big menu divided up in the usual Italian style, starters are around $16 to $18 mark, mains head towards $30 and sides $10 t0 $18. It reads pretty well, with some interesting sounding dishes including a daily roast (evenings only) and an offal section. We start with some very good bread and oil, great texture to the bread and a nice bite to the oil, the draught beer is “Blue Tongue” which hits the spot. We share “Baccala Fritto” for a starter and it is OK, probably a lot more potato than fish and quite a bland aioli to go with it, OK but we have had lots that are better. My partner had a good “Carpaccio White Fish” which really worked well with some chili flakes and toasted fennel seeds, it is a good dish but really only a starter size ($21). I chose the “Coteletta” which again was fine but not really inspiring, again I have had many that are better. Only the roasts come with veggies so I ordered a side of zucchini, asparagus peas etc. It was quite good but at $18 for basically a bowl of peas I would hope so. Service is very good, even though it is packed there is no pressure to move on. We were still at the table when dinner started at 6:00, no reservations again so it gets busy quickly. We offered to clear the table and head for the bar but the waiter was happy to let us stay. When we asked for the bill he said: “Have you guys been here a long time?” “Yes” “Wow” He then gave us the bill for $675. It looks like the people we had shared the table with had done a runner and left us with the bill, it was quickly cleared up and our bill for food, a few beers and two bottles of decent wine was just over $200. Not bad value given the location etc. Overall the food is OK, but I would not go back for just the food. Interestingly it is owned by the same team that own “Icebergs” on the other side of the beach, and this is another restaurant I find has a “style of substance” problem. When it first opened the food was fantastic, but on a recent visit in March is was good but no longer stunning. However, the location of NBIF is stunning and it is a perfect way to while away an afternoon with a few beers, some wine, and then eat a few dishes to balance the alcohol.
  19. If you go to the media release of the HPA report is states that Swine Flu delayed the report ( http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1252514873164?p=1231252394302 ). Not certain what there is to "play out" the HPA report wraps up the incident, lessons have been learned and remedial actions taken (and those were recommended by the HPA). A quick read of the report indicates the cause was the raw ingredients, there are some comments about the complexity of the prep potentially being a factor but it does have a clear statement that No breaches of hygiene standards were identified in the preparation processes as described by staff., it goes on to comment that alcohol gel isn't as effective as hand-washing and some staff may have still be contageous when they came back to work. The reports comment on the delay in notification to the HPA is from the 13/14th Feb to the 24th Feb, not as the newspaper report states mid January.
  20. IIRC it looks like all leccy at El Bulli as well, lots of induction hobs and not a naked flame in sight. Doersn't stop them turning out decent tucker.
  21. Jake are you confusing two different things here? The traditional velouté is indeed a meat/fish stock thickened with a roux. But the fresh vegetable velouté found on many restaurant menus as an amuse or accompanying dish isn't the same and doesn't have the roux base. I believe they are usually pureed vegetables lightened with a little stock and cream. The intensity of their flavour comes from the simplicity of the dish.
  22. MY experience 6 months back was average and that's the reason why i never reviewed it.Could you elaborate a bit as to why it was terrible. ← I went soon after it opened (July '08) and it was dire. Service wasn't great, but the real problem was bad food. However, recent reports suggest it has got over he early teething problems and is now quite good. I would love to hear from someone who also went in the opening weeks and has been recently to confirm it has indeed improved. The team had a great pedigree and the space was good so it should be good.
  23. Last meal at Casamia was in June and it was good, probably better than previous visits. The Albion had really good whole crab on the menu approx a year ago....that may meet the seafood need. My Bristol colleague recommends "Loch Fyne" for seafood, sorry I can't do better than that.
  24. I'm assuming your Leeuwin is a chardonnay, in which case buttery cheeses are great with it, although percieved wisdom is so often for reds. My rules of thumb are: Sauv blanc and Champagne (especially the warm, flat remains of your apéritif, try it!) for soft boursin-texture goats cheese Port for Stilton Sauternes/Barsac/Fargues & taste-a-likes (incl. Tokay 4 puts/Jurancon/Vin de Constance) for Roquefort and possibly Forme d'Ambert: I find that only salty blue cheeses work with Sauternes, forget Stilton or anything else pretty much Gerwurtz for Munster (try asking the kitchen for some honey and cumin too) Oaky chardonnay new or old world for almost everything else including Brie, Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Epoisses, Vacherin Mont d'Or, Comté, Gruyere, Beaufort, Reblochon, & Stinking Bishop At a push I find a red Burgundy in particular a fruity Beaune red will work with hards such as Beaufort, Comté, Gruyere. I'm afraid that although it's not offensive taste-wise, for me red Bordeaux adds little to the experience of cheese eating (apart from the obvious intoxication part). H ← I agree that these wines will pair well with cheese. However, is it wise to drink good wine with cheese at all? I understood the high fat content of cheese coated the taste buds and could easily ruin the experience of tasting great wines. If I bought a few bottles of Leeuwin around for a vertical tasting I would be disappointed to try them with cheese. I enjoyed them at the source in March where they serve "museum" vintages in their restaurant at cellar door prices, I seem to recall asian style food with light spicing working well. Needless to say a taxi was required to get us home.
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