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Posts posted by fergal

  1. We spent the Xmas period in the South West of France & San Sebastian. On our way to the Basque counry we were fortunate to discover that Les Pres D'Eugenie was open.

    It's had fine reviews from Andy Hayler and the Wandering Epicures, but I can't find a single mention of meal there on eGullet. Being Michel Guerard is one the fathers of modern day gastronomy, his lack of profile is puzzling (refreshing?!)

    Hardly on the beaten track, Michel Guerard has held 3 stars for circa 30 years and it is really worth the effort to venture to Eugenie Les Bains. It's the most chi-chi of spa towns with the restaurant part of a gorgeous old school spa hotel, run by the couple. So you will see the chef in the restaurant most days.

    Image 126.jpg

    All the trappings of luxury are evident - huge open rooms, big fires, quality ingredients, generous service, no sense of hurry

    Our meal consisted of:

    - the finest mushroom soup - silky smooth with submerged ravioli. Seconds were offered!

    - wood roasted chicken stuffed with foie gras & cottage cheese

    - pigs trotter, duck liver and prawns 'on toast' with an eel salad.

    The desserts did not hit the same heights, but it was one of the most pleasant dining experiences I've had.

    Has anybody been of late?

    Photos & full review here:


  2. We were in France & Spain between Xmas and New Year.

    Flying into Bordeaux early evening, we intended to spend only one evening in the vicinity and I couldn't really face the aggro of navigating Bordeaux for only one night. It was also a Monday and I'd heard mixed reports on eGullet about La Tupina on these pages.

    Checking out ViaMichelin (a rather good site) we discovered Claude Darroze, only about 20kms east of Bordeaux. Michelin Starred with rooms. It looked ideal.

    The hotel is in the centre of a perfectly pleasant French town with small if well decorated modern rooms. It had been about 18 months since my last visit to France and it was a lovely reintroduction to the charms of French cooking.

    It's good hearty south west food with a bit of finesse, but not detracting from solid and careful cooking.

    The amuses were a pleasure to see - foie gras with champagne jelly, salmon tartare and mushroom soup. No intricacies, just great flavours. It's not often one can get excited by amuses, but I was giddy with delight, having been starved of decent Foie living in Australia.

    I followed this up with a leak and foie terrine - again good solid cooking. My wife opted for a ceviche of scallops on a bed of fennel with truffled cream sauce. What's not to like?

    Main courses were hake cooked basque style & wild boar with venison sauce. They also went down well.

    Continuing the full-on reintroduction in to France, there was the obligatory cheese course, baba rhum with delicious Canneles to finish.

    There are photos and more commentary on my blog, but suffice to say this was a thoroughly decent meal and well worth checking out if anybody is the vicinity. Prices are fair with menus starting at 40 euros. enjoy

    The next day we ventured to Michel Guerard's restaurant which was extremely memorable. Watch this space for a write up.



  3. I'm going to be back in the UK over Xmas (weather permitting).

    I'll be staying just round the corner and Koffmanns looks like an ideal lunch spot. There's no sense of what the lunch menu contains, but I guess it's terrines and long braises. Is this a fair assumption?

    Although Bar Bould has a more American focus, would you recommend Koffmanns over it?




  4. Hi,

    Tupina is on the cards. But I have read mixed reviews (I think Andy Hayler, hammered it). I also came across Claude Darozze in Langon. Any recent reports?

    Also a turn up for the books is that Michel Guerard @ Eugénie-les-Bains is opening on the 28th, so I've booked a table there for lunch. It seems odd that he appears not to get much press or comment, despite holding 3 michelin stars for many years and being a greater innovator in food. Any must try dishes?

    Am very much looking forward to my trip. Will report back when dined there.



  5. thank you for the suggestions. Very helpful.

    Chez Ruffet & Chez Margot both look a possibility, with the others appearing closed for the season.

    I'm also open to suggestions with a place to stay/eat around Bordeaux on Monday 27th

    Clearly timing is not on my side and it means we'll need to forget the michelin stars and go where the locals go. No bad thing and probably more memorable.

    Thanks Parigi for the suggestion regarding transport. I did check out both options in terms of car & train and with the Australian Dollar (where I currently reside) being so strong, hiring a car is not so uneconomical.


  6. Hi,

    My wife and I are meeting friends in San Sebastian for New Years. We'll be flying into Bordeaux on the evening of the 27th December (a Monday) and then driving down to San Sebastian on Tuesday. We're finding a lot of the good places - Relais de la Poste & Michel Guerard are frustratingly closed during that time.

    Would any fellow knowledgeable people have any suggestions on where else we should be trying that will be open around that time? Dinner in Bordeaux and then a nice leisurely lunch down south the next day?

    thank you



  7. I've got a chilli on the go at the moment:

    pork shoulder, chorizo sausage + beef mince

    paprika, rehydrated whole chilli, cumin & coriander seed ground

    a bit of beer, beef stock & tinned tomatoes.

    We're going to be eating it in 24 hours time. It's in the fridge after a couple of hours of simmering. but at the moment it's lacking depth of flavour. Any suggestions to add a bit of gravitas to it?

    (NB. I have chocolate & kidney beans to add later)

    Any help appreciated. thanks

  8. What's more a little puzzling is that she doesn't really acknowledge the choice that is available to people in terms of eating out. The choice & type of meals are so much greater than they used to be - not only in styles but types of cuisine. But I guess the Daily Mail doesn't really want to talk about 'immigrant cuisine' as a good thing...

    Just like watching a film, we have so many options available to us. No-one chooses to Mulholland Drive every single night. They'd go nuts.

    She needs to get out more & see what life is like in the real world

  9. What's more a little puzzling is that she doesn't really acknowledge the choice that is available to people in terms of eating out. The choice & type of meals are so much greater than they used to be - not only in styles but types of cuisine. But I guess the Daily Mail doesn't really want to talk about 'immigrant cuisine' as a good thing...

    Just like watching a film, we have so many options available to us. No-one chooses to Mulholland Drive every single night. They'd go nuts.

    She needs to get out more.

  10. I've always thought this to be one of the best brasseries in London. If you have a hankering for steak tartare, frites and a bottle of brouilly, this is the place to go. However it also features a broad spectrum of interesting regional dishes, moving away from the dreary duck confit.

    I've been going on & off for several years and in my mind it's has always had good consistency. Though a couple of years ago it changed the baguette to a softer, blander, clearly shop-bought variety and I remember get a little angry about it.

    I still think it's unforgivable. Decent bread & wine can maketh the meal.

    (and relax.....)


  11. Hi all,

    I'll be spending 3 days up north at Easter, catching up with some mates and do some walking. Exact destination has yet to be determined, but thinking about Yorkshire, but happy to consider elsewhere.

    Clearly I don't want to miss an opportunity to eat well, so I was wondering If anyone could suggest great dining experiences which could coincide with some dramatic walking.

    We will be without car, so places in the thick of great scenery would be ideal. (though don't mind taking the odd taxi)

    I did go to Lake District last year and ate at L'enclume. Maybe there are other good options....

    thanks for any views (no pun intended)



  12. I've just checked L'Arpege's website and there looks to be special offer advertised - 6 courses & 3 glasses of wine for 100 euros - from 25th Nov to 3rd December. Wow....


    I had lunch there last year and it was one of the best and most memorable meals I've had. Can't recommend it highly enough.

    Speaking of Paris, I'm probably going to be back in Europe next Easter and am thinking of booking a couple of 3 stars for lunch. From the discussion here it seems like Guy Savoy & Le Cinq are the ones to try?!

  13. Hi,

    Marco Pierre White swears by bacon cooked in the microwave. Just heat on high for 2mins. That's your bacon sarnie sorted.

    I've also just realised the benefits of making mashed potato with aid of the microwave. Whole potatoes cook in about 10 minutes. By not boiling them as normal, they don't become water-logged so, you can just add warm milk & butter and you've got great mash.

    I read some of Herve This recently (highly recommended) and he was talking about the benefits of cooking in a microwave the fact that food cooks from the inside and liquid gets vapourised. To this end he suggests a 'Duck A L'Orange'recipe where you seal the duck breast in a hot pan and then inject it with grand marnier & orange juice mixture. Put it in the microwave and the duck then cooks inside infusing the meat with the liquid.

    happy cooking


  14. I agree. I couldn't believe the prices.

    When it's this expensive, it turns away many true enthusiasts. I spend a lot of money on dining out and it's hard to see what the experience will actually be like and I might as well just spend the money directly at Quay or Marque.

    As for the chefs, there are only a handful who look quite interesting. And there's no way I'm going to pay good money to see someone from Masterchef

    I do however applaud the effort in creating many events & bargain lunches around it, just not the main event.


  15. Welcome to Sydney PhilD

    Since I'm new to Sydney I've been checking out quite a few Thai places. I had previously been a little disparaging of Thai food in general, thinking it a little one dimensional. I clearly too quick to judge and am becoming quite a fan.

    Spice I Am and it's Sum Tom is excellent. It's a bit of a heat battle and since I tend to let the staff order for me, I suffer for it. Hearing the Sum Tom is good at Sailors Thai, means I will have to revisit. From your thoughts it wouldn't surprise me if Sailors Thai was more geared towards tourists, hence the spicing, while Spice I Am is a little more uncompromising.

    I will also look to try the downstairs of Sailors Thai. The tasting menu looks pretty reasonable, in comparison to Nahm in London.

    As for other recommendations, I've gone to Papaya a few times, which is really good. However I think they're only based in Cremorne & Cammeray, so they me be a bit of a trek for you.



  16. Hi all,

    I've been doing a fair bit of exploring of Sydney, including the odd walk around the harbour. It presents the perfect excuse to try more of the neighbourhood restaurants.

    I found myself in Rose Bay last week and got drawn in to Catalina and their $70 lunch special - 3 courses including 2 glasses of wine. I think the deal is running throughout September as well.

    Apart from a decidely mediocre amuse-bouche it was a pretty good meal. Good seafood, competently cooked. But it's the view that really makes it, looking out to clear blue skies, with seaplanes docking nearby. There's even what looks like a friendly pelican, but I chose not to get too close.

    Walking back towards the city I passed Pier restaurant. It's on my list to try.

    On show was their A La Carte Menu & Degustation. Does anybody know if they do a lunch menu of any kind?


    Pictures are on my blog:


  17. Hi all,

    I finally made it to Marque for lunch. It's a great deal with imaginative food preparation and generosity to boot.

    It’s a nicely understated restaurant too, without a fancy view to distract from the food. The tables are well sized and well spaced so it creates a nice relaxed vibe, which comes through in the service.

    First up as the pre-starter was the ‘L’Arpege egg’. I’ve eaten the one in France and this was just a little less subtle than the original with the sweet, salty, hot & cold flavours not quite working in unison. The grissini didn’t really work either, since it’s not entirely effective at soaking up liquid. However there are far worse ways to begin a meal.

    The entrée itself was a deconstructed Ceasar salad. The presentation made it more interesting than it had any right to be and pay more attention to what you’re eating – the shredded egg, the crumb and glorious fat caper. I’ve been known to ask for additional garlic in the Caesar dressing, but couldn’t really complain with such a well delivered dish.

    The main course maintained the momentum with a grilled mulloway fillet served with that classic combination of cucumber, yoghurt and boiled potatoes. The twist here was the ‘charcoal’ potatoes which rocked. The potatoes were apparently rolled in ash after cooking then covered in squid ink. We were not the only enquiring table. The fish was beautiful – really crisp skin with succulent flesh. Just like the entrée, it was a simple plate of food executed with verve and a bit of imagination.

    The dessert itself didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the rest of the meal. The marshmallow was good, but in my mind it didn’t quite marry with the lychee sorbet and I found the strands of the citrus fruit a bit irritating to eat. Too tough to cut, too messy to eat as it was.

    This was overall an excellent meal. At $45 for 5 courses. I’ve had very few meals which provided as good as value. There’s good, interesting cooking happening here and unlike the comparative lunch mundanity of Est there was a lot on display to make me want to return.

    So if you can get a table, I suggest you check it out.

    Assiette & Ivy are next on my list.


    Pictures are on my blog:


  18. Hi,

    The $45 Friday lunch at Marque has been raved about but it's impossible to get a table. I think the front of house is getting sick of my thursday afternoon calls enquiring about any cancellations.

    I'll look into Ucello. The lunchtime menu looks pretty good.

    Quay, Coast, Assiette are also on my hit list. But most good restaurants are only open for lunch on fridays. It requires a bit of forward planning!

    I really like Tetsuya and plan to go back at some point, but it looks as though the menu changes rarely which hints at a dearth of innovation. Never a good thing.


  19. Is no-one else on this board eating in Sydney?!

    Continuing on my exploration of Sydney; lunching while I have the free time, I visited Est. a few days ago:

    The whole Merivale group are running various promotions, from $35 for lunch. It tempted me enough to give the 3 hat Est. a go. This is not exactly the best way to experience the best a restaurant has to offer, but hey you have to make the most of the available time.

    It’s a nice airy room in cream, taupe & pea green. A third of seating is banquets with an arrangement of slightly awkward cushions you have to maneuver around to get comfortable; A classic example of style over functionality.

    From the limited menu I started with the linguine with chorizo, broccoli, red chilli, parsley and lemon. All finely chopped and nicely presented. It was OK. The taste was pleasant, but all the flavours kind of muted each other – the relative blandness of the broccoli & pasta not giving an inch to the paucity of chili & chorizo. In retrospect it was a school-boy piece of ordering on my behalf. It was never going to be an exciting dish. I listened to my stomach.

    The main course was much better – jewfish fillet, spinach, pine nuts, preserved lemon and tapenade. This was a beautiful piece of fish; well cooked – sweet and succulent, but with a good crisp skin. The tapenade got a bit lost, but the fish more than made up for it. It made a change from the heavier mains I have a tendency to order. I haven’t seen jewfish anywhere other than Australia and I won’t begrudge eating far more of it.

    Dessert was Tahitian vanilla cheesecake with strawberry sorbet. I’m not much a dessert freak, but this was pleasant with a good light texture and a not overtly sweet sorbet. It went down well.

    This was a nice pleasant lunch, worth the $60 for 3 courses with a glass of wine. But not enough was on show to make me think I couldn’t wait to go back for the dinner experience, which is partly why these restaurants run these kinds of deals. There wasn’t enough sense of occasion. Where are the amuse-bouches etc. I may be expecting too much, but it goes with being a 3 hat restaurant.

    Is Est. really worth a go for dinner. Is it worth the 3 hat rating?


    PS. There are photos of the dishes on my blog:


  20. So a week ago I moved from London to Sydney. A good few months travelling and I’m now faced with the prospect of having to find a job – a man has got to eat….

    On the plus side, not working means I have the opportunity to try out a few places for lunch at a slightly cheaper price than evening meal. A trawl of Timeout & SMH (already got the acronyms!) suggested The Bentley in Surry Hills as an interesting place to try. Modern inventive tapas style in a cool part of town.

    7 courses for $50 was the deal. A number of dishes taken from the normal tapas list, though there is an A La Carte menu.

    So plunging straight in:

    Kingfish ceviche & Serrano jambon

    A refreshing starter. The ceviche was lovely & clean. Shame it was only a mouthful. Followed up by the salty ham, it was nice & simple. No complaints.

    Eel Parfait with Seaweed

    Next up, Eel Parfait with Yuzu mayo (I think) and seaweed salad. This again was tasty, subtle & moreish. Eel is one of those fish (it is a fish?!) that people are a little scared of, but the way it was prepared here, creamy and smooth would be a good introduction. The seaweed also worked well as a bit of acidity and wasn’t just window dressing.

    Squid, squid ink rice & chilli cream

    The Squid was possibly my favourite course. A great classic combination, but presented in a slightly innovative way. The chilli cream was lovely, with a nice hint of heat, but nothing overpowering.

    herb gazpacho with a potato & chorizo crisp

    This was another refreshing dish. The Gazpacho was silky and smooth and the Chorizo & Potato crisp gave something gutsy to stuck into (although 1 bite..)

    Slow cooked egg with pork 'bubble'

    Next up, a bit weirdly in the order of things was a slow cooked egg with the yolk just set after being cooked for an hour or so at a low temperature. Obviously someone has a Sous Vide machine. It was wobbly and only just set and could be eaten without having to reach for a spoon . The pork skin on the side was a little bit ‘meh’… Not a particularly interesting dish save for the cooking method. A boiled egg is a boiled egg….

    slow cooked Morrocan lamb shoulder with chick peas & chick pea chips

    The ‘main course’ was lamb shoulder which had been well cooked till you could eat it with a spoon. It had great consistency, and tasted good with the north african spices. The chips I believe are meant to be a bit of a speciality, but they were a bit mealy and not exactly packed with flavour. But something different to try.

    The dessert was a chocolate granache with orange oil and salt flakes on top. It had a great thick mousse like consistency with a good cocoa hit, accentuated by the salt (which is a great combination).

    So, all in all, a good first meal in Sydney. Some good combinations, well presented with a bit of flair. The lunch deal was certainly worth it and I’d look to go back. With these lunch deals you generally don’t get the most expensive ingredients or inventiveness, so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m going to enjoy Sydney I think.



    http://foodmiles.wordpress.com/ (includes pictures)

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