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Everything posted by fergal

  1. Hi, My wife & I are moving to Australia for a couple of years and had a goodbye dinner with my parents last week. We greatly enjoy this restaurant; one of the few really good french bistros in London. From what I can see the restaurant hasn't changed much over the five or so years we've been going there, apart from the bread. They used to have lovely crusty french bread, but it nows seems a bit cheap Having said that the food is always good with interest dishes a cut above the normal bistro fayre. We had: - watercress soup with crab - soft roes on toast - shared a label anglaise chicken with creamy broad beans & proper sauteed potatoes - vanilla ice cream with valhorna (sp.) chocolate sauce I'd always recommend this place, though the 14.5% service charge is a little cheeky. On a separate note, moving to Australia means I'm going to be spending less time on this forum, which is a shame since it's always been a good read. The Australia board doesn't have the same interest & banter I'll have to follow the adventures of Food Snob, Felix, Ulterior Epicure etc. from an even greater distance. stay hungry all fergal
  2. Hi, I had lunch here yesterday. If you can find the time, they do a full lunchtime menu for £20 for 2 courses (£25 for 3). I've been here a few times and can never find fault with it. It is a perfect neighbourhood restaurant. The standout elements for me is how multiple gutsy ingredients are combined with subtlety which never overpowers the diner. For example, I had: Starter - lamb tongue & sweetbreads with potato salad and a nicoise sauce Main - veal cheeks with risotto milanese and seared artichokes. The cooking has real flair and obvious skill, especially when incorporating summer flavours. I think some people have great expectations of fancy dining, especially when cost of dinner is £40. You don't get any extras just 3 really well cooked dishes. regards Fergal
  3. I ate at Ducasse last Thursday and also had the tasting menu, identical to Matthew. Overall I thought it was an excellent meal, worthy of the two stars. As previously mentioned the saucing is the standout element of eating here. We especially loved the early elements of the meal: - crawfish veloute - incredibly smooth - marinated scallops - lovely fresh flavours - roast chicken & lobster - super indulgent and very rich. The halibut in the citrus sauce divided opinion, (I felt a good combination) but the main courses of veal & lamb were very good. The one significant problem we felt was that the restaurant seemed to give up at the dessert course. It was a brilliant meal up to and including the cheese, then we got petit fours for pre-dessert, which confused us and then the praline/chocolate biscuit which although nice was a little bit meh.....and just didn't live up to the thought and effort which went into the rest of the meal. That aside I would have no problem recommending Ducasse. It's obviously really expensive, but the lunch menu seems excellent value alongside it. keep eating
  4. Hi, There are a number of places which have bars where you can dine at: Le Caprice - a classic restaurant with european food. It's famous for celebrities. but the food is good. J Sheekey - a seafood specialist. It has 2 bars, one of which is a large round oyster bar, which I'd thoroughly recommend. Arbutus - excellent value european/french cuisine. They also serve all their wines in 250ml carafes. Greens - in St.James. An 'old school' british restaurant (with a dress code). It has a gentleman's club feel. Enjoy your trip! TC
  5. I had lunch here today, it was very pleasant. I've eaten at Marcus Wareing, The Square & GR all over the last week and its been very easy to get a table for lunch the day before. (I'm shortly off travelling for a while, so am trying to visit as many places on my list before i go!) Service was impeccable. J-C Breton is certainly the slickest Maitre D (sp.) you'll come across in London. Though it says something about the clientele (birthdays & ladies who lunch) that he felt obliged to explain what a tartare was. Or maybe I was the one who looked 'simple' A special mention must go to the bread - which I thought exceptional - a lovely crunch. I ate from the lunch menu - £44 for 3 courses. So I had the Tuna & Swordfish tartare with quails egg & caviar. It was a beautiful dish. Lovely clean flavours. I loved it. This was followed by a braised shin of beef with horseradish & potato puree and breaded/stuffed mushroom. As expected, very well cooked with unctuous & fibrous strands. A nice size as well. I finished with a cracking banana parfait with salted caramel ice cream. the petit fours included a strawberry ice cream covered in white chocolate served with dry ice. All in all a lovely lunch - very well executed dishes. But the place does lack a bit of sparkle/verve. It's all 'nice'. There's no real pushing the boat out, which i what i expect from a 3 star place, just like the above consensus. Marcus Wareing when I went there last week is a restaurant that's trying to be noticed with some interesting combinations, whereas The Square knows what it's doing is good and doesn't seem to care about the attention. regards fergal
  6. Hi, I had lunch here today avoiding the pandemonium of half term. I was able to get a table in the morning. Unlike other high-end restaurants they really put some effort into the lunchtime menu, which at 35 GBP is half the price of the evening menu. but you get all the extras - 4 pre-meal snacks/amuse bouches (including a delightful onion veloute), pre-dessert, bon bons etc. I had: Starter- Lobster ravioli with langoustine bisque ('homage' to GR?!....) Main - 24hr cooked Pork Belly with white onion confit, almond puree & roasted carrots Dessert - lovely wobbly custard tart with strawberry mivvi ice cream & cranberry jelly It was all excellent with the service a little more relaxed compared to the over-earnest evening service. thank god! In my opinion as a lunchtime deal this is far superior to the cheapo, low effort lunch deals offered by Ducasse & Hibiscus. It's worth considering fergal
  7. My wife & I had a very pleasant weekend in Dublin. We even met Bono. The recommendations were good. thank you. The Pigs Ear was a good lunch place; an excellent set menu for 19 Euros with charming service and a nice view. As Corrina mentioned, the food such as Chorizo & Prawn salad, Cottage Pie, Pork Wellington - was nothing to shout about, but it was confident and relaxed cooking. The Winding Stair was lovely. Lunch almost didn't happen due to a power cut. It wasn't cheap at over 20 Euros for a main course, but there was real skill in the kitchen, cooking comfort food of the highest order. We loved the Smoked Haddock with Cheesey Mash & the Guinness & Beef stew. Simple dishes but extremely well cooked. We would definitely go back. If only Dublin was a little cheaper! regards fergal
  8. many thanks for your help. I've booked the Winding Stair & the Pigs Ear. We're having Sunday lunch at the Winding Stair, but they said they would need the table back by 5.15pm (on a 2pm booking for 2 people)! None of your 1.5hr/2hr turn around slots here!
  9. thank you Simon for your great reply. We're staying at The Shelbourne. And are keen on some good Irish food. So a 'gastropub' option would be a definite consideration. I guess with the state of the Euro, dining out in the high-end restaurants doesn't represent good value for money! regards fergal
  10. Hi, my wife & I will be in Dublin over the weekend and we were wondering where's good for lunch and/or gastronomic delights we should try. Any suggestions would be helpful? It's not a place I know well. thanks Fergal
  11. A friend and I had a lovely lunch here yesterday. All the praise from the previous posts is well justified. There is laidback enthusiasm & generosity here which is missing in most other places I've eaten in. This matched by the skill shown by Stephen Harris and his team - a true food enthusiast. We pre-ordered the tasting menu (£55), with the myriad of courses as described above - the particular highlights being: - the poshest pork scratchings made from Gloucester Old Spot - the simple preparation of scallops (the seaweed butter was indeed delightful) - wild bass with mussel & mussel jus - breaded breast of lamb - chocolate mousse with salted caramel. Stephen Harris served us most courses himself, explaining why he'd made them and pointing out the window showing where most the ingredients had come from, including the salt marsh lamb.... His enthusiasm was infectious, obviously keen that we enjoy ourselves as much as possible. He even gave us a couple glasses of '99 Puligny Montrachet to go with the bass since he'd just opened the bottle and really liked it. if only all dining experiences were like this! It's worth noting that the wine list is really reasonable. most bottles are terrific value under £20. With the lovely prepared dishes, variety (you won't go hungry!) & cheerful service this is an excellent value place to eat. It's well worth the trek down to Whitstable and I can't wait to go back. fergal
  12. I don't think you can go far wrong with J Sheekey near Covent Garden. The new oyster bar opened in December is good and makes it easier to dine there. they have a huge display of seafood for the diners to gaze at. you can order a whole platter at the bar as well, with additional tapas sized dishes if you can manage them. fergal
  13. I had lunch today at Helene Dazorre. It's a lovely dining room with courteous staff. I think they may have toned down the over-attentiveness that was widely reported when it opened. We had the set lunch menu which was has a more rustic quality than the A La Carte menu. you get quite a few amuse bouches which are always welcome: - beautiful shavings of ham with a tomato crisp - carrot veloute - cheese gougere - creamed foie gras, apple sorbet with peanut emulsion the starters were good: - Hare Ravioli with beet greens & parmesan crust - fibrous, rich & heavy. good portion size as well - moreish squid seared with chorizo served with squid ink risotto - very creamy, but the mains were alright, not stellar: - pot roast chicken with foie gras sauce and seasonal vegetables - good chicken, but a little underwhelming. It lacked adventure, but i didn't order it - Wood pigeon with pumpkin & pancetta - the pigeon was as close to rare as its possible to get, but went really well with the pumpkin and heavy reduction. not sure why included a leg with it, which had no meat... desserts: - cheese board. strangely they only had a selection of four possible cheeses, which felt a bit odd in a fine french restaurant. a nice comte & stilton with their own individual accompaniments - such as spiced grated carrot - Pineapple with date sponge & pineapple ice cream - a good dish, but a little pedestrian. we didn't have coffeee, but they gave us individual sponge cakes to go home with. a nice touch. so all in all, a nice civilised lunch. by taking the set lunch menu it wasn't exactly thrilling food, but competent and well put together. It wasn't cheap - £39 for 3 courses. If you pay double you get the big guns from the A La Carte rolled out. I see Jay Rayner is about to unload on it in Sunday's Observer. The dishes he orders, do sound pretty gross.... It sounds like he was itching for a fight (in the metaphorical sense). I found it a quite comforting restaurant with a mischievous side. I liked it.
  14. We had the same Petit Fours with an additional chocolate square. We had 3 of each, even though there were 2 of us dining. you're right about how they weren't exactly harmonious. but they're always welcome and you can pick & choose what's appealing! As for the bread debate above - I thought they were excellent, especially the mushroom and mozzarella focaccia. fergal
  15. Hi, I had a very pleasant lunch at The Greenhouse last week. Like most places, they do a good value lunch menu - £25 for two courses, £29 for three courses. You also get the impression that they're not scrimping on it either, trying to provide an excellent service or meal regardless of what menu you go for (unlike some restaurants). I think i was suckered in a little by the ambiance & great service because although the food was really interesting there were some elemental mistakes: Soft boiled egg with teryaki jelly & japanese radish - a beautiful dish, but the radish was really difficult to eat, being in long thick strips. so why put it on the dish? (it was meant to be eaten!) Roasted guinea fowl with caramelized oranges - it was delightful, but a touch underdone at the bone banana doughnuts were great as were the plethora of petit fours. (I remember a time when you were lucky with 2 chocolate mints at the end of a meal. Now they just try and defeat you with countless sweeties. what's going on?) Regardless, I would certainly suggest giving it a try for lunch. Am off later this week to Helene Darroze, which should provide an interesting contrast. Fergal
  16. One-O-One. I've been here a couple of times and I know Food Snob rates it. the fish cooking here really is excellent - Some excellent sourcing, though not exactly local. You can get your spider crab straight from the location of The Deadliest Catch, if that's your thing. We ate here yesterday with some memorable dishes: Starters: - tempura oysters, with soy sauce delivered through little pippettes. - a huge starter of spider crab legs from the Barents Sea with a ginger and chilli sauce - scallops, wild mushrooms, spinach and foie gras - a lovely combination. Main Courses: - slow cooked cod with squid and chorizo - halibut salad nicoise all really well executed & moreish. We accompanied it with a few bottles of an Alsace Pinot Blanc which had quite a hint of brie... There's an ongoing 50% deal available through Top Table and it's well worth a look. It makes it readily affordable as main courses are £20+. if you love fish, you should check it out fergal
  17. Judgement day has come. A bit like getting my exam results in the post and not good news. A few minutes of disappointment followed by envy of more fortunate others! must try harder next year fingers crossed for re-takes in 2010 fergal
  18. The Veal was roasted loin with snails & bacon. a beautiful cut of meat, cooked to perfection. However it did feel odd having snails as part of a main course. I'm glad I had it as part of the tasting menu since it could of got a bit too much with the natural saltiness. Food Snob - I'm a big fan of your blog and had read your excellent review. So I was little apprehensive before I went. I can understand your concerns about the service though. There is certainly a hint of unecessary earnestness (if that's a word)! fergal
  19. Hi all, I dined at Marcus Wareing last night. Had a lovely meal. I think the management have probably been listening to your comments since the parmesan balls were replaced with pork croquettes. We had the tasting menu and very good it was too. they were quite flexible in swapping dishes, so you can tailor it to what you like. So I had the Sweetbreads instead of the Quail and chose Veal as my main. The food combinations were what really stood out, especially the roast Foie Gras with espresso, figs & salted caramel popcorn The service was also good, a little too-hard maybe. you can tell there's a lot of pressure to be exacting and get everything right. one of the waiters almost had a fit when the cheese biscuit container was delivered to the table ahead of the correct order of desserts. but they did take time to explain the dishes and were generous with the bonbons. Surprisingly the wine list was quite reasonable with lots of choice in the lower end from £20 - £40. Also we got the tour round the kitchens at the end of the meal and saw man himself busy at the pass. With the chef table looking on, I guess it means everyone has to behave themselves. so all in all, not cheap but a very pleasant evening and great for a special occasion. I'd certainly be happy to spend the money again on another meal. fergal.
  20. fergal

    Lobster Roe

    Hi, saw this thread and thought I'd ask a question about lobster, when I cook lobsters and cut them open I get this bright red plasticky substance near the head. It tastes OK. but what exactly is it?! thanks fergal
  21. Hi all, I had a very pleasant meal at The Capital - thanks for your advice Howard. It's a nice understated place where the cooking is restrained and confident. The Degustation Menu was £48 which I thought a bit of a steal for 6 dishes taken from the regular lunchtime menu (which is £33 for 3 courses). Highlights were the Halibut with haricot beans & squid - good flavours without too much mucking around. I also particularly liked the Guinea Fowl 'curry' with the leg pastilla and a cardamon yoghurt foam. I was on wine by the glass and there's a good limited selection. the dining room is small, but comfortable and it fits well with the food which is not trying too hard to please, but deliver good flavours and is well presented. As a 2 star place i get the impression it's just doing its own thing. I'm off to Marcus Wareing in 10 days time and it'll be interesting to compare the two with MW's obvious ambition fergal
  22. Hi, I'm after some expert & learned advice on finding a place for 18 people to eat. We've got a big family gathering in early November and want to find a good, fun, not too expensive restaurant in North Sydney. Any suggestions? thanks fergal
  23. thanks! in your opinion is the tasting menu worth requesting or is it the sort of place which is better at more complete singular dishes? thanks fergal
  24. Hi all, I've got a reservation in a few weeks time for lunch at The Capital. it appears to be one of the more lower profile high-end restaurants. No celeb chef appearances, let alone any press coverage. I was wondering if anyone has eaten there recently and what its current form is like. thanks Fergal
  25. Hi all, it's with great jealousy that i read all the reports on this blog. I've tried for a few years now to get reservations when they open the list around October time. to no avail. Is there a better way than others to get a booking? we'd only be two people for lunch or dinner during june. should i start emailing now? should i be specific on the date or does being flexible limit my chances? or is calling the best way? etc. any advice/help would be much appreciated. thanks fergal
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