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Andrew

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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. I haven't seen the programme but his reviews are an excellent read and normally 'spot on'. Andrew
  2. Although I have had some very good VD meals in restaurants my main objection is paying 50% more for the same meal I can have the night before or the night after in the same restaurant. Andrew
  3. Welcome from North London. Enjoy this great resource. Andrew
  4. Last summer we had a lovely meal at La Barbacane which has 1 Michelin Star and part of Hotel de la Cite, one of the few hotels within the old city walls. The food was very good and if the weather is good you can eat outside in the lovely gardens. Andrew
  5. I realise it is ages since my query over restaurants in Belfast and I have been there a couple of times since. I thought I'd 'report back' on a couple of meals during my last visit. Lunch at Mourne Seafood Bar was relaxed with really good quality produce. A starter of salt and pepper squid with chilli jam, mayonnaise and nappa slaw was disappointing. The squid was excellent and the batter perfect but the salt & pepper flavouring lacked punch as did the chilli jam (£7). A fish casserole was excellent. It was full of muscles, salmon, hake and crab claw. The fresh tomato broth had a excellent flavour with perfectly cooked potatoes and fennel in it. One of the best I've had anywhere and great value at £11.50. The service was friendly although the 1970s rock music in the background slightly weird. Dinner at James Street South was very good value. A tasting menu for £45 (5 courses) was good and the £20 for the accompanying wines was amazing value. The food was good without being amazing and the service excellent. A cold crab lasagne with a lemongrass crab bisque had a good depth of flavour, this was followed by wood pigeon with treacle barbecued celeriac which was weird but worked! The main of lamb with vegetables with a side of shepherds pie was ok, the ingredients were good quality and it was well cooked but it was just trying to be something more than it delivered. A cheese course had some very good local chesses and an average rubeceon. I didn't like the sound of the apple dessert so they happily changed it for anything else on the menu and the pink champagne granita with raspberry sorbet was a refreshing end to a good meal. Well worth visiting if your in town. Two of the better meals I have had in my last few visits to the city. Andrew
  6. It almost certainly the size of the pan as against the size of the electric ring / gas burner. For the paella pan to be authentic it should be quite large, even if it is only described as a four portion pan, its base will be to large for the heat to be distributed evenly. Apart from buying a never oven with a large (wok style) heat source you could try buying a very large paella pan and positioning it over 2 - 3 burners. The only other thing I can think of is to stir the rice once or twice during cooking to try and get it evenly spread. Not ideal as you may well loose that lovely crispy effect on the bottom. Andrew
  7. Any updates would be welcome. We are visiting for a couple of nights in the summer and would be interested in some recommendations. Given the limited amount of time we will have and that we will not have a car anything close by / short cab journey would be welcome. Thanks Andrew
  8. Since my last post (about the autumn menu) I have been able to revisit (twice), once for the winter menu and then the spring offering. As must be clear from the fact I have been back I am a fan! Each time the food has been top quality. After my 'winter' visit I came away having enjoyed all the courses except the fish course. I did wonder (given my experience during the 'autumn') whether the way they cooked fish was not for me. Well that theory was blown away in the 'spring'. This time the John Dory with cider and greens was top quality. If you get the chance to visit, you should go. I will certainly be going back when they release the summer menu. Andrew
  9. Went to book yesterday and found that the hotel (and consequently restaurant) is closed until the 'fourth quarter' of 2014. A real shame as the food was good. Andrew
  10. Morgan M in Barbican has closed. Their website says that they will be reopening at a new venue in the new year. It doesn't surprise me they have closed, the last time I went there we were the only table in the restaurant and the service was appalling. The shame is the food was really good. Andrew
  11. Much has been written about this restaurant and the two brothers who head up the kitchen. Even more remarkable than the column inches is the fact it is all positive. I have wanted to visit the restaurant for some time and finally made it there last week. The concept is that the menu changes with the seasons. I believe they also change the décor. The degree to which the décor changes I’m not certain but the pictures hung on the walls were very autumnal so I assume they change. I understand this year they are having a fifth menu (over the Christmas period). The menu consists of a no choice tasting menu. They do ask when you book if you have any dislikes / allergies so I assume any real problems with the menu can be picked up then. The menu on the evening I visited was different to the one on their website and the one that has been so eloquently written about by various bloggers and professional critics. Given the number of reviews and descriptions of the food I’m not intending to give a full account but concentrate on the highlights, a few ‘issues’ and differences with the advertised menu. The restaurant is just outside Bristol (an £11 cab ride from the centre) and is tucked away with an understated entrance. Front of House was excellent. The restaurant use to be owned by the current chef’s parents. The father was around for the whole evening and is clearly very proud of his son’s achievements. He acted as an excellent host. He was supported by excellent staff who were both friendly and knowledgeable. A nice touch is that all the food is served by the chefs who explain the dishes they have prepared. The night I visited the two brothers were not there, they were in Moscow cooking at an exhibition event. Whether that made a difference to the quality or the actual menu I don’t know. From the ‘advertised’ menu brassica salad was replaced with an excellent crab cake with apple and fennel. This was a really well executed dish, with some amazing flavours. I can’t believe the dish it replaced was any better. It was one of my three favourite dishes. The other two being the smoked salmon and the truffled duck egg. For the fish dish the hake was replaced with cod but the rest of the dish seemed to remain the same. This was my least favourite dish. I really did not like it and found the ‘leek ash’ over powering to the degree it over powered the whole dish and made it taste burnt. I did wonder if the quantity of ash was the result of some heavy handed action by a less experienced chef and had the head chefs been on it would have been more subtle. Having said that, given the quality of the rest of the food it may just be that this dish was not for me! For the main course partridge was replaced by pheasant and later on there was a total change of desserts. Blackberries and oats was replaced by pear and bay and the plum soufflé was replaced by the ‘signature’ GBM apple pie. Normally the apple pie is offered as an additional dessert. Personally I was disappointed the advertised soufflé was not being served. I am a lover of soufflés and had read very good things about their plum version. The quality of the apple pie was not a surprise given how well it did in the GBM. The quality of the cooking is of the highest degree, there is some real innovation but not for the sake of it. Everything they do has a reason and the execution is top draw. I have no doubt that this restaurant is ‘going places’ and there is no reason why they can’t build on their burgeoning reputation. For me the test is would I go back – there is no question. I’m looking forward to trying their winter menu.
  12. Why not do a nut roast with a cranberry sauce, not sure how available the ingredients would be in India. Here's one version http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/luxurynutandseedloaf_8883 Andrew
  13. Finally got to visit this excellent restaurant. Went there for lunch and we settled for the excellent value set lunch at £35 for three courses (including a couple of 'freebies'). The food is beautifully presented and of the highest quality. Absolutely superb value. My starter of the chef's pasta of the day was the best pasta I have had in a long time - rabbit tortellini with wild mushrooms. A main course of lamb was good but didn't quite reach the heights of the pasta. Dessert was a modern take on tiramisu. My guest had a pumpkin and ginger soup, sole and chocolate & passion fruit. The food was of a very high standard and I definitely would return to try the tasting menu and some of the signature dishes.
  14. This restaurant has been getting increasingly good reviews. Has anyone been here recently? Andrew
  15. If you could go to any restaurant anywhere in the UK which one would you choose? This is not a totally hypothetical question. I have to take someone, who is visiting the UK, out to eat. They are visiting various parts of the UK as part of the trip so the area does no matter. The only proviso is that it has to be possible to get a table so the Fat Duck is off the list! Andrew
  16. I couldn't agree more with PSmith. As a Brit that regularly visits the US for pleasure and work the tipping culture is difficult to get to grips with. Having said that the UK 'standard' of just adding 10%+ to the bill whatever the service is like is annoying. The aspect of tipping in the US that really hursts is the attitude if you 'under-tip'. On a number of occasions I've been questioned as to why I only left 10% as though it was some sort of an insult. When budgeting for a meal you end up having to add another 15-20% + any local sales tax and often whose costs are the difference between eating out or staying in. Andrew
  17. I also have a small bay tree in the garden (European variety) and would be interested in any tips using fresh leaves in cooking as against dried eg is one stronger than the other. Thanks Andrew
  18. I've had horse a few times (knowingly). Always in France and generally in 'cheaper' cafe / bistro type establishments. It's ok, nothing wrong with it but I do prefer the slightly stronger, less sweet, flavour of beef. I have also tried to cook it myself when staying in France and found it sifficult to get right, it's very easy to overcook it so that it is tough. Andrew
  19. Simon, Couldn't agree more. Certainly I wouldn't go back and it is not somewhere I would recommend anyone else to go. However, there are some amazing restaurants in Lyon that are worth visiting.
  20. Andrew

    Lyon

    A three day trip, three restaurants and seven stars. Paul was three of these stars and (unfortunately) the worst meal of the three. Auberge de L'lie Auberge de l'lie is on a small island in the most amazing setting. The building is wonderful and the surrounding old abbey enchanting. The stone walls off set by crisp white linen, a simple and tasteful flower and stunning single candle. A selection of menus appeared and I opted for the tasting menu but ask to skip one of the courses (a fish dish) as this was lunch! While I was sipping my drink and reading the menus some lightly fried vegetables appeared. These were a cross between tempura and crisps. They were crisp, salty and fresh. An interesting start. Next up were a couple of canapés. One a thin slice of apple with black pudding and the other a square of fried polenta with cheese and truffle which was particularly tasty. The started was a sweet onion and truffle tart. The onion the sweetest I've every tasted which stood up well to the wafer thinly sliced mushroom and truffle on a crisp puff pastry base. The main course was chicken stuffed with foie gras and mushroom. A well executed and good main course. I was then offered an additional taster of a signature dish. A mushroom cappuccino which was a rich mushroom velouté with foie gras and a milk foam. It had a rich, creamy flavour with an intensity not often tasted. An excellent dish. A good selection of cheese followed before moving onto dessert. With the pre dessert some really good macaroons were served. A pre dessert of a mini crepe suzette was fine but nothing special. The main dessert was mandarin soufflé with a saffron ice cream, it had a good flavour with the mandarin flavour infused throughout the mixture. Unfortunately the soufflé was a little to eggy and came close be being warm, mandarin flavoured scrambled egg. An ok end to a good meal. With coffee some freshly prepared marshmallow and fruit jellies. With a glass of champagne, matching wines, coffee and a bottle of still water the total bill was €206. Far better food than Paul Boucousse and over a €100 a head cheaper! The service, building and food were all good and well worth a visit. My main complaint was the cost of the water! Generally I would expect to pay €6 for a bottle of still. Here it was an eye watering €12. I'm not sure anything can justify that mark up. Mere Brazier Next up was the two star Mere Brazier. Once in the restaurant you could be in any top class restaurant in the world. The room was tastefully decorated in blue and beiges and the linen a crisp brilliant white. On arrival a glass of champagne arrived which was served with some delicious mini 'cakes' with lardons and a cream of tomato dipping sauce. An unusual but excellent amuse bouche followed. It was described as potato, creme fraiche, salmon caviar and lobster bisque. The first course of the tasting menu was foie gras, truffle and celery soup with truffle pot au feu. The flavours were excellent and the execution and presentation spot on, a dish that worked because of the top quality ingredients. Next up was an unexpected dish which did just did not work for me. It looked stunning but the taste was just not to my linking, it was slightly 'slimy'. Next up was the most superb tasting scallop dish. The scallops were perfectly cooked and came with a lemon confit and cabbage. Each flavour worked individually and came together as a perfect dish. The main course was meant to be pigeon but I was offered a magret du canard as an alternative. This was a dish full of seasonal flavours, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pumpkin purée and a rich sticky sauce with an amazing depth of flavour. Cheese as you would expect were excellent although somewhat surprisingly no biscuits or fruit were offered. A pre dessert of a Madeleine and creme fraiche was pleasant but was safe and showed little skill. This contrasted with the petit fours which was excellent, beautifully presented and showed off the expertise of the kitchen. The chocolate with peanut crunch and popping candy deserves special mention. Dessert was one of the best I've had in a long time. A bandy snap filled with a vanilla cream, coffee ice cream and chocolate fondant. A beautiful dessert with great flavours. Needless to say coffee and petit fours were top class. All in all one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Andrew
  21. So much has been written and blogged about the Paul Bocuse restaurant it is difficult to know where to start and what you can you can add. In the end I've gone for a very personal perspective which will no doubt be heresy to many. In certain respects it should be read in conjunction my comments on other restaurants in Lyon. A three day trip, three restaurants and seven stars. Paul Bocuse was three of these stars and (unfortunately) the worst meal of the three. It was an amazing experience. Something I have never seen but will be familiar, no doubt, to older readers who ate out in the 1960s and 1970s. The problem is that things have moved on and this restaurant has not. As you approach you are faced with a multi coloured building with the owner's name in bright lights on the roof. The door is opened by a doorman in traditional uniform. Bizarrely he later doubles as an organ grinder. A number of menus are on offer which you get the feeling have not changed for years. Much has been written by those with far more writing ability to describe the food but the bread and amuse bouche were fine but not spectacular. I opted for the three course menu classique with the addition of the signature truffle soup. From a choice of four starters I choose the quenelle of pike with prawns in a sauce nantua. This was good, a huge portion with a sauce of real depth of flavour. The presentation let them down. Next was the famous truffle soup. According to the booklet provided when your order the soup it is based on the concept of an English chicken pie. As you pierce the light fluffy pastry the heady truffle aroma takes over. Unfortunately that disappears after about five seconds leaving with the rich and overpowering taste of beef stock with truffle and foie gras. A Beaujolais sorbet is served before the main course. This had an overwhelming and quite unpleasant flavour of alcohol. Rather than clearing the palate it blew the head away! A man course beef filet Rossini was one of the worst examples I've had. The beef although cooked as I asked (medium rare) was tough and stringy. It certainly was not a filet steak. It had a huge slab of foie gras on top that was quite greasy. That quality of the beef should not have left the kitchen and no one questioned why most of it went untouched. The cheeses was good quality and a huge 25+ selection. A huge array of desserts are laid out for you. Quantity is not the issue, the problem is quality. Quality is fine but that is just it. They are fine, nothing special, no wow factor, what you would expect at your local good restaurant with great volume. Service was attentive although there were two weird events. The patron was visiting his son in the US so rather than him greeting his guests his wife came round to each table. The problem was she clearly was uncomfortable doing this and spent 10 seconds at each table saying hello and moving onto the next before anyone could reply. The next event was just weird. Towards the end of the meal the doorman wheeled a musical organ grinder into the centre of the room, played it for 30 seconds and left. I don't know if in just sensitive to these things but it felt like a scene from a colonial past with the black servant all dressed up performing for the masters. The menu I choose was the cheapest (€148) and added the soup (€82) - is this the most expensive soup in the world!? With a coffee, water and a few glasses of wine the bill came to €320. I do not understand how Michelin can award it three stars apart from loyalty. The meal is over priced (which I can live with) but the quality is average. None of the dishes were great, in fact if this were one star cooking I'd be surprised. It is a dreadful thing to say but I can only assume whilst the owner is alive they will keep awarding the three stars out of sentimentality. Why go? So you can say you've been. There are far better restaurants in Lyon. Andrew
  22. My favourite for everyday cooking is the River COttage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Other good basics are Delia's Vegetarian Collection and Leith's Vegetarian Bible. For something more 'fancy' ie dinner party cooking the Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia is very good. I also love The Accidental Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer. Andrew
  23. There's nothing actually wrong with properly reared and butchered horse meat. It is served in various parts of main land Europe. It is a cheaper, leaner, sweeter version of beef that personally I think is ok but would not order it over beef (or various other meat). The issue is that people were being palmed off with something they thought was beef and was not. The price of these prcoessed meals have become so low that corners were being cut / supply chains being put under pressure and taste did not matter. Andrew
  24. The problem with this is that you can get a similar range of side effects from every day drugs. As always it is impact -v- likelihood. My issue with the references to phenylbutazone is that it is a 'red herring'. If it is present all it shows is that the quality of the horse was not great! The real issue here is that people were paying for beef and were getting something cheaper that they did not want. Andrew
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