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marcusjames

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  1. I went to L'Enclume last week; was there pretty much a year ago to the day and what a difference. Not so much from the food (take that as a given mind-bending BTW), more the service. New open plan kitchen in the main restaurant, more staff and a real finesse about the floor, much of it thanks to the oft mentioned GM Sam, who is clearly coming into his own. OK, they've up'd the main degustation to £120 from £95, but at least you can see where your money's going and, by French standards, it's still a bargain - that's a single dish at L'Amboisie. The parade of nibbles at the start is so good it verges on eclipsing the remainder of the meal. That being said, my money for the 3rd star this year once again goes to Andrew Fairlie. He's slipped under the GFG, AA, gastro-blog radar (thus Michelin can claim the 'discovery'; they do seem to be a bunch of bitchy girls if someone starts and gets on the band wagon ahead of them) and has the weight of the Gleaneagles (Diageo) experience all around and behind him. The food is executed briliiantly, plus the dining room is resplendent in understated luxury that screams mahooooosive expense without being overstated. I'd be delighted if Sat got his third too, I used to live in Notts and what he's achieved as a destination experience in that location and part of the world (which I love) is phenomenal. Either way, if he, Fairlie or Simon Rogan nail a third it will make headlines as no restaurant that far north has ever reached that level before. Michelin have the world before them in the UK this year. None of it would be unjust in my opinion, but they could make a huge wave in restaurant history with the forthcoming guide. The stars (no pun intended) haven't ever aligned in this way. It could be interesting...
  2. Koya in Soho is perhaps the best value restaurant in London considering the food alone. Excellent Japanese soba noodles (handmade), although there are other options in the form of Bone Daddies and Tonkotsu, which are ramen specialists and also excellent, although all aren't the sort of place you'd want to linger. If I have any criticism it's that they've all fashioned themselves on that minimal NY style that's taken over in recent years. I'd also give a shout to Claude Bosi's relatively new gastro-pub in Fulham, The Malt House. Same produce as Hibiscus, albeit in pub style. Still has Michelin execution in my opinion. I wouldn't be surprised if this place does join the Harwood as London's only starred pubs come October. Staying with gastro pubs, my latest find has been the Princess Victoria on the Uxbridge Rd, which despite being a slight trek from the center of town, is fantastic and worth the effort; it possibly has the best triple cooked chips in London (and yes, even better than the originals at Heston's Dinner. Curry wise, check out the Cinnamon Soho, the Cinnamon Club's Soho outpost. It's much, much cheaper, yet the food equally as tasty.
  3. Look, I used to work in the industry and didn't want to be mean spirited, I merely said I didn't think it much of a surprise based on my experience there. I do sympathise with all the issues regarding livelyhood etc. I agree the Corn Exchange was a bigger venture and may have had more to do with pulling the overall house down from a business model point of view, but these sort of empires are built on flagships and Anthony's buzz and reputation died out way too soon. Had the fine dining gained a star, or his TV exposure continued, there's a strong arguement the CE may have ridden its coat tails as is usually the way. I do still stand by my comment about some of his regional peers being much, much better though.
  4. I think the journalist from the Examiner's claim that, 'At just 33, he has already made a much bigger impact on the British restaurant industry than his peers Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay did in their early careers,' is the biggest load of bull$h!t journalism I've ever read. MPW got his 3rd star at 33, the youngest chef in the world (at that time) to ever to achieve the award. And Gordon wasn't far behind, I think RHR went 3 star when he 34. Whilst this is sad news I'm not surprised. I went to Anthony's once and thought it a crashing dissapointment. That basement dining room was horrid and the experience average at best; some of the combinations really didn't work, the execution was dubious in a number of places and the service utterly sterile, bereft of any personality whatsoever. I never went back as a result and I'm the sort of punter who'd be most likely to, which speaks volumes. Putting my personal experience to one side, I suspect the lack of that first star (which again speaks volumes), coupled with the emergence and evolution of far better regional chefs such as Sat Bains, Glynn Purnell, Kenny Atkinson and Simon Rogan were the major contributions to drowning him out and losing his place in gastronomic consciousness. Ironically, a second, decent starred restaurant in the Leeds area probably wouldn't have hurt either. People are far more likely to make a desitnation effort when they can combine, look no further than Bray / Marlowe, Edinburgh or Padstow / Rock as great examples.
  5. Not a milion miles away is the oft mentioned Indian Zing in Ravenscourt Park (or it's sisters, Zest in Sunbury and Zilla in Barnes). Zing is the flagship and has the slight edge though. The owner used to be the head chef for the sisters who own Chutney Mary, Amaya, Veeraswamay and Masalla Zone so he knows his onions. Staying in Ravenscourt I'm also a massive fan of Potli. Chef used to head up the curry division of M&S foods by way of the Oberoi group and recently went it alone. The 3 different types of chicken tikka and the banana pepper curry (side) are worth the price of admission alone, but it's all very, very good and quite keenly priced. Finally, although not local, I went to the recently starred Trishna the other day and thought it deserved of it's accolade and certainly better than all it's other high-end peers, most of which I am fortunate enough to have visited. Worth considering as a destination option if heading in to town.
  6. Popped in for lunch today and thought the food worthy of mention. It's more traditional at lunch. The set offers 2 dim sum and a main for £30. Add in pud and it's £35. I bolted an extra dim sum in and had three, the prawn/truffle Har Gau and Squid Balls with a phenomenal kaffir lime mayo standing out. Scallops main with peas and crisp rice were lovely. I especially liked the fact they served two king scallops whole; none of that slicing the buggers in half to make it look like they're going further which is starting to drive me nuts. A king scallop is one of the best ingredients on earth, let them sing! Had the famed 'Sex on the Beach' to close. I won't elaborate if you haven't read about it, but suffice to say the flavour matched the gimmick, which was a relief (again, no pun intended). There were a few service issues, though my biggest gripe is some of the pricing. £5 for a bottle of Pellegrino? And the set, although good, is pricey compared to the value you get at other multiple Michelin gaffs allowing for all the extra amuse, mignardise, frills and fancies. They may need to consider that in the long term, perhaps even now; although busy, it wasn't full, which is a surprise considering this should still be classified as their 'honeymoon' period. In contrast to the food, the wine list is not massively marked-up and well sourced with some really interesting oddities. Nice to see the man himself there too.
  7. I think Andy Hayler's report and photos on GRRHR from a few weeks ago spoke volumes Putty Man. It appears to have more to do with Clare Smyth pushing things forward than any Ramsey heritage. Fair play to her. As AH highlights, the presentation really seems to have gone up a notch. I've never been excited about going there in the past, but I have a real yearning now...
  8. There was a debate on here last year about taking photos in restaurants focusing on those that allowed it and those that didn't. This debate is now becoming a slight extension of that considering blogging and social media is another form of possible promotion: ultimately, should chef's embrace it or not? I think the disclocate comes - and here's the gamble on their part - when these bloggers give negative reviews, in most cases they are people who haven't trained in the industry, know nothing of the processes involved and often expose their, albeit passionate, ignorance. I can see how that would get my professional back up; as MPW once said of Michelin, "You're ultimately being judged by people who know a lot less about cooking than you." Same is true of professional critics as it goes; these are journalists who usually migrate into their positions with absolutely no catering background whatosever. You do, therefore, have to sympathise with chefs at a certain, trailblazing level. I think in their world the only justifiable criticism they actually feel comfortable with, or respect, is that of their peers. As Man points out, maybe it should all be done anonymously, if the chef hasn't courted or engaged the blogger they can not feel betrayed. That being said, if they know they're coming in, why shouldn't they fluff them a bit and make them feel special? It's no different to any more traditional business showing hospitality to their clients in order to grow and further their business. However, therein lies the answer (I think), if a more traditional business does pursue a client and the contract still remains elusive, they don't jump to Twitter to profanically (new word?) denounce them. Yes, it's a disappointment, but all you can do is absorb, smile and roll with it in a politcially polite manner. But that neatly brings us back round to the dislocate issue and, as we all know, isn't something chefs are renowned for. Although it may take a certain degree of colour from the industry (for who honestly doesn't like the romantic notion of the anarchic chef?), it's something they may well have to learn in the digital age.
  9. To provide a further piece of context, the word c$%t is frequently bandied around in the catering industry - high-end professional kitchens in particular - and doesn't hold the same level of taboo and insult as it does in the wider world. That being said, although Claude may have had a justified grievance, the use of the word did overstep the mark a tad and it would be nice to see some form of contrition from #chefsunite moving forward. Still, it proves the theory that anger and / or drinking don't mix with social media (which in itself is a sub-division of don't drink and dial). One can only wonder what fun we would have had if Twitter had been around during Marco Pierre White's Harvey's heyday!
  10. I haven't been yet, but I'd love to know what the concept is here; it seems to fall somewhere between the Cornwall experience as a mix of what Nathan does in the Grill and the fine dining proper. I'm a little confused to be honest. I know the title hints at it being slanted toward the Grill, but the Duck / Monkfish combo' suggests otherwise. Actually, considering it's only a 25-30 cover room I'm not entirely sure why they didn't just go for the full blown fine dining experience; with the weight of the name and location I doubt it would have been that difficult to fill, in spite of the economic climate. Reviews have been thin on the ground so I for one, as a fan of Outlaw, would genuinely welcome a little more info from those who have been.
  11. I popped in last week. The food's unbelievable considering the price and I wish them well, apparently they have a massive hill to climb each day; am sure I read somewhere they've got to turn every table three times before they cover costs. Still, at those prices, in that room and the typically strong Corbin & King service it deserves to succeed. I can't think of another London experience that delivers so much for so little money.
  12. Have you ever actually eaten there? I know the food splits opinion, pushes boundries and - for many - isn't the most enjoyable meal they'll ever eat; I couldn't get my sister back there if I paid her. However, the quality of ingredients, research and execution is, I think, beyond doubt. Every one is entitled to their opinion, but to say the FD isn't, or wasn't, a 3 star at the time of elevation is incredulous.
  13. Putty Man - the cooking at the Fat Duck isn't 3 star standard? Really? Whatever your views on molecular gastronomy, degustation menus or Michelin I don't think there's any doubt it's worthy of its rank. And from what I understand I think the influence on his cooking owes more to the work of Herve This than Ferran Adria, but I guess only he could really answer that.
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