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Everything posted by marcusjames

  1. Like many on here I don't quibble over food cost at a certain level, but I am bemused as to who thought, and advised, Mr.Keller they'd get away with £250 + wine. Pop-ups are supposed to be exciting experiences that generate positive PR for all involved. Purely based on this alone, I think they've shot themselves in the foot before things have even begun. Odds-on there will be tables going spare...
  2. Back in the very dim, distant past when I used to work in the trade the service at two star upwards was commonly discussed, but as Hermes points out, the criteria seems to be a constantly shifting sand, which is no bad thing I guess. I clearly remember when the River Cafe got its star around '97 and everyone couldn't believe it because they used paper table cloths over linen. Restaurant owners throughout the capital were shaking their heads wondering why they'd spent so much on laundry all those years!
  3. Apparently Michelin don't factor service at single star level, but obviously do at two and three. On my recent trip to L'enclume service, although pleasant, was quite a long way from being correct. However, save for one or two very notable exceptions, I find the same to be true of many regional, starred restaurants outside of London. I think these venues face a genuine issue of hanging on to good staff who can earn far more in the smoke. I know I have a real bug-bear about this (and may have mentioned it before), but my predictions fall in line with past Guide behaviour, so expect a third for Darroze and Robuchon, a fourth for Ducasse and bugger-all for any one British...
  4. I haven't been to RHR Andrew, but all the lunch menus in these places seem to stick to the same formula of less luxury or prime ingredients. Of course, this isn't to say there is a difference in execution and, more often than not, the multiple amuse tend to be the same, so it can be as equally rewarding. Also, catch a venue at the right time and they may be 'road-testing' future carte dishes or using up ingredients should they have a surplus; if you spy something that reads a little too well don't be afraid to ask the question. I've done it many times in the past and it has served me well.
  5. I totally agree with all you say Jenni. I think the issue with the CC is they consistently wonder off into un-objective, high handed pastures. For example, as I touched on above, to lampoon a tasting menu without giving the restaurant / chef chance to demonstrate how they've executed it is bang out of order. No chef likes criticism, but when it goes as personally wide of the mark as this I think you can share their frustrations.
  6. Anthony Boyd, who was at sister restaurant The Glasshouse for years, and pretty much made it what is today, has returned to the fold after a brief spell in his native Wales. He's been cooking at La Trompette for about 4 months now. The restaurant was always good, but I've a visit penciled now he's back at the stoves - the man can cook! I just hope his long-standing signature of the pigeon salad and truffled egg is on; that remains one of my all time top starters.
  7. Yeah Nikki, I'd tend to agree with you here. That list, in my opinion, is way off base in terms of the city's finest. Actually, knowing the standard of this board, I don't think some of those venues are really worthy of mention; good day to day places, yes, but nothing remotely recommendable about them. However, there are a few establishments - alongside Harts - that do merit attention should anyone be heading Nottsward... Curry - Memsaab/4550 Miles from Delhi: Neither are particularly cheap by curry standards, but are exceptional and very consistent. I think the curry and spicing is better at Memsaab, though the breads win out at Delhi, which are truly incredible. Also, special mention for Kayal, a Keralan specialist on the opposite side of the city that's slightly cheaper, but equally as good; some may even say the best. FYI, there's a sister Kayal in Leicester. Modern European - World Service: Arguably better looking inside than Harts, though very similar in standard and execution. Tapas - Iberico: Hands down the standout tapas venue and, for my money, probably the best pound for pound restaurant in the city centre (I keep saying city centre because Sat's isn't. It goes without saying Bains is in a different league). Well worth checking out though.
  8. The bottom line is the CC are two obviously wealthy, passionate foodies who just have a very unfortunate way with the pen. In my opinion they're consistently un-objective and egocentric. Their issues over the food at GP may be true, but to criticise the degustation purely based on the choice of ingredients? Come on, it's hardly fair. I was particularly taken with the heavy-handed diatribe when, 'we didn't fancy the tasting menu' would have sufficed. Finally, on the subject of that menu, it's £120. That's a lot. MC needs to justify that with relative ingredients and produce, which he clearly does, so I think there's actually a strong argument in his favour here. At least it's not another £100-odd, trendy food-flight without a whiff of luxury.
  9. True, but by that rational you could also ask why those 3 stars aren't being demoted, particularly Pacaud whose seasonal menus hardly vary year on year, if at all.
  10. Matthew, unless it's obvious things just don't work then retaining dishes, signature or otherwise, simply isn't a factor. Look at the likes of L'Amboise, Ducasse, Gavroche and many more. All recycle tried and tested recipes according to season. We're back to this debate of trailblazing gastro-fireworks vs a more traditional approach. I guess it comes down to what your subjective preference is at the end of the day.
  11. I always thought stars were awarded for execution and consistency, whatever the style and nature of cuisine. Just because something it based around a more traditional approach doesn't mean it's any less worthy. I personally think those pics look rather good.
  12. I think it's been in at least 10 years since Longridge held 2 stars Malo. Recent it is not.
  13. Thanks Nick. Yes, it's booked already. Really looking forward to it...
  14. I'm heading down to Cornwall next month doing the obligatory between Rock and Padstein. Does anyone have any updated recommendations beyond the obvious, usual suspects? I'm looking to fill in a few gaps in the dining schedule. A few immediate questions, I keep seeing l'estuaire popping up on various sites though their own appears to be down, is it still going? Also, is the St. Kew Inn now run by the ex-head chef of The Seafood Restaurant? I think I read somewhere that this is now the case.
  15. I have to confess I find Gill very amusing for the most part and do think he knows food, even if he's always had a bias toward bold classicism; if only I had a pound for the amount of times he's written, 'this is food you want to eat'. What's odd is he's dissed Pollen primarily based on the fact he doesn't like the concept, much of it the smaller 'tasting' plates, yet raved about El Bulli, the undoubted grand-daddy of the bite sized course, and Noma (which I note he now claims to apparently have 'discovered' btw. Adrian - if you're reading, here's a hint, the place already had 2 stars and the gastro-blogosphere was ablaze at the time of your review...). OK, both were/are undoubtedly brilliant, but then so is Atherton as we know from his past CV. The style at Pollen maybe a bit different to those lofty temples, but we're not exactly sitting in a different ballpark here, so considering his past reviews Gill's criticism did appear inconsistent. I do feel sorry for Jason though. By way of social messaging he's been very visible and honest about the time, thought and effort that's gone into the new venture from the entire team. Having someone of Gill's stature arrive and give a review that clearly swims against the tide of opinion and obviously isn't a true reflection must be very frustrating. Still, I doubt it will do them any harm, in fact, it appears the review was so off-base it's stimulated even more PR as we, who sit here typing about it, are proof positive of!
  16. Due to the fact I live in Notts I have to confess to being a little - and by that I probably mean a lot - bias, but it's a joy to have Sat's on the doorstep. I went a fortnight ago (my menu was very close to what Harter's reports and I can only echo his comments), followed by L'Enclume last week and there was nothing in it in my opinion - SB was in a different league. This is more a testament to how good Sat's is right now rather than L'Enclume being sub-par. In a word - go.
  17. Matutu, don't worry, it's definitely worth a star. I am not sure this thread as a whole is a fair representation of the establishment, it makes the place sound like it's stuck in the late 80's / early 90's, which it certainly isn't. OK, it isn't about trailblazing, super edgy gastro-fireworks I admit, but - as I mentioned earlier - tasty, well executed food. I wish I had some photos to post because the presentation is hardly backward either. Can any other board members provide?
  18. I went at the end of February for what they called an 'Extravaganza' night. This meant a 7 course degustation, each accompanied by a glass of wine, plus canapes and a glass of sparkling (Graham Beck, South African) to start, all for £120. I didn't realise it at the time of booking, but it was the first time they'd done it, so we dropped on a bit since they also offered single room rates in conjunction, which basically meant half-price doubles. If I recall correctly the total package was £365, but we did have one of their superior rooms, which was effectively a suite with a separate lounge area. The food, I admit, was what I'd call good but not spectacular. All very tasty and correct. It's well executed classical presented in a modish fashion. Certainly nothing to complain about. What made the night so incredible though was the generosity with the booze. Almost every glass was topped up without question, and on two occasions, repeated in full. But, and it's a big, very positive but, all the wines they served were a minimum of £40, and in the case of the red (an incredible New Zealand Pinot whose name escapes me now) £65 list price! The only real gripe, and it's more of a warning I guess, is whilst the room was good value for £125 inc breakfast, I would have been mortified had I paid the usual £250 asking price. Yes, it's nicely appointed, but there was only one TV in the lounge (nothing in the bedroom), no mini-bar or air-con (God knows what it's like in summer) and, red-faced, hands-up on this point, our pine bed was very rickety. The room service and staff are obviously lovely when around, but once an evening closes down, that's your lot till breakfast. I know these country house hotels aren't cheap and Fischer's aren't the only ones asking this sort of money but, taking everything into consideration, that's very steep in my opinion - it's 5 star central London prices for a glorified B&B. I can only assume they justify the price by way of the overseas tourism constantly passing through to see Chatsworth. They have another Extravaganza coming up on the 14th July. The price has crept up slightly to £130 and there's no mention of sparkles and canapes on arrival, though that's not to say it won't still be part of the offer. I don't think I'd hurry there at the usual rates, but on these evenings I can tell you there's a real deal to be had. Btw, just in case it hasn't been mentioned, the converted pub just down the road is called Rowleys.
  19. Didn't the organisers (or was it the judges?) openly admit that in the pre-list merry-go-round of press releases? I'm unlikely to find the source now, but my memory is that they freely stated the list is skewed towards "hot" and that any really good restaurant that doesn't do very much differently year to year will find itself falling down the list quickly. The list is, of course, only loosely based on reality, but as mentioned above its power is amazing. I wasn't aware of that Simon so many thanks for the update. It does raise the point though; this list goes far and wide to members of the public who aren't as involved or passionate about food. If myself, and others here hadn't seen the PR, what will the overall public perception be? Given the radical rises and falls - Harter's La Colombe is a fine case in point - I suspect this list does more harm than good in many cases. And I'm not sure those who are evolving, yet aging a bit venue wise, do get recognition. I kept harping on about how long it's been since The Fat Duck menu changed, yet to be fair to Heston, ironic it drops two places the year a whole raft of new, innovative dishes appear.
  20. I personally think this list is becoming very confused with itself. It's an odd mix of stalwarts (St.John), non-starred trendies (Zuma, Hakkasan) and the usual Michelin starred suspects. The worrying thing for me is the list moves quite radically year to year and isn't so much the 'best' as the 'hottest",'most hyped' or 'exciting'. I am concerned wonderful places who have been there for years, rock-steady on consistency (which doesn't mean they aren't evolving) are being penalised simply because they aren't as new. I'd love to see a list with the restaurants separated into less than 10 years old, and over 10 years old; I suspect it might make for interesting reading.
  21. Promotion for any chef of genuine French heritage and immediate 2 star listing for any chef of genuine French heritage who has opened on these shores since the 2011 edition. No promotion or acknowledgment for any British chef who's miles better, both in terms of execution and creativity though...
  22. I'm bemused by the comment, '... weirdly unappetising; I give you broccoli and blue cheese soup, or vegetable pie and spring greens.' It may not be to her personal tastes, but why would you call a classic pairing of broccoli and blue cheese unappetising? Or a veg pie for that matter. I may scoff with the usual derision at the mention of veggies, but they still need to be catered for, especially in a gastro-pub where broad, accommodating strokes are required. This is not the only review from Tracey that leaves me wondering if she has any food qualification beyond being a journalist who'd been handed the job straight from the editors desk.
  23. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts once you've been Sped. I think AA Gill summed Ducasse up perfectly on his recent Paris jaunt where he praised his French ventures but went on to add he 'doesn't export well'. A clear swipe at The Dorchester. I've given it the benefit of the doubt 3 times now and would say it's more like a 1 star that offers a few more luxury ingredients (which you will pay for in the form of supplements). I've said it on other boards, but I remain totally bemused as to how a 3 star gets away without a cheese board/trolley; the 'TV dinner' tray their pre-selection comes in, or rather on, is right up there with the naffest of the naffest in my opinion. There's no denying the room though, it's incredible and reeks of the money they clearly threw at it. Oh, and the desserts, to be fair the pastry section has always been outstanding on my visits.
  24. Phil - I think the French bias accusation come from scenarios such as Wareing remaining on 1 star for 5 years longer than was deserved. Or the likes of Wishart, Tom Kitchen, Simon Rogan, Sat Bains and more stuck on 1, yet Darroze, where the general consensus seems to be mediocre across the board, gets elevated in the space of 2/3 years. And this, of course, comes off the back of the aforementioned Robuchon / Ducasse 2 star launches, followed by the latters immediate promotion to 3, again in the face of wide-spread criticism (much of it underpinned by users of this board I might add). Infact, did Ducasse himself not publicly declare he felt Michelin were a lot more stringent here compared to France? In short: can we all be so wrong, yet Michelin so right? Is it just me or does anyone else feel there's a massive irony at play here? For an organisation whose watchword is broadly founded on consistency, it appears to be the last thing they themselves are. It would help if they dropped the veil of convenient secrecy and mapped out a fully transparent criteria of how their decisions are reached. It's actually hard to think what possible reason they have not to do this.
  25. I doubt it's down to reviews David. It didn't stop Michelin launching Ducasse in at 2 and promoting him to 3 but a year later. I think we're all aware there probably wasn't a decent review for the Dorchester on launch. We'll never truly know, but if I had to venture a guess I think Koffmann's issue is probably timing. It only launched in September. Michelin don't inspect in December as they allow for the Xmas crush and the effect this may have. I suspect 3 months isn't enough time - in their world - to decide if the restaurant was operating consistently. Speaking of the year Ducasse opened, they also elevated Robuchon and there was a bias-outcry at the time. Now Darroze is yet another French export who seems to... scratch that, HAS received a very favourable promotion. I think Jay Rayner nailed it on his almost immediate on-line Guardian article in response to today's announcement where he basically called Michelin out, claiming they've lost all credibility as a result. I shan't repeat names already mentioned, but I'm of the opinion there are some incredible British chef's who have the right to be extremely pissed right now... There's an almost Bush administration-like policy around Michelin where, certainly in terms of the British public, they seem to think they can continue fobbing us all off (at the expense of our home-grown talent) and get away with it. I used to be a big fan of the 'M', but today I lost faith quicker than the Hollywood elite in Ricky Gervais...
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