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Everything posted by marcusjames

  1. Yes, my family hail from that neck of the woods so I've been there a few times and it's very good. However, it is one of those two-tier concepts where there's a 'brasserie' downstairs and a fine-dining, degustation restaurant up. I've only eaten in the brasserie (we've always headed there for lunch when the restaurant is closed - evenings only), but it clearly demonstrates Warrick's pedigree. As you may expect this half of the venue constitutes the bulk of their covers and offers all the Lancashire favourites you'd expect, black pudding, lamb shank, fish & chips etc. It's also incredibly inexpensive considering the standard, but high-prices don't really fly on the Fylde so I guess it's perfectly pitched. I suspect the star would go to the restaurant if they get one, but at the very least, the brasserie deserves a red 'M' in my opinion.
  2. Have to concur about the sommeliers there, of which I believe there are two, an Englishman and a Frenchman. The latter (Manu if I recall right) used to be at The Glasshouse in Kew for years and built up a really interesting list. On our last visit to PaT Manu was upstairs in the private dining room, but the night was made by his colleague. We gave him a budget per bottle and told him to go pick for us; he then made us guess grape, region, country etc before revealing the choice. It turned into one of the most fun dinners we'd had out in a long time, though things obviously became more amusing as the bottle count increased! I like PaT. It's in the middle of media central so isn't stuffed full of austere suits all the time (infact, there's no dress code whatsoever) and, considering it's 2 star status, does have more of a neighbourhood, relaxed feel to it.
  3. Yeah, those original photos were a bit misleading Pam. That original presentation is beautiful, plus there aren't many places in the UK who offer gueridon service with prime cuts like that. No doubt another tick on their annual Michelin inspection box. I know the Waterside isn't cheap, but on that sort of evidence it's clear to see why. Don't get me wrong, I love degustation menus, but - in terms of UK restaurants - a large majority of them do seem better value than they actually are since they feature very few luxury ingredients these days (a totally separate issue to flavour and execution, which can still be excellent). By contrast, got to France itself and for 3 stars you start at €200 minimum for DGs; €70-100+ for starters and €100+ for mains (so, significantly more expensive than the Fat Duck or the Waterside), but they are generally a lot more luxurious. I recently saw a gastro-porn pic of a signature pie from Bernard Pacaud's L'Ambroisie that featured an obscene amount of chopped truffle layered through the middle of it, little wonder it was €120 on the plate. As David says, you get what you pay for so it's horses for courses; don't they all strive to hit a GP margin in the region of 70% at the end of the day?
  4. Having just read this thread in its entirety it seems to be more a debate on cooking styles and technique: inventive / experimental vs classical French. To be fair to Michelin, the fact that the Waterside does retain its 3rd star suggests they look beyond this divide and (this is perhaps a poor choice of words) don't just favour the more forward-thinking venues. Ironic really that the Inn and The Fat Duck back on to each other; it's like a literal dividing-line between the old guard and new wave. I think a lot of the big classical establishments do get visually overshadowed in the present day. But, despite the simplicity on the plate, more often than not, their food is the product of an army of chefs, all cooking everything a la minute, which I suspect this is one of - if not - the main influence behind Michelin's reasoning. Cachan made a similar, more succinct point that relates to this in the post above, 'Maybe Alain feels so confident with his 3 stars that he concentrates on the ingredients and the cooking instead of the fancy extra ingredients'. I'm not personally saying this approach is right or wrong, but look around the world and Michelin do have a clear bias toward this model and method. Speaking of which, Tom Kitchin's recent(ish) cookbook has a very interesting opening chapter on his early years and his time at the Louis IV in Monte Carlo. It provides a brilliant description of his experiences and the ethos behind these types of restaurant. Worth a read.
  5. I've said enough in this thread now and don't want to continually contribute to bumping it up the index. However, I do take issue with that comment Dakki. At no point (in any post) did I say Marcus deserves our 'undying attention' and, more to the point, suggest the CC are philistines. I may disagree with their opinions and actions surrounding this matter, but I certainly don't think them that.
  6. Dakki - my thoughts on the review, including its objectivity, are in my first post on this subject at the top of the page (2).
  7. And posting this fact (about the chef calling) isn't unprofessional?! Isn't the idea behind blogs and the boards that it gives is non-professionals a voice? Information isn't filtered which is a major strength (and also a weakness) as the non-professional doesn't need to kowtow to the catering professionals. New media, means new behavioural norms, the private "rant" now becomes very public. Some chefs (including those on this board) are adept at using this new media to get closer to the public and the symbiotic relationship seems to benefit all, but as the public is a fickle beast then due care must be exercised. I value posts and blogs that demonstrate a critical distance from the restaurant. Reports that are always positive have no value to me as I don't believe anyone can have that much luck with restaurants and I am suspicious critical facilities are dulled by comped PR meals for bloggers. So should the CC have posted/blogged this? Of course they should it shows they proceed without fear nor favour. Yeah, I agree with this for the most part, it's a totally valid point. The issue for me is, when chefs do use social media it is a direct communication; specifically through this medium. The problem with the CC is Marcus made a personal call and then they converted it by way of a post. That's very different. Had he responded openly, via one of the foodie message boards, I'd agree 100%. There's also a difference between a report being critical, as opposed to objective. I personally don't think the CC were objective with the review, which is why - in turn - it makes their criticisms so difficult to accept.
  8. I know it's probably clear my sympathies lie with Marcus on this, but on the subject of the CC bill I think it needs pointing out that the tasting menu at MW is £115, which means by way of rough estimation, the CC spent £300-350 on booze. You can get out of Wareing for a lot less than that. In short, they drove the bill to £600, not the restaurant. Yes, it's not the cheapest gaff in the UK, but you do get what you pay for. I agree with the comments about execution of the food vs price, and to be fair to the CC they don't actually criticise this, the review was more about the lack of overall wow factor.
  9. Everyone has the right to express their views, spoken or written, so was Marcus wrong to respond by way of a personal phone call? No one's heard this call and, considering the thread as a whole, members have taken it as face value. Personally I am left with further questions; for example (and I am sure the Critical Couple will be happy to clarify this), did Marcus actually raise his voice at any point, or was it just what was said that offended? Rant also suggests he spoke at them, or was a discussion actually had? Turning to the review itself, I can understand Marcus' frustrations on certain points... Menu changes: The CC have been 7 times in 11 months. Some dishes have changed during the interim, others haven't. The restaurant is striving for consistency, so obviously certain signature plates are going to remain. Although it is a separate debate as to the frequency a menu should turn, it should be pointed out there's a very famous 3 star restaurant outside of London where the menu hardly refreshes at all and, for a 2 or 3 year period, actually didn't. 2 & 3 stars are not neighbourhood venues with weekly specials, they're unique occasion destinations and this needs to be considered. At what point during the 7 visits in 11 months the CC decide they were bored with certain dishes? This was surely an inevitability given their attendance. Imagine the comments if they had visited The Fat Duck as many times instead? Marcus in the kitchen: I know for a fact Marcus is in his kitchen more than most of his equivalent peers. In a recent article in the Mail he confirmed as much. There are very few chefs - if any - who work every service. Consequently, I'm sure it's massively frustrating for him to take a rare trip and, when he does, it's plastered all over the blogosphere - unfortunate timing in the extreme. This leads me to my next point... Posting: As Harters mentions earlier, the review wasn't just listed here. I note the CC blog is relatively new. Whilst I appreciate all websites need 'feeding' and traffic needs to be driven, this net was cast far and wide at the restaurants expense. I'm not personally convinced the follow-up post about the call was ethical or fair either, whatever the nature of the conversation, a call is a personal gesture, did it really need or deserve putting into the public domain? But, what notoriety the CC have now ensured the blog and themselves! Objectivity: Food at this level is subjective, I am sure that the lamb and beef the CC mention as being unremarkable has been (or is) - for others - highly enjoyable. It's the execution that ultimately defines a dish. This particular paragraph is where the CC also raise the issue of stars. As I say, everyone has the right to a review and an opinion, but does the report really need to turn into a form of open letter to Wareing telling them what they need to do to get the 3rd twinkler? It does come across as a tad patronising. If I were a chef of Marcus' calibre it would certainly have got my back up.
  10. I've just returned from lunch there and have to say, thought it very good indeed. I had the degustation and the only wobble (IMO) was the tuna / beetroot starter. Lovely to see all the variations of the beet, but the plate was very busy, further accentuated by an overly turned sculpture that looked like an up-ended version of the Open University logo. As this was the first course I thought, 'oh oh', it's going to be all fur knickers and no trousers, but was delighted to be proved wrong. Everything that followed was superlative. Great scallop with pork belly and a black pudding crumble which added both flavour and texture. Although not personally convinced about novelty fusion dishes cropping up in amongst gastronomic menus, the chicken satay easily overcame my suspicions and worked on every level. And as for the current beef dish with the cheek, rib-eye and toungue, well, it's a complex stunner. I agree about the earlier comment on the foams. I've been pleased to see the 'fad of foam' (Ferran, you've a lot to answer for!) die-out as, more often than not, have always found them insipid and pointless. Not so here, I can echo they are absolutely packed with flavour; the dhall variation that came on the side with the chicken being notably innovative and pleasing. Pud of pineapple was good, but over-shadowed by a passion fruit cream amuse. The lovely waitress (it wasn't Claire) said she keeps trying to persuade the kitchen to expand it on to the menu proper and she was right. But perhaps the best thing about Loves is the current price point. The Tasting Menu with a well-portioned wine paring for every dish AND a glass of Gossett champagne to start is £89. I don't care what anyone says, that's a bargain by any standards. Even allowing for their fledgling status, I don't think there are many - if any - places that are as competitive right now. Yes, the decor may not be to everyone's taste (including mine), but I'll forgive them that in the face of such incredible value. I will return and, given the pricing, it's most likely to be soon.
  11. Seeing as Colin has broken his eg duck with the church green seems fitting for me too! Good to be on board. Like a lot of places, the irony of The Church Green is that it used to be incredible value when it opened. We went within six to eight months of the doors opening and, for what we ate, couldn't quite believe the prices; a sub £10 starter 'salad' of potato and summer truffle lingers long and hard in the memory. It had about 9 different preparations going on. I think we commented at the time that there was no way they could maintain those prices, they were clearly buying future custom and a way into the market. I agree, the issue now is with the venue itself as it falls a long way short of justifying the sort of prices they charge. Sitting in a slightly sterile gastro-pub was ok when starters were under £10 and most of the mains £16-20. Now there's at least £5+ on top of that for each dish your considerations and expectations change. Yes, it's there on the plate in terms of the food, and the execution is great, but as someone mentions (I think it's here), it's hard to pull yourself out of the Beefeater feel going on around you. All businesses have cash-flow considerations; taking on a venue and building it from the ground up is ok, there's nothing wrong with that, but they've been there for a while now and could have done more with the room. It's been about six months since my last visit. The other thing I would have liked to see was a degustation. I've 'travelled' to get there each time and it would have been nice to be able to sample more of the kitchen. Having said that, it will be interesting to see if Aiden changes the food and price point now he has a specific fine-dining outlet at that boutique hotel near the Wirral (I forget the name) where I can only assume the restaurant is more appropriate. Any early reports? I think it's open now...
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