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Posts posted by rjs1

  1. Why is everyone raving about a steak? Why pay money for a steak in a restaurant? Buy some good beef and cook it at home, if you have the right equipment there is little skill in cooking a steak

    The right equipment, like a pan and a source of heat? We can only dream of such sophistication in our kitchen...


  2. Sadly, I can't hit any of the big tables with a toddler- a quite rambunctious one at that. So I am looking for some great food in great restaurants where toddlers would be welcome as well as some cheap eats as we've got a lot of meals ahead of us to fill up. We are staying in Chelsea, so some neighbourhood places would be great but we are obviously willing to travel for good eats.

    Took my 6 and 8 year-olds to lunch at The Ledbury (2 Michelin *) last week, and they were made very welcome, taken off our hands for a tour of the kitchen at the end of service and even allowed to make their own baby-chinnos (sp?) and carry them to the table themselves. The little one's allergies were well looked out for as well (which Le Gavroche fell down on last year).

    To be fair, the kids tend to rise to the occasion in good restaurants and only be rambunctious once they get home.

  3. Any recent reports would be most gratefully appreciated.

    Took the family there for lunch for my daughter's 6th birthday last week (she wanted Le Gavroche, but now says she likes Texture just as much...).

    It's a lovely room for lunch (I've found it a bit underlit at night), and they looked after us really well, working round the birthday girl's allergies to nuts and eggs (which is more than Le Gavroche managed to get right).

    Nice touches like sorbet for the girls served in small glass bowls over larger bowls full of dry ice, Miranda's with a candle in one of the balls of sorbet, and little boxes of chocolate for each of them to take away.

    Also unlike Le Gavroche they weren't greedy in charging for the children's meals (£15 each for three courses).

    Overall £159 for four of us including service, with two glasses of champagne, two glasses of wine plus one sweet wine.

    Great wine list, but pretty steep mark-ups.

    Crisps remain "interesting", although we loved the dip.

    My starter was three different beets with soft goat's cheese, delicate flavours. Kids had some lovely salmon two ways.

    My main course was hake with caulifower textures; I am not a great cauliflower fan, but can't imagine it better prepared than this, particularly the "cauliflower couscous". Fish wasn't as mega-fresh or as perfectly cooked as I'd have expected. My wife and the girls had pork belly and cheek, and all loved it.

    My pudding was the high point of the meal for me - mango and pineapple, lemongrass soup, basil ice cream - I can sitll taste it now a week later...

    Wonderful chocolates and good coffee.

    Place was pretty quiet for a Thursday lunchtime, especially given that it has just won a Michelin star. There were a lot of staff, so I do wonder a little about its viability

    If my enthusiasm is muted, I think it's because the menu never seems to change much and because the food is sometimes on the wrong side of the delicate/muted flavour divide.

    Also, the chef patron really gets on my nerves. I've been three times; each time he has scurried through the dining room at regular intervals, never making eye contact, always looking harassed and unhappy. If he is too shy to interact with customers, he should stay out of the dining room. With only four tables in at lunch and one of them a birthday celebration, surely he could at least have stopped and say hello to the birthday girl (hell, Michel Roux kissed her and her sister!). As suggested on another thread, make a fuss of (well-behaved) small children in top restaurants - they are your future customers.

  4. Self to daughter this morning:

    "What would you like to do for your birthday on Thursday, darling?"


    "I would like to have lunch at Le Gavroche, please, daddy."

    She is five. Five. What have we done to deserve this?

    Ok, took her to Texture instead, and were very well looked after - will write up the meal on the relevant thread.

    While the set lunch at Le Gavroche is amazing value for adults, I thought they overcharged badly for the children when we went six months ago - their meals cost more per head than ours...

  5. We used to live in Didcot (it's the station which is Didcot Parkway) and to be honest I wouldn't recommend going there for lunch.

    There are various pubs in nearby villages which are OK, but most of the better options (apart from The Goose) are in the Oxford direction.

    I was brought up near Didcot, and agree that there is no food there of interest to an e-gullet-er. My parents still live in the area, and say that Sweet Olive @ The Chequers in Aston Tirrold, about 3 miles from Didcot is good. Probably not as good as The Goose, though!

  6. I'm quite interested in this place in general, but would anyone be able to tell me if they still rush people out as soon as possible? If it is the way they play, I can't be asked to go there. If however, you have enough time to eat in a relaxed way, then it would warrant a visit.

    At lunchtime, they don't rush you out at all, unless starting to play awful music at about 2.30pm is their way of rusning out any customer with good musical taste. Don't know about evenings, but would avoid the place then because of the music anyway. Lunch is definately the time to go.

  7. Had dinner there a couple of days ago. We started with slightly hit-and-miss cocktail service - my "Polish Martini" was fine, except for the complete absence of the promised "pressed apple"; when I pointed this out they quickly offered a replacement; and they brought two Bellinis when we had only ordered one (when this was pointed out they said "have the second one on the house", so my wife did...).

    Bit disappointed by the wine list - drank an indifferent Clos di Siete at £38 which our friends had oredered before we arrived, then a rather better Villa Tonino Nero d'Avola at £20.

    I started with a roulade of bresaola and beef served with apple and horseradish - excellent, although the salad that the waiter said was part of the dish was absent - and then shared a very tender and flavoursome cote de boeuf with my wife and an white chocolate selection for two with her and one of our friends. My wife had salmon ravioli in coriander broth to begin; very good, but I think that perhaps this is really a meat place rather than a fish place. Our vegetarian friend was perfectly happy with her food, though.

    Service was charming throughout and the few mistakes were dealt with graciously.

    With three cocktails, two bottles of wine, coffee, water, four starters, mains for four, pudding for two and cheese for one, the bill including service was £271, which felt a bit high but not outrageous. We'd try it again, but probably on the £20 three course lunch/early evening deal.

  8. Really good lunch at Maze on Friday (with Ravelda). We went for the 4-course option, choosing 4 tapas-size dishes from about sixteen options, at £28 a head. With a couple of extra dishes sent out by Jason Atherton, four courses made a very adequate lunch, but I might go for five courses if the kitchen wasn't giving out extras.

    Braised pork cheeks with chorizo and potato puree was perhaps the standout dish, but it was all excellent, and despite recent comments on this board we found that the service both cheerful and knowledgable.

    Other dishes we tried included Cornish fish soup with aioli - a small pouring of very intense fish soup with cream & saffron over tiny red mullet fillets; crab on slices of golden beet, and a mini apple tart with apple granita.

    After champagne we went for Leeuwin Art Series Riesling, but the sommelier suggested an Austrian riesling at the same price (£35) instead, and I think that this was a good call - it managed to work with everything we had ordered.

    I don't think a second star is an unrealistic ambition with food this good. Only real niggle was some bloody awful music that they started playing at about 2.30pm - WHY do they do this?

  9. While Le Gavroche’s menu works, in that it compels you to return and dine a la carte,

    Did that just once, in 1992, and I can STILL remember the horror of the final bill. What Le Gavroche's lunch menu compels you to do, IMHO, is to go back and have the lunch menu again, and again, not to go back and spend what, three times as much? for the al a carte....

  10. Had an excellent late lunch here on saturday.

    Have booked Maze for my 50th birthday lunch a month today. Haven't been for about fifteen months. Do more recent visitors think it is on top form, or would I be better off elsewhere in the area - Texture? Le Gavroche? Pizza Hut?

  11. Le Gavroche for lunch on Wednesday.

    The food was all great, as you would expect. What struck me was the generosity of the lunch offer. Two rounds of canapes, full pick of the cheeseboard on the set lunch deal (was expecting a couple of slices of their choosing), great wine, coffee refills and plenty of petits fours.

    Service was fine, but slightly impersonal I thought. They were busy, but a bit more personality in the service would not go amiss.

    Anyway, really enjoyed the lunch (in there for 3 hours) definitely want to repeat the experience!

    A rather special lunch there a few days ago - my wife's [age removed on legal advice]th birthday meal with our daughters aged 5 and 7.

    The food WAS good.

    Three amuse bouches - tiny roulades of salmon, morsels of smoked eel with a green (pea?) puree, and finally a mouthful of rabbit rilette with truffle.

    Then the adults both had seafood soup followed by monkfish, sauce beurre rouge & baby samphire; I finished with a selection from the amazing cheeseboard and my wife with ice cream.

    The seafood soup was rich, but its creaminess was cut through with acidity from white wine, lemon or both so that the balance was perfect. Really fresh squid, prawn and cockles lurked below the surface.

    The monkfish was fine, although perhaps two buttery/creamy dishes in a row was a little unbalanced and we would have done better to have started with tartare of dorade. We waited while the childrens's chicken was cut up, by which time the monkfish was rather cold - I think that perhaps it wasn't quite hot enough when it arrived at the table. However, both the sauce and the samphire were perfect.

    We drank champagne (£12 a glass), a bottle of Leon Bayer Pinot Blanc from Alsace, one of the four wines with the lunch menu, and my wife had some sweet wine I didn't get to try (£9 a glass).

    At £48 a head for amuse bouches, three courses, wine, water, bread, coffee and petit fours, the adult lunch was really good value, and despite it being a Wednesday in mid-August the place was very busy.

    The waiters suggested that the children went a la carte, and they both had chicken breast with shallot sauce (£15 each) followed by ice cream (£12 each, which I thought was a bit steep). My younger daughter Miranda is allergic to egg and there was only one ice cream or sorbet (banana ice cream) which was egg free; she didn't like it, so they brought her a little fruit salad instead.

    Service was utterly charming, with a sommelier who looked young enough still to be at school but who was really knew her subject.

    The children were made particularly welcome; contrary to popular belief, my own experience in London since having children has been that the the smarter the restaurant, the more welcome (fairly) well behaved small children usually are. Michel Roux was doing his rounds and Miranda wanted to shake hands with him; he said "I don't shake hands with little girls" and kissed her and her sister (but not my wife...) instead.

    I hadn't been to Le Gavroche for about a decade, and found it as special as I remembered; my wife had never been before, and loved it.

    If I were to nit-pick, I would say that on previous visits I had found the service to be some of the best I have ever experienced, but this time, while it was both friendly and professional, there were a couple of serious mistakes. We had emphasised on booking, on arrival AND on ordering that Miranda was allergic to both egg and nuts, but the potato croquettes with her chicken were dipped in egg and she was offered walnut bread. Either of these errors could have led to the lunch ending up with an epi-pen injection and a rush to hospital. The walnut bread was easy to spot, but only my wife's unvarying practice of checking everything the child eats let us avoid a crisis with the croquettes.

  12. I have never been, but I am surprised nobody has mentioned Assaggi. From what I hear, it is traditional, old school and excellent. I believe it still has a michelin star too.

    When I lived in London over five years ago I went a few times - very relaxed, large floor boarded room above the Chepstow Pub. The food on most occasions was excellent and old school as you say - menu in Italian only. The last time (as I moved after that) it was not great, two dodgy fish dishes (on a Monday night) and 5 years ago so.......I think it was about £40-£50 per head for food.

    Just had dinner at Assaggi. no problem booking a table yesterday for this evening, although it was quite busy by the time we left.

    Not sure if I am being fair as I have a bad cold so my palate isn't responding as normal, but I thought the food was pleasant but quite ordinary, and horrifically overpriced. Four of us had four starters, four mains, two cheeses and one pudding, two bottles of wine below £30 each, three stickies and two (indifferent) coffees; bill was £270 without service.

    I had stuffed courgette flowers - crisp batter, very sweet little courgettes, each flower stuffed with an egg yolk which was a neat trick, but just two flowers at £13.50 felt mean.

    Followed with fritto misto at £22.50 - decent but not startlingly fresh as you wouild hope at that price.

    Vegetables charged at £3.50 each and were good - peas, spinich, green beans.

    Tried my neighbour's wild boar proscuttio - a nice plate, but £15 worth? Don't think so...

    Also nicked some of his grilled veal chop - very tender, decent flavour for veal but not a touch on the Fiorentina I had in Tuscany last week. £26.50 - again, far too much.

    Puddings were £8 each - I had flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate ice cream - again, mean portion, especially for the price.

    My wife's cheese selection at £8.50 was probably the best value thing on the menu - odd that they price it at only 50p more than just one cheese.

    Overall I thought the food was acceptable, if nothing more, but overpriced by about 35% - 40%.

    Wine list decent value, though, short but very focused. Highlights were Specona Pinot Grigio Ramato at about £29 and Felluga Tocai Fruliano at about the same price. We didn't have the Villa Tonino Nero d'Avola at £26 or so, but can recommend it from other places.

    Poor coffee in a place like this is unforgiveable.

    Michelin star? Surely not.

    I wouldn't hurry back.

  13. I heard today that the very chic Barnsley House hotel and the Village Pub across the road have been sold for over 6 million. Didn't take long for them to go- I think I saw that it went to sealed bids

    I visited Barnsley House many years ago, before it was a hotel, while Rosemary Verey was still alive. It's a a lovely house with one of the best gardens in England; is it possible that it has been sold as a private home, rather than as a hotel? I think that the same happened to the Beetle & Wedge at Moulsford.

  14. Will be leaving in a few days to Oxford for a week for spouse's work.  I've done a fair amount of research already on center of Oxford eating and most reports seem sadly pessimistic, but I've had a few good tips.  My questions:  can someone suggest a good place for fish and chips?  We'll be staying near the center and will not have a car, so within walking distance is key.  Also, where is the best place for Indian?  Will be on a budget, so around 12 GBP each is the limit (no alcohol).  Thanks!

    The go-to place when I was there was Carfax chippy on the High St. I remember quantity rather than quality being the priority but it wasn't bad.

    Oh God, that takes me back thirty years to going there for saveloy, chips & curry sauce. Funny how one's tastes change over time...

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