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Posts posted by balex

  1. They have a menu at the moment which is a 25th anniversary menu. Some of the highlights were:

    langoustine carpaccio with caviar sauce,

    celeriac with white truffles

    turbot with a vin jaune sabayon, and a smoked potato.

    roast chicken in hay

    plus of course many of the other classic dishes -- the egg, the cous cous with vegetables.

    Slightly too much food overall, but very good indeed. Not the best meal I have had there though.

  2. The trotter here is good -- but a shadow of how it was at La Tante Claire, or even at MPWs establishments.

    When I had it, it was not as neatly done as in the photos above, and the farce was different -- much plainer, I don't think there were any morels or sweetbreads, could just have been a plain chicken mousse. Still good, and let the trotter shine out more.

  3. I went here a few months ago, and I though it was terrible. Very few dishes that worked at all and quite a few that were actively unpleasant -- and I consider myself an adventurous eater. Quite a heavy Japanese influence, but too much use of slippery textures. Only one dish was actually delicious which was a quite classic pork dish.

  4. Let's talk tax. How usual is it for a restaurant in the UK not to include VAT on their menu prices? I'm reasonably sure that 9 times out of ten (or more), I only ever pay service on top of the menu prices. Anyway, at Ducasse, you pay tax too. So, in real money, £75 for 3 courses is actually £88. That is pretty pricey...

    That just takes the piss. I don't know of anywhere else that doesn't include tax with the menu prices.

    So glad I cancelled.

    You are legally obliged to quote prices with VAT on in restaurants.

    "2.2.7 All price indications you give to private consumers, by whatever means, should include VAT."

  5. I went last night with a few fellow food-obsessives.

    The food is quite traditional; the plating is good, but conventional: nothing had a wow factor (but I don't care about that). A couple of service errors that were handled well (to be expected I guess in a new restaurant).

    We ate a la carte; I had

    langoustines with a truffled parmentier jus. Good quality langoustine, cooked all the way through, not just seized. Good truffle flavour.

    Scallops with ponzu sauce; misconceived overly fruity sauce, nothing to do with ponzu; 3 large, high quality scallops, good crust on the top, again cooked properly. Disappointing.

    Chicken breast with Albufera sauce plus some stellar white truffles over the top. Mine was good; the other two people at my table having this dish sent it back as it was slightly overcooked. Some better replacements came back rapidly. Some poached vegetables and little quenelles; the sauce had a very good foie gras flavour, but the chicken was a bit overpowered. It was basically just there for the sauce to rest on. Really good truffles, but a mean portion (they are v expensive this year).

    Baba with rhum; delicious, great presentation. But it would be better if it had time to soak in the rum rather than having it poured over at the last minute.

    A good, overpriced French wine list; we had some good wines, though we weren't massively impressed with the sommelier's expertise.

    So probably 1.5-star food with 3-star trimmings; I had a great time, but from a pure food point of view it needs some work.

    Definitely don't go if you value innovation and snazzy presentation very highly, or if you are very budget conscious as it is overpriced, I felt, relative to other fancy French places in London.

    But there aren't that many places serving this sort of more traditional haute cuisine with very complex sauces in London, so I will probably go back; but not very soon.

    I agree with Mr Monkey above; I don't think the food is going to change much. They should ditch the scallop dish or change the sauce; maybe use a Bresse chicken in the Albufera sauce dish.

  6. Had lunch here today - total disapointment, the menu faineld on pretty much every level.  I will write more later once I have my thoughts together.  The one upshot was that the Maitre d' was so embarassed that he insisted on comp'ing everything and commented that he agreed with pretty much all the negative comments we had.

    Has anyone here been yet?

    Or is everyone bailing out on the basis of the reviews?

    Thanks, Andy, I think I missed that.

    I am going on Thursday...

  7. snip

    Dolci - a full selection of all the puddings. Perfectly balanced lemon tart, a pannacotta so excellently formed you wanted to pick it up and massage it with roast nespoli (apricots) and lots of vanilla. Chocolate nemisis which was light and moussy with a real hit of cocca. Strawberry & Almond tart which I found a little heavy/biscuity. Twoexcellent ice creams.

    Wine - Educato Chardonnay from Grasso was as the waiter described - light without the butter notes but a hint of oak. Pieropan La Rocca - a wine I will take to my grave for its purity of flvaour, balance, color and craftmanship, and three glasses of different grappa. Bill for three with water and chilled, slick, spot on service £258.

    A very contented sole.

    I like Pieropan's wines a lot -- I have not la Rocca, but the other single vineyard Soave, Calvarino, in my cellar. (plus a bunch of his regular bottling which is a great QPR).

    Nespole aren't apricots but something else -- pedantic discussion here

    The River Cafe aren't that good at Italian though --( mazzancolle are langoustine apparently?) so they might have been apricots.

  8. There's no reason to suppose that a meal in a newly opened restaurant can't be outstanding.

    None whatsoever, of course. Nevertheless, relatively speaking, it is far more surprising that new London operations are cited as best restaurants of the year than it is surprising that someone should have had a meal of the year in an iconic three star such as Bocuse. Indeed, it's only not surprising if one factors in the 'buzz' of novelty, which at any rate is strictly superficial, hence the 'fashionable' comment.

    I think this is a fair point: it's like those "100 greatest pop songs ever" which inevitably consist of mostly songs released in the past year. This could be of course because pop music is just getting better and better every year, or it could be because of the "recency effect".

  9. Pre or post Bjorn van der Horst?

    Post. been there twice since and actually prefer it to the bjorn-again noisette - think hes toned down his cuisine too much since then and is still hamstrung by the room.

    plus GH has a wine list that could double as a prop in Lethal Weapon - its on the website:

    look, but don't touch!


    This is getting off topic but that is a very good wine list -- and there is some value there -- some Spanish rarities at close to a wholesale price, though the famous French stuff is, ahem, fully priced.

  10. I think your first point is a fair one: I wouldn't say that the food there is particularly homey, but it certainly avoids a lot of the tropes of restaurant cooking -- in particularly, except for the puddings, I found it quite light and not as high fat as most London restaurants.

    I am not a huge fan of this restaurant, but I generally think the food in London is very poor, and so by suitably adjusted standards this is quite good.

    In particularly in this part of London there is Kensington Place, the Ark, the Ledbury a bit further north, Assaggi, and a bunch of good Chinese restaurants on Queensway. So this fills a local niche. I certainly would not travel from Montreal to go to this place :hmmm:

    I have no idea where all of this snobby dinner party stuff came from.

  11. snip

    Whether or not Sally Clarke is a nice lady means really nothing in the long run if the waitress doesn't know what a pouilly-fumé is, right? I’m sure she’s nice -- to the right people (like we all are), and I would assume those are the kind of people who don’t do much cooking at home.

    I have never met her and I don't care whether she is a nice person, any more than I care whether Gordon Ramsay is a nice person.

    I get the feeling you are trying to be insulting here, but it is a little vague.. are you saying that upper class Kensington types don't cook, therefore they don't know anything about food, therefore they like the "shitty" food at Clarke's?

  12. For balance, too, let me add a positive note. I ate there in June; I had been a number of times about 10 years ago, but this was my first visit in a while.

    As has been remarked the food is fairly plain with high quality ingredients. I was impressed. The food tries to make its mark with the inherent quality of the materials: so I had some salmon, perfectly cooked, with a crisp fried artichoke, and some lemonny mayonnaise. Good asparagus, some nice puddings. The wine (a red burgundy) was served too warm, but on request they put it in a cool water bucket for ten minutes which corrected it.

    The atmosphere is certainly not to everyones taste; quite respectable, with lots of rich gay couples, and kensington types. Not a young fashionable crowd.

    If you want a Tom Aikens level of excitement then don't come here. But I enjoyed my meal here more than Tom Aikens which was frankly poor verging on the ridiculous.

    I am also amazed by the vituperation and personal attacks here.

  13. For NYC, Tarallucci e Vino (First Ave @ 10th St.) is my favorite.

    I was in NYC recently and tried this place. I was not impressed. It may be the best in NYC, and it isn't terrible. It is a clear step above Starbucks, but only a small step. It does not seem to be a bastion of fine espresso like some of the others on the list.

    Which begs the question of whether there is any decent espresso in NYC. I have never had any that was great....

    I went to "Joe the art of coffee" nr Washington Square, three mornings in a row and had a espresso macchiato; the first two were adequate, the final one was really on the spot. This is proper espresso.

    Noticeable that almost everyone was ordering jumbo skim milk latte etc.

  14. I always find these discussions interesting, largely because I find the claim of objectivity to be so obviously wrong that there must be some misunderstanding somewhere along the line. We agree that wine tasting notes should be informative, that some aspects of wine appreciation are objective -- alcohol level is a banal example, but I reckon that UCD style wine descriptors are potentially objective, and so on. The real question is whether a statement of the form "wine X is good" is something where you can say, this is true/false according to objective criteria. If everyone agrees then you can kid yourself that this is an objective statement rather than a sequence of correlated subjective judgments.

    Take a recent example : Pavie 2003. Can you decide objectively who is right about this wine?

    Ultimately, we are interested in wine because it gives us pleasure -- and just like with paintings, value judgments are unavoidable and inevitable unstable -- look at the way the reputations of artists and whole schools, change over the years.

    (and comparative literature is really not about comparing -- the word comparative refers to the study of multiple languages)

  15. There are all sorts of objective ways to compare wine and paintings. None of them are very interesting except in so far as they are correlated with the subjective elements that are why people are interested in the subject.

    Your post didn't really come clean on whether you believe there are objective standards of "quality" in wine -- do you?

  16. Good point -- but this is an argument against all numerical scoring systems in wine: any process which reduces the complex experience of wine tasting to a single number (for a wine) inevitably places a total order on all wines, maps them onto a single dimension, and thus makes these sort of comparisons valid.

    And this goes whether it is out of 20 or the absurd 100 point scores.

    Not necessarily. Numerical systems are a shorthand for seeing where a given wine falls on a reviewer's own global scale of evaluation. So long as you don't give them undue importance, you take the time to read the full description of the wine (as Mr. Parker himself has consistently urged), and you stick with the best reviewers, numerical scoring systems have their place. The problem comes, perhaps inevitably for a consumer product, when wine criticism devolves into a horse race.

    Assuming, obviously, that the reviewer knows his stuff, then what is the place for a 100 point scale?

    From my own point of view, the problem I always have had is that many wines are "incomparable".

    It does not make sense to compare Yquem with Sassicaia. A naive use of the scores would imply that you can just compare the scores and the higher scoring wine is better. This is absurd, and Parker would say, and does say, that the scores are only for comparing similar wines. But then the question is, what are the categories for similarity? Are Californian cabernet sauvignons in the same category as claret? Is a 95 point Savennieres comparable to a 94 point Montrachet? Are port and madeira in the same category? Presumably it changes from reviewer to reviwer.

  17. <P>Steven, that was exactly my first thought. I have tasted almost no French wine (I'm only 25 and I live in California wine country) but my impression was how can a person, panel or<a href="http://www.vinography.com/archives/2006/05/wine_tasting_man_against_machi.html">

    machine</a> make a blanket judgment on something so subjective?

    Good point -- but this is an argument against all numerical scoring systems in wine: any process which reduces the complex experience of wine tasting to a single number (for a wine) inevitably places a total order on all wines, maps them onto a single dimension, and thus makes these sort of comparisons valid.

    And this goes whether it is out of 20 or the absurd 100 point scores.

    But this is the same for all of these things -- 100 best restaurants in the world , or whatever else people come up with.

    For me though it is a convincing refutation of the claim that Californian wines don't age; but I think they left it too long. The 70 clarets are mostly past it in my view, and have been for some time. My last experience was with a 70 mouton a month or so ago which, in the words of my host "was not all that it might have been".

  18. ... I suppose we really are seeing that 2005 is going to prove an excellent year for many of the Bordeaux producers.  /  very, very, very expensive indeed and ... top wines won't be at their peak for 15, 20 or 25 years which means that the most affluent age group that might have bought them may not be alive by the time these wines are ready.

    Don't overlook, Daniel, that with the frenzy lately for futures (Brad B is being cynical of course, not more than one Bordeaux vintage in three is now labeled Vintage of the Century) we have the peculiar situation that older inventory from respectable years routinely sells for less, sometimes much less, then the latest newborn wines. I've seen excellent deals in recent years from the 1980s and 1990s. Not only are they cheaper, you can drink them sooner.

    It is an absurd position. In some cases 1982 is selling for about the same as 2000.

    e.g. in the UK Cheval Blanc with the 1982 at 5.5K, and the 2000 at 4200,

    86 Mouton is actually less than 2000 Mouton.

  19. I had a very disappointing meal here today.

    There were a number of service errors that were not apologised for, and that were handled poorly. I don't really care about service in restaurants, and it is very unusual for me to notice one way or the other, but the service was poor, and annoyingly arrogant. Which of course wouldn't have mattered if the food was up to snuff, but it wasn't.

    The only satisfactory dish was a teal with beetroot, which was a single very small bird, perfectly cooked, with a couple of beetroot served with it. This was a serious letdown from a good to excellent meal I had had last year. I don't know if this was a one off, but the food was consistently mediocre apart from the teal. Ok ham, ok halibut, poor pigs tails, adequate bone marrow, fresh but small native oysters etc.

    We left before the pudding.

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