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Gavin Convery

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  1. Went to Viajante for my 50th and I will try and upload some photos at a later date, but have to say I loved it. My wife had kindly booked the private dining room where we were served by our own 2 chefs (one ex-Mugaritz) and waiter and for £135 a head for 6 courses and wine - that to me is value albeit at a slightly elevated level! The main thing to note is the complete clarity of the flavours and freshness, there is some tricksy technique but all in the interest of flavour....and I loved the cepes and chocolate truffle. Not all our party were adventurous or experienced diners but everyone loved it....the nearest you can get to El Celler de Can Roca in London.....so if Jay thinks this is old-fashioned food he had better tell the Roca brothers! We went to Bacchus a few times and were a bit concerned whether experimentation might be at the expense of deliciousness as it was there, but Nuno Mendes seems to have honed his skills to avoid this at Viajante....I doubt Michelin will move this up but it's borderliine 2 stars and certainly more interesting than a lot of the more feted London dining experiences.....IMHO!
  2. Any thoughts on the latest World's best restaurant list....El Celler is now 2nd only to Noma! I take such lists with a small pinch of salt but is nice to know that you've eaten at such an elevated level.....my trip to Denmark is pencilled in for next year... ;-)
  3. Hi Bakerestates - No not tried the Bull and Willow tree - looks nice from the website. Would you recommend both the gastropub and the fine dining?
  4. In anticipation of a 50th birthday trip here next year, I thought I would check on what the protocol for getting a table here is. Is it interminable ringing on exactly 2 months and 23 days 5 hours 4 minutes and 23 seconds prior to when you want to be sitting down at your table, or is it still possible to book in a relaxed manner here. I presume if they are the best restaurant in the world again this year that will make it a bit harder. As my birthday is next January I hope that it will be somewhat easier as we will be braving the cold and potential (guaranteed?) snow.
  5. Bump.....and 4 years on and innumerable meals later this is still a favourite. Probably only of interest to Essex/Suffolk readers or those en route to Suffolk from London, but this still remains one of our favourite restaurants in the area and the quality never slips and that includes the service. The turnip cakes are still our favourites but can also recommend the duck in plum sauce for more of a main course. Even our foodie friends from Winchester insist that we go here every time they come to visit with the added benefit that all our kids love the chicken and noodle soup which they make extra plain just for them.....can't be faulted
  6. Just went here last Friday, had the Menu Gourmand plus the matching wines, £105 each. The wines were nice but nothing outstanding but overall suited each course. Food here is absolutely delicious and we could not fault anything, particular standouts were the Perigord Truffle and Jerusalem Artichoke risotto and the pigeon tagine, which as mentioned before is something you could eat again and again and matches delicacy with intensity in a way you don't often see. Gorgeous room, buzzy atmosphere, a perfect restaurant and ideally located 2 minutes from Liverpool St station for those out of towners who live in glorious Essex ;-) The only negatives are that there is no cutting edge here other than perhaps the pigeon but when food tastes this good, who cares....and the winelist has the usual ridiculous markups especially on the eponymous Hermitage La Chapelle (I looked up the 1995 on Wine Searcher which they had here for £850 and you could buy it for around £50!)
  7. While I'm here scoping out ideas for Nimes this year, just a quick update on last summer. - Le Parc Franck Putelat - would agree about the aspiring 2*. Really enjoyable food, nice room, very convenient as just under the walls of the Cite, will possibly return this year.... - Relais Chantovent - nice bourgeois food, a little overdone some times, maybe spoilt by the HUGE number of flying insects in the restaurant! Can't say that anything else stands out....we spoilt ourselves in Girona....a much better area for food....!
  8. Wow, 2 years since we were last in Languedoc and no replies since....surely things have moved on since then? So far haven't arranged much on the restaurant front as we have 1 week in Spain (Girona) first and I have to say that area is world class in terms of the choices you have. Suffice to say we are going to my favourite current restaurant in the world (Celler de Can Roca)....anyway back to Languedoc.... Currently have Le Parc Franc Putelalt booked for the evening to end off our day trip to Carcassonne - anyone been here recently? Michelin seems to have it as an aspiring 2*. As we are staying near Minerve we will be making a trip to Relais Chantovent, but I assuming no urgency to book....will be using Graham Tigg's website as the definitive guide as usual, so probably a trip to Homps and maybe Octopus in Beziers.....any up-to-date recommendations in the Beziers/Narbonne/Minerve region?
  9. I am off to the Girona region for holidays this year at the beginning of August. As I don't have a reservation at all, I wondered what people's experiences are of getting last minute cancellation slots as I thought I might try within the 10 day confirmation period of when I will be there or alternatively ringing up on spec once I am in Spain. Not the end of the world, as I am already booked in for El Celler de Can Roca..... ;-) Oh, and I have a fussy 7 year old in tow - will they cope with that while serving us the degustacion menu?
  10. After some research on Via Michelin I have booked Ca L'Arpa in Banyoles which is just up the road from Girona. Anyone been? http://www.calarpa.com Les Cols also looks very interesting - I think it just got its second star....very much in the Can Roca mould. http://www.lescols.com Seems like you are spoilt for choice in this area for good restaurants, certainly better than in the Languedoc where we are going for our second week.
  11. Hi, We're off to Spain this year staying near Girona (now why did we do that? ;-)) and looking for some good places more at the 1 michelin star or bib gourmand level. I have checked viamichelin and there are a few around but no ideas how good they are. Some recommendations around Figueres would be good too as we will certainly be going to the Dali museum and also Cadaques. And yes, of course we have our reservation at Celler de Can Roca! cheers, Gav
  12. Anyone been here for Lunch recently. Is the Gourmet Rapide as quick as 1 hour - I would like to take my time if possible!
  13. Any further views...? I am booked for Friday the 13th (whoops! Romantic, moi!). I love Corrigan from the Lindsay House, always one of my favourites so have a good feeling about it and the reviews are excellent - even AA Gill liked it!
  14. So today we finally got to Pezenas through the holiday traffic - the A75 was completely clogged with cars goin to Spain, so the satnav was working overtime trying to find an alternative route. We arrived with enough time to find L'Entrepots, away from the main historical centre. In fact there is only a small doorway, but when you go inside this opens up to a very large contemporary designed restaurant with a reasonable sized courtyard at the back shaded with sails in that very modish fashion. So far so good. Service was very friendly from our waiter Nicolas who spoke pretty good English, to which we switched after various half english/ half french conversations. We went with the 3 course menu at 26EUR, with 2 choices at each course. My better half had Cod brandade, I had a glass pot with aubergine caviar, sheeps cheese and red pepper mousse. Both very good and beautifully presented. Mains were perfectly cooked Tuna on a seafood risotto, and Duck breast with Summer vegetables and wild mushroom ice cream. The kids were treated to a lovely steak hache with the "best chips in France" - more english style thick chips than french frites. The quality of the steak was excellent. Desserts were a classic fondant au chocolat, much loved by myself and the kids and Rum Baba with lots of rum! Winelist short but intelligent - we had a rose at 16EUR. Although this is not in the main tourist areas, it is all the better for it as this is obviously aimed at a more intelligent consumer. For those urban foodies missing their fix of style along with their dinner, L'Entrepots is a perfect destination. It also scores on best service of the trip so far. My thanks to Tracy for the firm recommendation...they did know who you were...Nicolas says hi! ;-)
  15. In contrast our next meal was in an idyllic location overlooking the Gorges de L'Herault in the UNESCO world heritage village of St Guilhem le Desert. Guillhem D'Orange Hotel is the posh hotel in this village and they have a nice restaurant attached with a large outdoor space which got completely filled up while we were there. We had made sure to book so got one of the best tables. We selected from the 3 course 19EUR menu which was very good value. My starter was a flan with "the flavours of the country" - a sort of mini quiche with goats cheesey mushroomy flavour - kind of difficult to identify but tasty nonetheless. Main was veal with emmental in a filo parcel, nice cheesy mash, salad. Dessert was a soup of fromage blanc with coconut ice cream and mango coulis. Very refreshing and again tasty. This is not super refined cooking but was all nicely presented with some thought put into the flavours and very good value at the price. Then you look at the wine list and see even better value - at most markups were 100% but in a lot of cases much less. Some very good wines from the region including the one we had - Le Pradel from Terrasses d'Elise. This is an unusual 100% Cinsault wine and really showed what this region is capable of - for me this was a world class wine and the best of the holiday so far. Price 36EUR, ok double what I paid today for it in a "caviste" but still a bargain.... In summary, a good reliable choice in this area with a great view, excellent winelist - only downside was the service was a bit amateurish other than the head man who was passionate about wine and really knew his stuff.
  16. The location of la Table Saint Crescent is the weirdest I have experienced of any restaurant other than my local McDonalds Drive Through. It is overlooking one of the busiest roundabouts in Narbonne, next door to a heliport opposite a DIY store and near where the mile long Renault trains transport their cars to the rest of France. On the positive side it is located in the Palais du Vin with vines growing out front and a wine shop showcasing the best of the region. Some pre-prandial shopping was therefore called for..... They have done the best they can with the location to make it a peaceful oasis amongst the sirens and helicopter landings. As noted by other reporters the service is a little distracted but still professional and the cooking, surprisingly, is cutting edge with various molecular gastronomy favourites such as liquid nitrogen meringue bombs and test tube milkshake holders. The value is also good - 45EUR for 4 courses including 3 glasses of simple matching wine. I won't go into the details of all the courses as they are so complex to describe but include ravioli of oysters with summer truffles, a chicken dish a bit like a Kiev filled with foie gras, a simple slab of beef, the aforementioned testube with coconut and caramel milkshake partnering macarons with lavender and honey flavours. I made some of the less good choices but all were agreed that this was very good cooking with nods to their near Northern Spanish neighbours. If you can get past the location, you will find this an enjoyable if at times surreal experience whether on the plate or off it....
  17. Aidan, I'd be interested to know anything you can glean from tonight's drink as to new premises, timescales etc. I loved Bacchus when it opened, although haven't been back recently and look forward to seeing what Nuno can do in expanded premises....
  18. Whereas Le Temps de vivre was worth the short (10 minute) drive from our holiday home... This is obviously a 2/3 man operation at lunch, to the extent that the chef served some of the courses to the diners. We started with some amuse bouche of puff pastry with tapenade/sesame seeds, then a pre-starter of tomato gazpacho - perfect on a very hot day. For starters saddle of rabbit with salad and a pistou dressing - rabbit was very tender and all nicely cooked. Mains was an excellent cod with risotto of what appeared to be barley (epeautres I think, couldn't find it in the dictionary) and squid with a light butter/lemon sauce - delicious and showing some skill. Dessert - the wife had carrot confit with lime sorbet and lime/vanilla sauce - this was really interesting and showed the chef's 3 star backround. I had a perfect chocolate fondant with a chocolate glace and some milky frothy topping. All in all, the most accomplished meal we have had so far and we will probably return by the end of the holiday - hopefully they will have some more staff when we do. Today, awful lunch while visiting the market at Clermont L'Herault, not so much the food which was basic but bad service. Ah well, tonight will probably crack Le Carignan from Domaine d'Auphilac which I bought from Terrasse de Mimosa.... Tomorrow we are meeting my sister-in-law in Narbonne at la Table de Saint Crescent (1 michelin star) which looks a bit fancier than anything we have had so far.....
  19. So, booked up for L'Entrepots on Saturday...looking forward to it! We went to Auberge du Cedre on a scorching hot day and it was a lot further to drive than we thought, so arrived rather frazzled. We sat in the Orangery which was very pleasant. The place has a sort of boho chic feel to it which is very relaxing. I started with a gazpacho of petit pois with goats cheese ice cream - very refreshing and just what I needed. Then on to a piece of Aubrac beef with origami of veg. The beef was delicious. For dessert we had the farandole of desserts i.e. a bit of everything - very tasty. Overall impressions were that this was enjoyable but maybe not justifying the long hot drive - it really is in the middle of nowhere. Wine list was excellent though....
  20. Actually, I quite liked the Terrasse du Mimosa. Lovely sitting in the square, great for the kids to run around, excellent wine list by the bottle or the glass with only an 8 euro markup on the shop prices, most of the great and good of the area. We drank a glass of Mas Jullien rose followed by L'Esprit de Font Caude and we did the tapas thing - interesting artichoke, mussel and chorizo and foie gras with chocolate (not totally successful); the kids had a very nice steak hache with mash. Not earth shattering food but tasty and about the right price. My main criticism would be the service which was a bit disinterested from the two female waiters, but the main man was obviously keen, spoke good english and was happy to advise on the wine..... Unfortunately, food poisoning has laid my wife low following some seafood at Bouzigues today, so hopefully all will be better for our Sunday trip to Auberge du Cedre..... I am not going to try O Bontemps, as there seems a lot of hype... We will probably only have one day in Pezenas so I have some choices to make....what would be your top recommendation if you only had to choose one?
  21. Tracy, Thanks for the continuing advice. I am now on holiday and loving the weather. My wife is very excited by the thought of all the crafty shops that seem to be in Pezenas... I love foie gras so might need to go to the new place - it's called Gallery 5 right? BTW love your raid the fridge concept - if only all hotels would institute that policy! Off to Terasses du Mimosa tonight in Montpeyroux for our first meal out....I might try and post some pics for the delectation of all Egulleteers....
  22. O Bontemps is the restaurant of the moment in the area and seems to be booked up weeks ahead this time of year. Just as good, and I find a little more refined, it Octopus in Beziers (Olivier B helped establish it a few years ago). Reserve a table outside in their private courtyard. Went to le Temps de Vivre last year and the cooking is still excellent. Go in daylight to enjoy the view. L'Entrepots is a good choice if in Pezenas. Another place to consider and reasonable striking distance from Soubes is Ocre Rouge in Herepian. Our most recent discovery in the area is de Lauzun in Gignac. A bit more urban than country but the chef has talent and sound training. ← Graham, Thanks for the advice.... As I am travelling with one adventurous 10 year old but one not so adventurous 5 yr old, do you think there any issues with any of these places getting something simpler. I like the look of de Lauzun but as you say it is more urban in its concept and may not welcome the simpler tastes required by my youngest. The wine list looks fairly well marked up (I have old vintages of Mas de Daumas Gassac at lower prices in London restaurants for example!). Also, do you have any ideas where my nearest wine shop would be - I assume from your website probably in Clermont L'Herault or Montpeyroux?
  23. Tracy, Thank you so much for your quick response...I shall investigate your suggestions. I like the look of the Bar a Vins - do you think you would need to book for that? Would they be happy with 2 well behaved children? BTW your hotel looks fabulous (at least I'm assumimg it's your hotel from the trip advisor write ups) and as I have no connection I can with clear conscience print the link here: http://www.hoteldevigniamont.com/
  24. I am on holiday in the Languedoc from next wednesday. I have Mimosa and Auberge du Cedre booked. Any further thoughts on the current favourites? I like the look of O Bontemps and Table de Saint Crescent. I am also looking for a good seafood place in the Sete/Agde/Marseillan area. Also as I am staying just outside Soubes I shall probably go to the le Temps de Vivre in Poujols as it is so close - any recent visits to this place? Finally, I can't resist the idea of going to Restaurant Baldy in Fondamente, as it seems rather appropriate in my case ;-) It has a bib gourmand but I can't find any comments on it anywhere.... On wine related topics - does anyone know of domaines which welcome visitors? It seems as though Mas de Daumas Gassac may be set up to receive visitors but any others you would recommend?
  25. This is in the Alistair Sawday guide also....but of more interest to someone like me is this is where allegedly the first ever photograph was taken - you will find the picture in many history of photography books and it does seem to match with the look of the house.....
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