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Everything posted by Gareth

  1. Tim, I’m with you but why have you only gone for the second most irritating aspect of this ? I care less about the 19:00 vs 21:00 and more about the: “and your money only buys you two hours, chum, after which, drop what you’re eating before we run you out of the joint like a common pygmy.” I know I talk and drink more than most but two hours is cutting it fine and, even if it weren’t, I still can’t shake that nagging sense that I’m eating under constant time pressure. Given that, of my 120 minutes allocation, 20 minutes is spent up front waiting for someone to bring the menu and 20 minutes is at the end waiting for them to convert my request for the bill into actual payment. and the whole thing combines to make any fine evening out feel like MacDonalds customer processing with slightly better upholstery. Actually, no, the even worse thing is being offered a table for ten thirty knowing that they’re being smug about how popular they are but that, having offered and accepted such a booking, they’ll resent you from the moment you arrive and strive to have you off the premises by quarter past eleven. Actually, no again, back to bill payment. That’s the absolutely worst, worst thing. Ask for the bill, “yes sir”…wait…wait…ask again “yes sir”…wait…it comes…try to pay but waiter who brought bill has now fucked off…try to find another…wait…get another waiter…waiter takes bill and payment card away…waiter goes on holiday with it…wait…waiter returns…etc etc… Great thread BTW, showing the completeness of e-gullet as a resource: it’ll let you vent spleen and then show you how best to cook it and where the hottest place is for spleen right now.
  2. On a straw poll of…well…one, it was “Chicken Skin” that was nearly the clincher in steering me towards the tasting menu on Saturday, notwithstanding any childhood associations of the sort to which Basildog alludes. Mark you, I would probably have regarded scrota as just a further gastronomic challenge also, so I may not represent a mainstream menu marketing demographic. The meal was, however, excellent, with the scallops and Japanese mushroom starter being a particular winner. Full marks also for the unfussy wine list, the by-the-glass bit of which had also been done justice. The only question mark was over the cinnamon pork, not in and of itself but (in a restaurant that clearly doesn’t shy away from putting several ideas on a plate) this one came strangely unaccompanied by anything that would cut through a relatively sweet dish whose sweetness was further heightened by the Salted Caramel ‘Crackling’ (or “Sugar Skin”, if you prefer, Jon…) that came with it. However, even this was quickly rectified by the kitchen whipping up (literally) a further portion of the unctuous truffled potato mash that came with my beef. Really relaxed and enjoyable evening all-round and we retired, sated next door to the Macbeth Public House to enjoy a generous fireside armagnac. Er, no we didn’t. Having explored the diversity of Hoxton St, we fled back towards Old Street to the first pub we could find that didn’t either offer a quiet stabbing or, alternatively, the music and company of recent film school grads.
  3. My personal experience also only amounts to one visit about 5 years ago and I ended up in about the same place you did, Kroptokin (with a touch of the Jon Tsengs regarding the soup...): it was good but, well, unoriginal actually. My starter was the then 'amuse de jour' sweeping the country: probably a White Bean Veloute at that time. One of the mains was a pigs trotter with black pudding and foie gras that had been lifted from a Novelli dish; the desert was a Ramsay lift etc etc All very competently done but not that much cheaper than I'd paid for them first time round at Ramsay and Novelli...Like you, I felt it lacked fireworks, not because these weren't nice dishes and it wasn't flavoursome but because I'd hoped for a bit more individual style and flair than your average tribute band. What's its USP, other than the geography ? Gareth
  4. Wait....! Before you go rushing off somewhere regrettable like Rye, why not just revisit your Plan A (Dover) and amend it slightly ? Your destination of choice should be Apicius in Cranbrook Kent. Cranbrook is a pleasent small town in pleasent Kent countryside surroundings (within a shout of Leeds castle etc) and Apicius is an absolute gem of a chef/patron restaurant: seriously good food, totally unpretentious and remarkable value for money. All round charming too. It won my "restaurant anecdote of the year" award last year as Faith Johnson (the Chef's wife) who does front of house told us about one of her regular lunch tables which comprises 4 women putting the world to rights over half a case of Bordeaux. Two of these ladies spent the war in SOE, one at Bletchley Park and one in the French Resistance. One day Faith ventured to comment on their prodigious capacity for claret and was told in no uncertain terms by Madame de la Resistance "I am not an alcoholic, I am a drunk. Alcoholics attend meeetings." You can find a review at: Apicius review But best wishes wherever you end up... Gareth
  5. Was there for dinner on Sunday. My summary would be that it only delivered 70% of its potential but even operating at 70% one new Sichuanese restaurant cooking decently and making a real effort to be regional is worth any number of your standard Chinatown clones. So I’ll be back. What I particularly liked about it: - Chicken in Fiery Sauce was lip-tinglingy good - I liked the way the beef had been tenderised in the spicy stew in which we had it – it meant the textures of the beef and the noodles, mushrooms and soup all came together nicely - It was so refreshing to find a Chinatown restaurant whose menu was doing something really different - Similarly it was so refreshing to find a Chinatown restaurant that was prepared to deliver the Full Monty in terms of heat and spices - There were oodles of interesting possibilities on the menu to keep me coming back. It wasn’t bad value at £30 a head for a starter each, a main each, plus rice, shared veg, service and a couple of beers. And I could get a table at short notice. Things that were less successful - A little less invested in the high-tech inter-staff voice-comms system and a little more invested in ‘customer care’ training wouldn’t have gone amiss. You know: smiling; taking an interest; steering people through unfamiliar waters with a modicum of charm and understanding etc. - I felt that I could have cooked some of the dishes better myself. Oh sod modesty, I have cooked both the ribs and the twice-cooked pork better myself. Doesn’t mean they weren’t tasty and of a reasonable standard, but still… - “We would be pleased to offer you a selection of cold starters in an attractive lacquer box”. No they wouldn’t, try as we might to persuade them to. But like I said, all-round pretty decent and an injection of welcome variety onto the scene that deserves to build a bit of a following. Gareth
  6. First: Aikens and the Aikens cheeseboard. Je suis desole ! I last went to Aikens about a year ago. The guy who was doing the cheeseboard then was a tsunami of enthusiasm. He had real knowledge and passion and delivered an impression that he was trying to put the cheese serving thing, right up there in interest and consideration with the whole sommellier thing. As a result he had a real range: at least five different Epoisses several of which had been washed in other spirits to the traditional Marc de Borgogne. Several differnt Bries, one of which was infused with saffron. etc, etc. Each classical cheese seemed to be represented in a traditional form and then presented with a variation or two on the theme. And you got to taste a real range before you selected. I got 8 cheeses on my plate and probably tatsted 15 to get there. Probably explains why he's gone, come to think of it ! As for the meal at Aikens, please don't get me wrong. I thought it was absolutely knockout. I can still remember the pea soup I had. Hell, I can virtually still taste the pea soup I had. It was an explosion of flavour in a tangle of shoots and herbs which were bursting with freshness. The whole meal was fun and fireworks. For my money it wasn't as accomplished as Ramsay in much the same way that a jazz band can never quite acheive the emotional impact of an orchestra, but it was a completely different style based on reducing, foaming, jellying and teasing ingredients to make them present notes of pure flavour in incredible ways. And long may London be able to accommodate a range of top restaurants which do individual things, rather than echo each other (here, Paris might take note...). If one thing blew me away at yesterday's lunch it was the canellonni with the wild mushrooms. Sometimes you have great meals that you know will stay in your mind for any number of reasons (the service...that sunset...the hidden gem you found...the fact a hated Aunt suffered a myocardial infarction over pudding...), and sometimes I can pick out a dish that I know is just going to stay a long, long time in my personal top ten. And that cannelloni was definitely doing it for me ! I hope you do go back to the treches sometime and give us a view about the ALC. If it chimed for you, I'd be delighted. But even if you still had a different view, that's part of what I love about these boards. The subjectivity of food maintains the freshness of the experience.
  7. Lunch at Gordon Ramsay earlier today. A really, really classy affair. Food was as follows (from the ALC): Amuse: Salmon tartar topped with a new potato salad (concasse, really), jacket potato jelly and brown bread foam. This was light and rich at the same time, with some distinct flavours to it. However, alongside arrived a little edible cheese-straw/pastry spoon on which nestled a mouthful of goats cheese, truffle and bacon. No more than a bite’s worth, really but what a mouthful. The flavours kicked in a just kept going, real length to it. Starters: Jessica had Fois Gras (duck) done two ways. First was a roast lobe on a bed of lentils. Almost ethereal in texture, a sensation of flavour that was picked up and echoed in the lentils. Alongside was a ballotine wrapped in cured beef. In concept much like the pressed fois gras that commonly forms that intermediate level between pate and the freshly cooked, except this was much more liquid and unctuous; the point of the cured beef revealed itself in the extra touch of solidity and structure it added. I had frogs legs with wild mushroom pasta. The frogs legs were served separately in tempura on a (mushroom ?) salsa/sauce. The wild mushrooms were chopped and whipped in goats cheese wrapped in cannelloni and served with an artichoke sauce, a beetroot reduction and pine-nut salsa. The star of all of this was the mushroom canellonni, and God, was it but good ! The pasta was thinner than an Italian election majority but still held bite and that slight savour of egg yolks. The mushroom and goats cheese filling was light yet with a real spiralling depth of flavour. Sensational stuff. Entrees: For J, Fillets of John Dory on tomato, crab and sweetcorn with herb sauce and caviar. Spring had certainly arrived with this dish. Individual elements were particularly good and brought some surprising new interpretations: the caviar came in mini tortellini which seemed to seal in that essence of fragrent brine-y-ness; a wafer slice of crisp chichory came with a built-in time delay - 5 seconds lulling sweetness (set your watch by them…) before – pow ! – that bitter joy; and the tomato was almost like a cold confit , certainly holding the essence, punch and even texture that pepper would normally provide in this role, whilst doing so in a way that was satisfied to be a complimentary second violin to the fish without some of the intrusiveness that red pepper would have risked. But most of all the dish combined to offer a synergistic experience: each ingredient contributing to a well-choreographed whole. I was meanwhile suffering with a curl of pork belly that had spent the last 40 hours in a 60 degree oven. I think I’ll stop here. I mean, I could talk about the playful baby langoustine or the counter-pointing pork fillet, or the wafer crackling. But, bugger it, that wasn’t the point. The point was getting to eat this little bit of piggy-heaven that had spent 40 hours transforming itself into the sticky and sublime. You could accuse the dish of being a one-trick pony. But only in the same kind of way that it would be fair to criticise Joseph Heller for not having produced anything to stand alongside Catch-22 or feel cheated because Maria Callas never really branched out into Country and Western… Pre-Dessert: Was an echo of the Amuse with a concasse of apple in a yoghurt foam (subtle stuff and with the yoghurt transcending its dairy substance to be detectable just in the offsetting sourness it brought) and a bright little button of apple granita. Desserts: J had Lime mousse in a panelled box of honeycomb crackling surrounded by four little chocolate squares, each barely clinging to a dab of melon sorbet. This dish really managed to run a riff: the tangy zing of the lime zest being echoed in the lighter citrusness of the mouse being reflected in the not-citrus-but-related freshness of the melon with enough chocolate bitter and honeycomb sweet to still feel like indulgence rather than worthiness. I had a bitter chocolate tube filled with chocolate sponge, coffee granite and ginger foam. Chocolate, coffee and ginger combined; how can you go wrong ? Well you can’t so just dive on in and wallow in those favourite flavours and, only if you're in the mood to intellectualise it, will you start to notice how each flavour arrives with it own separate and distinct texture and temperature to provide that unforced demarcation that allows this to be a dish constructed from logical components rather than just a mixing together of nice things. O.K. so while we're having coffee and orgasm balls (great name BTW, Rian….!) let me pull this together. I’m really impressed by this lunch and it’s coming through. Every now and then as I’m writing I take pause and think, hang on Rian, Gavin, Gastrochick are all introducing notes of, if not disappointment, then certainly a more critical perspective. Does this all sound too gushy ? But then I think, no – the meal I’ve just had deserves this level of praise. It was genuinely exceptional. I could certainly identify imperfections: some of the elements in some of the dishes didn’t relate to one-another properly. The cheese-straw spoons were lovely but at only one mouthful they couldn’t really be said to be accompanying the salmon/potato amuse. My frogs legs, whilst nice, were pretty redundant to the dish – and the pine salsa didn’t add much in my book. The plate of cheese we shared was nothing to write home about (so I haven’t – BTW if you love cheese, proceed to Tom Aiken immediately, do not pass Go…) and the after dinner choccies not really up to scratch. For the first time ever service slipped to A-, rather than A+. J-C was as seductive as always, and the communication between the crew was superb (measure the amount of silent eye-contact they make to ensure co-ordination) but the cheese waiter faltered a bit; one of the two sommeliers didn’t really inspire confidence; I got to the toilet and back without my napkin being re-folded (I really don’t care, but I really do notice…) I was interested in Gavin’s comments that maybe it had lost it’s innovation echoed in some of what Gastrochick was saying and Rian, particularly about the long-standing dishes. I’ve been lucky enough to eat here once a year, pretty much since it opened. Within the UK I’ve been able to compare it to Pied a Terre; Capital; Square; Manoir; Aiken; Gidleigh etc but not Waterside or Fat Duck. My sense was that it started well ahead but slowly the generality of top-end British cooking raised its game. A year or two (three) ago there may well have been a questioning of how do we protect our Third Star whilst evolving to avoid being caught ? One year back some of that, I think, was reflected in the introduction of more orientalism (pickled ginger/rhubard; white radish; sashi-like elements). Tasty and technically accomplished novelity but a little uneasy with the ‘terroir’ of the place (echoes here still in the misfiring fois gras/hoisin described by Rian ?). This year was different. For me, the menu had moved on and brought a sense of measured innovation and modernity without losing touch with the classical traditions in which it is rooted. There was thought and subtlety in many of the combinations. But if there was a theme that came through for me today it was about the length of the dishes; the many ways they evolved on the palette and the time they stayed. There was clear blue water between this and anything else I have eaten in the UK; and, for the first time in my experience, lunch at a London multi-Michelin was playing consistently and seriously in the same league as the Savoys, Gagnaires and Pacauds of Paris. OK, then. Maybe not Pacaud. But perhaps that’s what looking forward to next year is for !
  8. Hmmm. Some mixed reports setting in. After a decade at the top is the RHR crown beginning to slip, or is it still the haut pooch ? Can’t have this kind of confusion on the e-gullet board, so I’ve booked in for lunch next Thursday to resolve the matter. Dulce et decorum est.
  9. So, soon to be a case of Dans le Rouge ? Gareth
  10. Anyone else got particular bar/restaurant combinations that are favourites ? A personal couple are the: Claridges/Maze "Bargain Combo" or the staturday special: Wife@John Lewis followed by Match (Margaret St) and quick cab to Locatelli "Happy Meal" Gareth
  11. Thank you for all the suggestions. I will arm him accordingly with the advice; and arm-twist him accordingly to go. I'll let you know what happens ! Gareth
  12. A young colleague is in Paris with his girlfriend this weekend. After much arm-twisting and the application of alcohol I have persuaded him that the Folies aren’t really their style and they would be better spending the E150 on dinner. This might be considered an ‘upgrade’ since, from what I can gather, previous visits to Paris have mainly involved dining at KFC and Mickey D’s. Yes, really. No exaggeration. So here you have a unique opportunity. Can you rescue an innocent young couple from the Dark Side of food philistinism ? Can you recommend that venue that will persuade them for once and all time that there is more romantic dining than mechanically recovered poultry ? A place that will soothe and cosset them through what will be a daunting and intimidating step into the unknown. That will provide the sort of evening that young lovers’ memories are made of. 150 Euros for two for dinner, all in. Help us E-gullet, you’re our only hope...
  13. To clear up one mystery: the decline in standards at the Angel, Stoke-by-Nayland is due to the chef moving on. He now runs The Ship at Levington (just outside Ipswich) and v.good it is too (if difficult to get a table – no reservations – at peak times). Also in Ipswich Trongs does much better than average Chinese (with some v.interesting dishes among the usual suspects), hence the difficulty reserving a table. Also in Dedham, The Sun Inn had great reviews in the nationals but more mixed feedback from the locals (this could be a good or bad thing…). Also in my well-reviewed-but-not-yet-tried category is the Bell Hotel at Saxmundham. Within the areas you’re looking in Suffolk, The Crown at Snape is worth a stop (about two minutes up the road from the Maltings) and The King’s Head at Southwold (on the river, rather than in town) does good fish and chips and good beer (provided you don’t have to go into the ghastly family annex type thing they use for summer overspill). You can also buy the catch fresh from the fishing huts as you walk to the pub. On the subject of fish and chips – and fish generally – the Pier at Harwich (part of the same Milsoms group as the Dedham outlets) is also worth a trip. Finally, if you’re travelling in season, the best asparagus I’ve ever had is from a farm on the Aldeburgh road, on the left hand side (going towards Aldeurgh) about a mile past the turn off to Snape.
  14. I'd second Tom Aiken if you're after an innovative style of cooking in London itself. Verve and intensity would be my summary.
  15. Eccles cake and Lancashire Cheese. No question.
  16. I agree. I thought Derek's 'unassumedness' made him the perfect inspector - the George Smiley of food critics. Also, for those of us who remember 1970's Children's TV, I think Mr Benn also had a clause in his contract requiring him to change on camera at least once an episode.
  17. We had our first trip to Tom Aikens last Tuesday. Approached with some trepidation – rarely has opinion on this site been so divided. So would it transform our appreciation of what ingredients could become; or would it be pointless frippery and excess, destroying food with art ? The verdict: we are huge fans. This restaurant is doing something different – it is delivering exceptional cooking but bringing to it an energy and style that I simply haven’t seen anywhere else in London. The pea soup (with rabbit and pancetta and chive jelly, and etc, etc, etc…There are always a lot of “etcs” with Tom Aikens) was an explosion of freshness and flavour and essence of pea soup. Bluntly, it knocked the (£32 !) vegetable risotto I had at Le Manoir into a cocked hat. Sea Bass and Turbot were both superbly cooked whilst about them sang a whole choir of asparagus, chives, herbs and lemon – sometimes 'plainly' cooked, sometimes in jellies or mousses or sauce. All the dishes, including some exceptional desserts were a joy to behold and a wonder to taste. However, possibly the highlight, was a stunning cheeseboard. It was introduced with messianic enthusiasm and a welath of opinions ! A separate ‘tasting plate’ was provided to allow you to sample the possibilities before going firm on your selection. And the board itself contained fantastic and interesting variations on the new and familiar, all perfectly kept. More than just the usual suspects. Finally, the staff (waiter, ex-GR@RHR; sommelier ex-Pierre Gagnaire etc) clearly loved the style of the place and its food, and conveyed that enthusiasm with an engaging approach that managed to avoid compromising professionalism and didn’t make you feel like you’d been kidnapped by a bunch of over-attentive cultists. So what of the criticisms of the ‘Nay to Aikens’ brigade ? Some of them (e.g. Andy’s initial cheese grudgingly dished out) or references to poor/cold service I just can’t reconcile with our experience. So either it’s been erratic in its highs and lows or – God forbid – since these criticisms were made, it’s listened and addressed them ! Others – too much going on in each dish; small, or swamped main ingredients; confusion of flavours. These I can relate to. The ‘Rabbit’ which was listed as the main ingredient of my pea soup starter, appeared almost peripheral, as two small slices of sausage (albeit lending a welcome dab of savouriness to the dish). Following this starter with the Sea Bass would have resulted in an excess of sweetness (something the meal as a whole sometimes teetered towards). Although there was a clear central theme to each dish, not everything built towards this in a way which meant the dish was truly composed. Sometimes senses were overwhelmed. For me, sometimes the translation of an ingredient into a jelly or mousse or foam, whilst delivering the very essence of its flavour, proved too much of a disconnect from the ingredient itself. But, God it was exciting and interesting and energetic. Energy on its own is not enough; and innovation without skill can be disastrous (see Andy’s thread on City Inn q.v.) But, overwhelmingly, this is being done with balance and skill and accomplishment. It is an absolute delight. An entirely different delight from the classical perfections of GR@RHR, agreed, but long live the availability of such choice – and the chance to choose a restaurant to reflect different moods and occasions. So dust off your jaded palettes, and go and relish the flavours and the refreshing verve of it all !
  18. Oh bugger. Gary, may I congratulate you on your attention to detail but commiserate you on aligning yourself with what is clearly the flawed side of the debate...
  19. And I am in the Almass/Gary camp squaring off against Matthew and Andy ! All this working up the ladder to refine your understanding stuff assumes: - you have the interest, energy and disposition to approach things so academically; - you have the money and opportunities to do it; and (the clincher IMHO) - you don't get run over by a Number 37 Bus next week never having tasted the fois gras and sweet and sour rhurbarb we enjoyed at Ramsay's last month. "Gather Ye Canapes While Ye May", say I. If it was Ramsay's that fired your interest go to Ramsay's - you can backfill One and Two Stars and catch up on your homework later if you like and as opportunity presents. Also, sod worries about intimidatory service: the staff at RHR are friendly and will make you feel like a million dollars; and on the wine front what I do is advise the sommelier as to my budget and ask him to recommend (he will have already been told what you have each ordered...)
  20. Now that is interesting. Why should that be ? - Will our fundamental biological response to food change in this timescale ? - Will all the wine we've bought now go off ? - Will our expectations in terms of atmoshpere and conviviality change ? - Will we prefer school-dinner standard service ? - Will all these chefs retire or stop being good chefs ? Or are you saying that a fickle public, for reasons of intellectual novelty rather than essential enjoyment, will convince itself that the next new trend is what is really the best, whilst at the same time throwing out those of the current lot who bring more trend than substance ? I think the interesting part will be to look at what is the same in five years time and ask what it is that they are doing which brings continuity. Dogma '95 is intellectually fascinating but stick me on a desert island and I'll ask for 'Casablanca' every time...
  21. Robert, Thank you for the steer - I'll press on with my research and post the decision - and eventual outcome ! Gareth
  22. Although it's some time away we are planning now for my father's 80th birthday. It will be right at the end of August and we will be staying just outside St Paul de Vence. But we have wheels. So the big decision is: where to go for the celebratory meal ? La Colombe D'Or in St Paul is an obvious contender but I've heard it said that the food never quite lives up to the setting or the art. Is this true ? And failing that, where else ? Ideally what are we looking for is, well, the usual things: impeccable food; delightful setting; graceful service. Unsurprisingly, Dad's vote is more likely to be swayed by classical accomplishment, rather than cutting edge modernity (loved Auberge D'Ill would have hated Gagnaire !). Budget can approach extrvagance but is not unlimited (E200/head 'all in' is probably reachable but not much more). Lunch or dinner. I'm guessing that rules out Louis XV. Oh and just to make it particularly difficult for France, it would need to be open on the last weekend or Monday in August ! Finally, I have, of course searched the backposts but, perhaps more so than any other French region, its hard to sift from these a shortlist that fits the bill and wins consistent support across the famous diversity of e-gullet opinion. So, please. All suggestions hugely appreciated. And if we pick yours I'll save you a bt of cake ! Regards, Gareth
  23. Humble functionaries within Her Majesty’s Home Civil Service are given the afternoon of Maundy Thursday as holiday. Traditionally, this is so that we can watch the Sovereign dispense alms to the poor. We did the next best thing and went to Gordon Ramsay’s at Royal Hospital Road for lunch. And a splendid occasion it was too. Significantly better, in my book, than a year ago. Although many touchstones remained, a greater degree of variety had been introduced to the menu. There were even the first hints – in the starters at least – of dabbling beyond the boundaries of the strictly French tradition, with elements such as sweet and sour ginger, white radish etc. The amuse arrived – a martini glass of micro-diced new potato in a chive cream and ‘jacket-potato jelly’ topped with a langoustine. “Jacket Potato Jelly” ? OK, molecular gastronomy it wasn’t. But bloody good it was, and further evidence of an evolving style, rather than stagnation. Rather than run through the whole meal – highlights of which included a deeply fresh John Dory, a pungently marvellous Epoisse, and a knockout fruit salad (one of a cavalcade of desserts on the tasting plate) – I would pick out the two starters. Mine comprised two perfectly roast and perfectly presented langoustine tails (how do they get them out unblemished and then manage to present them in such a tight, neat curl without damaging the texture of the flesh ?) on a bed of coarse pea puree next to a succulent slab of pork belly (which looked like a millefeuille) with a cos lettuce sauce. Every aspect of the dish: flavour; texture; visual was to an incredibly high standard. What’s more it had substance – this was a plateful of great food and not just intellectual frippery on a palette. However, this was topped by J’s foie gras. She’s not normally a foie gras girl – indeed it was the rhubarb in the dish that caught her attention – but there were no regrets here. A lobe of roast liver in Sauternes sauce on a little diced and poached apple was complemented by poached rhurbarb, a rhubard ‘crisp’, and slivers of sweet and sour ginger. This was sensational stuff an instant candidate for Last Ever Meal starter. I will confess that I approached the meal with a little trepidation (all right, I wasn’t exactly walking to the gallows but you know what I mean…) We have been once a year for the last five years and it has always been very special. I knew I could rely on the service – the brigade there is always marvellous: correct and polished, elevating the occasion without overdoing it – but what about the food ? One year ago I felt it was standing still. And since then Mr R’s media profile – and I assume the associated time commitments – have simply continued to gather pace. There was even hushed speculation before Michelin came out as to whether it would hang on to three. Well, judging from this meal it has, if anything, stepped up a gear. It consistently hit the highest standards and a couple of the dishes were just sublime. A real treat. Oh, and Gordon Ramsay was in the kitchen. p.s. It also allowed for some star-spotting. Not among the customers (unless you count a certain food-critic who was finishing their meal with an Alka-Seltzer and, this being GR@RHR, I can be reasonably certain it was an Alka-Seltzer - at the Fat Duck it could have been anything…) but among the staff. Am I the only customer who has noticed Jean-Claude’s remarkable and increasing resemblance to Bogart ? Something he has complimented by now engaging a deputy who looks like Clive Owen…
  24. I saw both morels and wild garlic at Borough last friday lunchtime. I think it was at the "The Wild Mushroom" - or whatever the stall is called which is on the edge of BM on the opposite side of the road to Appleby's Fish and the Market Porter. And yes, morels were £50/kg.
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