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Everything posted by JudyB

  1. It's hard to tell - I suspect that The Fat Duck plus wine flight might be more expensive, but their website doesn't list the costs of tthe wine flights anymore... I seem to remember there being a "basic" wine flight and the option of a much more expensive one - which would probably go over the figures Jay quotes for Le Manoir.
  2. They do seem to be gettng increasingly tough - last month they successfully prosecuted Brasserie Blanc over "undercooked" lamb's liver, Brasserie-Blanc-operator-insists-lamb-s-liver-is-safe-following-ban-on-dish:
  3. From what has been said on TV, the chefs have been asked to "push the boundaries" and at least some seem to have interpreted this as meaning using "novel" techniques. Unfortunately for many of them this has been translated into using "molecular gastronomy" for the first time. What I would like to know is what exactly the brief said - rather than how any of the chefs (and the judges) have interpreted it. My guess is that the intention was never that they should all try to copy chefs like Heston...
  4. With reservations being so difficult and the prices being so high it's four years since we were last there. However, based on our experience over previous visits and on the write-ups I have seen it is clear that the menu at the Fat Duck does evolve. The "problem" is that the headline description of many of the dishes either remains unchanged or changes only in subtle ways so it isn't obvious from the website. So to find out how much the menu really changes you need to find someone (with lots of money!) who goes there regularly enough to be able to give a reliable report on how much the menu actually changes.
  5. Curiously the Guardian's TV reviewer (see here) asserted scathingly that Heston's technique was so obvious that it wasn't worth wasting time on: Well, like you, we hadn't heard that before, so steak cooked that way is what we are planning on eating tomorrow for dinner
  6. I'm not in a position to comment on the rest of your review, but it looks to me like the website is probably a transient problem - possibly with the hosting company rather than the restaurant itself. If I enter the original website URL (http://www.theanglersinn.co.uk/) then, as you say, I get an Apache error page, but if I search on Google for "the anglers inn, perth" then I can see a preview of the website which looks almost identical to the one I'm guessing you describe as the updated website (http://www.theanglersrestaurant.com/). Since Google cached the copy on 13th December my guess is that there is a temporary problem and that link should have redirected to the .com website. This seems to be confirmed by a WHOIS lookup on the .co.uk domain as the domain is still recorded as registered to "The Anglers Inn" and was renewed last month.
  7. If you do want to go there, it would have to be before Christmas. This was in a recent newsletter I received:
  8. Within Oxford itself I would agree that Brasserie Blanc is reasonable, and I have heard reasonable reports of Jamie's Italian, although I haven't been there myself. A smaller, non-chain, place within Oxford to consider is Edamame - it is not "fine dining" as such but provided you like Japanese food it's worth trying; they don't take reservations so I think you need to get there promptly after they open to guarantee a table. One place to consider outside the centre, but still close to Oxford is The Magdalen Arms on Iffley Road (minimal website here) which has a Bib Gourmand. Further afield there is the Nuttree Inn at Murcott which is also definitely worth a visit.
  9. Has anyone been here recently? One of my colleagues went on Tuesday this week and had what was obviously a very enjoyable meal. What intrigued me was that he said there was a tasting menu on offer, although they didn't go for it as it didn't appeal to enough of their party. Does anyone know if this is a regular thing, or an intermittent experiment?
  10. What I have experienced is restaurants ringing up to confirm/remind on the day of the reservation. On at least a couple of occasions they have called mid-morning for a lunch reservation when I was travelling (and unable to answer my phone). In one case I saw the missed call and phoned them back, but on another occasion I didn't notice the missed until after we had eaten. In such cases I have been left wondering what exactly the objective of the call really is - the day before may help to "remind" about the reservation, but I feel that calling on the day itself while you could very easily be travelling doesn't really help them or their customers. I have also been asked by a couple of places to ring them to confirm the reservation, particularly if it was made well in advance. (Clearly this can only work if it is not somewhere like the Fat Duck where it is all but impossible to contact them by phone) In both situations I have also wondered whether or not I risk losing my reservation because of a failure on their part...
  11. As noted earlier in this thread, the cancellation policy is on the website (on the Reservations page), but here is an extract from the confirmation email I received when booking earlier this year: As you can see it does explicitly state that a reduction in numbers is regarded as a "cancellation" and that (having booked a "package") my reservation was explicitly based on two sharing. The only thing which is perhaps unusual is the requirement for 72 hours notice of cancellation, since I think many places will accept 24 or 48 hours notice.
  12. No recent experience I'm afraid, but the last time I booked there (3 years ago) I spent something like 2 hours redialing until I got an answer, which seems to match recent reports. What they have introduced relatively recently is the ability to make online reservations from the web site, although I think that the telephone reservations open before the online ones, so I have no idea what the chances of finding a free table are - but at least you aren't stuck redialing so it might be worth a go. The other option is that their "online booking" system also offers you the chance to add your name to the waiting list for a specific time/date - at least that way they call you rather than vice versa, so it certainly sounds like worth trying as it might get you a booking (and if it doesn't it hasn't cost you anything).
  13. I'm sure that there was a fairly detailed write-up of the voting process by Jay Raymer a year or two back, but I can't find it just now. What I did find on a blog (here) was this summary of the process: What I'm not sure about is how the votes from the regional panels are then combined...
  14. But I note that it says: Surely for PGI status Cumberland sausages they should only be made in the historical county of Cumberland? The county of "Cumbria" created in 1974 covers a rather wider area than that including Cumberland, Westmorland and parts of what were Lancashire and Yorkshire.
  15. I did see a report that this year's theme was something like "community", but the real question is what this year's "rules" are and how that affects the various chefs. Last year I got the impression that some of the chefs, particularly those in the midlands, were very much in a no-win situation. They were condemned either for NOT using local produce, or for being unimaginative because they were keeping only to local produce...
  16. There is an interesting blog article from Raymond Blanc on this topic: Is it time to say no?. Without copying the whole article here, the key points that he makes are that the current policy at Le Manoir (Michelin 2*) is that they always try to say yes, but that he is beginning to wonder if some of his guests with special requirements are perhaps doing this to get extra attention. He concludes by saying:
  17. I'm very surprised to see that one of our favourite restaurants in Provence has lost it's Bib Gourmand (Les Florets at Gigondas). When we visited last year it was very nice, as usual, so I hope that it has only lost the Bib because of cost and not because of anything else...
  18. The restaurants probably don't care that much - as long as someone turns up for the reservation and pays it doesn't hit them financially. What might be interesting is what happens if no-one turns up - presumably the person who made the original booking would still be liable for any charges? Presumably they could in turn sue the person who "bought" the reservation from them, but I don't know what the courts' view on that would be. Even more interesting is what happens if multiple sets of people arrive at the restaurant claiming to be "Mr X" and none of them can actually prove that they made the reservation, or that it was made on their behalf...
  19. I'm guessing that you mean in London, but even then it would help if you gave some indication of whereabouts you will be staying...
  20. When did he come back? I went there three times last year, and never saw him. But well, that kitchen seems to do what it does pretty well. Like it or not, I doubt that it had a stability problem. Was lead to believe about 3-4months ago, maybe longer Out of curiosity I just looked at the website and Clare Smyth is still listed as "Head Chef" (here) with Mark Askew listed as "Executive Chef". Is the website misleading customers or do you know if this is a valid description of the current setup?
  21. They seem to have corrected the online version now, after a comment from "Jonathan" about their error...
  22. Yeah, there still is another Masterchef, a few if I remember right: A regular masterchef, a celeb version, maybe one other one.... actually someone who posts here every so often just made an appearance on the celeb masterchef a week or two ago. The Iron chef america vs the original one is a good way to look at it - Masterchef US seems to be pretty bad compared to the others, or so I hear, I haven't caught any of the others yet. I don't know which versions have been shown in the US, but the UK Masterchef has had two main versions: The original Masterchef was largely home cooks preparing what might be described here as "dinner party" food and was presented originally by Loyd Grossman then Gary Rhodes until it was axed. A revived Masterchef (initially called "Masterchef goes Large") presented by John Torrode and Greg Wallace I think there was one series of a children's version for the original series. With the recent series there have also been Celebrity versions as well as two(?) series of "Masterchef Professional" - which is far better than the amateur versions. If you have a chance to see the Professional version I would definitely recommend it.
  23. The person I feel most sorry for is the new chef who was brought in to The Goose. Although I'm sure that Ryan & Co would probably have preferred not to move, they seem to be doing well at Orwell's (on the basis of our visits there so far). In terms of the lack of quality restaurants in Oxfordshire I think that part of the problem is that in principle Oxford itself should be able to support more quality places, but the city centre seems to be full of Irish theme pubs and the restaurant equivalent of "pile it high, sell it cheap" supermarkets. I've lost track of what exactly the owner is intending to do with it now (housing I think), but the Lemon Tree in North Oxford has gone through similar "problems" to those at The Goose - attempting to serve quality food in the wrong place - although with fewer ructions (as far as I know) between the owner and the chefs...
  24. Even if Adrian (aka Basildog) is fully booked at the moment, Margot's is definitely worth visiting if you have the opportunity. When Adrian gets late cancellations he advertises them on his Twitter feed, so it is probably worth taking at look. The Margot's website is here - with sample menus and link to twitter.
  25. I had already guessed that might be the case because filming has generally started in about May and I hadn't seen any reports of the BBC advertising for restaurants to be "borrowed" for a series this year. As you say, the last series was pretty appalling and I think that it had definitely run out of ideas. One follow-on series that has been shown in the UK was called "Out of the Frying Pan", so you might get that in the US at some point. This is how the BBC website describes it: (James and Alasdair were the runners-up in the second series). Having seen the trailers for this we gave it a miss, but I can't honestly say how good or bad it really was. On a more positive note I believe that Russell and Michelle (winners of the second series are) still doing well at "The Cheerful Soul" in Marlow.
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