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Matthew Grant

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Everything posted by Matthew Grant

  1. Consistency in quality yes, but surely not consistently serving up the same dishes? Fair enough if you've already won your 3rd star and you're happy to put your head down and retain it year in year out but if you really have ambitions to gain the 3rd star then I think he needs to be a little more adventurous. I've got no problem with the way the dish looks.
  2. I may be being a little unfair in singling out Gidleigh park for this, but it was unimaginitive back in 2003 and it remains so today, dozens of decent restaurants are still serving combinations like this (especially when it comes to lamb dishes). Sure it is slightly different to 8 years ago but can't they think of an entirely different preparation? If it didn't win them 3 stars then, I'm not sure why it would now.
  3. Furness Fish and game at Borough Market normally have them for £5 each. I think I've also seen them in Shellseekers.
  4. Citylunch, apologies for that, I'm led to believe that it is open Tuesday to Friday from around 12:00 - 18:00.
  5. I came to find out about Abiye and his Hot Dog stand via Dario Ceccini after a very drunken lunch at his restaurant Solo Ciccia in Panzano. I've no idea how, but after Dario poured me yet another grappa, several beyond what should be drunk on a Sunday afternoon, Dario and Kim mentioned somebody selling sausages in the Old Street region of London. I was passed a small gift to take to back to Abiye and I promised, in light of Dario’s generosity (you've never seen a butcher hand out so much free wine and food to everybody passing), that I would deliver the gift. It was only when I got home and exchanged a couple of emails with Abiye that I discovered that what Dario had recommended was actually a hot dog stand. I often bemoan the lack of quality food carts in the UK, the usual suspects are the hot dogs stands in the West End that are "outed" on TV every few years for their appalling hygiene standards. Big Apple Hot Dogs at 239 Old Street most definitely doesn't fall into this bracket. I tried a Big Apple Dog, a polish sausage made by Abiye's friend, it had been double smoked but didn't overpower. It had that satisfying pop of the skin (natural casings) and a decent fat content making a great juicy sausage, simply dressed with a few onions and a choice of mustards, sauerkraut , ketchup etc. There were other varieties of sausage available as well including a Frankfurter which I need to try next time. To give you some idea of the standard a leading steak restaurant is working with Abiye and his friend to develop a sausage specially for them. This is exactly the sort of stall that deservers to succeed in London, Abiye is a lovely guy and is so confident in his sausage that he would happily run taste tests against all comers. An excellent dog, I only wish I worked in town so that I could go more often. Big Apple Hot Dogs
  6. Friends suggested lunch at the Bingham yesterday after they had enjoyed a couple of visits and I was glad I joined them My starter of butternut squash soup with cep ravioli, wild mushrooms and sherry jelly looked beautiful and most importantly passed the taste test with flying colours, hardly needing the ravioli or wild mushrooms though they certainly weren’t out of place, the sherry jelly adding a nice note to the dish. Red leg partridge with sprout tops, wild mushroom spatzle and cauliflour puree was again on the money though I would have liked to see a more pronounced saucing. There was a pleasing bitterness to the brussel tops and the spatzle served on the side was excellent. I finished with a plated cheese course which was acceptable but weren’t necessarily the best British cheeses I have tasted. Elsewhere on the table everybody plumped for the quail with beetroot tarte fine and a port reduction, again it looked lovely but I didn’t get a chance to get my hands on any, wild mushroom risotto was served with a Madeira jelly laid over the top with puffed rice and a truffle emulsion. Hake which is not a fish I necessarily enjoy came with salsify, chestnut and a Jerusalem artichoke tortellini. I managed to grab a mouthful of the Hazlenut Marquis which left me wishing I had gone for that or at least persuaded the other half to let me have half!  Overall it was a lovely lunch, certainly enough to encourage me to return for an ALC meal. I imagine the dining room which overlooked the Thames, would be lovely in the summer when you could sit on the balcony. £26 for 3 courses was more than reasonable given the standard of cooking.
  7. Are you sure that isn't "exactly as the chef would want it too"?
  8. That review was about 5 minutes after the doors opened which is about par for the course for Maschler and is probably a little unfair on the restaurant. If she had waited a couple of weeks she could have really gone to town and with good reason. Does anybody who is serious about food listen to her any more?
  9. The room..blah blah blah.....wallpaper....blah blah blah....Gary Hume...blah blah....the manager...harry's bar.... blah blah. Focusing on the food, as we should, it was a shoddy affair. More Trattoria than fine dining. Burrata was served with a motley crue of grilled vegetables and oregano infused olive oil. It desperately needed more seasoning and looked like it had been plated by, well I can't actually think who would plate up like this in a restaurant. In the middle we have the Burrata, at 6 o'clock a thick slice of non descript tomato, 8 o'clock was a thick slice of red onion, between 10 and 12 were some unevenly sliced pieces of aubergine and from 12 - 3 similarly uneven slices of courgette. It was all rather "housewife who can't be bothered to cook". The Burrata itself was fine, the vegetables left a lot to be desired. On the other side of the table Carpaccio of beef was served at a good temperature with parmesan and celery, a lot more successful but still needing work on ingredient quality. At this point I asked for a wine list as it hadn't been offered, I wonder if they determined that I wouldn't be able to afford anything on the wine list. The cheapest bottle was £25, if I remember correctly it then has a couple more offerings around the £40, more still around £60 and then a large selection upwards of there. Papardelle with hare ragout, if you can imagine a big rich sauce, flecked with hare, cooked for hours while being lovingly stirred by a young chef dreaming of the day he will be able to produce a beautiful dish such as this with perfectly al dente pasta you would be way of the mark. A distinct lack of depth to the sauce and pappardelle that was cooked way too long. Pumpkin and chestnut ravioli fared a little better but was still overcooked, showed little evidence of chestnut and the filling was a little wet. Still it had decent sweetness that paired nicely with the sage butter. To brighten up both dishes we were offered parmesan - already grated in a bowl!!!!! Both dishes could have done with more seasoning. Strangely the hare ragout was on the standard menu but was also listed on the specials at £13.50 - £1.50 less than the ALC, you can guess which price I was charged. The loin of veal (Scottish) was carved at the table, served with 3 reheated potatoes and a side dish if you have ordered one, very good broccoli in our case. It was ok but I couldn't help feeling that they had cut corners with the quality of the veal, again seasoning was an issue, a sprinkling of maldon sea salt after carving wouldn't have gone amiss. By this stage I had lost faith in the capabilities of the kitchen and passed on dessert, £204 lighter including £25 for 2 glasses of champagne and £38 for Barbera D'asti Bava Libera and 12.5% service charge. Service was disorganised, lots of staff struggling in the narrow dining room and not attentive enough, we got our wine shortly before the main course! The seating is also rather cramped, so much so that the couple next to us felt obliged to say hello as we sat down. Overall a very disappointing meal from a formerly talented chef, food like this needs top notch ingredients and they weren’t on show here. The lack of big name reviews for this place is curious, presumably their publicist is aiming at the non foodie crowd. If the publicist took that decision after eating here they are doing their job fantastically and deserve a bonus.
  10. Isn't flank the equivalent of navel plate?
  11. Strangely enough I am just about to try and make proper Pastrami as well, to be honest I hadn't ever considered looking at the marbling on a cut like brisket I would have thought it would have stayed fairly moist from the steaming anyhow?
  12. Much as marbling may be somewhat affected by breed I think you'll find that the feed/drugs that they have been fed is as big if not bigger influence. My favourite beef is Dexter or White Park, I've had them vary from decent marbling through to virtually no marbling at all. I think that in a lot of instances marbling is a much overrated factor and some of my favourite pieces of meat have demonstrated limited marbling, conversely some of the most marbled pieces of meat I have bought have been very disappointing from a flavour persepctive.
  13. My dinner at Hakkasan Mayfair on Saturday was very good. We arrived at just before 20:00, it was rammed, sat down at 20:30 asked to leave at 22:30 (we had be warned it was a 2 hour slot), never saw an empty space in all that time and there was a queue of people at reception when we left. The clientele is a mix of rich and/or beautiful, a middle aged gentleman opposite sat showing his much younger partner pictures of her in her underwear on his i-phone. Good drinks, Buddha bar type soundtrack in the background. Really excellent food but I hate the lighting and if I'm honest the vibe is just not what I want any more. I thought everything was lovey, highlights were the soft shell crab, duck with truffle and tea plant mushroom had a lovely crisp skin, pink meat, well balanced broth with just a hint of truffle, the melt in the mouth Szechuan Mabo tofu with welsh black beef. Prices appear expensive but £28 for the duck seemed reasonable when it arrived with two full breasts and the tofu was a very large portion for just £12. Service was polite but not very knowledgeable, 2 different waiters couldn;t tell me what cut the Wagyu beef was, one explaining that "its the best beef you can get, it doesn't matter what cut it is, it's all incredibly tender".
  14. Good meal at Les Deux Salons last night, the room is really good, great atmostphere and they still haven't opened upstairs yet. The menu is not fully operational yet but there is still plenty of choice, of particular note last night were the Snail and Bacon pie, Pot au Feu, a beautiful creme brulee and lemon tart. When they are fully running the menu is quite large. I need to go back for the double Veal chop cooked on the Josper grill. The burger looked decent and seemed to be very popular.
  15. I just had a look around Les Deux Salons, in William IV street, just around the corner from Charing Cross station. I'm obviously a little biased but the place looks fantastic, the aim was to try and recreate a classic Parisian brasserie and to my mind, if looks are anything to go by, they have succeeded. It was much larger than I was anticipating, spread over two floors with a full tiled floor, lots of mirrors, a couple of private rooms. One of the more glamorous openings I have seen recently in London. If the food matches the room, and I don't doubt it will, this should be a big hit.
  16. I went a few weeks ago, dinner was very nice indeed, no idea why they haven't got a Michelin star, it was certainly a solid one star IMO. Fruits der mer included a lovely potted crab, flat oyster, Langoustine (not as good as some I had at Kishorn seafood a couple of days earlier). Crab Risotto was good but not patch on the Sportsman version. Grouse was good but milder than I would prefer, I'm beginning to wonder if there is a "correct" hanging time as it seems to vary so much from place to place. Too many strong Whisky's, Wine and cocktails and wine contributed to a large bill and me completely forgetting what we had for dessert but three courses at £55 seemed reasonable for the quality of the food. The rooms are very nice as well.
  17. I'm surprised nobody has posted this yet? Les Deux Salons
  18. Chapter One on Saturday, this isn't far away from me, (and even closer to Scott and Sam) but the last time I went was for a friends Birthday on a Sunday evening not long before it lost the Michelin star it has since regained. I was prompted to go this time by David Durack who used to be at Arbutus and is now Manager here. We were comped Champagne to start which was a nice touch and had a good chat with Andrew McLeish who has been chef here since it opened around 13 or 14 years ago. Starters of smoked eel with beetroot and pancetta was very good, the Langoustine Raviolo pronounced excellent by the other half. Slow roast pork belly came rolled and was served with choucroute and apple sauce, a little crackling wouldn't have gone amiss but it was otherwise decent enough. Rhug estate Milk-Fed lamb didn't have the richness of it French counterpart but was excellent all the same with various cuts including a sweetbread.. Dessert was perhaps the best course of the day. A £2.50 supplement, making it a grand total of £10, got you a fine selection of what seemed like the whole dessert menu, including excellent Chocolate fondant and lemon tart and a beautiful roast plum. Overall well worth a stop if you are in the area.
  19. IMO do not go for pretty looking smooth skinned Alfonso's, they aren't ready at that point, they are at their best when you have to eat them standing over a sink. You will be able to tell beacuse they look slightly past their best, the skin verging on wrinkly with a few discoloured spots, you will be able to smell them from ten yards. Go to an Indian or Pakistani store (though the latter may argue, and its difficult to decide, that honey mangoes are better) and buy a box of 6, 8 or 12 depending on the size. Never buy them at somewhere like Borough market. Last year you could get 6 - 8 good sized mangoes for around £4 once the season really got going, on occasion I've got them for £2.50 - £3.00. They are one of the best fruits going when properly ripe, in Tooting and Norbury you will sometimes see the shopkeepers standing guard over the boxes and if they are good it is difficult to get them to come down on the price. If you want an alcoholic mango treat try making Dale's ultimate Mango-rita (the Dale in question being Dale Degroff). They are sublime with an Alfonso or honey mango.
  20. You'll have to forgive me as my notes weren't the most concise in the world and for the first time I took pictures while I was eating though the light put paid to most of the first meal Dinner: Collection Amuses: 1) Margarita Spoon 2) Smoked Eel on a Madeleine (?) 3) Peanut butter peanut 4) Corn chips 6)Fake Liver (not quite sure of the point of this, basically a foie gras tasting dish, not sure why they would feel the need to fake it) 7) Young Egg with Ginger and mushrooms a 9/10 dish 8) A beetroot cornet with smoked herring eggs 9) Celery foam and sorbet Variety of Spring Vegetables - beautiful peas, asparagus and fava, intense citrus flavour on the side. Really good At this point I was served a dish that just blew me away, a real Wow moment. An oyster with yuzu, grapefruit and another citrus that I can't recall. Absolutely stunning, salty, zesty and the long lingering taste of the sea reaching my palette just as the citrus started to fade. An absolute 10/10 dish. Rachel doesn't eat Oysters so was served a Foie Gras Bon Bon which had her smiling almost as much as me. Marinated Langoustines, fresh herbs, Sprouts Salad. A good but not spectacular dish, I would have liked to have seen whole Langoustines and for the dish to have been out of the fridge a little longer. With this dish we were offered salt and pepper and a single flake of Maldon sea salt on each of the Langoustine pieces helped elevate it. White Asparagus, Hollandaise and Pomelo - this was a great dish, lovely white asparagus, not as bitter as most that I have eaten, really good hollandaise and then again the Pomelo which certainly wouldn't be the first thing I would have thought of combining but really worked well. red Mullet, Rhubarb and Olives - another wow moment for me, the Mullet itself was absolutely perfect, alongside a pomme puree topped with chopped olives and alongside that the rhubarb which we were instructed was a condiment for the fish. Again, these were combinations that I would never have thought of, the rhubarb was fantastic with the fish and I thought that it would probably clash with the pomme puree and olives but somehow it all came together brilliantly. The pomme puree itself probably the finest I have tasted. The Tides....North Sea Lobster, young Celery, lemongrass foam. This was a dish in two parts the top part of the dish had a plate with holes through it and before starting a broth was poured through the holes to the "surprise" below. On top of the plate was a seaweed salad with shellfish, upon completing that the plate was lifted to reveal the lobster below with celery bon bons and lemongrass. Beautiful Lobster the timing of the cooking on it, presumably finished by the hot broth being poured in before we started on the dish, was perfect. Milk, Lamb, Rice Cream, candied black garlic, carrot and Kumquat - this was, for me at least, the weakest dish of the night, I'm guessing that it was pressed shoulder and the quality of the lamb itself was decent enough but the accompaniments weren't as impressive as some we had been served, while the Kumquat and Lamb were happy partners I found the rice cream a little gloopy, a little like overworked pomme puree. The heavy reduction served alongside also didn't reach the heights of some earlier dishes. It all felt a little touristy compared to some of the food which went before. A delightful Truffle Cappuccino followed, very light airy potato on top, very generous serving of truffle underneath. Excellent. Collection Desserts contained multiple elements but the Mango cream and sorbet, along with the Strawberry, passion fruit and buckwheat ice cream stood out. Really good strawberries though I never got to the bottom of where they were from or the variety. The following day following a light breakfast consisting of pastries/bread Christine Ferber jams and a wonderful pink grapefruit and orange salad with elderflower syrup. We could have had a full breakfast including a plate of charcuterie and cheese but it was no problem to serve us a "single" breakfast to share. It took all our willpower to stop eating the pastries. They also served us a lovely plate of Pata Negra. On to lunch, we were greeted like old friends and the sommelier who differed from the night before knew exactly what we had been drinking previously and the staff knew exactly what we had eaten the night before. No duplication allowed though my heart was screaming out for that Oyster. Collection Amuses: 1) Beet Sorbet with yoghurt 2) Cassis Macaroon 3) Parmesan and truffle 4) Lobster Madeleine 5) a mini tarte Flambee 6) Quails egg with ginger oil and muscat 7) Asparagus bon bon with a) Morel Hollandaise and a 3rd spoon with asparagus ice cream with pickled veg ( a play on asparagus with 3 sauces?) 8) Coconut milk (?) I started with Blue Lobster with Lobster cream and an egg roll with Ginger - take away the egg roll and this was the most classic of dishes, a Lobster Bisque, perfectly executed, add the great spring roll with its ginger and lemongrass flavours and it was taken to a whole new level. Rachel had the Skate (unfortunately the Turbot was off the menu). Skate, Green Spring Vegetables, Chicken Stock infused with Kumbawa, really good with a foam (Kumbawa?) topping the fish. We had asked to share a 1/2 portion of the truffle and potato emulsion as a middle course, similar in texture to the cappuccino the night before, lovely but I think I would have preferred the potato to be a little more puree like. Of note here though was that we both received a 1/2 portion rather than 1/2 portion to share as requested and that it was comped, a very nice comp as well considering it comes in at a €45 each. Then onto a dish that left us speechless, I think we went so quiet that they actually came over to check that everything was OK. The Veal Cutlet with Spinach and Carrot. Nothing fancy here except the beautiful, thick rib of milk fed veal and the fabulous buttery spinach sweet carrots. All served in a Big Staub pot and carved into 2 pieces tableside, a jus served alongside and some incredible pomme puree. Stunning in both its simplicity and quality, I don't think there has been an hour since where I haven't thought about that dish. 10++ from both of us. Next up was a Young Beetroot, Maraluni chocolate biscuit and Wasabi ice cream To Finish, Rachel had Verbena, a vacherin with Raspberry ice cream and spring fragrances: and for me Rhubarb: Of course, when I say "to finish" I merely mean, the main courses, we still managed to squeeze down the marshmallows, chocolates, bon bons etc. etc. that continued to come out. Overall I'm not sure that I can really find the words or descriptions to give the food the credit it deserves. A solo diner was being looked after and I wondered if he might have been an inspector, they certainly need not worry, it’s for restaurants like this that we need another star or two. A word on the hotel, they are beautiful modern rooms and for the standard very well priced. Little touches like a complimentary mini bar with a couple of beers, water and juice and also the complimentary drinks with some fantastic strawberries upon arrival (and I suspect any other time you wanted them), the ironing that they perform at no extra charge, the fantastic breakfast (€27) and beautiful location all add up to a great place to stay. They even looked after us on Monday afternoon after we had checked out and following our lunch where they fed us more strawberries and drinks as we sat on the terrace enjoying the sun and letting our meal go down before heading to the airport. My highest possible recommendation!
  21. I'm just back from Alsace and agree with Culinista about Maison des tanneurs, I'm sure there is probably better around somewhere in Strasbourg but the Choucroute seems decent enough. If there is currently a better restaurant than L'Arnsbourg in Alsace (maybe even France?) I would chew my leg off if it would help me get there quicker. Auberge is also great if you go with the right mindset. It is very classical food and is in a beautiful location, just don't go expecting contemporary cuisine. It would make a beutiful spot for Sunday lunch with a table next to the river. For those who say it doesn't deserve its stars I would say that if it deserved 3 stars with that style of cuisine in the past why should it lose them simply because modern tastes have changed? I had a very enjoyable, well executed meal there. The hotel is also beautiful.
  22. Any recent updates for this thread?
  23. I wrote about San Sebastian Tapas here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/12410-san-sebastian-restaurants-recommendations/page__view__findpost__p__1575069 I found teh Todo Pintxos an excellent guide with maps included for different Tapas crawls: Todo Pintxos
  24. Me, even with its faults it was probably better than anything I've eaten in this country for 10 years. Having said that, there are so many negative reports that I can't work out whether it is an automatic reaction against the Ducasse empire, the money people object to, or whether the food is only good on occasion. If the latter I was very lucky.
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