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Matthew Grant

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  1. Paul is correct, his departure from the Berkeley is no justification for the meal I just ate. We should also remember that Koffmann leads a brigade, he is not preparing all of the food personally, the rot seemed to go through the whole staff. A small extract from my letter to Monsieur Koffmann: "....I feel especially disappointed having previously had two of my favourite ever meals at your establishment, both at Royal Hospital Road and at your current premises. I cannot believe that it is possible to continue serving food of this standard at these prices until December 21st. While I understand that moral may be low at the moment, this should not be used as an excuse to disappoint your fans who are no doubt rushing to enjoy one final meal at La Tante Claire." I really do hope that he gets his act together again at his new venture.
  2. Wilfred, based on this visit, I would bail out, based on previous visits I would be knocking down the door.
  3. I have been to La Tante Claire twice before, once at Royal Hospital Road and once at The Berkeley. I know that the food is expensive but it has always been worth it. On both occasions the food was outstanding and service was a joy to behold. On the basis of my visit on Saturday, I could not recommend a visit to this restaurant to anybody, be they food lovers or not. Service was appalling for this standard of restaurant. On my previous visit to the current location, canapés and aperitifs were served in the lounge while you perused the menu. The wonderful Maitre D’ then came and translated the whole menu if required without so much as glancing at his own copy. Each dish was described in minute detail which all added to the excitement. On this occasion we had to ask if we could sit in the lounge for aperitifs, no ‘proper’ canapés were offered although there was a small selection of bread sticks. The waiter advised of two specials “Wild Duck and Partridge”, he didn’t know how they were prepared or composed and didn’t offer to find out for us, we had to ask him to go and speak to the kitchen to get further details. We waited nearly 20 minutes for a wine list and Sommelier, despite asking on more than one occasion for his services. Around the table, service was amateurish, there was much swapping of plates between waiters and at one point we had to advise the waiter of who was having which dish. One of the waiters also leaned across the table to pour our water. The food was equally poor; Foie Gras Terrine (£24) was a relatively thin slice, straight from the fridge served alongside some very ordinary toast. Rachels scallops (£25) were incredible (in a bad way), 8 whole scallops spread in a circle around the outside of the plate. The scallops were of varying sizes, ranging from small to extremely large, the squid ink sauce was thick and cloying. It looked like it had been put together by a 12 year old with too many scallops to spare, it was a very ugly dish. The two other members of our party did not say much about their starters (Lobster and mango salad with an Orange dressing (£27), Escargot (£24) done in three ways which I can’t even remember). For the main course I had the signature dish, the pigs trotter stuffed with morels (£28), or to be more precise pigs trotter stuffed with 2 morels and some tasteless pork (?), the trotter only looked half full and was served with another thick cloying sauce which had no recognisable flavour that could even make it taste bad, it simply tasted of nothing. The pomme puree wasn’t smooth (I think the potatoes were overcooked) and was very oily. Partridge (£32) was so bad I can’t believe it left the kitchen. It was overcooked to the point that most of it was too tough to cut, The pork belly that it was served with was actually two rashers of pale streaky bacon, crispy in places and soft in others, this was on top of what we believe was cabbage but remained untouched because of the unpleasant odour coming from that direction. Our dining companions had sea bass (£29), which was eaten without complaint, and the other also had the partridge that was once again barely touched. We didn’t like to complain too much to save the embarrassment of our friends, however, Rachel did comment to our waiter about the partridge and he merely raised his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. Dessert was a Pistachio Soufflé (£12), which was adequate. I was very excited at the prospect of eating here again, but left feeling very angry and cheated. My anger stems from the fact that I know just how well Koffmann can cook and have always admired him for staying in the kitchen throughout his career. The night before I had checked with the restaurant and was delighted to be told (quite indignantly) that he would be in the kitchen on the Saturday, they advised that I would be able to visit him in the kitchen. In the end I was too embarrassed to visit (I haven’t got to Cabrales level of confidence in arguing with chefs), I simply wouldn’t have known what to say. I can only put the service down to low moral and possibly the exit of all the top staff since the announcement of the closure. My last visit here was a 3 star experience in a 2 star restaurant. This meal wouldn’t have even received a commendation in the next Michelin guide. I have written a letter of complaint.
  4. Tony, whatever you do, don't arrive in turn-ups and a polo neck! Aside from the barrage of abuse you are likely to get from Simon, the restaurant won't let you in either.
  5. I'm no fan of the Jacket policy at most restaurants but there are a few where it seems appropriate, LTC is one of them. What really annoys me about a restaurant quoting a dress policy is when they don't uphold it and you find yourself surrounded by people in casual attire.
  6. I shall be wearing a black jacket as mark of respect
  7. We paid our first visit to the Fat Duck for Lunch yesterday (Friday); it definitely won’t be my last. I should declare that I will be spending a couple of days in the kitchen here in December (I don’t want to be accused of bias). Firstly, I really like the dining room, the combination of the modern and old worked very nicely for me, tables were nicely spaced and I imagine that evenings here could be very romantic. We chose the tasting menu with accompanying wines by the glass. Green Tea and lime sour – this was lovely, it is very light and refreshing. Mustard Ice Cream and Red Cabbage Gazpacho. – I thought this dish was amazing, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. Orange and Beetroot jelly – Nice little trick on the brain. (Alvear Montilla Fino) The first starter was the Roast scallop, caramelised cauliflower puree, Jelly of Olorosso Sherry – The puree was beautiful, the jelly, although extremely small was incredibly flavour packed, a small amount with each mouthful was plenty. The scallop was large and cooked to perfection, the best scallop I have had in a long time. (Vin De Pays de la Cote Vermeille – Domaine de la Rectorie 1998) Snail Porridge - despite its name, there is nothing too offensive about this dish, unfortunately, it was over seasoned and was the only disappointing dish off the meal . (Poggio alle Gazze Sauvignon Blanc 1999) I then had the Crab biscuit with Roast Foie Gras, Crystallised seaweed, Marinated Salmon and Oyster vinaigrette. It was a large piece of Foie Gras that went well with the small amount of salmon. The Crab biscuit added a nice crunch to the dish and was, once again, full of flavour, there was a lot of sweetness in the dish that combined well with the Foie Gras, I’m not sure where it came from. (Riesling Kabinett 1997 Robert Weil Rheigau) Rachel ate the Cauliflower risotto, Carpaccio of Cauliflower, Caramelised Cauliflower cream, Chocolate Jelly. From my brief taste of this dish, I thought it was a star. The chocolate added a nice bitterness to the dish. (Pinot Gris Spätlese 1997 Wili Opitz) We then moved onto our main courses, I had the Poached breast Of Anjou Pigeon. The pigeon was again cooked to perfection, perfectly pink throughout, the pastilla of leg was superb, although the pastry looked a little dark (this didn’t affect its taste). Pistachio and chocolate worked well. (St-Joseph 1998 Les Royes Courbis) Rachel ate the slow cooked lamb (which the staff happily substituted even though it wasn’t on the tasting menu). This dish has been much talked about; I was suitably impressed, especially with the pieces of tongue. (Casa Lapostolle- Merlot Cuvee Alexandre 2000) Next was the spoon of Potato Puree with Lime – as previously described, pleasant but not mind-blowing. Parsnip Cornflakes were next, we were laughing by this point, the meal was really good fun as well. Then came the Caviar and chocolate, I’m quite partial to the salt/sweet combinations so this worked well for me though not so well for Rachel who dislikes white chocolate and Caviar , combining the two didn’t change her mind. Mango and Douglas Fir Puree, bavorois of lychee and mango, blackberry sorbet, beetroot and green peppercorn jelly – Fantastic. First of all was a spoon with a small ball almost invisible to the eye, indeed, so small that when Rachel came to eat hers she discovered it wasn’t there, it was replaced very promptly. The ball had an intense fir flavour, this married reasonably with the rest of the dish, although, I thought it a little superfluous. The pepper flavour came through nicely and added a pleasant bite to the rest of the dish, there was so many flavours going on here (in a good way) that I had to call the waitress back and ask for the description a second time. (Goldackerl Beerenauslese 2001), Willi Opitz) Red Pepper lollypops and Beetroot jelly were next, closely followed by the chocolate Delice that was so good and so funny we couldn’t stop laughing, The Cumin caramel accompanying this was super, definite taste of cumin but in a positively sweet way. (Maury Vintage 2000, Mas Amiel) Coffee and Petit Fours followed (an extra £3.95) Smoked Bacon Tuile should possibly have come earlier in the meal, Tobacco Chocolates provide a real kick long after you have swallowed them. As a small aside, I think the tasting menu should at least indicate that you will receive extra dishes. From reading the menu, you could conceivably think that the tasting menu consists of just 5 courses and that the carte is £15 less but that you get more. I also wonder whether it might be more fun to be told what each dish is after eating it? Total cost, including aperitifs, cocktails and service was £286, it is a lot but you get a lot for your money. The thing that struck me about the meal was how much fun it was, aside from the incredibly concentrated flavours, beautiful presentation and superb technique, there was plenty of humour that I had thought would put me off. In the end it won me over. One of the best meals I can remember eating, I can’t wait until December!
  8. Well someone had better start supervising the Savoy, from what I hear from a friend who was there last weekend, the floor was basically a moving carpet of mice. Yuck. Times must be tight at LTC, I managed to book with 12 days notice for 16th November.
  9. Interesting - My dinner was littered with bacon products at every turn including the bubble and squeak type dish, a bacon and potatoe amuse, a pork belly starter, bacon and potato side dish, this was just the dishes that we chose, from what I remember, other dishes were similarly accompanied By the way, Rachel thoroughly enjoyed her meal. My main of Rabbit stuffed with black pudding was excellent although the huge oprtion of pasta spoiled it a little on the presentation front.
  10. Tony, is this definitive? I have been several times (although not in the last 12 months) and have never been that restricted at GR for the table. Everybody seems to mention it yet I have never experienced it. GR spaces his tables, no more than 6 people at a table, all tables a few minutes apart etc. This is designed to ensure that he is not making final preparations on dishes for various tables at the same time. What I have experienced is an extremely busy reservation line that with a little perserverance, you will get through but you might have to be a little flexible with the seating times. I have eaten both before and after 21:00 and never been moved from my table. I think we will probably find that it is only the very early (i.e. 18:30 - 19:30 tables that may be turned and I don't necessarily think that ths is unreasonable if you have been warned in advance. I have also seen walk-ins on a Friday night at 22:30 be happily seated, so if anybody is desperate for a table, this might be an option. Of course, if I have missed something somewhere, or GR has changed his policy , all of the above may be wrong and your point is valid
  11. Did you try the turkey Andy? I did and came away thinking that it was probably the best it was ever going to get and it was still a pointless food!
  12. Quite it is a very simple notion that different people may like different things and, while we may like to have debate about which we prefer, it never ceases to amaze me how badly people take it when one of their favourite places is criticised. S Anybody who doesn't like Chez Bruce is a fool and I hate them!
  13. We had lunch here 3 weeks ago and I was a little disappointed, I didn't like the dining room and while the food was OK it wasn't as good as I was expecting from previous posts. I haven't got any notes and it was my first meal out for ages so didn't post it as I thought my taste buds were a little out of practice After a few more meals out, I realise that it was just an average meal that sounded more interesting than it tasted. I would however return if I continued to read favourable reviews and they moved the dining room out of the pokey little hole it currently occupies.
  14. I think you struck the nail on the head! Too many prepared foods, (how many chutney stalls do we need) and not enough fresh produce, I really don't see what the fuss is about with this fair, apart from the demonstrations, Borough market has far more to offer. Sucker that I am, I come along every year, only to be disappointed.
  15. This is a ridiculous idea but I couldn't help myself:angry: It would take lot of work to get to the hundred! England Scotland Republic of Ireland Czech Federated Rep. France Italy USA Australia Tasmania Lesser Sunda Islands (Bali) Indonesia (Java) Malaysia Singapore Thailand Hong Kong Japan China Turkey Greece Spain Indonesia Balearic Islands (Majorca and Ibiza) Andorra Switzerland Kenya Sri Lanka Maldives I also grabbed a packet of biscuits in Monaco I would suggest that this is a better list HERE!
  16. Whoops! I thought they already had one! In that case it should definitely be getting its first! Maybe not quite 'Haute' enough at the moment (if you know what I mean ) for two. I wonder what the first star will do to prices? From £25 to £30 seems like quite a hike in a short period of time.
  17. It is now £30 per head. I'm undecided on the second star at the moment. Silly things lacking such as pre starters/desserts might prevent it (although other posters have indicated that they receievd these). It was undoubtedly a good meal but with a couple of minor flaws. It left me wanting to go again which is never a bad thing.
  18. We paid our first visit to La Trompette on Saturday (having cancelled earlier in the year). I enjoyed the décor, softly lit, modern but a little cramped. The menu had a good range of choices and we spent some time quibbling over who was going to have what (we like to try and not double up). Starters Rachel had grilled quail with baby leeks, truffled cream potatoes and meat juices. This was a lovely dish, very simple but well balanced. The Quail was cooked to perfection and presented with a fairly gentle sauce made with the roasting juices. The truffled potato was lacking in truffle flavour but this was a minor flaw. I had great difficulty in choosing my dishes (too much choice) but I eventually chose the caramelised calf’s sweetbreads with pumpkin risotto, Parmesan straws and hazelnuts. This was the first time I had tried sweetbreads and now I’m really regretting not trying them sooner. A relatively small piece of sweetbread sat on top of a pumpkin risotto served in a small pumpkin (squash). The risotto was slightly overcooked but was well seasoned and had a pleasant sweetness. The hazelnuts added a lovely crunch. The Parmesan straw could have done with a touch more Parmesan. Main Again, there was excellent choice, we both chose fish. Rachel had roast halibut with olive oil mash, red peppers, basil and aged balsamic vinegar. – I only had a small taste and for some reason didn’t get to taste the sauce. Rachel thought this was a fantastic dish, halibut is much underrated, she’s a little shy but might embellish a little on this dish later (be nice to her). I chose grilled seabass with langoustines, shrimps, vanilla and herb vinaigrette. This carried a £5 supplement so I was hoping to see a couple of good size langoustines. Unfortunately the 2 langoustines were out of the shell and not particularly large. The Sea bass was large and serves with the langoustines and shrimp sprinkled haphazardly over the top. The shrimps (proper tiny brown shrimps) seemed to add a nice earthiness to the dish. The vanilla and herb vinaigrette was very good; the vanilla was very delicate and didn’t overpower the dish. Whether it was actually a vinaigrette is open to debate, it was a chicken stock and Noilly Prat base with some garlic, herbs and vanilla. The Noilly Prat combine well with the vanilla but no identifiable herb flavour came through. Dessert Rachel chose (I’m almost embarrassed to say it) chocolate profiteroles which I thought were excellent but she thought were a little disappointing My plum clafoutis with almond ice cream was a fitting end to a good meal. A small disc of very light batter with small pieces of plum throughout accompanied by (yes you guessed it) Almond ice cream. A minor point regarding service. We were not asked once during our meal, how it was going and we had to ask a couple of times for the bill at the end of the meal. A very enjoyable meal, I need to return to sample more of the menu! The full menu is reproduced below Cream of wild mushroom soup A plate of home cured meats with artichokes, spiced pears and celeriac Grilled quail with baby leeks, truffled creamed potatoes and meat juices Caramelised calf’s sweetbreads with pumpkin risotto, parmesan straws and hazelnuts Cep, foie gras and duck terrine with green beans, black truffles and brioche (supp. £5.00) Grilled brochettes of red mullet and sardines with escabèche and tapenade Persillade of Devon cockles and mussels with shellfish broth and basil Crab and scallop tortelloni with cauliflower velouté and chives Cote de boeuf with chips and béarnaise sauce, for two (supp. £5.00 p.p) Loin and fillet of venison with parsnips, griottine cherries and port sauce Calf’s liver with raclette Savoyarde, roast endive, truffle cream and sage Free range chicken breast with trompettes, cocotte potatoes and tarragon Honey glazed duck confit with lardons, coco beans, roast garlic and lavender Roast halibut with olive oil mash, red peppers, basil and aged balsamic vinegar Grilled sea bass with langoustines, shrimps, vanilla and herb vinaigrette (supp. £5.00) Bouillabaisse with new potatoes, aioli and fennel croutons Chocolate profiteroles Assiette of fig desserts Chocolate and mint délice with chocolate croquettes Water melon cocktail with Champagne and mint granita Baked vacherin with garlic, thyme, white wine and country bread Gâteau Basque with lemon curd ice cream and blueberries Prune and armagnac ice cream or strawberry sorbet Plum clafoutis with almond ice cream Cheese from the board (supp. £5.00)
  19. I thought you would all appreciate it! I did berate them for not returning with more information At least they didn't think it "average"
  20. I sent 2 'non-foodie' types here on Monday for a Birthday meal. They thought it was fantastic: "that was without doubt the best piece of beef (my uneducated palette) I have EVER had EVER ! fan bloody tastic..." Further investigation revealed that the other member of the party had some sort of lamb dish with "fantastic creamy mash" and that the beef came "with a brown sauce" I think the beef was a Daube but couldn't get to the bottom of lamb dish (Tarragon Jus?) The meal I had recently at Chez Bruce was superb, in some ways I'm glad I don't live locally because it would probably make me bankrupt living within walking distance of a restaurant that good!
  21. Heston, I'm about to start a new job that is going to leave me with lots of spare time on my hands. Can I spend some of it in the kitchen at the Fat Duck? I'm sure my girlfriend would appreciate it as she is fed up washing my pans after a long day at work
  22. Good to see a recent review, I'm at Locatelli next Friday (coincidentallly, Capital this Friday).
  23. Why am I a masochist? When top end restaurants and 'true' Italian restaurants couldn't deliver I hit a couple of tourist ones to see what the result was. Il Convivio is an Italian restaurant with a Michelin star, how is this comparable (aside from the Michelin rating) to a poor French meal that you ate in Italy? In the end Planet Hollywood turned out the best (this wasn't saying much) pasta we ate in Rome - now that is frightening! Even crappy Italian restaurants should be able to turn out a reasonable Pasta Al Pomodoro, they weren't even reasonable they were distinctly poor. Incidentally, I didn't describe the food in Italy as average, I applied that description as a (generous) generalisation of the food I ate in Rome. I'm sure that most food obsessed people would not put Rome towards the top of their list when it comes to food? As for anybody that did, I would have to question their judgement. I perfectly understand the workings of Italian food, the pasta, the meat the vegetable courses, I don't care if my meat dish comes out with no sides, this didn't detract from the meals in anyway, it was technique that was lacking in simple dishes that anybody should be able to turn out well.
  24. Cabrales, you have ruined the secret about getting into the Ivy - Don't Book, I'll probably never be able to get in there again!
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