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PS

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Posts posted by PS

  1. The starred place in Albi is L'Esprit de Vin. We ate there a couple of summers ago and had a very pleasant lunch. If I remember rightly, there was a bit of experimentation in the food, but nothing too wild. It was good value, I think. Albi's well worth a visit - a lovely city, which is making an effort of doing itself up. The cathedral is one of the most arresting buildings I have ever seen.

    Cordes' starred place is Le Grand Ecuyer. It must be four years since we visited. I remember it being a good meal, with the unusual feature of each course being a trilogy - effectively three dishes at once. Interesting stuff. La Falaise in Cahuzac-sur-Vere (between Cordes and Gaillac) is worth a visit as well. Quite a small place, precise cooking and good local wines.

  2. Surprised that no one has mentioned "New British Classics" by Gary Rhodes. I use it a fair bit.

    So do I - it's the one I turn to for most of the basic stuff - like yorkshire pudding batter, scones, pastry, and I follow a lot of his techniques for, eg, roast potatoes. It's also got some very good recipes for the likes of irish stew, pork pie, rice pudding... the classics. :smile:

    I was just thinking recently that the TV series Rhodes did in connection with the book was one of the best instructional TV cooking programmes I have ever watched. None of the usual attendant lifestyle pish, just him in the studio cooking, with close ups where required, but none of those excessively close shaky camera things that Jamie Oliver's directors were doing at the same time.

  3. Oops, I think we've stumbled onto another of my hobby horses, local hacks who think they're critics because they expense the odd meal or two; even MPs have better judgement.

    Couldn't agree more. I gave up on the Scotsman's restaurant reviews a long time ago, as they seem to think it appropriate to send random journos/minor "celebs" without a trace of culinary knowledge to do them.

  4. Don't want to be cycnical (well, actually I do) but I would not be surprised if a number of diners on the nights in question have heard/read that Heston has said he's going to give those who suffered the suspected food poisoning something special if they come back and are now throwing their hats into the ring on the expectation that Heston's going to give them a special Victorian garden with deep fried insects, or virbrator-enhanced absinthe jelly as an apology... (cf HB's latest TV show, of those who haven't seen it).

    Winter is a pretty normal time for gastro viruses to be kicking around, isn't it?

  5. How do you pronounce "Deuchars"?

    Easily after 4 or 5 of them...!

    I think I went for "Duke argh's" - it seemed to work.

    Close enough. I've always gone with "Duke-urs".

    Failing that, you can usually get it by just asking for "the IPA" and giving a nod or a quick point towards the appropriate tap/pump.

  6. I travel around the UK a bit and have always avoided Little Chef. Apart from the grim cafeteria McInteriors, the food is overpriced and the coffee awful. I don't have a problem with eating ordinary food just as long as I don't have to pay extra quid just for the joy of it being in a service-station.

    Is it really overpriced? Genuine question. I've not been to LC for food for at least a decade (I had a "coffee" at one last year - not good), so I don't know the prices, but I took it from the programme that all main courses are prices at less than £10. Given the amount of protein on the Olympic breakfast, that doesn't seem too unreasonable (as long as we don't got into any discussions of quality/value).

  7. The Highwayman is in Burrow, two miles or so south of Kirkby Stephen. Those two miles probably aren't ideal if you're on foot though. There must be some decent old coaching inns in Kirkby Stephen itself.

    The Highwayman is south of Kirkby Lonsdale

    You're quite right - it's nowhere near the suggested route. Apologies for my confusion :blink:

  8. Maybe Im old fashioned or naive but its reasurring to know that when you go to the likes of Wisharts, the chef is 9 times out of ten actually cooking and he has resisted the temptation to sell his soul to the media.

    The evening we were at Kitchin the chef was busy in the kitchen (there's a window into the kitchen so we could watch what was happening). I have no idea whether this was an atypical evening.

    I've been to the Kitchin three times now - One Friday dinner, two midweek lunches. On each occasion I and my fellow diner had an excellent meal (better, in my opinion, than the several - upwards of seven - meals I have enjoyed at Number One at The Balmoral, a restaurant that I rate). And on each occasion Tom Kitchin was in the kitchen.

    Still, that's not to say that every meal and diner's experience is going to be faultless. Each to their own. Out of interest, how was the lamb murdered? I had one of the best pieces of lamb I've tasted in a long time at The Kitchin. The puddings were pretty tasty as well.

  9. I always used to find Jonathan Meades entertaining, erudite and spot on with his food views, which struck me as a very good combination. Haven't found anyone to replace him in my estimation since he packed in... Far too many dabblers whose opinions on food are worthless in my experience, especially in the Scottish papers...

  10. Get yourself to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society - either their Queen Street place or if you are down in Leith try their lovely place at the Vaults. They bottle single cask, cask strength stuff and have a massive range. The staff are usually very helpful and knowledgable. You may need to be a member to get in, but if you tell them you'd like to pop in to sample with a view to joining they'll probably let you in. And, believe me, once you've tasted the whisky you will want to join - it's something like £70 a year and they have a place in London if you're ever down there.

    SMWS website

    I've tended to be disappointed by pubs in Scotland - I've always felt it was a bit telling that the Good Pub Guide's chapter on Scotland is roughly the same size as its chapter on Cumbria. However, there are a few decent old-school pubs, which also have a reasonable range of whiskies - perhaps try the Cumberland Bar on Cumberland Street, The Cafe Royal on West Register St (great interior here) or some of the pubs down Stockbridge (perhaps The Baillie). In the Old Town the Bow Bar on Victoria Street has decent beers as well.

  11. The Kitchin is superb - I had the tasting menu with wines there a couple of months ago and it was probably the best meal I've had in Edinburgh. Local produce, expertly cooked, nicely presented, good wine choices.

    Oloroso is highly over-rated in my book - it's okay, but absolutely not anything special. Tony Singh's other place, Roti, is much more interesting - indian cuisine at a high quality restaurant standard.

    Number One at the Balmoral is reliably good but not, to my mind, spectacular.

  12. Oh and I wouldn't mind hearing where else you tried, just for reference!

    Not much else to report, to be honest - we did a bit of "self-catering" with a load of local bread (Staff of Life bread is the best of the local bakers IMO), meat (Sillfield bacon is still superb) and cheese and chutneys - had some of Martin Gott's St James cheese, which I enjoyed, but it seemed quite odd - some bits of it tasted really young, others really ripe, all good though.

    We had lunch/afternoon tea at Lucy's in Ambleside, which was okay - it's a decent enough place without any pretensions as far as I could tell. The Westmorland afternoon tea of scone, rum butter, huge chunk of fruit cake with Lancashire cheese and a massive slice of cake almost ended me. Also, Lunch/snack at Wilf's cafe in Staveley - good value, pretty basic, but aimed at walkers and cyclists, which it caters for well. And Sunday lunch at the Eagle and Child in Staveley - seemed very cheap, but good (for the price) carvery, massive slabs of Sticky Toffee Pudding to follow, good real ales.

    I love the Lakes. Will be back as soon as I can...

    As to R&Co undermining L'Enclume business - I wouldn't have thought so. The two are very different offerings. We weren't planning on visiting L'Enclume this trip as high-end dining wasn't really in our plans (we're more likely to do that as a shortbreak where we can stay at or very close to restaurant so we can both get battered, ahem, enjoy some wine with our meal), but on seeing R&Co open, we were more than happy to put in a couple of trips down to Cartmel. As noted above, it's excellent value, so likely to get punters who wouldn't dream of shelling out £100 ahead for a meal in and possibly whet their appetites for making the jump up to L'Enclume for special occasions. Plus, those who go for a weekend at L'Enclume can have a R&Co meal and a L'Enclume meal in the same weekend, rather than L'Enc and something else. I think it will do well - on the evidence of our visits, it certainly deserves to.

  13. Back from my week in the Lakes, the main meals worth reporting on were at Rogan & Company, The Drunken Duck and The Punchbowl.

    In reverse order:

    The Drunken Duck was poor and turned out to be the most expensive meal of the lot. Well, "poor" may be overstating the case a bit, but it was nothing special by any means. I can't remember what I had for a starter, my main was lamb, which just seemed fairly uninspired, and I can't remember what the dessert was, which pretty much sums up the experience - nothing to write home about. Remembering what it used to be like as a Lakeland pub, the whole experience just feels a bit wrong and trying too hard to be a table-clothed restaurant, but without the panache in the food to carry it off. This restauranty-ness is unnecessary in my book, especially all the way through the pub (I'd have preferred the option of a bar meal, but no dice). In the past, we've enjoyed the lunches there, so we went back a few days later. No better - I had mussels steamed in their beer, but when they turned up they were lukewarm at best, cold at worst. The side of chips I'd ordered where piping hot, but a little under cooked, so I can only presume the mussels were cooked first, then the chef notice the side order and held the mussels back to rush out some chips. Considering past experiences, they've really taken their eye off the ball and though I still really like their beer, it will take more than that to get me heading back.

    The Punchbowl was much better, but still not knock-your-socks off great. My foie-gras and ham hock terrine starter was a little too fridge-cold to be top notch, and my gingerbread ice cream a little grainy, but the main was good (lamb with dauphinois potatoes, I think).

    Anyway, skipping the rest of that to the main event and subject of the thread: Rogan & Company was superb. We enjoyed it so much the first time, we went back for lunch later in the week. Most of the dishes we had have been nicely summarised in the thread already, but I would add the following:

    The mushroom pithivier was delicious - wonderfully light, melting pastry.

    Sweetbreads - mm-mmm.

    Braised lamb - wonderfully soft.

    Chicken fricasee - precisely cooked, delicate meat, with creamy macaroni on the side.

    Hot chocolate mousse looked a little underwhelming, but tasted spot-on.

    The staff were friendly and relaxed - perhaps a little too relaxed as wine was just uncorked and left on the table unpoured, which felt a little wrong, but not a major issue - I do have hands for the pouring of wine.

    My one complaint was that most dishes were a little underseasoned to my taste, but underseasoning is at least easily rectified by diner themself at the table.

    We went back for lunch a few days later, and the same menu to the same standard was available, plus a few lunchtime specials, including a superbly well-done fish and chips. They also offer sandwiches and chips, which strikes me as a classic Brit pub lunch.

    All-in-all, it's a great wee place. Judging by customers' accents, Simon's achieved his aim of appealing to the locals, which is nice to see, and it's not hard to see why - we came out of there on both occasions having had aperitif, three courses of fine food, wine and coffee for less than £40 a head. Great value for a single trip to Cartmel or an ideal second day meal after you've been to L'Enclume the night before.

  14. I'm down in the Lakes in a couple of weeks and will probably squeeze in all three of Rogan & Company, Drunken Duck and Punchbowl. I haven't had a meal in the dining room at the DD for maybe three years, when it was pretty good, so PhilD's report doesn't make it sound too promising - I do like their beers, so there might well be a case for just taking the bar menu and sinking pints instead... Very much looking forward to Rogan & Co though.

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