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Everything posted by PS

  1. Never quite understood this saying, as the weegies seem to think they're the ones with all the style (well, the conspicuous consumption designer clothes anyway). Back to Martin Wishart: the recurring theme I've heard from many diners there is that the food's very good, but you come away unsatisfied (ie still hungry). I originally put that down to them being the standard Brit "big portions = good meal" punters, but the more read/hear it, the more I suspect there may be an issue here. Ah well, I suppose the answer is to get down there and try it out for myself (while ensuring I've got some bread in for a post-meal round of toast when I get home ).
  2. I did much the same thing in France a couple of weeks ago. What's the incidence of CJD in France? I'd have thought it would be sky-high if there is a strong link between it and BSE. Let's hope it's not... I've had calf's brain in St John as well (much better than the one I had in France, incidentally). I'd assumed that was British brain from a young animal (the "calf" bit gives that away) and that was legally okay. Was I wrong on that assumption?
  3. The one time I ate at Rules I really enjoyed the Steak and Kidney pudding (with oyster) and mashed potato. Rich as hell, and I could barely move afterwards, but I was happy. Can't remember my starter, but a friend had the meat salad, which turned out to be an enormous plate of various cold meats. I was surprised he could even finish that, let along crack into his main course as well.
  4. And there's an article in the Edinburgh Evening News today: Linkety-link To be fair, the top-end dining market in Edinburgh is picking up compared to where we were 5 or 6 years ago (based on the difficulty I've been having of getting into The Kitchin at less than a week's notice, at least). Stick a hotel into the mix to cover some costs and he should be doing alright.
  5. PS

    Dining Alone

    I don't have a problem with eating alone at all. I do a fair bit of business travel and see it as an opportunity to try out some decent places in London/Manchester/wherever, which I otherwise wouldn't get to. Faced with the alternative that colleagues tend to go for when on their own (room service - they can't even face dining alone in the hotel restaurant), I'm straight out the door to a decent restaurant. I usually take a book or a newspaper (I once had a magazine, but that seemed to make the whole experience a little low brow) and have had a fine old time at the likes of Magdalen, Anchor & Hope, St John, Arbutus... I've found the staff to be friendly, perhaps even friendlier, when I'm on my own. That may be down to me noticing them a bit more without the distraction of conversation with a dining companion, or perhaps they just took pity on me as some kind of friendless loser...
  6. Never heard of The Wedgwood, but then I didn't know the Reform had shut. Not that I'd been to it - like you say, it's kind of a graveyard down there. I suspect the trouble is that locals tend not to have a reason to pass any further down the Royal Mile than the Jeffrey Street/St Mary's Street crossing (La Garrigue, Iggs, Bann's are all there), tourists probably aren't all that interested in resto-quality food during the day and during the evening the area's deserted. On a positive note, Plaisir du Chocolat has been revived - it's now at 48 Thistle Street, between Hannover St and Frederick St. It's a very small boutique shop though and is just doing chocolates now though - no sit-in cafe/meals. It looks like a good location for it - right in the middle of a load of high-end fashion boutiques. Much more convenient for me as well. Plaisir du Chocolat
  7. The "£20 bird" thing can be a bit of red herring as well. I have been known to buy a £18 chicken in my time - a free range, traditionally raised bird from Linda Dick in the Borders - but that is £18 for an absolutely massive beast (usually 3kg). I can easily get 10 portions of meat from the bird, plus a really good stock.
  8. Magdalen is great. I had a stint working down in London earlier in the year and was in there twice a week for the best part of two months, as it was just round the corner from my hotel. One really good feature is that the menu changes daily, perhaps not in its entirity, but there were always one or two different starters, mains and puds. It would appear to keep things seasonal as well. Plus, although you can reserve tables upstairs, the tables downstairs aren't reserved, so I've always found you can pop in and get a meal. As far as memory serves, the best dishes I've had there were: Sliced pig's head with pickled red cabbage and fried potatoes (superb) Nettle soup with snails Longhorn rib of beef with dripping toast (mmm, fatty...) Roast loin of Middlewhite Pickled mackerel and potato salad French toast with marmalade and ice cream (delicious gooey briochy french toast) Had some splendid rhubarb and creamy dessert first time I was there too - can't remember exactly what though... They always have a dish to share on the mains as well. Had a ham and veal pie once, which was excellent, a really short pastry on top. Couldn't recommend it highly enough - have to say that all but one of my meals there beat my one experience of Arbutus hands down. Not sure if my experience of Arbutus is representative, given the gushing praise for it here and elsewhere, but given the choice, for me it would be Magdalen every time.
  9. Cheers John. I realise I haven't reported back on our experience. In the end, we tended to stick to smaller local places. Near Gaillac, Le Romuald in Lisle-sur-Tarn was a good bet - we're been there each time we've holidayed in the area - it's reliable, has friendly service and does a good magret de canard cooked over a fire. La Falaise was an enjoyable meal, although I'm afraid the details are fading from my memory. It was a pleasant, unrushed dinner sitting on the terrace at the back. Down toward the Pyrenees, I'm afraid we didn't unearth much of note. Several standard issue hotels doing an average prix fixe lunch and a pizza place in Lourdes (the pizza was good, but I'll not be sorry if I never see Lourdes again...). However, Chez Ruffet was magnificent and the undoubted food highlight. The menu as built around tomatoes, and was just faultless. Very good, pleasant service as well.
  10. PS

    Le Petit Prince

    I went there based on an eGullet recommendation several years ago. The food was okay (but no better than some other comparably priced places), but the main memory was the TERRIBLE service - the most obnoxious, rude (and strangely camp) waiter I've had the misfortune to suffer. Actually, I have a feeling that the food must have been reasonable as otherwise we would have left before the mains otherwise... If so, the kitchen was being badly let down.
  11. Texture? ← What about for drinks? "Mouthfeel" is extremely useful in describing an unflitered whiskey, for instance. Not sure "texture" would cut it. It's all about the context, isn't it?
  12. La Tupina should be great on the cooler days of Autumn/Winter - we were there on a baking hot Summer evening and the massive range they cook beef, duck etc on just added to the heat. On a cold day/night, I'd imagine it will enhance the warm glow from the food no end.
  13. Chez Ruffet it is then! Thanks for your responses. To be honest, I'm very happy with local magret de canard places, so a Chez Ruffet trip, followed by a few local eateries and the odd picnic will suit me fine. I will certainly report back on anything else of note we find. We've got a week near Gaillac as well, where we'll aim for a couple more higher-end places that we know already (probably Chateau de Salettes, La Falaise, and we may even get across to Hotel Auguy in Laguiole if we fancy a longer trip for some knives...). Cannot wait! Thanks Philip
  14. Several searches on the France forum, together with John's compendium at the top of the page, have left me with the impression that there ain't a lot of good eats in the Central Pyrenees. Please prove me wrong with your responses to this post... We're going to be staying near Tarbes for a week in July, but the only recommended eatery I've been able to dig up within a reasonable drive is Chez Ruffet (which I am interested in - can someone give me an idea of the likely cost per head there?). Surely there are some decent small local establishment as well? And while we're at it, what are the local specialities that we should be seeking out? I'm all for steak with bearnaise sauce, but I'd like to think there's more to local cuisine than that. Thanks in advance, Philip
  15. The last I heard about Abstract was that the chef, who, on the basis of Ramsay's programme, was the main attraction, had upped and left suddenly. I don't know if the restaurant has suffered as a result. The Kitchin is certainly where it's at at the moment - must try and get in there soon. On a sad Edinburgh note, Plaisir de Chocolat has turned up its toes due to financial difficulties. I suspect that the rapid expansion they had in the past couple of years (shops in Melrose, concessions in Manchester, Dubai etc) proved too much for the cash flow
  16. Yup. That's just how it's always been - I've not been aware of any friends tipping at the bar either. Maybe it's cultural, or maybe the service just isn't given with a smile ... Hey, it's grim up north.
  17. Agreed. I don't think I have ever left a tip when buying drinks in a pub/bar/winebar/club in London or anywhere else in the UK and I don't think it is expected at all. Chin chin! Philip
  18. Well, last week was our fourth trip to L’Enclume and without doubt it was the best yet. We were on the Tour again. On previous visits, there has been the odd dish that didn’t quite do it for me so that, although the overall impression of the meal was very good, there was the odd dip along the way. This time though, every dish worked and the whole meal sat together beautifully. Apologies in advance for the sketchiness of the detail with some of this. If I’d known I was going to be so pleased with the experience I’d have taken notes, but I propose to do a quick run through of what we had with reference to Rufus’s review in the link in Pweaver1984’s post above, as most of the dishes we had on the Tour were within the Underground menu that he enjoyed. The dehydration/rehydration and coney’s cornets were pre-starters, with Whim03 being the “official” starter, precisely hitting the 5 tastes (although with different ingredients, including a cep foam and parmesan snow if I remember rightly). The pork cheek dish had evolved into a deep fried breaded cube, with a grapefruit foam and another sweet foam – this worked a treat and demonstrates one of the great strengths of Simon Rogan and L’Enclume – the menu is constantly evolving, so although dishes may be familiar, they’re rarely if ever the same as ones you’ve had before. The cold and colder foie gras worked a treat, hot and sour soup provided a bit of a cleanser, then the razor role reversal, which again has evolved nicely, the chestnuts and razor clam broth being a particularly satisfying element. Then it was the scallop with pea caviar, which I absolutely loved – always been a pea fan, and this was surely the ultimate pea treatment. None more pea. The sole foam was a triumph as well – really rich and flavoursome. I had a good dig around the white foam looking for pieces of fish, but when none were forthcoming I realised that the foam was the sole, and delicious and light it was too, combining beautifully with the other elements of the dish. After the ginger beer palate cleanser, the beef “main” was decent, but I’ll admit to being hazy as to its constituent parts, except that there was liquorice in there. And so on to desserts – expearimenthol frappe is like an old friend, and was particularly good this time with a strong espresso ice on top. Stiffy Tacky Pudding was a joy – each of the liquids merging and the flavours building until you have sticky toffee pudding. The only downside was the amount of gel was left with in my mouth once the flavours had flowed. The final course strawberry blancmange was the best dessert I’ve had at L’Enclume – a fine balanced end to the meal. So that’s the food – Simon’s really on top form and I couldn’t recommend a visit to L’Enclume highly enough. The a la carte’s a goner, by the way. So few people were choosing it that they were having to throw out the ingredients. We had a chat with Simon the following morning. The restaurant has been very busy of late, but Simon has been frustrated by a number of issues, including locals who clearly wouldn’t dream of spending more than ten bob on a meal and who, according to Simon, reckon he’s the Antichrist; and lack of attention (and additional recognition, I’d assume) from redbook restaurant guidebook chaps. Hence, the Henley restaurant with rooms, which sounds an exciting prospect – in contrast to L’Enclume’s rusticity it will be a much more modern experience (both in design and other areas - Simon mentioned interactive TV, but I've no idea if that's in the restaurant). It will be a much bigger dining room and a larger kitchen, in an area where the Fat Duck has softened up the local taste buds and on the radar for a lot more people. The builders at Henley are behind schedule, so Simon doesn’t see it opening this year – sounds like a Spring 2008 opening. Penny and he will keep L’Enclume as well, but you have to assume that they’ll be based down in Henley at the bigger, more prominent operation. Rather cutely, Simon suggested another reason for the Henley restaurant is that he has plans to retire to the south of France in 6 years’ time, and if Henley’s a success he’ll be able to afford it. If that’s the case, then I can only advise you to get to L’Enclume sharpish and enjoy some real culinary talent (and some beautiful scenery) while you can. Cheers, Philip
  19. Thanks Dave We has a very good meal at Chateau de Salettes last year and it's only ten minute from the gite we stay in, so I'm sure we'll give it a visit this time as well. Cheers, Philip
  20. Agreed on Najac - a lovely little town, perched on the spine of a hill. We had lunch at L'Oustal del Barry when we visited last year. Lunch was decent and reasonably priced, spoilt only by the four brits sat at the next table who did not understand a word of french, even though one couple had had a holiday home there for the best part of 10 years... We're heading back to Gaillac for a week's hols in July (third time in three years - as this suggests, we really like the area), to be followed by a stint in the Pyrenees. Really looking forward to it. Philip
  21. Well, I've found this, which seems to include the address of his new place in Henley: Henley food fest I'm heading back to the Lakes in a couple of weeks' time, with another visit to L'Enclume on the itinerary. I'll see what I can find out about the new restaurant when I'm there.
  22. We stayed at both the Sonoma Hotel and the Bordeaux House on our last visit. Sonoma Hotel was very pleasant - an old-style hotel, nicely maintained, right on the main square at Sonoma and sharing the building with the Girl and the Fig restaurant, which hit the spot for dinner one night. On our second night it was an easy walk to the General's Daughter (easy walk there at least, but a bit more of a stagger back, weighed down as we were by lots of food). Helpful, pleasant staff as well. The Bordeaux House was fine. When we stayed there the housekeeper was on holiday, so we didn't get the second B of B&B, but that was fine as the Bouchon Bakery was a 5 minute walk away. It's a nice old stone building, with 4 or 5 bedrooms, each separately lockable, so you do not have to take the entire house and may end up sharing with other folk. There isn't any staff to speak to, unless the housekeeper normally lives on site.
  23. My two visits have been at Thanksgiving and we found it a lovely time to go - not too busy and everyone was very relaxed. It may not have been hot, but it was a damn sight warmer than Edinburgh is in November... We're hoping to go back again next year, but this time in March/April to a) see the place at a different time; b) to see if we (more accurately I seeing as my wife has no urge to get on a boat) can see some whales heading up the Pacific coast; and c) to see Yosemite melt waters (that's for me again). Philip
  24. Got to agree - the "vile temper" reputation really stems from his first series in the UK where, to the 'shock' of newspaper columnists who have little to write about beyond last night's TV, he shouted at his staff when they didn't get up to standard. Nowadays I hear much more about his management style where he is able to nurture talent and gain loyalty (just see how many well-reviewed/starred restaurants in his stable are operated by chefs promoted from within his organisation). Can't fault his performance to date in the UK and by the sounds of the reviews I've read on here, it sounds like the product's good in NY as well. He's not being punished for daring to set up in NY is he? I'd always thought belittling people for having ideas above their station was a British thing....
  25. Fergus Henderson has got a new book coming out in August - Beyond Nose to Tail: A Kind Of British Cooking, Part II. I understand there's going to be more on bakery and desserts in it than were in Beyond Nose to Tail. Should be a belter.
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