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Everything posted by Winot

  1. I'm afraid I turned it off, for two reasons: 1. The set-up was too extreme - the chef was clearly completely incompetent. 2. I find GR an utterly repulsive macho boor. It would have been more interesting (and rather more representative) if he had been trying to turn around a chef with some talent who was nevertheless failing (perhaps due to customer base, inexperience, staff problems or the like). The culinary equivalent of John Harvey Jones troubleshooting. W.
  2. And the Zagat survey is called that? "Most Popular"? That's the nub, isn't it? We wouldn't be having this discussion if the Restaurant Magazine's survey was "50 Most Popular Restaurants".
  3. Interesting thread. Recalls the "good old" Plotnicki days. Really seems to come down to how cynical/idealistic you are about marketing. So is The French Laundry the Citizen Kane of restaurants?
  4. Winot

    Salad Nicoise

    Or how about a white Cassis or Bandol?
  5. I may have got the name wrong, although a Google search reveals quite a few hits so there's definitely something called that. Whatever it was, it wasn't very good -- a single large potato chiselled into something resembling a zeppelin truncated at both ends, then baked (I'd guess). But not for long enough. I agree with your pessimistic prognosis, although it was pretty busy when I was there and apparently also when a colleague went a few weeks ago. Perhaps the presence of Lovells upstairs will be enough to keep it going. The web site says they do a cheese lunch with "3 Cheeses, 4 Cold Meats, Preserves etc, Glass of Wine" for £15 -- I'm tempted to pop back soon for that, if only to have that tour round the cellar.
  6. Visited VB yesterday for lunch and it was a mixed experience. The room is impressive but is also too loud. We had a poor table (for 5) in a corner which lead to service problems, of which more below. One of the party had to sit in front of a portable heater which reduced leg room and overcooked him but at least they turned it off when asked. I started with cauliflower and parmesan risotto which was good but very hot which suggested it had been pre-cooked then pinged. I then had the calf's liver and chateau potato with baked figs. The liver was good but the potato undercooked and the sauce too sweet and over-reduced. What my other half calls "restaurant sauce". I finished with cheese from the cheese room which was the highlight of the meal -- interesting choices, excellent quality and condition (I was warned that one of my putative choices wasn't ready yet so they knoiw what they're doing here). I chose the wine from the short list (as opposed to the cellar) and had an excellent Luxembourg riesling (curiousity got the better of me) at a reasonable £23/btl and a glass of South African red at £9.90 - the most expensive glass on themenu but it's wot mandela had when he came out of prison and it was excellent (sorry - can't remember name). So far then, good wine and excellent cheese and acceptable food. The problem was the service, which was extraordinarily inexperienced and inappropriate for a place of this type. As well as the litany of low-level cock-ups (having to ask for order again; special cutlery given to wrong diners; dishes given to wrong diners; leaning across table rather than coming round) they were completely insensitive to the fact that this was a business lunch and kept interrupting at inopportune moments or sticking around for too long/providing too much information. Even the maitresse d' kept insisting that I visit the cellar to pick the wine -- I'd love to, but I've got to butter up this client! She should have picked this up after I'd declined her offer the first time. I hate overly formal service, but this was more akin to TGI Fridays than a City restaurant serving £50 lunches. I will give this place another try, mainly for the cheese and to scope out the cellar, but if my visit was representative the service really has a lot of bedding down to do before it's acceptable for a place of this type.
  7. Booth at Borough Market used to have a place on St Andrew's Hill between Carter Lane and Queen Victoria St. I think the present owners still know the Boothpeople, and can get mushrooms from them. You might give them a try. W.
  8. Jessica's in Edgbaston has got good reviews -- discussed in this thread.
  9. Gary, Can I ask: 1. How many of you shared the one bottle of champers, one bottle of white and one of red?; and 2. Which industry you work in? I'm clearly in the wrong one!
  10. Others will have more experience than I but in general London restaurants don't demand suit/jacket so long as you look smart (i.e. not dirty jeans/singlet).
  11. Che, Sorry you were disappointed, but I'd urge you to give it another go. The cassoulet is not the best thing they do. W.
  12. Wouldn't that take you over the weekly units target, sorry recommended maximum? Or have I got my sums wrong?
  13. Off topic, but this is fantastic in cheddar sandwiches. But not with bacon, oh no.
  14. It has to be brown sauce, and preferably Daddy's. After all they had the early celebratory endorsement of Tommy Trinder (yes I always wondered who he was as well). I have known others to add vinegar to bacon sarnies which might do the trick in the absence of Daddy's. Edit to add: My point exactly.
  15. We ate there on Saturday night for Mrs. Winot’s birthday and had a very enjoyable meal, but came away feeling that, with a couple of exceptions, it offered good solid cuisine rather than fireworks. As has been said elsewhere, the room is comforting rather than flash and the atmosphere warm and welcoming. The wine list is extremely good value – we had two half bottles of St Veran and Gigondas at about £12 each and the excellent manzanilla I started with was only £2.50. The amuse was an artichoke veloute with peanut froth in the ubiquitous shot glass. This was an excellent start with the flavours marrying extremely well. A deeply comforting and yet luxurious experience. Then came the starters – red mullet on a duck confit for me and pigs trotter and cheek risotto for Mrs. W. The fish was perfectly cooked with a robust flavour and the skin was quite highly salted which I liked but may have been too much for some. The flavour didn’t clash with the duck but there wasn’t a real synergy and I ended up respecting the dish rather than worshipping it. The risotto was comforting and tasty but again no wow factor – I reckon we could have had a decent bash at this at home and we’re competent rather than skilled cooks. Both portions were on the large size. The mains were red partridge and black pudding on soured cabbage for me and brill with eel cream and white onion fondant for Mrs. W. Again these were good solid offerings with an excellent black pudding and a decent couple of hunks of partridge but not orgasmic. The eel cream was a very good idea. By this point we were perhaps slightly disappointed but the meal rallied with the space dust pre-dessert and a fantastic pre-cheese for me of a scrumptiously-oozey cheese beignet on onion marmalade. The cheese tray was one of the best I’d seen and Helen’s explanations and advice were excellent. She then presented the selected cheeses in a wheel of increasing flavour on the plate which was a very clever touch. The home made biscuits were also noteworthy. However the outstanding dish was Mrs. W’s lightly frozen prune and burdock mousse which was the most extraordinary explosion of flavours that I would have loved to spend time picking apart but despite the generous “have as much as you want” from my now-full beloved disappeared surprisingly quickly. Mint tea for two and petit fours (most of which we had bagged up) finished us off and we waddled back to our hotel – the excellent Kandinsky. Total damage was a reasonable £140 including a well-deserved tip.
  16. Tarka - better go quickly as word is getting around. On Friday night we went pre-theatre and it was full by 6.45pm (with names being taken for tables from about 6.30pm). When we left at 7.15pm we (almost literally) had to fight our way out through the pub side. Still, the cassoulet for two made it all worthwhile.
  17. Tried the Drapers Arms last night on Barnsbury St, Islington. Beautiful upstairs dining room to escape from the melee below. It was quiet but the tables are well spaced anyway. I had fish soup with good croutons, roue and cheese but not quite intensely fishy enough for me. But then few fish soups are. Then chicken with mushrooms and turnip dauphinoise with a side of spinach - massive portion, nicely cooked, could actually taste the chicken. Finally a HUGE piece of vanilla/choc cheesecake with a roasted plum and plum sauce (I was eating my way out of a hangover) which was just the ticket. With 4 people eating 2-3 courses, coffees and just one btl wine the bill was £34 a head inc. service which was delightful (OK I fancied the waitress) except for an inexplicable wait for the mains which was apologised for. Good value I'd say. Not sure if a separate dining room disqualifies it frfom being a gastropub but I'll be back here - prefer it grreatly to the Duke Of C. which is a bit uncomfortable and overpriced imo.
  18. Or alternatively Anchor & Hope in The Cut -- a short walk from Tate Modern. Very similar to St John but gastropub style. I had a great braised ox cheek and celeriac mash there on Saturday.
  19. I went to the Court Restaurant yesterday for lunch and was quite disappointed. This is run by the ubiquitous Digby Trout (who catered for 130 brilliantly at a party we threw at Dulwich Picture Gallery). I had pheasant terrine to start which didn't come with toast so I had to ask for bread. It was OK but a bit bland. The cherry tomato compote was quite a good idea. My companions has smoked salmon which again came without bread. Main for me was teriyaki salmon with noodles and bok choi. The noodles were cold and the teriyaki poor, although the salmon and bok choi were quite good. The others had pasta with grilled artichokes which looked OK but a rip off at £10 and an apricot stuffedd chicken breast that looked a bit dry. Deserts were excellent though - citrus tart which i didn't taste and an intense chocolate torte with caramelised orange peel. Excellent wine - Domaine Lalande Pouilly Fuisse 2001 (not 2000 as advertised) at £35 which had a great Burgundian depth and oiliness with a good fruit/acid balance. Still, Bibendum have this for just under £13 so quite a high mark-up. 3x3 course, wine, coffee and service (which was slow) came to £122. Great location but I won't be going back for the food.
  20. 2001 Domaine Lalande Pouilly Fuisse. £35 in Court Restaurant, British Museum with pheasant terrine then teriyaki salmon with noodles and bok choi. Intense Burgundy depth; quite oily; good balance fruit/acidity. Available from Bibendum for £12.77/bottle which would be good value.
  21. 2001 Dr Loosen Riesling - £5.99 from Oddbins. A glass with Nigel Slater's Moroccan sardines (filled with chermoula and deep fried) and couscous salad. Zingy appley/floral flavours but not a lot of depth. Very drinkable with the food. W.
  22. Les Jardin des Sens (Michelin 3* in Montpellier, France) has horrendous mark-ups. I'm afraid it was 2-3 years ago now so I can't remember the details but some lower end bottles (by which I mean at 30-50 euros) had 600% mark-ups. And these were local wines. And they had only one wine list (or "livre des vins" as they called it). Grrr!
  23. I have had the same experience. Luckily I have always managed to get a table. I agree that it's a bad system. On the issue of keeping the prices down, is the thinking here that they can fit it more sittings without taking bookings (because some people will be quicker than anticipated)? Does anyone know if this is a well-proven method in general in the restaurant business? What about the people who are put off coming by th elack of certainty?
  24. Mela is pretty good I think for the West End (was there on Wednesday) but too far from my meeting; Hakkasan is probably too upscale (the client is an academic )... ...but The Great Court would be perfect. Don't know why I didn't think of it. Thanks!
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