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fergal

The Capital

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Hi all,

I've got a reservation in a few weeks time for lunch at The Capital.

it appears to be one of the more lower profile high-end restaurants. No celeb chef appearances, let alone any press coverage.

I was wondering if anyone has eaten there recently and what its current form is like.

thanks

Fergal

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Hi all,

I've got a reservation in a few weeks time for lunch at The Capital.

it appears to be one of the more lower profile high-end restaurants. No celeb chef appearances, let alone any press coverage.

I was wondering if anyone has eaten there recently and what its current form is like.

Regarding the low profile nature of the Capital, and no celeb chef appearances, I like it that way! Understatement is one of the Capital's greatest assets.

It's a regular of mine: typically I go about once a fortnight, mostly for dinner, often enough to feel like I'm treated like family. The lunch menu isn't as haute cuisine as the dinner menu, but the lunch menu is quite a bit cheaper. There is no tasting menu at lunch, although if you wanted it you could try calling them up beforehand.

The dining room has space for only about 35 covers, so you are pretty much guaranteed good service. Some don't like the dining room. I've never had any complaints myself. Perhaps the only table I like very slightly less than any of the others is the one between the windows with no outside view, where one could feel a bit boxed in and the subject of all the other diners' view. It's still not really a bad table - in fact you are very likely not going to be overlooked there.

The wine list can be a bit of a shocker, but there's an OK selection by the glass.

The cheese board can be a bit hit and miss: it's never bad, but sometimes there's just nothing that takes my fancy. Save room for deserts - they have a bit of a nutty pastry chef. The banana and popcorn desert is a favourite of mine, but they give it a much more poncy name than I just did. I've not been for lunch there for about six weeks so I'm not sure what's on right now - they do change it fairly frequently. For the sake completeness the dinner favourites are the Assiette Landaise starter (Two Foie Gras, one pan fried and one a terrine, with various bits of duck) and the main Saddle of Rabbit with grilled squid, bacon wrapped wrapped risotto and spicy baked beans - again, I'm sure on the menu it doesn't say "spicy baked beans" but that's what they are!

Cheers, Howard

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thanks!

in your opinion is the tasting menu worth requesting or is it the sort of place which is better at more complete singular dishes?

thanks

fergal

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thanks!

in your opinion is the tasting menu worth requesting or is it the sort of place which is better at more complete singular dishes?

Personally speaking, if I've never been to a given restaurant before I like to try the tasting menu unless something else on the a la carte particularly takes my fancy, or they don't do matching wines.

The only thing that's regularly on the tasting menu at the Capital that I don't get on with is the lamb and couscous. The lamb is great, but I just don't get couscous, but that's probably just me! Luddite that I am, I'd prefer a bit of pomme purée. The good news about the tasting menu is that they will do matching wines, so you can control your booze spend rather more easily.

I wouldn't feel embarrassed at all about asking in advance for the possibility of the tasting menu for lunch (and maybe swapping the couscous for pomme purée!) because I was in there for dinner a couple of weeks back and a table of six had asked in advance for the (cheaper) lunch menu.

H

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Oh, one more thing: if, when you come towards the end of the meal and you don't feel you can absorb the superb chocolates that come with the coffees, ask for a selection in a box to take home.

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for what its worth - i prefer the lunch menu because they try harder with cheaper ingredients. but don't be put off by its low profile - its part of its charm

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lunch menu, bargain for that style of cooking, when i last went there was no a la carte at lunch which i loved because you don't feel like you are down grading


Matt Christmas.

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OK, so this is based on two visits and two visits some time ago a that but…the Capital just doesn’t do it for me.

In fact, I think I probably ate more at Chavot when he was in Charlotte St than I have at Capital. And I think the reason is I found it dull. Which Interlude never was. Even the room is dull. The sort of room in which you might lay out the body of your rather grand great aunt before the funeral. As for the food, I certainly don’t remember it being bad, I just don’t remember it at all. Apart from one dessert which had popcorn on. And rhubarb, I think.

Maybe I should go back ? Had a disastrous first experience at the Square and only went again for the first time a couple of months ago and found I liked it (not really, really liked it but it was a good night out). Perhaps the Capital would seduce me if I gave it another go. But on the other hand there are a limited number of occasions on which I can really afford to lay out the cash for this kind of dining and Capital seems to offer an even more limited number of reasons why I should choose them over half-a-dozen other places.

I wonder if it is, in part, reflected in the fact that you’re a regular Howard ? By which I mean that for our regular haunts we tend to look for standards and dependability as being more important that fireworks (I suspect this is also part of the reason why my perception of Le Gavroche is of a restaurant that holds to itself a loyal band of customers without ever really becoming an ‘A-list type’ destination place.) Whereas with a more limited ration of ‘grand nights out’ available to me I am looking for a bit of a ‘wow’ factor - a bit of it feeling like a grand night out.

Or at least food I will remember. After all, I can always get popcorn at the cinema*

Gareth

*Excepting certain branches of Picturehouse. How snobby is that ? Surely “Aguirre, Wrath of God” was meant to munch Butterkist through ?

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Or at least food I will remember. After all, I can always get popcorn at the cinema*

Gareth

*Excepting certain branches of Picturehouse. How snobby is that ? Surely “Aguirre, Wrath of God” was meant to munch Butterkist through ?

The Clapham Picturehouse is the cinema closest to my house, and I never go for that reason. They won't even let me bring my own :angry:

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OK, so this is based on two visits and two visits some time ago a that but…the Capital just doesn’t do it for me.

In fact, I think I probably ate more at Chavot when he was in Charlotte St than I have at Capital. And I think the reason is I found it dull. Which Interlude never was. Even the room is dull. The sort of room in which you might lay out the body of your rather grand great aunt before the funeral. As for the food, I certainly don’t remember it being bad, I just don’t remember it at all. Apart from one dessert which had popcorn on. And rhubarb, I think.

Maybe I should go back ? Had a disastrous first experience at the Square and only went again for the first time a couple of months ago and found I liked it (not really, really liked it but it was a good night out). Perhaps the Capital would seduce me if I gave it another go. But on the other hand there are a limited number of occasions on which I can really afford to lay out the cash for this kind of dining and Capital seems to offer an even more limited number of reasons why I should choose them over half-a-dozen other places.

I wonder if it is, in part, reflected in the fact that you’re a regular Howard ? By which I mean that for our regular haunts we tend to look for standards and dependability as being more important that fireworks (I suspect this is also part of the reason why my perception of Le Gavroche is of a restaurant that holds to itself a loyal band of customers without ever really becoming an ‘A-list type’ destination place.) Whereas with a more limited ration of ‘grand nights out’ available to me I am looking for a bit of a ‘wow’ factor - a bit of it feeling like a grand night out.

Or at least food I will remember. After all, I can always get popcorn at the cinema*

Some very interesting comments. I can certainly see where you're coming from. I have never got on with the Square for example. I think that after two dinings and two failures, that's generally enough for me.

I am sure one of the reasons I like the Capital is that I do enjoy having a relationship with the crew there enough to be able to have chats and chuckles about all manner of things. The same applies to Le Gavroche, incidentally.

In particular, your comment "my perception of Le Gavroche is of a restaurant that holds to itself a loyal band of customers without ever really becoming an ‘A-list type’ destination place" led me to think that we have different concepts of a good night out. Personally, the last thing I want is to be going somewhere where the reputation is on who goes there rather than what it has to offer in a pleasureable evening. I like a place where I can get in at the drop of a hat without being a celebrity and my custom is appreciated. I am too much of a grumpy old man to be fawning after A-listers I'm afraid!

I have had one bad meal at the Capital. Well, it was just a bad main really. A very bland fish dish that did nothing for me at all. Other than that (and the couscous!) everything has been uniformly good.

I am sure you can have popcorn at the cinema, like you can get rabbit from a pet shop or lobster from a pot. It's what you do with it that counts.

As another poster an I have already mentioned, understatement has much to commend it. Sometimes less really is more.

Cheers, Howard

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^^^ One of the more cringeworthy aspects of the M.Roux jnr "le gavroche" cookbook is the inclusion of the "famous" guest book entry's, and the stupidly expensive wine pairings for some of the dishes! :wacko:

Although expensive wine pairings are probably not an issue for you Howard... :raz:

:biggrin:

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^^^  One of the more cringeworthy aspects of the M.Roux jnr "le gavroche" cookbook is the inclusion of the "famous" guest book entry's, and the stupidly expensive wine pairings for some of the dishes!  :wacko:

Although expensive wine pairings are probably not an issue for you Howard... :raz:

:biggrin:

LOL! Everything's relative. For me, the search for the ultimate food and wine match is as important as the food itself. My favourite meals are those where the wine is chosen first and then the food to match the wine.

Hand me a 20 quid bottle of Alta Catena chardonnay and some lumps of aged Gouda, aged Gruyere plus some Brie de Meaux and Epoisses and I'm like a pig in do do's.

I am no expert, it's a hobby and a passion. Some people sink their hard earned discretionary expenditure into boats for example. I just love me grub and me booze. If the government has it's way it'll all be illegal soon, so get on with it before it's too late!

H


Edited by howardlong (log)

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in your opinion is the tasting menu worth requesting or is it the sort of place which is better at more complete singular dishes?

FWIW the table behind me at lunch today had pre-oreder the tasting menu.

H

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Hi all,

I had a very pleasant meal at The Capital - thanks for your advice Howard.

It's a nice understated place where the cooking is restrained and confident.

The Degustation Menu was £48 which I thought a bit of a steal for 6 dishes taken from the regular lunchtime menu (which is £33 for 3 courses).

Highlights were the Halibut with haricot beans & squid - good flavours without too much mucking around. I also particularly liked the Guinea Fowl 'curry' with the leg pastilla and a cardamon yoghurt foam. I was on wine by the glass and there's a good limited selection.

the dining room is small, but comfortable and it fits well with the food which is not trying too hard to please, but deliver good flavours and is well presented.

As a 2 star place i get the impression it's just doing its own thing. I'm off to Marcus Wareing in 10 days time and it'll be interesting to compare the two with MW's obvious ambition

fergal

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Bugger i wanted to go and eat here to try his cooking and now ill never get the chance....

Chavot leaves on Friday 14th. His sous, with seven years at the Capital, remains. Front of house it's all change: over the next few weeks many of the regular crew are leaving, including Maitre d' Christophe Thuilot who's going to St James's Hotel & Club, working with, I understand, Billy Drabble ex Aubergine. Interestingly I remember the pair working together at Aubergine about eight years ago or so.

I only ever met Chavot in the kitchen once, although he pretty much attended daily, choosing to do the prep but not hanging around for service.

Whether they will retain 2* remains to be seen.

Cheers, Howard

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Hand me a 20 quid bottle of Alta Catena chardonnay and some lumps of aged Gouda, aged Gruyere plus some Brie de Meaux and Epoisses and I'm like a pig in do do's.

ahhhh...how i love a great chardonnay with all its minerality with some super gruyere - ever since a friend of mine introduced me to this combination i have been completely hooked on it. it really is one of the simple pleasures in life.

-che

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hmmm .. some friends of ours are coming round in a few week's time with a couple of different vintages of the Leeuwin Estate Art Series. Should I serve it with the cheese course rather than the roast chicken?

Sarah


Sarah

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hmmm .. some friends of ours are coming round in a few week's time with a couple of different vintages of the Leeuwin Estate Art Series. Should I serve it with the cheese course rather than the roast chicken?

Sarah

nice, i had the 2003 chardonnay at christmas, was very good!

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hmmm .. some friends of ours are coming round in a few week's time with a couple of different vintages of the Leeuwin Estate Art Series. Should I serve it with the cheese course rather than the roast chicken?

Sarah

I'm assuming your Leeuwin is a chardonnay, in which case buttery cheeses are great with it, although percieved wisdom is so often for reds. My rules of thumb are:

Sauv blanc and Champagne (especially the warm, flat remains of your apéritif, try it!) for soft boursin-texture goats cheese

Port for Stilton

Sauternes/Barsac/Fargues & taste-a-likes (incl. Tokay 4 puts/Jurancon/Vin de Constance) for Roquefort and possibly Forme d'Ambert: I find that only salty blue cheeses work with Sauternes, forget Stilton or anything else pretty much

Gerwurtz for Munster (try asking the kitchen for some honey and cumin too)

Oaky chardonnay new or old world for almost everything else including Brie, Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Epoisses, Vacherin Mont d'Or, Comté, Gruyere, Beaufort, Reblochon, & Stinking Bishop

At a push I find a red Burgundy in particular a fruity Beaune red will work with hards such as Beaufort, Comté, Gruyere.

I'm afraid that although it's not offensive taste-wise, for me red Bordeaux adds little to the experience of cheese eating (apart from the obvious intoxication part).

H

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Wonderful, thank you!

Though I can't ever remember any champagne being left over by the time we get to cheese. In the unlikely event of a guest leaving it, my husband will hoover it up.

Sarah


Sarah

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hmmm .. some friends of ours are coming round in a few week's time with a couple of different vintages of the Leeuwin Estate Art Series. Should I serve it with the cheese course rather than the roast chicken?

Sarah

I'm assuming your Leeuwin is a chardonnay, in which case buttery cheeses are great with it, although percieved wisdom is so often for reds. My rules of thumb are:

Sauv blanc and Champagne (especially the warm, flat remains of your apéritif, try it!) for soft boursin-texture goats cheese

Port for Stilton

Sauternes/Barsac/Fargues & taste-a-likes (incl. Tokay 4 puts/Jurancon/Vin de Constance) for Roquefort and possibly Forme d'Ambert: I find that only salty blue cheeses work with Sauternes, forget Stilton or anything else pretty much

Gerwurtz for Munster (try asking the kitchen for some honey and cumin too)

Oaky chardonnay new or old world for almost everything else including Brie, Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Epoisses, Vacherin Mont d'Or, Comté, Gruyere, Beaufort, Reblochon, & Stinking Bishop

At a push I find a red Burgundy in particular a fruity Beaune red will work with hards such as Beaufort, Comté, Gruyere.

I'm afraid that although it's not offensive taste-wise, for me red Bordeaux adds little to the experience of cheese eating (apart from the obvious intoxication part).

H

I agree that these wines will pair well with cheese. However, is it wise to drink good wine with cheese at all? I understood the high fat content of cheese coated the taste buds and could easily ruin the experience of tasting great wines. If I bought a few bottles of Leeuwin around for a vertical tasting I would be disappointed to try them with cheese.

I enjoyed them at the source in March where they serve "museum" vintages in their restaurant at cellar door prices, I seem to recall asian style food with light spicing working well. Needless to say a taxi was required to get us home.

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I agree that these wines will pair well with cheese. However, is it wise to drink good wine with cheese at all? I understood the high fat content of cheese coated the taste buds and could easily ruin the experience of tasting great wines. If I bought a few bottles of Leeuwin around for a vertical tasting I would be disappointed to try them with cheese.

I enjoyed them at the source in March where they serve "museum" vintages in their restaurant at  cellar door prices, I seem to recall asian style food with light spicing working well. Needless to say a taxi was required to get us home.

Good point: must admit if it's a really good'un having it on its own is a good option.

I hadn't heard the cheese coated tongue thing before. Perhaps that's a bit like drinking milk before a hot curry to dull the spiciness. If you're into food and wine matching, then there are two pre-requisites, food and wine. And when you hit highs like a fairly aged decent vintage d'Yquem with pan fried foie gras (how much fat?!) or Roquefort I'm prepared to give it a go.

Cheers, Howard

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Folks

Be very careful indeed about the Capital: Chavot's gone and (I am sure coincidentally) so has almost the entire front of house.

Since the hotel manager went a few months ago, the owner ("Mr Levin" as he seems to be continually referred to) took over day to day management. It seems that he and Chavot didn't quite see eye to eye on some things, and with it the desire for the Capital to have a fine dining Michelin level establishment seems to have disappeared. Dishes tend to be much simpler affairs now, and with Chavot now gone, so have the signature dishes like Assiette Landaise and the Saddle of Rabbit, both favourites of mine for a couple of years now.

Just don't expect a Michelin food experience any more.

Cheers, Howard

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