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thom

Pied a Terre

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Went to Pied a Terre a few weeks ago with Chandos, our Editor at Large, and the chef, Shane Osborn, was kind enough to knock up a mini-tasting menu with half a glass on wine for each course (it was a quick lunch as meetings were calling. I do work you know).

Anyway, I quite liked the style of the room, possibly a little gloomy (especially for a lunchtime) but intimate, stylish, and oozing understated quality. The food I thought was really very, very good indeed. I'm not so self absorbed as to presume the kitchen raised it's game just because we were in town, so I can only assume dishes such as the wonderfully flavoursome saltcod soup, spot on rack of lamb and treacly stout ice cream are pretty much the norm.

I never got around to posting about the orginal meal, but I have noticed PaT rarely comes up on here during discussions about historic or impending great meals. Has it been around so long people have got blase about it, or is there a more sisnister reason?

I was interested to see that the new GFG gave it an 8, which makes it one of the top twelve highest rated restaurants in the country, on a par with Petrus, Fat Duck etc. I know the varied and sometimes vitriolic opinions that people on here have of guidebooks, but don't get sidelined; the question is 'Is Pied a Terre as good as it seemed on the basis my one brief lunch?'

Cheers

Thom

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PaT was on my list of possibles when I recently asked for dining advice and got a rare unanimous eGullet response (Capital). Simon, Cabrales and Andy between them ranged from mildly unenthusiastic to actively negative.

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Intriguing.

I suppose I must have either struck lucky (another fluke) and caught them on a good day, or my gastronomic tastes are wildly out of whack with the majority of right thinking people.

Or... Simon, Andy et al have shrivelled, dried out taste buds and wouldn't know good food if it bi....no, no, no, what was I thinking. Sorry, moment of insanity.

I'd certainly give it another go, a couple of the dishes were outstanding, and live long in the memory.

Cheers

Thom

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I never got around to posting about the orginal meal, but I have noticed PaT rarely comes up on here during discussions about historic or impending great meals. Has it been around so long people have got blase about it, or is there a more sisnister reason?

One of the reasons it rarely comes up is that there was some major to-do over the previous chef (whose name I can't recall, but he was very talented and much lauded) and the circumstances under which he left - I don't remember the details but I'm sure s/o will pipe up ! I went there about four years ago (?)- under that chef - and it was indeed wonderful, I was with a group and we had an off-menu meal to complement wine that we brought (Tonyfinch, were you there?).

Anyway it sounds like you're the most recent visitor by a long way, and it might be that it has indeed impoved a great deal. Perhaps worth a revisit?

What can you tell us about the prices - and the value for money factor? I know you went for lunch - any sense of what the dinner menu might have been like?

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As I mentioned in the other thread, my last visit was a few months ago. I didn't like the room particularly, the service was efficient but charmless.

some of the food was very good indeed, but, even by my tastes, the reduction with the sweetbreads I had was fierce and smothered the meat.

In the end, the good ( ish ) food was not enough to compensate for the poor room and the service to make me want to return.

S

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Capital, Lindsay House, Pied à Terre, Putney Bridge, and the River Café.

Kikujiro -- I would consider Capital, Putney Bridge and Lindsay House (in that order) as the better possibilities. I think Putney Bridge is a promising restaurant with good cuisine, although I have not visited within the past year now. I like Lindsay House (not as much as PB), although Corrigan can be somewhat inconsistent. . . . .

It's not that I dislike Pied a Terre, but I wouldn't consider it to be as good as Capital or PB. Note I have not visited since the PaT renovation.

As I noted previously, I don't dislike PaT. It's just that I like The Capital and Putney Bridge better. Lindsay House over PaT would be more controversial from a non-subjective perspective.

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Pied a Terre was staggeringly good in the Richard Neat days. I think I continued enjoying it even after Neat left. But it must be about three years since I've been. I wonder whether I should risk the room - which I never minded - and the charmless service if the food's still good. Anyone know who's cooking there now?

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As Thom said, it's Shane Osbourne, who worked as Tom Aikens sous chef, then took over after Aikens was forced out after the scandle over the alleged "branding a commis with a hot palette knife" incident. Osbourne is talented, no doubt about that. He worked for Phil Howard and briefly for Marus Wareing at L'oranger before moving to Pied a Terre. It wouldn't be a huge risk going to eat there, it just wasn't a "leave walking on air" experience for me.

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:rolleyes: When Richard Neat was behind the stoves, PaT served the best value haute cuisine lunch in London, Aikens seemed to step into the role rather well still offering very interestingly technical food for the money. But for some reason (maybe instinct) I haven't been back in years. I never had a problem with the room I thought the Warhol prints made an interesting change.

Andy, do you know whatever happened to Aikens?

There was a while when he was being billed as the prodigy of haute cuisine, I loved his cooking, maybe it had something to do with his time spent with koffman.

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The past I heard he was working as a private chef to the family that own JCB and was trying to launch his own restaurant, but without success.

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and was trying to launch his own restaurant, but without success.

Difficulty attracting staff,perhaps?

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It is alleged that for one reason or another, Chef Aikens has alienated more people than just the commis he branded, and that is why he is having trouble finding backers. But I cannot verify that statement at all and it is probably no more than industry gossip.

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It is alleged that for one reason or another, Chef Aikens has alienated more people than just the commis he branded, and that is why he is having trouble finding backers. But I cannot verify that statement at all and it is probably no more than industry gossip.

The commis probably just couldn't take a joke. What's a little branding between friends?

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I have heard that the incident was blown out of all proportion and that it was less of a "branding" and more a playful tap on the arm with the hot knife, but again, just gossip.

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:unsure: Aikens used to employ a deaf chef. When he needed to get the chefs attention he would spray him with a water mister from across the kitchen.

Equal opportunities? Wojja reckon?

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After a fruitless search around other top london restaurants for a table next wednesday, I managed to get one at Pied a Terre. If the reviews are anything to go by then it should be good especially at £55 for 8 courses (tight northern bastard that I am), plus as the room has been recently been refurbished then maybe that will quash Andy's reservations. Anyway I shall report back......

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I went shortly after the refurb in January this year. £55.00 for 8 courses sounds like good value to me compared to their al a carte prices. I think Shane Osbourne is a talented cook and some of the things I ate were really superb, especially the canapes. If they manage to maintain that standard through your meal, it will be outstanding.

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Still need to post my notes on recent trips to Reims, Paris, Rome and Florence. But went to Pied a Terre yesterday and thought I should post my thoughts quickly.

For me, this is an outstanding restaurant and I am surprised that the place has generated negative opinion. The food was distinctly better than a recent visit to the Capital, which itself was excellent. The meal began with some stunning canapés: mushroom beignet, salmon tartare with horseradish, fois gras mouse between two feather light pieces of filo pastry, and a small shot glass of pumpkin mouse scented with ginger. All were very good, outstanding actually, and some of the best canapés I have been served in a restaurant of this kind, and much more interesting than the usual stale amuse-bouche that most places serve up these days. The pumpkin mouse was particularly impressive and showed a real sense of technical accomplishment married to a refreshing inventiveness.

This was followed by a scallop ceviche with avocado, and more filo pastry, and seared and poached fois gras in a sauternes sauce. The fois gras was good, if a little on the boring side, although technically it was very assured, but the scallops were fantastic, and again showed the skill of the kitchen and the imagination of the chef. Mains were a saddle of rabbit with a ravioli of the confit legs, and sea bass in a vanilla sauce with fennel and parmesan gnocchi. The rabbit was exemplary, the saucing perfect and beautifully surrounded by small roasted artichokes which matched the ravioli wonderfully, But the stand out dish was the sea bass which was a tremendous piece of cooking, and, according to my companion, was better than the sea bass in vanilla sauce at Guy Savoy, and stood comparison with a similar dish at L'Amphitryon, Lorient, which they regard as the best example of this combination.

Pre-dessert continued matters nicely – a fantastically refreshing pine sorbet served on a sharp apple jelly. Then came chocolate tart with stout ice cream, which was exemplary, a text book piece of cooking brightened by a genuinely good idea with the ice-cream. My companion had a plum tart which also got rave reviews. I tasted this too and it was very impressive – the plums more lightly roasted than might be expected but enhanced by a perfect glaze. Coffee was good and petit fours were generous and stylishly presented in stark box. Service was pretty good throughout – although I did have to wait a little too long for the bill once I had asked for it – the wine waiter in particular was very helpful and friendly. The only problem, and there always has to be one, is that for a restaurant of this calibre the tables were slightly too close together. I will go again, when I am around, but maybe this time request a round table where one seems to get more space. In addition there is a no-smoking room which is a haven for those of us who do not want to pay to inhale other people’s smoke all night and barely taste any food.

The food is good value too – particularly when given the quality and generosity of the incidentals. It is £44 for the three courses, the fois gras required a supplement, which is less than the Capital or the Square, with whom it can be compared very favourably, although both these restaurants have better rooms with a little more space for the tables, and also less than Richard Corrigan who is certainly in a league below. So to conclude matters quickly, I was impressed by this place, the food is extremely good, both interesting and satisfying, and Shane Osborne is certainly a chef to watch.

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That's a great report and certainly would make me reconsider

That being said, much of the criticism has been aimed not at the food, I think most people found it good+ with one or two small gripes that you would have anywhere, but at the service and the room which are hit & Miss and Dingy respectively

Your service sounds immeasurably better than that I received, but for what is still a lot of money, I expect more. The service at The Capital has never been less than outstanding.

The whole issue of tables being too close together has been the great bugbear of 2002 for me ( as bugbears go it is a pretty shallow one, but I redefine shallow on a daily basis ) We all understand the financial requirements and demands on restaurants in prime locations, but that does not mean that they have to cram so many tables into a place that everytime someone wants to go to the bathroom the whole restaurant performs the ,much mentioned before, Piss Waltz. Some places are just ridiculous. Racine was one, Jo Jo and Blue Hill in Ny were others.

I would much rather the meal was £5 a head more but they took one table out.

That being said, your post makes me want to reconsider going back to PaT. Ta

S

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as bugbears go it is a pretty shallow one

I don't think it's a shallow bugbear at all. Comfort and space has become much more important to me in a restaurant as I've got older. Being able to have a reasonably private conversation, not having to listen to others' inevitably more boring conversation, having some elbow and table room, not having to breathe others' smoke etc. are all important factors in an enjoyable experience.

I looked in at Racine the other night and immediately decided that I wouldn't want to go there for precisely that reason and I always ask now about the table situation when booking, something I never used to do.

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To be fair though Tone, and I mean this in the most Christmas spirited of ways, if a restaurant was going to leave enough room for you to be comfortable, there would only be two tables in the place.

S

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I fully endorse the glowing reports on Pied a Terre - I was there last Friday and had the £55 8 course menu - stunning value for menu. The food was better than the Capital, much better - it's that simple. I have not had a better meal this year (which includes the Gavroche, Square and Capital). Sea bass for me also was the best dish - I could hardly contain my enjoyment of this dish. What was really stunning was that I could not fault a single dish - some were preferred to others but all were great - and there are few restaurants I can say that about.

In addition I had the 7 wines by the glass for £45 which was excellent other than the Muscat (predictably boring) but not as good as the Capital selection. Service was good but no outstanding sommelier - also as mentioned, the main room in the restaurant is non-smoking - a definite positive for me. I didn't mind the closer tables especially given the non-smoking policy - the restaurant felt more relaxed than others at this level.

All in all the best restaurant in London today?? Definitely the best value at this level.

Flock there, Egulleteers.

P.S. A boozy lunch at the Don confirms that this is the best in the City

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