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At least once a year I like to go somewhere special with my team, to sample new and exciting food.

We were planning on heading to The Ledbury but a heat wave and strong dislike of the east coast train line and tube made me search closer to home. Having read good things about Tuddenham Mill from Jay Rayner and The Good Food Guide, the hour trip along the A14 was more appealing.

On the whole, we all found the food enjoyable and well executed. 3 different starters – Hen’s Egg 62c, Mackerel & Chicken Wings. The only slight let down was the Chicken Wing dish of 3 boned out wings came with some wilted slightly brown chicory, tasteless matchsticks of unidentifiable apple and muted celeriac puree. Compared with the ingredients listed on their website menu and the dish described in The Observer, what we got was a bit dull. 2 different mains between the four of us plus an extra dish of Potato Terrine. The duck breast cooked sous vide and finished in the pan with duck hearts was deep and delicious, the accompanying butternut squash puree with paprika okay. The potato terrine dish looked great and had lots going on. The other main we had was salt hake. The two puddings were delicious, one a lime yoghurt mousse and the other a chocolate dish with tonka beans I think.

I mentioned on my way out that things were a little slow. Not the timings between courses, just at the start and at the end and around the table. We arrived at about 1/1.05pm and didn’t go through to our table until close to 2pm. We didn’t leave until close to 4pm having skipped coffee and made our way downstairs to pay the bill as nobody was about. While our waitress was utterly charming and helpful she seemed to lack a bit of confidence in table service. Resting the wine bottle on the glass and pouring from the underside of the bottle almost cack handed, only clearing two small plates at a time (and there was a spare person changing flowers on the other tables that could have lent a hand), hesitating for us to pass water glasses to clear, generally slowed things. But I reiterate, she was charming.

When ordering our food, one of us wanted the tasting menu but were told we all had to have it because of the ‘timings’. It doesn’t state this on the menu nor on their website. Most places that offer a tasting menu state who has to have it and request it is booked in advance sometimes. When we asked if we could make up the ‘timings’ from choosing extra things from the set menu, we were told no. A real shame as all we wanted to do between the four of us was all eat something different and this isn’t possible with only three choices per course. I am also still a bit puzzled as to why the full a la carte menu was not available, as it doesn’t show any restrictions on their website. So we ended up all either having to have the tasting menu or chose from a restricted 3 choice set menu.

It seemed a bit short sighted that the kitchen couldn’t recognise our enthusiasm and given we were the only four there, make a bit more of an effort. I noticed on Twitter that the head chef tweeted around the time of our lunch ‘NY was amazing, still recovering tho. Been fooked for a few days. Got off the plane and into work after a night flight.’

I did send an email to Tuddenham Mill asking why we weren’t given the choice of menus advertised on their website, but four days have passed and still no response.

I think this could be a meal worth travelling for but I would check what menus are available and that the list of ingredients bears some resemblance to those posted on their site.

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In my considerable experience tasting menus always carry the caveat 'must be ordered by the whole table'. It is a quite normal and understandable request. They were lax to not do so in this case.

That tweet from chef is a perfect example of why professionals should be very careful indeed what they tweet. For some reason people often forget that tweets can be read by anyone who cares to. One's boss for example!Tweets can so easily turn someone into a twat.

In this case you have every reason to complain that, by his own admission on Twitter, chef should not have been on the pass that night anymore than he should have been driving a fork lift truck or performing brain surgery. Tired people make mistakes.

S

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Been looking at Tuddenham Mill now for some time, well before Jay Rayner did his review.

As an ex Sat Bains man the chef sounded as though he is the business.

Its two hundred miles from my abode so I did try to link it in with a London trip to make better value of our time, however your review may just have saved us a long and tedious journey.

Shame you did not take any photos, especially as no one else was dining there on the day.

Still, thanks for the review it has been illuminating.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Sorry, I should have written up my visit from a couple of months ago!

I was very pleased when I saw the review by Jay Rayner as I've been waiting for a decent local(ish) restaurant to pop up for some time which would be nice for special ocassions with my parents and rest of the family. The only problem is, despite being only a few miles as the crow flies, it takes a lot longer to get there than you might think!

I managed to pursuade the rest of my family to go with the tasting menu with a couple of minor changes (I let them know in advance) as my sister isn't a fan of fish. We started off at the bar with some tasty snacks and a few cocktails. Drinks were a bit slow to come but being a Saturday night it was fairly busy in the bar area

First up was a little amuse-bouche of fried peas with mush fish - a lovely take on a traditional british dish, similar in a way to one at Marcus Wareing and executed just as well here.

Next, leeks - I can't remember all the components of this dish but believe me it was very good!

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Pork Neck with pickled turnip and crackling was fantastic, but I was a little disappointed with the Skate wing with avocado and lemon. I thought the lemon overpowered the dish somewhat, which was a shame as it would have been great if it was toned down a little. On the other hand, my sister got beef short rib which was amazing:

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Goosnargh Duck breast with broccoli was a delight - the broccoli came in various shapes and sizes, each with its own merits, and the Duck was cooked perfectly:

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Both desserts we had were excellent, although I only seem to have a pic of one which was probably the star of the show for the meal - Strawberries with pineapple weed and meringue:

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This was as good a dish as the strawberries with sweet cicely at Roganic - high praise indeed!

Overall - similar thoughts. Paul is definitely a very talented chef (hardly a surprised given his background!) and I'll certainly be back again. I did however have a similar experience with the staff - polite, engaging and enthusiastic, but possibly lacking experience. Service was a little slow at times and the ambience is a bit strange, I think the lighting could do with some work. I'm sure these issues will be ironed out over time though and I'm definitely going to be returning soon.

Also just to add I think you are being somewhat harsh with regards to the tasting menu - i've never come across a decent restaurant that didn't have a caveat with regards to the whole table having to order the menu.

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Ollicollet - i agree i may be being a bit harsh but a) i knew it wasn't on once they refused our inital request but then i realised there was no a la carte and our only other choice was the set menu of three choices per course (mains - salted hake, duck, potato terrine), their website showed no restriction on the a la carte yet we never saw it b) we demonstrated a willingness to put up with timing issues and a willingness to order and spend extra as we simply wanted to taste as much as possible and c) a lack of reponse following a polite email (and maybe the tweet).

There were elements that showed skill and flair, elements that were dull and repetitive (purees on every dish) but quite simply i wanted to taste more ingredients as displayed on their website menus and Jay's review. We were the only four there, they had the ingredients of the tasting menu and set menu in their fridge ready to go, so why not just cook it?

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