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Petrus by Marcus Wareing is now open


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very nice report. How does your experience go up against previous egulleteers? Do you think the place has progressed? Is Wareing getting what he wants?

And what about them stars?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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We don't have another lunchtime report to compare mine against so its difficult to say. However, I liked the new Petrus a great deal more then the old Petrus, and for a while, the old version was my favourite spot in London.

As you might expect there have been tweaks to the a la carte menu since the launch and I imagine there will be more. Wareing himself says that he is still young and is refining his cuisine, so it could be years before we see "the real Marcus Wareing".

My companion and I agreed that Petrus is a strong one star restaurant. The meal was immeasureably better in every regard than my dinner at Pied a Terre and on that highly unscientific basis I would say that Wareing has a chance at two stars this year.

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I haven't eaten at Petrus and given that I live in Jersey, don't get over to London that often and was very disappointed by my weekend of Ramsey/Wareing food (Savoy then RHR) I'm not sure I ever will. The feeling that I got from the Savoy was (with the exception of a perfect tarte tatin) that the food was slightly soulless, that here was someone who might be technically flawless but lacked the imagination and intensity and basic interest in food to take it to the next level.

However, am I the only one that is a bit concerned about dishes involving perfect squares of carrot topped with deep fried parsley? Isn't it a bit, well, catering college? And the pouring of sauces from little jugs. I find the whole experience deeply naff (though the service at RHR hit just the right note and very few places do). I note that in last week's Times Ramsay was giving instructions on making vegetables look like hedgehogs in order to get children to eat them. Jamie Oliver yes but a three star chef? And do I need to read Wareing suggestions on buying supermarket pate as a starter for lunch?

I just don't "get" Wareing and Ramsay (admittedly on the strength of one meal at each only). Which puzzles me. Am I missing something? Or is it all (as I suspect) a self-fulfilling marketing prophecy? Sigue Sigue Sputnik with sauce.

Edited by Paul de Gruchy (log)
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Sigue Sigue Sputnik with sauce.

i agree with comments that wareing doesn't really have his own style. i was left scratching my head after my dinner there about what he was really trying do. i think he's ramsey light at the moment, tony james to gordon's martin degville.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

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here was someone who might be technically flawless but lacked the imagination and intensity and basic interest in food to take it to the next level.

Having met Wareing a couple of weeks ago I can assure you that he definately didn't lack intensity or interest in food.

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Sigue Sigue Sputnik with sauce.

Marcus Wareing is the culinary equivilent of a post-new romantic Suicide influenced electro pop group? What does that actually mean.

Isn't it a bit, well, catering college?  And the pouring of sauces from little jugs.  I find the whole experience deeply naff

Certainly not even a whiff of "catering college". When you say that "you find the whole experience deeply naff" are you referring to your meal at The Savoy, as you state that you haven't eaten at Petrus?

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I meant style over substance. The overwhelming feeling that what has driven this whole exercise is a desire to be successful rather than any innate love of music/food. Funnily enough, I sense this particularly with Ramsay. Fantastically driven, sure, but I don't get the sense with him or Wareing that they have to be chefs, that they couldn't countenance anything else, that they live and breathe cooking. I do get this feeling from Aikens, Blumenthal, the Rouxs, Gagnaire etc. I think Ramsay has such force of character he could be successful at anything he turned his mind to (within reason) and that Wareing has gained much by association. Ramsay would be great as the CEO of a large company. In fact, that is fast what he is becoming!

The catering college comment? Well, my heart sinks at perfect squares of carrot and intricate little courgette batons. Does it actually add anything to a plate other than cost? Isn't it a bit childish?

My overall impression (based on on a prestige menu at RHR and the carte at the Savoy) was pretty average. Three months on I can only remember one dish, the tatin at the Savoy, which was great, possibly because it was so intense and sticky and sweet. The rest of the time, the cooking was so restrained that I found nothing memorable. And that's not a great return when you consider the cost and expense of such meals. Certainly not enough to make me consider returning.

Maybe not Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Maybe more Andrea del Sarto. Faultless but a touch perfunctory. But enough people that I respect swear by Ramsay and Wareing, which leaves me wondering whether I'm missing something.

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I think Petrus offers substance with style: great raw ingredients subjected to an apparently faultless technique combined with a stong visual sense. Carrot squares and courgette "batons"? They pretty much go with the territory, certainly Aikens style places a great deal of importance on how food looks on the plate. For example, Matthew Fort described a "carrot stockade around a refined cold rabbit rillette". If you have eaten the dish or seen a picture, you will know how elaborate it was.

There are few people that appreciate more than I the simplicity and intelligence of Shaun Hill's style, where a fillet of red mullet would come with nothing more than a basil sauce. But I also appreciate the wow factor of a beautifully crafted plate of food, which in my opinion is what Wareing serves at Petrus.

I'm not sure where you are picking up the idea that Wareing is any less obsessed or committed to his profession than the likes of Blumenthal and Aikens. I think that's quite an assumption to be making about an individual based on one meal.

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The overwhelming feeling that what has driven this whole exercise is a desire to be successful rather than any innate love of music/food. Funnily enough, I sense this particularly with Ramsay. Fantastically driven, sure, but I don't get the sense with him or Wareing that they have to be chefs, that they couldn't countenance anything else, that they live and breathe cooking.

You obviously need to see more of Ramsey and of Waring. They are both passionately commited to food. Ramsey is committed to  it to the exclusion of friendship and family.

The catering college comment? Well, my heart sinks at perfect squares of carrot and intricate little courgette batons. Does it actually add anything to a plate other than cost? Isn't it a bit childish?

Nothing appears on your plate for fun. If you dont get it maybe you just dont like it. Mash it up with your fork if you dont like culinary design (and listen to the Art of Noise). How do you want your carrots?

But enough people that I respect swear by Ramsay and Wareing, which leaves me wondering whether I'm missing something.

:rolleyes: No comment.

Edited by jeremysco (log)
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I get the feeling I'm losing this one!

I suppose the crux is that I had a meal at RHR that I found deeply unimpressive and one at the Savoy that also didn't live up to my expectations. From everything that people say, I suspect that I was unlucky. At RHR, it was a couple of months after the accident with the head chef and perhaps the kitchen was having an off day (it was also Monday lunchtime, so GR was unlikely to be there). But my feeling was that the meal was very flat - perfunctory was the thought that both my wife and I had. As I say, it was probably bad luck, but at over £100 a head, it takes some persuading to go back to check and a 3 star kitchen shouldn't have off-days. My loss, no doubt.

I agree that it is a bit rich to criticise perfect squares of carrots in light of the carrot castle that Aikens dished up and that I ate with pleasure.

Overall, I suppose the above just goes to show what a difficult business running a restaurant is. Different customers can come in and have completely different experiences. I'm not sure whether my RHR experience was partly the result of an expectation that I would get a handful of courses that would stay in the memory for ever. Instead I got a competent, but unremarkable meal.

But I don't think I'm wrong about Ramsay's desire to succeed. He has chosen food as his career and is committed to it, but I'm sure he was equally committed to football before and he is/will be equally committed to building up his business empire now. I feel his real commitment is to giving 100% to whatever project he is engaged in and it just happens to have been food for the past few years (though I sense that is now changing). And that is no criticism - I wish I could show that sort of commitment to anything!

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I get the feeling I'm losing this one!

Myself and jeremy seem to have you trapped in a pincer movement don't we!

But I don't think I'm wrong about Ramsay's desire to succeed.  He has chosen food as his career and is committed to it, but I'm sure he was equally committed to football before and he is/will be equally committed to building up his business empire now.

Its surprising the number of successful chefs who appear to have drifted into catering as a career, never really intending to make it their life's work so i don't think a passionate interest from an early age is a pre-requisit to reaching the highest levels. From what I have read about him, your description could be equally be applied to say Charlie Trotter, who I could easily imagine as a Wall Street high flyer. Most high ranking chefs these are in reality CEO's, Ducasse being the foremost example.

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"Have discovered a marvelous proof for the lack of Ramsay's genius, but alas, not enough room in this margin to demonstrate..."

Moby's last theorem.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Now {as they say}...back to our regularly scheduled programming. I had lunch at Petrus yesterday - interesting. I was expecting {and received} mostly excellent food - and service that was super-slick, almost superciliously detailed. But what we experienced with the latter was quite different. Please chime in (oh, what am I thinking? of course you will :smile:) if you think I'm being unreasonable...

Reservation for three people, 14h00.

Arrived on time, but my guests were late so I was seated in a tiny 'waiting area' where I could happily eavesdrop on the table behind me - I was separated from them by about one foot.

Two people of a certain age tottered in behind me, the female of the couple was pugnacious from the get-go...Woman: "I booked a table at Petrus. This is not Petrus !!" Maitre d': "welcome madam, we have redesigned our restaurant." Woman: "When I called they said you had moved, but I didn't expect this! I have eaten at the real Petrus many times" Maitre d': Well I hope you will enjoy it here as much as before. May I have your name please?" Woman: Says her name... Maitre d': Is it possible that you booked under a different name? Woman: "No, I always book under (name)." Maitre d' : I am sorry but I don't seem to have a booking. What time was it for? Woman: "1h30. I always book at 1h30. Maitre d': Ah, I see it now. But it is 2h00." Woman: "no it isn't, it's 1h30. I am never late..." and so on... I wanted to smack her but held back. Anyway they got her sorted and my guests arrived, and we sat down.

We were asked if we wanted to order an aperitif, and we advised that we would order wine with lunch, so could we see the wine list please. Then asked if we wanted to order water. Next a waiter came by with an amuse-bouche - a cheese spread of some kind with little pieces of toast, which was very pleasant but otherwise unmemorable. Ditto the next amuse - some kind of soup-in-a-shot glass. Yummy but I don't remember it.

Then the waiter came by & gave us a menu (£60); then another for £30 set lunch,. and also advised of a seven course tasting menu. No wine list however. So we settled on the £30 menu and started the usual horsetrading about who would get what so we could share. We were given some excellent warm ficelles and butter.

The menu was as follows:

Starters:

Crispy red mullet served with roasted chestnuts, courgette, pea purée, creamed foie gras and port sauce

Roasted vine tomato soup with cheese and onion on toast

Terrine of smoked ham knuckle and foie gras on cucumber salad, Shiso cress, truffle cream dressing

~

Game tourte on wilted red chicory, sautéed confit sprouts, truffled Madeira sauce

Guinea fowl poached and roasted, served with mushrooms, lardons, baby onions,

Cognac velouté

Grilled fillet of sea bass with sautéed Globe artichokes, braised salsify and smoked red wine fish sauce

Selection of cheese from the trolley with a bread basket and water biscuits

(£8.00 supplement)

Warm tart of frangipane with William pears, Amaretti ice cream and sauce Anglaise

Peanut butter ice cream, tapioca, rice crispies, salted caramel sauce and a milk foam

Apple Tarte Tatin served with Devonshire clotted cream

and vanilla ice cream (for two)

~

Bon Bon Trolley

~

Tea, coffee, infusions

£5.00

I really think this last item is a bit of a low blow at any restaurant where there's a prix fixe. Coffee and tea are so cheap to make, so having a £5 supplement just makes the place seem miserly.

About 14h25 the waiter returned to take our order but still no wine list. I now understand they have two wine books. Another annoyance because I like to hang onto it and look through...

Sadly they were out of mullet, which was not replaced by anything. So two of us had the terrine and the other had the soup. Then the wine list appeared and after some discussion, we decided to leave it to the sommelier to choose for us. We figured he'd find something palatable for our budget of £800. :biggrin:

Seriously, we were not familiar with any of the producers for the wines under £40, and he ended up picking something that was very good and worked well with our meal...though we didn't get the first glass until half-way through the starters... which arrived very soon after we ordered them. The wine was a 1999 Ch. Vignelaure from the Cote d'Aix en Provence, I tasted some Cab Sauv but it wasn't overpowering so I'm guessing there might have been some syrah or grenache or both... Double decanted though you wouldn't expect this kind of wine to have a lot of sediment or to need too much air...nevertheless it was very nice.

I noted that the waiter filled our water glasses to the top, thus finishing the bottle in one go -and then asked if we wanted another bottle. We declined as we still had some wine. There was some hierarchy to the service, and the wine was only poured by one person who did it properly.

Mains arrived at 15h00. I thought the terrine was delicious -subtle flavours that you could discern one from another, from the various bits that comprised the terrine - but the little cucumber and friseé salad that accompanied it tasted as if it had spent a lot of time in saltwater. The disappeared before I had a chance to taste it, which I deem a good sign.

I had the guinea fowl, which I thought was outstanding. I didn't realise those little birds could yield so much meat, it was a very generous portion, more smoky than gamey, within a ring of tiny roasted onions, bits of lardon and a lovely cognact cream sauce poured over it from a little gravy boat. Same treatment was given to the sea bass, with a red wine and fish sauce, which my guests both had. I love red wine with fish so I was very pleased to see this.

By 15h30, we were finished but plates hadn't been cleared and no dessert menus appeared. The room was beginning to empty.

After a couple of moments we noticed a 'spraying' noise, and turned around to see, in the far corner, someone spray-starching a tablecloth and ironing it. Spritz, spritz, iron, iron. He proceeded to do this, methodically, with ever table that was empty - right in front of the customers. I didn't know whether to laugh or be offended. It was the Michelin equivalent of a McDonald's moment I had with my mother, when I was about six, and in the middle of our meal, someone began mopping the floor below our table and asked us to lift our feet. Needless to say, that was the only time she ever took me there.

Then we noticed a very strong smell of cigar smoke, even though nobody in the restaurant was smoking a cigar (cigarettes, yes). We figured out that it was coming from an adjacent room, either the lounge or a side dining room. Cigarettes during a meal are bad enough; cigars are putrid. And they kill the taste of Armagnac too so no excuse.

Eventually our table was cleared and we ordered dessert (about 15h45). We had a pre-dessert amuse of mango, watermelon and tomato soup which was very nice - but a bit repetitive given that the amuse was the same consistency and presentation, just different flavours. I shared the tarte tatin with one of the guests, and the other guest had the peanut butter ice cream thing. Our tarte tatin was spectacular, it was presented in a copper pan (not the one it had been cooked in, too clean!) and was fantastic - a bit more 'rustic' than refined, with lots of crusty caramelised bits. I'm not a huge peanut butter fan but I do love salted butter caramel and rice krispies so I had a spoonful...

By now it was 16h05, and we asked for the check. While they were preparing the check, we we offered the bon bon trolley which is a sort of crystal 'tree' of sweets. I have put this on my Christmas list, as I think it could come in handy for so many things including office supplies, pine cones, fruit, prepared salads - you name it. My guest remarked that it was but a pale shadow of Alain Ducasse's at ADNY, but I haven't been there so I was pretty happy with this one. By 16h20 we were getting restless and signalled for the bill again. By 16h30 we were annoyed. Finally the bill came - a very reasonable (for the food) £47 apiece.

My overall assessment: good value for the food, but pretty uneven service - the in-room ironing was just gratuitously bad form; running out of one of three starters - with no replacement - is just poor planning, and 2 & 1/2 hours is a bit much for lunch...

I open the floor....

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they do exactly the same ironing thing at claridges.

the person i was eating with pointed out (rightly) that this was the closest i had come to an iron in many, many years :-)

I just don't get it - I don't think I'm a snob, but if I'm paying to eat someplace other than my own house - (and even there I don't jump up in the middle of a meal to deal with laundry) - I don't feel like watching, smelling or hearing someone doing housework. It sends mixed messages: tey're trying to hint that they've got more people coming in a few hours and need to clean the place up, so hurry and finish your meal - but they took more than enough time to serve the meal and give us our check...

If you're not the ironing type, then Claridges & Petrus might be just the places for you -why not bring some of your own linens next time and slip them across the table as Iron Man is doing his thing.

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Maggie, was Enrico with you? And did you get the sense of a personality coming through the food, or was there something anonymous about it?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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The first time I went to the 'real' petrus :biggrin: I noticed them doing some ironing nearby, but it was 2:00am by then!

3:00pm - well it needs to get done, but seems a little too close to service I would think.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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If you're not the ironing type, then Claridges & Petrus might be just the places for you -why not bring some of your own linens next time and slip them across the table as Iron Man is doing his thing.

lol. i might just do that.

btw, did you think the tarte tatin had any cheese in it?

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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  It sends mixed messages: tey're trying to hint that they've got more people coming in a few hours and need to clean the place up, so hurry and finish your meal -

As a rule, its when they get the vacuum cleaner out that they're hinting they want you to leave :biggrin:

(although when it happened to us and we complained, they did point out it was 5.30pm and they had a full restaurant again at 6pm. we had been there since 12.30 and hadn't realised how time had flown, ahh the wonders of red wine...)

gary

ps it wasn't at petrus, clarkes in bradford!

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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Moby - unfortunately Enrico wasn't there - he has a real job. :biggrin:

I didn't get any sense of 'personality' in the same way as I did at Fat Duck or even Arpege, or Novelli - or even Chez Bruce - off the top of my head - the personality that comes through these places is playful and humorous, but still arguably dignified. But it does seem the chef is enjoying himself at these places. I wonder if the kind of personality that comes through at Claridges & Petrus (though I've only been to the former twice and the latter once) is much more serious, that perhaps joy doesn't come into it - but perhaps this is more down to the service than the food?

Tarka - I don't think there was any cheese in the Tatin - should there have been?

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About 14h25 the waiter returned to take our order but still no wine list. I now understand they have two wine books. Another annoyance because I like to hang onto it and look through...

This really is very annoying. I had a similar experience at Le Jardin des Sens (3* in Montpellier) which turned out to possess only a single "Livre des Vins". Pathetic!

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i witnessed the ironing thang at rhodes twenty four. found it vastly entertaining as not familiar with housework of any description.

m

quite right too. One leaves the house not to be reminded of the mechanics of housework, but to deny their very existance :biggrin:

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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