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AdamLawrence

Le Champignon Sauvage

403 posts in this topic

Am contemplating said resto for a birthday meal next month. Anyone been? I have a couple of reports, one said it was fantastic, t'other said good but not worth the cash.... seems (from the GFG) to be pretty good value for two-star Michelin.

cheers

Adam

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I am a huge fan and when ever I hear bad reports - which do occurr occasionally - I question the sanity of the reportee. David Everitt Matthias is, I think, one of the unsung heroes of the British restaurant world: he's been doing his thing for the best part of 15 years, turning out remarkably intense and earthy yet precise food from a tiny kitchen, with very little fan fare. Ask people to name England's 11 two stars and it's probably the one that will be forgotten. (He recently increased the size of the brigade by 50%; there are now three of them). He likes robust ingredients - slow cooked shoulder of lamb roasted in caul; black pudding; richly smoked bacon; 'risotto' of pearl barley, lovage soup - and combines them in a way which makes total sense.

His wife, Helen, does front of house with unstudied ease. All round it's what a great restaurant should be.

I'm sorry. I appear to have dribbled into my keyboard.


Jay

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I am a huge fan...

Rayner, if you rate Everitt Matthias so much, why don't you get him to write something for OFM?

However, I do concur with Rayner about 'Le Champignon Sauvage', (a monkeys and typewriters anomaly) which is very good. In fact, the food is not dissimilar to Shaun Hill's, recommendation indeed.

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tragically it's about 18 months since last I went so this is from memory

it's a two/ three/ four course deal - going from around £23 - £30 at lunchtime and £27 to £45 in the evenings. That's full choice from the carte. I'm terrible at wine lists. Have no memory at all.

Still - all in for the works I would be looking at £150 for two for dinner.


Jay

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I am a huge fan...

Rayner, if you rate Everitt Matthias so much, why don't you get him to write something for OFM?

Michael, the reason I don't get him to write for OFM is because (and we may be about to get to the crux of something here) I AM NOT THE EDITOR OF OFM. I just write for it. I can, like one of baghot's old queens, advise, encourage and warn but that's about it.

I was kinda wondering why you thought OFM's 'inevitable failure' as you put it, would be down to me. It's all a little clearer. You have imbuded me with more power than have.


Jay

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The Champignon Sauvage is a very very good restaurant, definitely two stars for the food. I am not sure why it does not get as much attention as other restaurants, possibly something to do with Cheltenham? (The first time we went there we were hugely impressed, but it took us a couple of years to go back, since when we have been several times). It is quite small and is possibly the most relaxed two star restaurant, the service is good but more akin to a local restaurant than your usual two star establishment (Which is a good thing, I hasten to add).

David Everitt Matthias is probably one of the best technical chefs in the country, the dishes tend to different from those you would find in many restaurants (lamb with cumin and a dumpling of macaroni and cauliflower, which may sound dubious but is superb). He also uses every part of the animal spread across various dishes on the menu, I believe he does a lot of the butchery work himself, unlike a lot of chefs.

In terms of cost I think Jay is spot on, the last time we went we had the set menu plus two bottles of wine for £140. Depending on when you go there are I think two set menus one for £35 ish and one for £46. I believe on Saturdays (possibly Fridays only the more expensive one is available). Wine is mainly French, starts cheaply (£14ish I think) and goes as high as you want (depending what you want I guess).

Paul

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This is my first eGullet post, so before I begin a big hello to you all :smile: This site has become almost daily reading since I signed up in the summer, a veritable mine of information for gourmets everywhere, so thank you!

Unfortunately, my first post is not a happy one. I was passing Le Champignon Sauvage today and, on the spur of the moment, decided to take my mother for lunch. She hadn't been before, but has often heard me sing its praises and eagerly anticipated what I promised would be an excellent meal. I've been on numerous occasions and always had the highest regard the cooking of David Everitt-Matthias.

Like so many top-end regional restaurants, Le Champignon Sauvage has perhaps never had the support and breadth of audience that it deserves. On Friday & Saturday nights all 28 covers are booked up weeks in advance. Tuesday to Thursday evenings, and lunchtimes, it is not unusual to drive past and see the restaurant deserted.

Today was no exception, one table of four and an otherwise empty dining room. So you can imagine my surprise when Helen Everitt-Matthias curtly informed me that we would not be served as we had made no reservation, before turning her back and walking away. I (very politely) asked why - with every table but one empty - my custom was not welcome, when it has always been so in the past. Her response? I should have had the 'courtesy' to call beforehand! Whereupon we were asked to leave the premises immediately. :angry:

Have any of you had a similar experience, at Le Champignon Sauvage or elsewhere?

Was I really so niave in thinking that a near-empty restaurant might possibly be pleased to welcome me inside and relieve me of yet more money?

Was it really so discourteous of me to request a table in a near-empty restaurant without calling first?

Would I have been welcome had I stood on the pavement outside, in the pouring rain, and called to ask Mrs. Everitt-Matthias's permission to pass through her hallowed front door before entering?!

Like you, I am absolutely passionate in my pursuit of good food, travelling huge distances each and every year to do so. It has been my pleasure to eat in some of the world's finest restaurants along the way - and some pretty awful ones too! - and to form lasting friendships with some of the greatest culinary talents along the way.

But I can honestly say that I have NEVER been treated so badly before in all my restaurant-going years, and am saddened that I will never again enjoy the consistently fine food produced at Le Champignon Sauvage.

I realise, of course, that this restaurant - like all restaurants - is perfectly within its rights to refuse my patronage. But on these grounds? I'm sure you will understand that I intend to make my experience as widely known as possible, for what good it will do, and will be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Simon

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Simon, I'm just gobsmacked :blink: I know that it once was the case that certain restaurants adopted this attitude (Gay Hussar springs to mind) but that was in the days when they were nearly always full, and maybe there was some justification in that they preferred to prepare in advance for an exact number of covers (? just a guess).

I think your response is exactly right. This is gross discourtesy and unbelievable arrogance. I have to admit I've never heard of the place before, but now I have and I know what to do with my knowledge :sad:

... and by the way, welcome to eGullet. Now let's find nicer things to talk about :smile:

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Nico Ladenis used to turn walk up trade away from his empty restaurant (I was trying to find the exact quote from him but I can't, can anyone help? I'm sure it's in "My Gastronomy" somewhere) and was amazed that people couldn't understand why he did it.

I cannot fathom the reasoning, but perhaps it's something along the lines of "We are a 2 Michelin star restaurant and are therefore so wonderful that we are always full. It is impossible to dine with us without several days notice. You will not therefore get a table if you simply walk up to the restaurant unannounced, even if we are empty or virtually empty, because otherwise the word will get out that we are not always full and that will blow the whole game."

Or something.

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After months of being fully booked every night, we have an empty restaurant tonight (well 1 table of 3).We won,t be turning away "walk ups" :wink:

But i would take a guess that we may not do too many tonight, because people will assume we are full. Ho Hum :biggrin:

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Simon, that's astonishing. And to speak of "courtesy" in the midst of being so very rude. :blink:


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Thanks for your comments, guys.

Macrosan, Le Champignon Sauvage has been mentioned a few times by eGulleters. Two theads in particular spring to mind: this by Jay Rayner and this by Tony and Adam. I agree with everything Jay says about the food. If anything, I am perhaps even a little bias towards the cooking of David Everitt-Mathias: in his younger (London) days he honed his craft under a good friend of mine, so I have long known just what a great talent he is. But Tony is so right when he says that 'a great restaurant is more than just the sum of its parts', and I hope Jay won't question my sanity (?!) when I say that the front-of-house contribution of Helen Everitt-Mathias does this fine restaurant a great disservice.

Andy, I'd be very interested to read Nico's quote should you find it. Do you know the manner in which he would turn customers away? I can quite happily accept Le Champignon Sauvage not serving customers without a reservation (though I cannot for the life of me see why they would operate such a policy, given that the place is almost always near empty with the exception of Friday and Saturday evenings). What I have difficulty accepting is the way in which I was spoken to before being asked to leave, and the fact that I was offered no explanation as to why I would not be served (when I always have been in the past, and when clearly they had the means to do so again).

I have no idea whether or not they are trying to create the illusion of always being full, but if so they must be mad. All that separates Le Champignon Sauvage from the A40 is a pavement: quite literally thousands of people can drive past each day, look into the window and see for themselves just how empty the restaurant normally is! The Gordon Ramsays of this world can flourish without passing trade, but I would be amazed if the same were true of Le Champignon Sauvage.

All Mrs. Everitt-Mathias will get for her troubles is one less customer to inconvenience her, and a heap of bad publicity (yes, there is such a thing, at least in the restaurant business!) :smile:

Simon

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This is a peculiar post. I assume the restaurant may have had a few more reserved tables that were scheduled to arrive, but it seems as if the hostess emphasized the fact that you couldn't be served because you didn't reserve, not because they were full. As I said peculiar. You don't seem to have an in for the restaurant as you note that it deserves more trade than it gets, but somehow the story is so odd, that I'd love to hear the other side. I assume there's always another side. We get such bizarre stories in the US about the behavior of chefs and restaurateurs in the UK--most of them far more colorful than the football riots--that I'll believe anything at this point.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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As someone who has owned and managed a restaurant, I too would want to hear the other side.

It is bad business sense and also in poor taste to be rude, but what would make a restaurant manager/chefs spouse do something like this? It seem bizarre. To borrow from Bux, rather peculiar. But again, one hears strange stories all the time.

Restaurants can be empty and then they can fill up all of a sudden. There is more to reservation handling than what meets the eye. Maybe Helen Everitt-Matthias knew something about that lunch service that she carelessly chose not to share with you. It happens, people fail. But being rude is not an option in my book. But maybe because I owned a restaurant in NYC. We smile even when wanting to do just the opposite.:smile:

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I agree with Bux that there were probably other reservations on the books that would have been interfered with if she seated you. Perhaps if you had called (and been informed they were booked) it would have saved you the trip in the rain. I too hope that we will get a response from the other side of this picture as I have a feeling that there was something we are missing, or perhaps the hostess was simply having a bad day.

In addition, it makes me question your intentions when the your very first thread on eGullet is so negative and you also mention having friends/co-workers in common. I will therefore be read your posts with a grain of salt.

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Simon, Welcome

There is always another side and I am sure in her mind she had a good reason for behaving as she did. By the same token, why would you, somone who frequents the restaurant decide to criticise it for no reason?

I think the truth is now that many restaurants are beginning to get above themselves. They forget that they are merely delivery systems for food/atmosphere and service. Sometimes great food and sometimes superb delivery systems, but delivery systems all the same.

Without the customer they have no point. None at all. So now we are being made to have dinner in sittings like a canteen, sit at tables so closely spaced that Kate Moss would have trouble getting between them and to be expected to know the market price of daily special ingredients as they can't be bothered to put them on the menu or tell you about them.

Basildog seems to have grasped the rudimentary fact rather well that people want good food at a time to suit them and at a price that does not involve a mortgage. why can't others?

S

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What keeps a double Michelin star-winning chef in his kitchen for 16 years straight? Andy Lynes Keeps the Faith with David Everitt Matthias . . .

+++

Be sure to check The Daily Gullet home page daily for new articles (most every weekday), hot topics, site announcements, and more.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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That's a great article, Andy.

Although you include the link to Le Champignon Sauvage's website I thought I'd put it here and encourage people to check it out. The food looks lovely.

Everitt-Matthias seems to have come to a fine balance.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Thanks for the compliment Jinmyo, I enjoyed writing and especially researching it. I really wish I could have photographed the meal, it was quite spectacular.

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That's the kind of research you do best.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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And next time I happen to have a haunch of roe deer on hand, I know what to do with it.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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I thought it was a great article, and although I only ate in the restaurant once a few years ago, it was a good restaurant (I don't really do 'stars'). Looks like an old pub from the outside, don't they all these days?

Anyway my fortunes are greatly diminished these days, I'm now a taxi driver in Cheltenham, so if anyone needs a lift to the place give me shout and I'll charge you very reasonable Sirs. Although it has to be said that 'The Mad Mushroom' (as it's known locally) is so reasonable in it's prices I should really rip you off big time...

That'll be a tenner sir.

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Great article Andy.

That recipe sounds like just the sort of thing to whip up for a quick supper :raz:


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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great article andy,or shall i say at last somebody did a review on them?

i have had the luck to visit the champignon sauvage twice ,and both times it was outstanding!!!wich leeds to the question :why is it we dont hear much about the place?is it that they dont have a p.r or maybe they do but not a good one ,or peaple need to get out of london more? :blink:

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They have had a few good reviews in recent years, not least Jay Rayners rave, which appear or are linked to from the restaurant's website. Most reviews however tend to be of newly opened places, so established restaurants like LCS can get overlooked unless something dramatic like another Michelin star happens to them. The restaurants rating went up from a 7 to an 8 in the Good Food Guide this year so that may put them in the minds of food journalists, as might our article.

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