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AdamLawrence

Le Champignon Sauvage

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In the last ten years I have visited Le Champgnon Sauvage several times and never experienced anything like the level of problems described. On one occasion we visited with friends and their young son who was deeply into the 'Thomas the Tank Engine' phase of his life. We arrived for lunch and said son promptly set up his entire train collection on the table which he proceeded to play with for the duration of the meal. Helen and her team took this totally in their stride and served food around the engines and rolling stock. There were no complaints from either party or indeed any other diners because he occupied himself with his trains without causing annoyance to anyone else or disrupting the rhythm of service. We had also shown the courtesy of telling the restaurant that one of our party would be a three year old and David, without being asked, had kindly cooked specific courses for him. This is entirely typical of the level of superb service that David and Helen give to their customers.

On two occasions I have also written reviews of Le Champignon Sauvage, and each time the reviews have been over 2000 words with absolutely perfect recall of every dish mentioned. The way I have achieved this is not by rolling in with the equivalent of a small television production unit but by the simple expedient of asking Helen for a copy of the menu afterwards and taking any notes of any amuses or extra courses whilst having an after dinner drink. On one occasion I even phoned about a week later to confirm details and they could still recall everything we had eaten. Simple and fuss free.

For the last five years I have also worked as a restaurant inspector for an organistion (not Michelin) and have visited hundreds of restaurants in that capacity. In these instances it is obviously imperative to maintain as low a profile as possible without drawing undue attention to oneself. Even so the level of detail I am expected to report on is frightening in its complexity and extends to over 30 pages. In these instances I cannot avoid taking equipment in with me - Notably a brain or more specifically the memory function but I do avail myself of the note taking facility on a Blackberry. I may look like an ignoramus who can't stop texting during a meal but it gets the job done.

If I am reviewing somewhere I never lose sight of the fact that I am doing so for my pleasure or business and not (usually) at the express request restaurant Under such circumstances it is beholden to me to do whatever I need to do with minimum disturbance to the restaurant, it's waiting staff or other diners. This, at least to me is the correct approach. Anything else would be bombastic, arrogant, of far too much self-import and quite frankly distasteful. Some people clearly don't agree with me but then I have no idea what their own attitude in a dining room is like.

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Thanks for the review David - always appreciate reading your reviews and the lovely pictures. There's a distinct lack of reports of your quality and substance on the UK Dining board these days...please don't be put off as I for one would miss them, and egullet would be the poorer without them.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong at all in posting a report that may or may not include an emotional response to any aspect of the restaurant visit. Blogging is not inspecting.

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Wow, only just read this all the way to the end! We have been eating at LCS not often enough since we moved to the Cotswolds 8 years ago. The service by Helen and her girls has always been just right for us. Gentle, friendly and unobtrusive. Personally, I would by offended if anyone asked to record me talking our restaurant about the food as it seems to be such an uncomfortable thing to do. I understand wanting to make a record of your meal, I really do, but always can't help but think that the pure pleasure of eating is diluted somewhat by the scramble to miss no detail. But that's just me, I want to always remember the pleasure of eating out, even if each ingredient can't be recalled.


http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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That said, I really think (I've always shown sympathy to David on this forum so I say this without malice) it tarnishes the reputation of bloggers and of picture-taking food lovers in general to let our 'reviewing' (the use of the word 'review' for a few mangled comments seems excessive to me) activities interfere with service, be it by asking people to hold still with trays, bottles, etc. in their hands for more than the briefest of instants or recording their descriptions or moving around holding a camera. I find that intrusive and impolite. The civilised thing to do is to be as discreet as possible, and just photograph what happens in 'real time' with no fuss at all, having as a firm priority the avoidance of any disturbance to other (reasonable) people, customers or staff, rather than the quality or quantity of the pictures. While I'm at it, I also think one should not take recognisable pictures of other customers.

Very much my view. I am not a serious food blogger. I find the action of people taking photos of their dinner quite annoying. In fact, the next time I see it happening in a restaurant, I am quite tempted to curl one out on a side plate and present it to the photographer. Cuts out the middleman.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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That said, I really think (I've always shown sympathy to David on this forum so I say this without malice) it tarnishes the reputation of bloggers and of picture-taking food lovers in general to let our 'reviewing' (the use of the word 'review' for a few mangled comments seems excessive to me) activities interfere with service, be it by asking people to hold still with trays, bottles, etc. in their hands for more than the briefest of instants or recording their descriptions or moving around holding a camera. I find that intrusive and impolite. The civilised thing to do is to be as discreet as possible, and just photograph what happens in 'real time' with no fuss at all, having as a firm priority the avoidance of any disturbance to other (reasonable) people, customers or staff, rather than the quality or quantity of the pictures. While I'm at it, I also think one should not take recognisable pictures of other customers.

Very much my view. I am not a serious food blogger. I find the action of people taking photos of their dinner quite annoying. In fact, the next time I see it happening in a restaurant, I am quite tempted to curl one out on a side plate and present it to the photographer. Cuts out the middleman.

Personally I find it more amusing than annoying when other diners whip out some super-lensed SLR, but can understand how it might offend. The trouble is, the most interesting posts and blogs are those with good quality photos that you can practically salivate over. We - or me at least - want to have our cake and eat it. Even as a diner I sometimes find myself torn between wanting to enjoy the moment and to capture some pictures of particularly special meals for posterity.

And of course, when it comes to some self-appointed food reviewers (no names, you know the drill), the photos are way more interesting than the text. At least you can't make basic grammatical errors or pile on the clichés with a camera.

When it comes to arguing whether a meal is 'worthy of 2 stars', nobody is ever going to win. Michelin's system is wonky and idiosyncratic at best. Always has been, especially in the UK. What they proclaim isn't right or wrong, it's just their opinion. Anyone who says their views are objective is mad - you can't take personal taste, appetite on the day, general mood, how buzzing the restaurant is when you visit, the inertia of previous years' scoring, or whatever out of the inspecting equation. It's food. It's personal. You can't reduce it to a score sheet. And does anybody still believe that Michelin visits every restaurant multiple times a year to get a more balanced view?

Blame programmes like Great British Menu for peddling the idea that the Michelin guide is some kind of bible. No one guide is perfect, which is why they are several, and why people either cross-reference or choose one that aligns best with their own tastes. But the point is, for better or worse, we each now have our own idea of what a 1 or 2 star meal should be, so David or anyone else is entitled to say if they think something falls between that imagined standard. Doesn't make them any more or less right. (Personally my one visit to Le Champignon was also coloured by a lack of warmth or atmosphere front of house, and - even after getting excited by the Essence book - the food just didn't do it for me or the missus. Not what I'd expected from a 2-star. But for others it clearly is, and KaffirLime's lovely story shows just how they can really deliver.)

What's less valid is posting something online that is so obviously over-coloured by a bad mood (in this case offence about not being able to use a tape recorder) but which doesn't fully explain why. Full marks to the chef for responding so calmly. I don't doubt that his view is just as subjective - I daresay with a man-and-wife operation that any offence taken front of house will be taken even more personally by the other half - but at least he helps paint the bigger picture that David so obviously avoided giving, and is clearly usually prepared to let the food do the talking and take the rough with the smooth, review-wise.

After all this I too hope David keeps eating and posting - I just hope he takes a little more care in future. And for Le Champignon's sake, I hope somebody else eats there soon and posts about it - this constant discussion about one bad review must be bloody annoying. :raz:

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Welcome to the board Ms/Mr PSmith.

An interesting choice of subjects for your first two posts. I look forward to your more positive contributions in due course.


John Hartley

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That said, I really think (I've always shown sympathy to David on this forum so I say this without malice) it tarnishes the reputation of bloggers and of picture-taking food lovers in general to let our 'reviewing' (the use of the word 'review' for a few mangled comments seems excessive to me) activities interfere with service, be it by asking people to hold still with trays, bottles, etc. in their hands for more than the briefest of instants or recording their descriptions or moving around holding a camera. I find that intrusive and impolite. The civilised thing to do is to be as discreet as possible, and just photograph what happens in 'real time' with no fuss at all, having as a firm priority the avoidance of any disturbance to other (reasonable) people, customers or staff, rather than the quality or quantity of the pictures. While I'm at it, I also think one should not take recognisable pictures of other customers.

Very much my view. I am not a serious food blogger. I find the action of people taking photos of their dinner quite annoying. In fact, the next time I see it happening in a restaurant, I am quite tempted to curl one out on a side plate and present it to the photographer. Cuts out the middleman.

I also wrote

As Chef The Greek says, he's not bothered by the act of taking pictures in itself (he's even flattered): that's a positive, reasonable attitude. A fight signals unreasonable behaviour somewhere. It's only when you have unreasonable intrusiveness on one side or unreasonable intolerance on the side of customers or staff, or both, that tthings go awry.

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I also wrote

As Chef The Greek says, he's not bothered by the act of taking pictures in itself (he's even flattered): that's a positive, reasonable attitude. A fight signals unreasonable behaviour somewhere. It's only when you have unreasonable intrusiveness on one side or unreasonable intolerance on the side of customers or staff, or both, that tthings go awry.

I have no problems with people using a small compact camera without flash to take photos of their dinner for their blogs, but I have seen people with oversized SLRs standing and moving around between tables to get a better shot. To use a video recorder is crass and vulgar. After all, are you there to enjoy a meal or to generate a few minutes of fame on the internet?

As said previously on the thread, many bloggers take photos as their creative writing skills are not up to scratch. If you read the professional critics, they rarely take photos and will use the PR supplied ones if required.

There are some bloggers I would like to see trying to review without photos.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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I'm overdue a writeup of our meal there last week, I'll do it this week. Suffice to say it was first class from beginning to end, the service and food were perfect, stand out dish was something I never would have ordered, mackerel with a pigs trotter and whelk gayette, really really good.


Edited by Soundman (log)

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"mackerel with a pigs trotter and whelk gayette"!! Can't even comprehend that, look forward to hearing your review!!!

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What is a whelk gayette even google does not recognize the word.


Sid the Pig

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"mackerel with a pigs trotter and whelk gayette"!! Can't even comprehend that, look forward to hearing your review!!!

What is a whelk gayette even google does not recognize the word.

Right. It's understood that 'gayette' is almost certaily 'galette', the waiter's pronunciation was apparently a bit... misleading Thanks to fellow member the greek, I am able to pass along the information that a gayette is a 'small sausage patty made with pork liver and bacon, wrapped in caul fat' (the link to which he directed me:www.patriciawells.com/glossary/french_english_food_glossary.pdf), and I'm sure we're all looking forward to Soundman's elaboration on this in his upcoming write-up.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I was indeed expecting a galette, and confidently told my wife that was what we should expect :)

It was written on the menu, you'll get no criticism of waiting staff pronunciation from me.....

What arrived was indeed a small patty, that reminded me in texture, but not taste, of a Thai fish cake. More to follow.

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Just seen on twitter LCS celebrating their 25th anniversary today. Congratulations, a hell of an achievement as anyone who's ever worked in the trade will attest!

Good to see the respect shown from the heavyweight twitter chefs also.


you don't win friends with salad

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I have some sympathy with David's view of LCS having visited back in Feb '08. I re-read my post from back then and was very surprised to see I loved the food and wine list but disliked the lighting and service. Four years on from that meal and all I recall is the extremely poor service and the very frosty Helen (an no not a tape recorder in sight) - I don't recall the food at all.

This probably ties into to the research mentioned upthread about all the factors that lead to the enjoyment of a meal. Good food, and good food but overridden by my memories of the frosty service. I was surprised as the board had been very fulsome in its praise about the warmth and high standard of the service. I wonder did this missed expectation lock this part of the experience in my memory?

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Congratulations to everyone at LCS on their 25 years.

I'll get that review done sooner or later, working 28 days straight over the build up to the Olympics, and over the games themselves takes it out of you.

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v excited- Essence II has just turned up - simply stunning

i know what i'll be doing this weekend (probably staring at the page thinking wtf...)

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How does it compare to Essence? Just new recipes? Will be picking it up in any case!

As this is sort of the Cheltenham thread by proxy, I'm going to give Purslane a go next week I think. I believe the chef did a stint at LCS (I could be wrong, I'm pretty sure I met one of the owners a while back while working at another restaurant nearby). It has a lean towards seafood and the like which we have been missing. I'll report back if all goes to plan.

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Did anybody see great British menu, north east? I recall seeing Colin mcgurran plating a dish at his restaurant which appeared drastically similar to David's 'signature' beef tar tar and corned beef dish, he did remove the style and sophistication from the dish to make it his own!!! Good to see David inspiring the most senior chefs within the industry, just pitty the void of indivaulality on Colin's side!!!

Makes you wonder how much of his menu is an imalgamation of borrowed dishes?!!!

Does anyone have views on stealing complete dishes from competent chefs to mask as they're own?

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A 'homage' indeed. One supposes that when a chef is desperate for attention, like the above, then employing the ideas of others is probably seen as next best thing. Im sure many seasoned eaters, chefs etc can and do see right through these sort of 'give me fame' types. On a final note, I thought the three chefs representing the north east where a little lame, considering the genuine talent in the area.


Edited by Robert45 (log)

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Question is if Heston's meat fruit is a hommage to (or a rip off of) Louis Outhier's pêche de foie gras.

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DEM is on Hairy Bikers and on Saturday Kitchen next week (6th & 9th March). yup - he'll be doing the omelette challenge! ;-)

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Question is if Heston's meat fruit is a hommage to (or a rip off of) Louis Outhier's pêche de foie gras.

My suspicion on this one is that correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

If it was a Thuilier dish not a Outhier one I might be tempted to agree, given how much Heston has talked about his experience at Le Baux.

While some components are similar (fruit trompe l'oeil, stalk of real plant in top, pate-type composition, some are not (Napoule version has truffle pit, 100% foie, also not clear if the outside is the same concept).

Although I do find Heston's faux-medieval inspiration for the dish slightly tendentious (its a chicken-liver-parfait-with-fruit-jelly with a slightly tarted-up presentation. so what), I see no reason to suspect he's ripping off anyone in particular.

As I said, correlation vs. causation an' all that.

J


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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