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Le Champignon Sauvage


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I haven't been since my last post but if you like the sound of the food I seriously cannot imagine that you will be disappointed if you do go. The food really does deliver and there is a real integrity to the place. Its just a sheer delight in my opinion. I'd do the double whammy and go to Hibiscus as well if I were you. You'll be spoilt for any other gastronomic restaurant in the UK thereafter of course but it would be a memorable trip!

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yes, cock's kidneys with langoustine sounds about as good as it gets right now. says he having just knocked off a plate of venison livers for lunch... I think the double with Hibiscus will probably have to wait awhile - as bloody tempting as it sounds - but a very long lunch in Cheltenham shouldn't be too far off - paying my brother back for doing some plumbing for me!!

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  • 1 month later...

I think I've decided where I next want to blow a good amount of cash. I'd better remember to stop looking open mouthed at my computor screen and drooling when I'm supposed to be working. Someone might figure out I'm not doing what I'm meant to be.

Anyway, is it rude to book my own birthday table and then tell my girlfriend where she's taking me for my surprise meal?

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I think I've decided where I next want to blow a good amount of cash. I'd better remember to stop looking open mouthed at my computor screen and drooling when I'm supposed to be working. Someone might figure out I'm not doing what I'm meant to be.

Anyway, is it rude to book my own birthday table and then tell my girlfriend where she's taking me for my surprise meal?

no, not at all, and it minimises the risk of disappointment!

you don't win friends with salad

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Anyway, is it rude to book my own birthday table and then tell my girlfriend where she's taking me for my surprise meal?

No, although a reasonable alternative is to tell her where she is taking you and follow it up with regular reminders. I think Judy knows she's taking me to l'Ortolan for my birthday to sample the chef's table there, although I must check though that she's remembered to sort out a taxi.

Meanwhile, I'm getting solid nudges in return for her birthday treat.

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My wife - gaw bless 'er - made me a piggie bank for my birthday (well, an ornate box with a pig on the side) bearing the legend 'L'Ambroisie 2006,' and bunged in a few score of Euros to help me on my way.

On a slightly more relevant note, Le Champignon is vastly reasonable in its pricing. And if you book the train carefully, you can make it up there and back fairly inexpensively - like in the 40 quid range or under.

The cook book should be fantastic, as (I'm told) David talks not just about recipes, but also why certain categories of flavour work together. It can't get here soon enough.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"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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  • 2 months later...

My cunning plan has worked. My darling girlfriend has secured a table to for 8.30 on thursday night. And as a reward for going to a wedding with her in cardiff on the weekend she's also booked a table for The Armless Dragon on friday night. What's the phrase about the way to a mans heart is through his stomach?

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My wife - gaw bless 'er - made me a piggie bank for my birthday (well, an ornate box with a pig on the side) bearing the legend 'L'Ambroisie 2006,' and bunged in a few score of  Euros to help me on my way.

On a slightly more relevant note, Le Champignon is vastly reasonable in its pricing. And if you book the train carefully, you can make it up there and back fairly inexpensively - like in the 40 quid range or under.

The cook book should be fantastic, as (I'm told) David talks not just about recipes, but also why certain categories of flavour work together. It can't get here soon enough.

After a recent visit I agree that the cuisine at Le Champignon sauvage is fantastic. Whatever comes out of the kitchen is fine cuisine at its best. It is also true that their pricing is more than reasonable. However, one can easily understand why they are able to offer such good value on their plates. This place seems to make huge savings in service and decoration!

The service was extremely slow, understaffed (only the chef's wife and one other waitress) and left a lot to be desired. The dining room, the bar and the toilets upstairs are anything but glamourous. This restaurant is a prime example that Michelin stars are awarded for food only and not for all other aspects influencing a meal. But if all you care about is the food on the plate and you don't mind sitting next to a busy road with lorries passing by and wait ages for your glasses to be refilled or your plates to be cleared, this is the place to go.

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Anyone actually seen anything from this guy's cookbook? I'm really interested in Michellin-level chef's books, but after seeing Galton B's latest effort (pretty rubbish) I'm slightly dubious.

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Anyone actually seen anything from this guy's cookbook? I'm really interested in Michellin-level chef's books, but after seeing Galton B's latest effort (pretty rubbish) I'm slightly dubious.

According to Amazon the book isn't due out until 1st September, so unless we have anyone with a preview copy lurking here I think you will need to wait for another month to get an answer.

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This place seems to make huge savings in service and decoration!

Little expense was spared on the restaurant's refurb last year. The chair you were sitting on cost 450 quid and the paneling on the walls was done by the bloke who made the chair. It was, apparently, not cheap. Most, if not all of the art are originals. They also invest a great deal in crockery and stemware and there's linen on the tables, so its more than just what's on your plate, although frankly that would be enough.

I think its worth remembering that it is a husband and wife run place and as you say, they are certianly not greedy with their pricing, so they don't have vast amounts of cash to employ herds of waiters. And that is very much part of its charm I think.

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I know that I would much rather have LCS as it is (and IMHO I think it is stylish, comfortable and welcoming, and that was before the refurb, can't wait for my lunch later this month) rather than have a legion of needless waiters, one to pick up my napkin and one to walk with me to the toilet. Helen with her knowledge has no need for a sommelier, and the pace of service is just right for me. And of course to top it all off is the Amazing Food.

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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But if all you care about is the food on the plate and you don't mind sitting next to a busy road with lorries passing by

maybe at the next refurb david could kindly consider moving the restaurant back 10 feet from the road?

or perhaps a small by-pass would suffice?

you don't win friends with salad

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The dining room at LCS is one of my favourites in the UK.

The spacing of the tables is very good and some of the art is superb.

I like the bar area - it's a nice place to wait for companions that may be coming from elsewhere, I'd also imagine it to be a nice space to take coffee after the meal.

Quite franky, as long as though it is clean, I don't give a donkeys about the bathroom - I'm not dining in there after all.

Service is always spot on, and Helen is a darling.

The food is the best of its type in the UK, and of the best in Europe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe I've been reading too many writeups about Le Champignon Sauvage, but I finally gave in to temptation and booked for lunch in a couple of weeks time. We haven't been since just before it was refurbished, so it will be good to see how it has changed.

Watch this space.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dinner Saturday 2nd

I was trying to wait until his book was out, try a few recipes then get help from the master himself on where I went wrong (my lack of ability, not his lack of description) but it had been year since my last visit – and a year is just to long. We arrived to be greeted by the lovely Helen but no menus were given – David had kindly offered to cook for us, again.

Whilst choosing from the least marked up wine list in the whole of Europe we were presented with gorgeous savoury pastries.

From the start the pre-starter was going to be a problem. Glass cup with 4 layers and the depth and range of colours was so appealing that on first looks I though – chocolate, what an interesting way to start a meal. But a quick sniff left us in no doubt as to the wonderfully rich and savoury dish we beheld (not least the description from the lovely, efficient & charming waiter). Tasting was even better – lobster foam on top of deep dark lobster bisque which in turn sat on top of a lobster gelée which nestled on a puree of chervil tuber. It was piping hot & with the gelée staying intact you knew something very interesting was going on. But why a problem? It was obvious that anything following this was going to have a lot to live up to. This was a very, very special dish and the taste lingered long and lovingly after we’d finished. It let us fairly speechless.

Scallops were next – they came with raw cauliflower slices, cauliflower puree scented with cumin, slivers of apple and crunchy spiced sugar. A great dish which just about managed to hold its own after the stellar start.

Next was langoustine and pork belly with peas, pea puree, peanuts & peanuts puree. I was initially hesitant about the peanuts but (of course!) they worked very well. This upmarket surf & turf was a joy.

Mackerel & duck heart – a scary combination if ever there was one. The duck hearts had been fried then confit’d for a few hours. Served sliced with mackerel on top accompanied by one of the most robust slap you on your face sauces I’ve ever had: red wine & port reduction with hibiscus emulsion (a little carrot puree to stabilise the sauce). We grinned while eating.

The triumphal end to savoury dishes was young kid 4 ways: lion, rack, rump (I think) and kidney. It came with artichoke pieces, artichoke puree, broad beans & almonds. The red wine reduced had a little liquorice added to it – the artichokes also had a slight dusting of liquorice powder. Normally I would have shied away form kid thinking it too strong – but no – this was a revelation being so succulent, tender & moist and understated. All quite wonderful.

Pre dessert of geranium brulee with popping sugar was as pleasurable as always and came with a palate cleansing lemon & liquorice sorbet.

Two desserts followed but I’m a bit vague now being completely stuffed and not a little drunk: honey ice cream with pear parfait & pear pieces. Followed by delice of chocolate with slightly salted caramel centre with malt ice cream and sugar/caramel snap (?). All too much – I’m a bit out of practice with tasting menus. However – having completely immobilised us David appeared with a rather superb bottle of calvados – a perfect and much needed digestif.

The Book

We talked for ages & I felt guilty keeping him up so long after a long day & I could easily sat for a few hours more. Anyway – the book. First the bad news – its been delayed by a few weeks. However, I felt very privileged in being allowed to see one of the sections (only one!) and I can say without hesitation that the book more than lives up to expectations. Apart from being beautifully produced its got so many staggeringly good recipes from a chef (should that be team?) at the top of his/their game. It certainly seems to capture the “essence” of the restaurant and what David is trying to achieve. It wasn’t easy trying to hold a conversation and read, no, make that memorise, sections. I do want to say more about what’s inside but I don’t want to spoil your surprise. My one major complaint about the book is that it isn’t scratch & sniff.

Edited by tony h (log)
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Lunch Saturday 2nd

You must have just missed us by a few hours, and it sounds like you ate about twice as much as we managed (and David doesn't skimp on the portion sizes). I'm interested to see some of the variations: not sure whether they are all real or just poor note taking on my part.

Our amuse only had 3 layers: salt cod mousse, tomato jelly and basil foam.

Judy had the langoustine & pork belly starter, and I went for the absolutely fantastic Foie gras with lamb's tongue, quince and walnuts (with a glass of Monbazillac).

We had a similar dish to your mackerel one, but if my notes are correct we had zander with the duck hearts and red wine foam, also I think we had a butternut squash puree rather than carrot.

For mains Judy had Megrim sole with sea beet, cock's comb and kidneys. I had a delicious slow cooked breast of veal (no need to cut the meat it just fell apart), sweetbreads, broad beans and morrells.

My notes for the pre dessert say orange and liquorice sorbet with the scented cream.

For dessert I had lemon and pine nut parfait and Judy had the chocolate delice. Finally coffee and petit fours as the coup de grace.

Given the amazing standard of the food we were kind of surprised how quiet it was. I hope the evening was busier, it certainly deserves to be packed out.

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I'm interested to see some of the variations: not sure whether they are all real or just poor note taking on my part.

don't forget - I was little drunk when i made my notes later that night

whole course could have come & gone...

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Book

We talked for ages & I felt guilty keeping him up so long after a long day & I could easily sat for a few hours more.  Anyway – the book.  First the bad news – its been delayed by a few weeks.  However, I felt very privileged in being allowed to see one of the sections (only one!) and I can say without hesitation that the book more than lives up to expectations.  Apart from being beautifully produced its got so many staggeringly good recipes from a chef (should that be team?) at the top of his/their game.  It certainly seems to capture the “essence” of the restaurant and what David is trying to achieve.  It wasn’t easy trying to hold a conversation and read, no, make that memorise, sections.  I do want to say more about what’s inside but I don’t want to spoil your surprise. My one major complaint about the book is that it isn’t scratch & sniff.

Still not eaten there yet but got the book on Saturday (whilst visiting the Great British Cheese festival around the corner - luckily I went the day before it was rained off).

Have to say it's a fantastic book and unusually it all looks achievable in the home kitchen providing you can get hold of the ingredients.

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I've just had a quick look through the book (ISBN: 1904573525). It landed on the doorstep the same day as the Tom Aikens. Seems like all those weeds I've been pulling up and putting on the compost heap will be coming in to the kitchen next year: Meadowsweet for rice pudding, and as for the bitter hairy cress... These are recipes you really have to do some world class shopping to source the ingredients. You may even have to buy a greenhouse to grow some of them.

In contrast the Aikens book is very down to earth. Possibly too much so?

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Just received my copy of David's book. On the basis of a first swift look through and glimpse of Lisa Barber's stunning photographs I would say that it's an important book in the way that White Heat was 20 years ago. It reveals a singular culinary vision. I don't think anyone else thinks about food in quite the same way that David does, no one dresses plates in quite the same way or combines ingredients in the particular manner that David does.

I think the book will seal Le Champignon's international reputation and may well have many chefs quaking in their boots. I think David's unstinting dedication to his craft over 20 years makes a comparison to Alain Chapel unreasonable. I don't imagine that I'll be atempting many of the dishes from the book, but I do think that a close reading will inform my cooking and the way I think about food and how I judge restaurant cooking at the highest level. Surely that third star can't be far away?

Edited by Andy Lynes (log)
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Obviously there's a love affair on eG with LCS.

The book landed on my door yesterday. It's good but not great. Similar in style to Trotter's books and nowhere near as innovative and comprehensive as Keller's French Laundry.

But a welcome addition given some of my more recent purchases.

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