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The restaurant previously known as Weststreet (on West Street, WC2) has closed and is soon due to re-open as "East @ West", probably resulting in exactly the sort of fusion madness that this terribly clever name implies. An Australian chef is going to be in charge, I can't remember her name - I read this while walking past the place one morning on the way to work and not much of it stuck in my head. Thought someone might be interested.

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Christine was featured in The Independent on Sunday this last weekend, and not The Times as far as I am aware. The launch is tonight. Although I never ate at her Sydney restaurant before it closed, I have her latest cookbook "Stir" which is one of the most inspiring books I have bought this year. I think her entry into the London restaurant scene is really exciting, but I will be interested to see the critics' response to her arrival.

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So do we know what she was doing between the end of paramount in 2000 and setting up this new place? Do we have anyone that has first hand experience of her food, is it really fusion? Do Londoners want fusion in the 21st Century?

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According to her website "Since closing the celebrated Paramount Restaurant in Sydney, Christine continues to expand her knowledge and expertise, regularly travelling internationally as a culinary ambassador for Australia's gastronomy." Whatever that might mean.

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is it really fusion? Do Londoners want fusion in the 21st Century?

Andy,

to play devils advocate here, what is fusion for it to be rejected?

I have always found it a cunning little catch all term rarely with significant meaning.

I love neo-classical pacific rim cooking, my term :smile: , which I think describes some of the more valid expressions. I don't think the idea of mixing asian flavours and european ones is such a good idea, but the application of technique from one to the other can be quite interesting.

Though I doubt this would even be classified as fusion.

Vong, was a nice example lot's of rich french stylee emulsions, rather than heavier coconut milk sauces.

I like, though not love, tetsuya Wakada's french/japanese cooking - not sure that MJU counts though.

Slanting doors in San Francisco does great things with Vietnamese, relying heavily on the french influences. Hell Vietnamese food itself with its european backgrounds could be said to be fusion personified.

Cheong Liew, (all kneel, I have just mentioned greatness), a Chinese Malaysian chef who, from the confines of sleepy Adelaide, Australia runs one of the greatest restaurants in the world today, imho. (mind you the American Food & Wine magazine, last year rated him one of the 10 greatest living chef's alive today, so he's not entirely unknown).

His food is modern, with heavy malaysian roots, but his mastery of classical technique is astounding, creating intricate flavours and dishes of ethereal complexity.

Among certain memorable examples have been a spiced possum ragout where I thought the spicing was somewhat reminiscent of chinese 5 spice, turned out to be a 4 day affair the likes of which Nobu and Black Cod would be familiar with. This was followed by a dish of jellied calves head, a terrine like dish, inspired directly from Joel Rubuchon.

I guess what I am trying to say, other than that I am bored whilst working late :wink: , is that that is tarred with the 'fusion' brush is the problem, rather than the concept. Unremarkable east/west flavours are certainly tedious, but those who perhaps represent the idea best of all, would not describe themselves as being of 'fusion' orientation. More so I doubt their food would attract such a mundane moniker.

I am suddenly reminded of Shane Osborn's wonderful peppered tuna dish, certainly of "fusion" origins, but executed well enough to escape the tag.

To me, proper fusion, read neo classical pacific rim :biggrin: , is as much a relevant imperative to modern cuisine as molecular gastronomy. One whereby in it's best execution the lines between classical and the radical become very much blurred, and that to realise this takes a great chef of imagination and technique.

Whether Christine Manfield is up to this, I am not sure. Whilst we do not need another clumsy attempt at mix and match, true "fusion" is by it's very nature progressive and to be welcomed.

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

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Hands up, I was using the term fusion in a rather lazy, catch all way to describe a sort of cooking that was popular in the UK about 10 years ago. I really know nothing of Manfield and it will be interesting to see a menu and get some idea of what she will be doing at her new venue.

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I was there on opening night by chance, and had a lovely night. I had high expectations as I am from Sydney and had been a fan of Paramount; but tried to lower them in case I was disappointed, as with Nahm (mainly due to the surly and boorish service :angry: ).

In this case I was greeted by a very friendly girl (australian) and found out that Christine had headhunted her trusted staff, and invited them to come with her to London to work. This girl was obviously thrilled to be in London (even in winter) and the admiration of Christine's work echoed throughout the rest of the staff, regardless of whether they'd worked with Christine before or not.

I had a brief conversation with Christine, mainly about why she chose London (the opportunity was offered to her, so why not?). She did say that she had been travelling the world since closing Paramount, consulting and learning at the same time.

She offers a choice of 2 tasting menu's for £35 each, named Delicious and Wicked. 5 courses each. We had one of each tasting meny and it was a competition to see who had the most order envy at each course. The food is not fusion of eastern and western as the dialogue so far and the name might suggest - it is more a fusion of eastern cuisines, with a stronger japanese influence perhaps, but greater use of spices as the chinese and vietnamese love: and Christine advocates.

I can't and won't repeat the menu to you, but highlights for me were the lobster rolls, the diver scallops and the taste sensation of the match made in heaven - morsels of salt and pepper squid followed up with a taste of Jerez (Christine has chosen a wine to match each dish, and you are able to order these as you wish at an additional price by the glass. Prices of the wines to match are extremely reasonable in my opinion, for a hotel restaurant)

We had no room for dessert but I will be back. I have never experienced such friendly and helpful service in London (apart from aggressively so) - the cynic in me says that it was opening night and it will go downhill, but I sincerely hope not. I would hope that the Aussie spirit prevails. I would think that Christine's insistence on quality extends the whole way through the business.

The bar downstairs seemed nice too - lots of dark wood but high ceilings so it wasn't claustrophobic. I hear the bar food is to be eaten with chopsticks and great for sharing.

Go if you have the chance. I think it's great value and I hope you won't be disappointed.

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Ate here last night. I'd echo the praise for the food that vytoh applies above, and both tasting menus were excellent.

I was surprised, however, that the restaurant only offers the two tasting menus, with no a la carte menu. The only choice to be made is "Delicious" or "Wicked", and how many wines you would like to taste (there is also a conventional wine list, which we didn't look at). The tasting menus are made up of five "tastes" each, 2 or 3 mouthfuls, and the wine tastes are 75ml each. The service is very prompt, almost too prompt, with the courses coming more quickly than we were able to drink the wine tastes (and we're not normally slow).

We enjoyed the experience very much, but between the two of us we had all the savoury dishes they offer. I don't know how often they will change the menus, but much as we enjoyed the dishes we had, I'd like to try something different next time.

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  • 1 month later...
Ate here last night. I'd echo the praise for the food that vytoh applies above, and both tasting menus were excellent.

I was surprised, however, that the restaurant only offers the two tasting menus, with no a la carte menu. The only choice to be made is "Delicious" or "Wicked", and how many wines you would like to taste (there is also a conventional wine list, which we didn't look at). The tasting menus are made up of five "tastes" each, 2 or 3 mouthfuls, and the wine tastes are 75ml each. The service is very prompt, almost too prompt, with the courses coming more quickly than we were able to drink the wine tastes (and we're not normally slow).

We enjoyed the experience very much, but between the two of us we had all the savoury dishes they offer. I don't know how often they will change the menus, but much as we enjoyed the dishes we had, I'd like to try something different next time.

had a lovely meal here on Friday. Food and service excellent. Menu has gone up to £40 but seems the same as in the early November reports. Has anybody heard anything about how frequently they plan to change it?

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AA Gill slammed East@West in today's Sunday Times review.

He described the chef, Christine Manfield, as "almost supernaturally talented" and gave the food "top marks". But he criticised the "chicane" of a menu as "twee, modish obfuscation and smarmy bollocks...remorselessly silly and an infuriating waste"

"This is the worst example of concept eating I’ve come across", he says, "but with some of the best food."

He concludes:

The most damning comment came from [Jeremy] Clarkson: "Can we go next door to The Ivy and have eggs benedict now?" Sadly, it sounded like an old-fashioned, clichéd, ho-hum, jolly good idea. One of the best chefs I ever knew said: "In the end, all we do is boil potatoes. When you forget that, it doesn’t matter what else you’ve learnt, you’ve forgotten everything of value."

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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AA Gill slammed East@West in today's Sunday Times review.

He described the chef, Christine Manfield, as "almost supernaturally talented" and gave the food "top marks". But he criticised the "chicane" of a menu as "twee, modish obfuscation and smarmy bollocks...remorselessly silly and an infuriating waste"

"This is the worst example of concept eating I’ve come across", he says, "but with some of the best food."

He concludes:

The most damning comment came from [Jeremy] Clarkson: "Can we go next door to The Ivy and have eggs benedict now?" Sadly, it sounded like an old-fashioned, clichéd, ho-hum, jolly good idea. One of the best chefs I ever knew said: "In the end, all we do is boil potatoes. When you forget that, it doesn’t matter what else you’ve learnt, you’ve forgotten everything of value."

Thanks for that (link here).

I agree that the names of the tasting menus are trite. Everything else in this review is bollocks (well, the half actually devoted to the restaurant and not meanderings about Mexico).

"If all of us had ordered a menu each, we’d have had a mountain of food"? Doesn't the man know what a tasting menu is? And ordering two meals between six people; how weird was that?

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I was here about 6 weeks ago.

food very good, service terrible.

the australian front of house manager very good, welcoming, but then handed our table over to the 12 year olds. We had to prompt them to tell us what we were being served, and still often couldn't hear their mumblings. becoming my no.1 hate.

Thought it odd there was no amuse until later we witnessed everyone else getting them.

Had the small taster wines, only problem being that they were neither very good or good matches to food. Just saying this wine matches this course, doesn't mean that it does.

At the end of the meal I felt that it was a very dispassionate affair, and my wife correctly pointed out that it was the service that made everything seem cold.

For the price: 2 menu's, recommended wines + service > £150 I didn't think it worth returning. It is very sydney stylee dining, in both good and bad regards.

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

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  • 3 weeks later...

Such an odd place, I can't recall a place that so aptly defines the concept of a meal being a 'whole experience'.

Here the food is fabulous (though I might go to nahm instead), but the whole can be missing something.

Odd, in that most places would be buzzing if the food was good.

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

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Six of us went on Saturday and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Not much to add to the comments about the food -- it was cracking. Perfectly judged flavours which progressed throughout the menu.

The room was comfortable and not too loud.

On the service, our waiter (Australian but hadn't come over with CM) struck just the right note (for us) of professionalism matched with informality. The pacing of the courses was just right. The service did however slip for the dessert course, when inexplicably we were served by two waitresses we hadn't seen before who didn't seem to have a clue. Also one bottle of wine was off and a younger waiter that had brought it didn't have the confidence to handle the situation; however the older waiter changed it straight away.

My guess is that the service will inprove as it beds down and the less experienced waitstaff learn the ropes.

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Six of us went on Saturday and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Not much to add to the comments about the food -- it was cracking. Perfectly judged flavours which progressed throughout the menu.

The room was comfortable and not too loud.

On the service, our waiter (Australian but hadn't come over with CM) struck just the right note (for us) of professionalism matched with informality. The pacing of the courses was just right. The service did however slip for the dessert course, when inexplicably we were served by two waitresses we hadn't seen before who didn't seem to have a clue. Also one bottle of wine was off and a younger waiter that had brought it didn't have the confidence to handle the situation; however the older waiter changed it straight away.

My guess is that the service will inprove as it beds down and the less experienced waitstaff learn the ropes.

how busy was it?

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Six of us went on Saturday and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  Not much to add to the comments about the food -- it was cracking.  Perfectly judged flavours which progressed throughout the menu.

The room was comfortable and not too loud.

On the service, our waiter (Australian but hadn't come over with CM) struck just the right note (for us) of professionalism matched with informality.  The pacing of the courses was just right.  The service did however slip for the dessert course, when inexplicably we were served by two waitresses we hadn't seen before who didn't seem to have a clue.  Also one bottle of wine was off and a younger waiter that had brought it didn't have the confidence to handle the situation; however the older waiter changed it straight away.

My guess is that the service will inprove as it beds down and the less experienced waitstaff learn the ropes.

how busy was it?

It seemed to be more or less full. We were there from 8.30 till 11.30 and a couple of tables near us were occupied twice in that time.

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  • 1 year later...

I tried to go here a few (4?) weeks ago and realised they had closed. It was one of those places I'd always meant to go to...wonder if the same was true for lots of other people. Ironically enough,the Gourmet issue about London listed it as a great place to go, which made me wonder about their copy deadlines...

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

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

Blogito ergo sum

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