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simon gueller back at the stove?


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Sounds like the Gueller's will be better off without her interference, doesn't it?

And as luck would have it- we are lunching there tomorrow, at the behest of a certain pasty-faced one from over the border and his lovely missus.

He doesn't know he is paying yet though. :laugh:

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As with all these things I'm sure there are two sides to the story. I have heard from more than one person that Gueller is a member of the awkward squad, so I'd imagine Avis has at least some grounds for complaint. Hopefully he can get on with his next landlord if he doesn't buy the place himself.

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before simon got involved there were plenty of horror stories emanating from the box tree, they might as well have fittted a revolving door for staff given the speed at which they came and went so i think we can draw our own conclusions.

however following lunch today, i am pleased to report that the box tree is thriving under their ownership, more to follow....

you don't win friends with salad

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Toby Hill has been in and out of more kitchens than I've had hot dinners, so I don't think the fact that he didn't last long at the Box Tree tells us anything in particular. Don't get me wrong, I think Gueller is a great cook and I wish him all the luck in the world, but we don't have all the facts about the fall out and never will, so its impossible for any of us to say who is in the right and who is in the wrong (Andy Lynes - skilled at the art of diplomatic fence-sitting. Well, sometimes anyway.)

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From what I have heard over the years. Madame Avis can be difficult to deal with. Colleagues of mine have come out of confrontations dripping with sweat. I had heard that she had mellowed over the years though. There is as Andy says, insufficient information to base anything on.

I had to check this thread since I'd heard a nasty rumour that it was for sale and thought the Guellers were leaving - I would have been sorry if that was the case.

Gordon Wallace
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Last Saturday, we found ourselves pootling over to Ilkley for lunch with Gary M and Sarah at his kind invitation. Apparently, we were second choice companions. :smile::wink: So having fobbed the little one off onto my mother for a whole night and day for the first time in 9 months, we set off for some enjoyable company, intelligent, adult conversation (well from Sarah anyway) and some excellent food.

I have now idea why, but having only been to Ilkley once before, many moons ago- I was rather expecting the Box Tree to be somewhat out in the sticks and not, as it transpired, on the corner a street in the middle of town. The other thing I wasn’t expecting was what a beautiful building it is both on inside and out. The interior warrants a special mention, what with the intricately designed plasterwork on the ceilings, the beautiful stained glass windows, warm comfortable armchairs, and tasteful wallpaper, all lend themselves to creating an overall impression of subdued, but certainly not rarefied elegance. Gary indicated that some considerable work had been done to alter the interior and from what we saw it, it was money well invested.

We joined Gary and Sarah in a glass of champagne whilst we perused the menu. All of us decided to go a la carte-“It’s toot faar t’ come t’ have thu Fixed Price menu” said Gary, which I can’t really argue with. I would just say that some canapés or nibbles would not have gone amiss with our champagne. A minor but not insignificant quibble when one considers the amount we spent on lunch that day.

After a chat we were shown through the middle room, with a lovely roaring fire, into the larger of the two dining areas. I am afraid I can only deal with what dishes I had (and in part Rosie’s). And so to start I opted for a ballontine of wild salmon which came with a lobster and potato salad. It was very pleasant, the salmon was flavoursome and surrounded by pressing of fine herbs around the cylindrical ballontine. On reflection, it was far too safe a choice for me. I should have gone for the Artichoke veloute with a poached egg or Rosie’s choice of Foie Gras with a Gingerbread sponge. A generous two lobes of foie gras were precisely cooked, which melted effortlessly when eaten in conjunction with the light ginger sponge. A dish I have seen a variation of on the Waterside Inn menu before and so I was glad to taste how these two ingredients worked together. An excellent dish and one which I would have chosen if I had not decided upon the Poached Anjou squab, with a fondant potato and Foie Gras as my main course. This was a stellar dish and as I have indicated to Gary – probably in my top three dishes of the year.

Tender, flavoursome poached breast meat, a classic and faultless, buttery fondant potato; both of which matched perfectly with the decadently rich foie gras. And to finish hidden away slightly were the crisped legs of the little beast for one to knaw on. A finger bowl provided to wash away one’s finger licking indiscretions. Marvellous stuff.

I’ll give you three guesses – but you’ll need only one to decide upon whom in our party wanted an extra cheese course. Gary ordered two portions for us to share. Perfect gooey Epoisse, a Fourme d’ Ambert and spicy paprika based cheese linger in the memory, but perhaps Gary can fill in the others. Nicely served on black marble plates, with oatcakes and unusual bread, although I didn’t get a look at those as Sarah swallowed the lot from the portion we were sharing between us.

Onto puddings- after a brief mix up over whether we were having four glasses or a half bottle of dessert wine. I tucked into a textbook Apricot Soufflé – served with a heavenly chocolate sauce. The edges were tinged golden brown and what lay beneath, was feather light and flawless.

Simon Gueller is an undoubted talent and the environment they have created at historic The Box tree will see it continue to grow in stature, without doubt. A couple of minor niggles though- there were a couple of occasions when we were leaned across perhaps once too often at the table. And the Chardonnay we enjoyed with our first courses was poured a little to freely into our initial glasses. I would have preferred it to have been topped periodically to let the wine open up. Although, I was in competition with Gary to drink it as the er, girls were given the not unenviable task of driving us two distinguished gentleman back to our respective homes. :biggrin: In fact a rather unnerving moment was seeing Gary leap up to take the decanted wine out of the ice bucket It transpires it was indeed to let it open up and it was rather too cold. But for one second I thought he was going to drink it straight out of the decanter.

We retired for coffees and teas to the lovely and cosy fireplace seats. I recall especially liking the way the Petit Fours are offered; in a large wooden box brought to the table, from which you select the ones you want. These are then placed with tongs onto a glass dish before you. I wisely left the Tobacco chocolate to Gary as the memory of the three hours trying to get the taste of a similar chocolate out of my mouth from the Fat Duck was foremost in my mind. I mentioned that in my now replete, soporific state, it would have been lovely to be just staying over somewhere locally. Oh, well maybe next time. A fabulous, if somewhat decadent, way to spend four hours on a Saturday lunchtime – highly and heartily recommended.

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