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On the general issue, it is true that Andy tends to get defensive about the reputations of cooking professionals. I understand that. But it does start to miss the point of eGullet when people who write reviews are challenged at every opportunity to justify both their detailed comments, and the style of their reviews.

Macrosan - I think that is the whole point of eGullet. People post as they wish within the bounds of the user agreement and should expect others to post as they wish in response. You are free to respond or not to respond to requests for clarification as you see fit. You are under no obligation to do so.

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I dug out my Capital report from May this year, as it was the best meal I've had in London in some time. I have eaten Chavot's food at several restaurants and have a really high opinion. Now, none of this contradicts Macrosan's experience in any way - the question is how and why the kitchen could hit such a low.

(By the way, I obviously liked the room. But as G Johnson has ruthlessly observed, I am a bit of a ponce):

"I had eaten in the small, pretty hotel dining room before, and I had eaten Eric Chavot's food elsewhere, but this was the first time I had experienced Chavot at The Capital. Very classy operation, with excellent service from a French waitress and an Australian sommelier. Amuse guele was a rich, dark green cup of asparagus soup. The dishes which followed suggested that Chavot spends his spare time eating fry ups in corner caffs for menu ideas. Good, fresh langoustine were accompanied by crisp rashers of pancetta, and a potato/vegetable cake which can only be described as bubble and squeak. An unexplained side dish, which simply appeared to be an additional appetizer, was a portion of excellent Welsh rabbit. My dining companions found a lot of fried quails' eggs garnishing their dishes. The Capital should open for breakfast.

I recalled Chavot's rabbit leg stuffed with squid from his Interlude days, and ordered what turned out to be a sophisticated elaboration of the dish. Torchons formed by wrapping tender squid in a rabbit forcemeat, secured again with pancetta; slices of rabbit saddle, with its crisply fried liver; a garnish of light, fried and battered calamari. Great technique and good to eat. First rate cheeses - apart from L'Ami again - and an unnecessary dessert, mint vacherin in chocolate. Several trays of petits fours and chocolates made dessert doubly unnecessary. Two extremes with the wine - a ninteen quid (yes, truly) viognier to start the meal, followed by a 1989 Cote Rotie which topped three figures. Both good for what they were. Then there was the Calvados..."

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The dishes which followed suggested that Chavot spends his spare time eating fry ups in corner caffs for menu ideas.  Good, fresh langoustine were accompanied by crisp rashers of pancetta, and a potato/vegetable cake which can only be described as bubble and squeak.  An unexplained side dish, which simply appeared to be an additional appetizer, was a portion of excellent Welsh rabbit.  My dining companions found a lot of fried quails' eggs garnishing their dishes.  The Capital should open for breakfast.

Interesting - My dinner was littered with bacon products at every turn including the bubble and squeak type dish, a bacon and potatoe amuse, a pork belly starter, bacon and potato side dish, this was just the dishes that we chose, from what I remember, other dishes were similarly accompanied

By the way, Rachel thoroughly enjoyed her meal. My main of Rabbit stuffed with black pudding was excellent although the huge oprtion of pasta spoiled it a little on the presentation front.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Macrosan - I think that is the whole point of eGullet. People post as they wish within the bounds of the user agreement and should expect others to post as they wish in response. You are free to respond or not to respond to requests for clarification as you see fit. You are under no obligation to do so.

Andy, I agree with that. However there is a clear and important distinction between the general membership and a Moderator :smile: A member has no wider obligation than to write in a way which he enjoys, and has no duty to achieve balance. A Moderator is obliged to write in a way that represents the policy of eGullet, and a duty to encourage the development of a wide range of consenting and contrary views.

I'm honestly not making a big issue of this (it was Simon who raised the point) but I think you should accept that you are defensive of professional reputations, and I think that as a Moderator you should not be so. If I say that a dish is badly cooked, then I have no problem with you explaining why I don't understand the dish, or even suggesting that I'm exaggerating, but if you pick fault with the words I use or imply that I must be wrong to say so, then you are likely to suppress future discussion.

Just a friendly thought, Andy :smile:

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Macrosan - I think you have a valid point about my role, but I would point out that in the normal run of events,this is not a moderated site as such and that my official title is UK Community Co-ordinator. Than means that it is more important for me to organise things like Q and A's, eGullet related events in the real world, generate new ideas for the site and chip in my 2 cents worth behind the scenes on the strategic aims of eGullet than it is to "moderate" what gets posted here.

You are right that I do tend to post in "member" mode and may leap to the defence of the profession more often than I should. But I can assure that I am completely open and honest about who I know in the catering industry and just how well I know them. For example, I do not know Eric Chavot, or anyone involved in the Capital Hotel, or any of their other restaurants. I have never eaten at the Capital.

You may also be interested to learn that I have been recently accussed of not defending a professionals reputation on these boards, so it would appear that I cannot win! I certainly do not see that it is my role to protect anyone's reputation, other than that of eGullet itself.

I would like to clarify the intent behind my postings on this particular thread. I did not wish to pick fault with the words you used, or try to imply that you were wrong to say what you had said. However, I honestly could not see that your experience had been exactly similar to Simon's and felt that you had misinterpreted his review. I don't think it was an unreasonable thing to ask you to clarify what you were referring to. Re-reading my posts now, it's seems to me that I could have gone about things in a better way and I apologise for any annoyance caused by my rather ill mannered and short tone. I sincerely hope that I have not and will never do anything to surpress future discussion, my intention is to encourage it.

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That's a typically generous reply, Andy, and I appreciate that. I have never misconstrued your intentions in posting, and I have alawys defended you against what I always believed were occasional false accusations of partiality.

Let me also say that I am aware that my own idiosyncratic style :wink: also causes annoyance. In fact it is sometimes deliberately designed to do so :shock: so I guess I'm expecting more of you than I do of myself.

Be assured that I shall continue to be encouraged to post :smile:

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LONG-WINDED!

Executive Summary

Room/ambience: a lot less naff than I had been led to believe

Food: sub-naff

There were 4 of us for Sunday lunch. Myself, my good friend of many years' standing, his best friend and his best friend's ex-bit of fluff - the diva. The diva, behaving true to type, decided in a flurry of phone calls to her ex as we sat in the reception area with our aperitifs not to partake in the lunch and so we were three.

Menu was the same as that described on the web-site (see link which put itself at the bottom of this page for some reason) with the following changes: white truffle risotto with scrambled egg instead of open sweetbread raviolo, in the main courses: zander with choucroute and duck liver (not exact wording) instead of the brill and the gianduja & banana dessert replaced by something involving an apple sorbet - can't remember exactly. Dining room was perhaps 2/3 full.

I had some difficulty making my choice due to frequency of eggs on the menu - I like them, but not in each course. I eventually chose the pork belly and the potato gnocchi and the maitre d' wisely suggested that I switch these dishes round and have the potato gnocchi first. Other first courses selected were the smoked haddock and the pork, and the others both had the zander for mains, my friend recalling a memorable dish of zander cooked on a stone with pine needles which I had a year or so ago in the Club Gascon.

The amuse set the tone for the meal: a crispy slice of bacon on a bit of soft sausagey thing (very similar to Portuguese alheira) with a thimbleful of coco beans, topped with a fried quail's egg and with a few droplets of a strange sweet & sour sauce around. Well - thank you very much. I spend quite enough time as it is in dodgy bed & breakfasts, let alone the contractor's greasy spoon that has opened up a few metres from my office which keeps me supplied in bacon & egg butties. I don't want that kind of food at The Capital and no matter how fancy you make it look, it's still an English breakfast.

My potato gnocchi dish: another bloody fried quail's egg on top; a much-appreciated mouthful of spinach, the only greenery of the entire meal, and some potato gnocchi which, although wonderfully light, still managed, along with the mushroom pieces (not convinced they were ceps) to feel like they were part of a fry-up. No particular definition or refinement in taste for the whole dish except for the sliver of Parmesan.

The best friend consumed the smoked haddock with an uninspired expression. His comments: ‘OK, but not exciting’ and ‘not what I was expecting’. To me it looked like yet another example of the English breakfast/nursery food theme. That bloody quail egg made its appearance again, soft-boiled this time, and the ‘potato salad’ wasn’t – it was herb-flecked mashed potato.

Then the pork combo plate: I’d already had a view of this from my friend’s first course. Small pieces of different kinds of cured pork: a sausage-like thing that we guessed was the Morteaux sausage (does anyone know what this is? I haven’t looked it up at home), the small slice of pork belly, some sautéed potato cubes with some more pork mixed in, a strange cubic croquette affair with very pink cured pork inside and what looked like a cylinder of fine white noodles, which was the apple – but so denatured in taste and texture as to be more like pasta. When I got mine, my sausage was a soft black boudin noir rather than the pale affair my friend got – much to my disappointment – I have an irrational mental blockage about anything made of blood. Flavours were heavy and porky but again lacking in definition. I found one end of my slice of pork belly overly dry and barely edible and would have been happy to have just had a plateful of the potatoes and pork (nothing more than what you would toss together at home). When a dish has a number of different elements there has to be some kind of symphonic effect of each one playing off the other in terms of taste and texture. Here it just felt like a lot of noise.

The men looked considerably more cheerful when their mains of zander and duck liver arrived, although my friend had been worried about the prospect of choucroute, one of the few foods he dislikes. He left it on the edge of the plate so I tried a bit and almost spat it out. As if the kitchen was afraid of the potentially aggressive taste and had cooked all the flavour out of it, resulting in something like babyfood. The pork belly and Morteaux sausage made another appearance here (at least the maitre d’ had warned my friend about this), together with the duck liver, zander and choucroute :sad: and both said that, although this dish was better than their first courses, it was marred by far too many elements and they were unconvinced by the combination of zander with pork or duck liver. There was a transparent sauce which, however delicious it may have been, looked to me as an observer as if the plate was swimming in fat. There was no comment on the fish and I take that as telling. After all, zander is a fine freshwater fish. To throw a load of cured pork, duck liver and choucroute at it seems to me an insult.

Then the highlight of the whole lunch, the cheese, for which I guess we have to thank Patricia Michelson. Served from a silver trolley with a glorious domed lid and presented by a girl with a charming French accent that had the men drooling. We ate with unreserved enjoyment for the first time. My friend had the pineapple lasagne instead of cheese and pronounced that it was ‘so sophisticated it doesn’t taste of anything’. I hadn’t been tempted by any of the desserts, but then I find that the case in most restaurants, despite fondness for sweet things.

Espresso coffee was OK, but a bit bitter and, as I discovered to my cost when I went to bed, with a shockingly high level of caffeine. Something to do with inferior quality beans?

Other bits and pieces: bread did not quite pass the test – not fresh enough, a little bun-like – effeminate was my assessment, to the bemusement of my companions. Later we were able to ask for slices from a nice looking loaf sitting neglected on a sideboard which was an improvement, with a mild sourdough flavour. Sauces in general were minuscule blobs, either of pretty tasteless foam, or so viscous that they impossible to get off the plate. Service was friendly and formal and all French, but somehow lacking in professionalism, except for the lady maitre d’. When service is that formal, then the protagonists need to be absolutely confident and physically dexterous. There was a strange combination of British amateurishness with heavy French accents, utterly incomprehensible to my Spanish friends.

Choice of wine was left to the best friend who I had been led to believe was an expert. I think he got confused between Euros and pounds and ordered a ’99 Palacios Priorato at £49. It was fine although probably not worth that amount. The sommelier is clearly competent, but he left the work of decanting, tasting and serving the wine to a junior who didn’t look too sure of himself at all.

Cost was £204 including service for 3 set meals @ £27.50, the above-mentioned wine, 3 portions of cheese @ £6.50 (the diva made her entrance in the middle of the cheese course and required a plate for herself), 2 glasses of Brunello, a (delicious) glass of Riesling Auslese for myself), water, aperitifs for 3 and 12.5% service. Normal for London but utterly shocking for Spaniards.

Conclusion: I simply cannot fathom the motivation behind the cooking. Past reports have shown meals here to have been simply wonderful. Clearly at lunch they are going to be looking at how to reduce costs, for example by repeating ingredients in different dishes, and perhaps taking the opportunity to give the more junior waiting staff some practice. How has everything gone off the rails? Where is the culinary honesty? Has he just chosen a strange byway of inspiration? Has cynicism set in? Does he think that the great British public has no palate beyond the great British breakfast?

Loud remark by a slightly inebriated grandmother that echoed round the dining room at one point “I’m wading through the Spanish Civil War…” to the puzzlement of my friends.

My faith in the real taste of good food was restored in the subsequent two evenings – reports to come.

Capital lunch menu

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Thankyou. I have recalled ?elsewhere that I dined on Chavot's cuisine only the once - a decade or so ago at interlude de Chavot.

Apart from entertaining swearing emanating from the kitchen and an anaemic Pernand-Vergelesses my only memory is of the starter.

Now I have just read Colin Spencer pointing out that the occasional addition of 2 eggs and some collops of bacon to pottage would sadly remain, in the form of breakfast, the only whole-heartedly recommendable item of British food. But Chavot is evidently breakfast-obsessed.

My starter was a (architecturally) deconstructed fry-up on a plate.

I laughed once - but wouldn't again. Surely there's room to move on - high tea or elevenses?

Wilma squawks no more

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I hadn’t been tempted by any of the desserts, but then I find that the case in most restaurants, despite fondness for sweet things.

just out of interest, why's that?

They just don't appeal. I'd usually prefer a sweet wine any day. There are a few specific things, like I don't like chocolate desserts, or creme patissiere, or milk puddings of any kind, or ice cream after meals, cooked apples or other fruit usually do nothing for me - and so it goes on :smile:

v

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My starter was a (architecturally) deconstructed fry-up on a plate.

He's still doing it. Had lunch there yesterday & the pre-starter was post-modern fried egg, bacon, sausage & beans. Absolutely wonderful (except the quails egg - can't eat them).

Starters was a tasting of pork belly - quite inspired. Pork belly done 3 ways with celeraic remoulade with honey & cinnamon dressing. Stunning. My guest went for carpaccio of haddock - perfectly balanced.

Mains - I had rabbit leg stuffed with prunes - again - wonderful. My guest went for the slow cooked shank of lamb. Amazing sauce.

Puds - pineapple lasagne with rice pudding ice cream - a lot better than previous efforts. My guest had chocolate tart with caramelised pears and pear sorbet. Again, desserts much better than on previous visits.

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:raz::raz::raz:

I had the pleasure of being invited to the Capitals 30th anniversary dinner earlier this year. Every course was a marvel (but why do certain posh chefs still insist on reducing their gravy’s to marmite???). The two that really stuck with me were the veal sweetbreads and snails with a horseradish cappuccino and the black truffle ice cream for dessert. I thought the ice cream was going to just be a gimmicky way of using truffles but the earthy flavour of the truffles worked really well with the frozen sweetened cream

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  • 3 years later...

We went to Capital last night. I found it a frustrating meal in many respects. The cooking is good technically, everything cooked perfectly but I find Chavot's obsession with bacon distracting. It appear everywhere, completely unannounced. Scallop veloute was a good amuse, good depth of flavour with a nice smokiness provided by the bacon. We both chose a White Onion veloute with Langoustine, and what I think was a Mushroom & Truffle Tortellini. The Veloute could have done with perhaps being a little thicker but the flavour was beautiful, distinctly white onion the sweetness complementing the Langoustines very well indeed. The Tortellini were rich, smooth with a nice hint of truffle, they sat on top of comfit (?) onions which were meltingly soft. Within the veloute were crispy piece of what I believe were bacon and perhaps some crispy shallot. An excellent dish.

A main course of veal (Dutch, I did tell her not to bother but she ignored me) was disappointing, great texture but flavourless veal with a balsamic sauce, mushrooms etc. etc. an underwhelming dish. Rabbit stuffed with Olives served with Grilled Squid, Tomato Risotto, Coco beans, was again well prepared and cooked,. The Risotto was in a package of some sort and was intense with tomato and a little smokiness that gave it a slight chorizo flavour. Of course the smokiness probably came from the bacon. Coco beans were served in a tomato sauce again smoky with bacon. Squid and rabbit perfectly cooked and all the Bunny Offal served alongside on a skewer. An OK dish, the individual elements worked well but I never felt it really came together as a whole.

Bernard Anthony Cheese was a treat and a half, the Comte was "around 3 years old", apparently they had recently finished a 2001 Comte. The Comte was superb, The Eppoise good. The Roquefort was a little salty but the texture was like whipped cream, incredibly light, it disappeared within seconds of hitting your mouth. My selection of cheese was huge, I forget/was unfamiliar with the remaining cheese but in total I had around 7 generous serving of cheese which didn't appear as a supplement on the bill which was nice. Rachel chose a chocolate dessert, a fondant, Millefeuille but was disappointed.

Overall solid cooking but it's not 2 star cooking in my mind, a solid one star no doubt at all. The room is still awful, Rachel commented that it looks like the room in the hotel where you take your breakfast, it wouldn't surprise me if that is what it is used for in the mornings :rolleyes:

A quick word for the couple on the table next to us, just because we asked how much the glass of Bollinger '97 that we were offered as an aperitif was doesn't mean that we shouldn't be eating here. If you do want to talk about us please try to be a little more discreet next time.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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A quick word for the couple on the table next to us, just because we asked how much the glass of Bollinger '97 that we were offered as an aperitif was doesn't mean that we shouldn't be eating here. If you do want to talk about us please try to be a little more discreet next time.

How very English. :rolleyes:

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A quick word for the couple on the table next to us, just because we asked how much the glass of Bollinger '97 that we were offered as an aperitif was doesn't mean that we shouldn't be eating here. If you do want to talk about us please try to be a little more discreet next time.

how rude! I'd have been inclined to express my displeasure to them there and then.

to my mind, even if it were true that you were stretching for the meal, that would have made you more important customers than the obnoxious and overprivileged who are eating somewhere like that, because it's the capital don't you know :laugh:

people who go for the food, outrank all others.

furthermore, there is a good reason they never tell you the price of the aperitif champagne until the bill comes (i'll bet bolli 97 was no less than £20 a glass) , who'd order it if you'd known?

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

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A quick word for the couple on the table next to us, just because we asked how much the glass of Bollinger '97 that we were offered as an aperitif was doesn't mean that we shouldn't be eating here. If you do want to talk about us please try to be a little more discreet next time.

Last time we ate at Gavroche, I insisted on knowing the cost of the proffered brandy, and got the same reaction from a nearby table!

I got the waiters to move us to the lounge were we could enjoy our wallet busting digestifs. I must quickly point out that the waiter didn't turn a hair at my question-

just the snobby eavdroppers!! :wink:

Just goes to show that, as always, money don't buy manners! :biggrin:

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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!!!, "

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furthermore, there is a good reason they never tell you the price of the aperitif champagne until the bill comes (i'll bet bolli 97 was no less than £20 a glass) , who'd order it if you'd known?

Nothing annoys me more than being offered Champagne by the glass and the waiter not knwoing how much it is (or feigning not knowing). In this instance I asked 3 times and each time was answered with the year before finally getting "Its around £20 a glass". I wonder how much "around" really was.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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furthermore, there is a good reason they never tell you the price of the aperitif champagne until the bill comes (i'll bet bolli 97 was no less than £20 a glass) , who'd order it if you'd known?

Nothing annoys me more than being offered Champagne by the glass and the waiter not knwoing how much it is (or feigning not knowing). In this instance I asked 3 times and each time was answered with the year before finally getting "Its around £20 a glass". I wonder how much "around" really was.

of course they know, and they are being 'evasive' or it's even worse and the sommelier is not bothering to tell them. Around £20 probably means £22 -23, which is outrageous. let's call it £45 + service for 2 glasses of fizz.

no, no, no! it's not an issue of having money, it's a matter of prolifigacy.

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

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I am taking my parents for lunch at the Capital in March and am worried i have made a bad choice reading some of the comments. It will be their first time in a 2* and only the second time in a starred restaurant (they are dining where i work the night before). I want them to have a relaxed, friendly and tasty experience at lunch menu prices any other ideas ? or is The Capital a good idea?

Incidentally we are going for lunch on the day of the Roux Scholarship final, anyone have any plans to be there in the evening?

Edited by Matthew Tomkinson (log)

The quest for perfection will lead you to role models that will last you for life (Nico Ladenis)

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