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culinary bear

Fraiche

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Thanks, Adey. I'm in Manshester over the Easter weekend so I think a trip to the Wirral may be in order.

Interesting take on the pebbles, I have had the Mugaritz version and, while they were certainly a novelty, taste wise they were not much above eating a real pebble. The black rice and squid ink sounds more promising.

Marc - out of interest would you always recommend the bespoke menu over the signature? When faced with the dilema between "standard" tasting menus and a suprise/bespoke menu (life can sometimes be cruel), I would instinctively go for the latter but I often wonder if (particularly for a first visit) the normal tasting menu would give you a better overall meal since this will contain the signature dishes perfected over time (both in terms of composition and execution).  Also, I assume from Adey's posts that there was no (or little) wine involved - do you go in for a wine pairing with your menus?

hi tom i dont push people to go any way menu wise the elements is the safest menu e.g the dessert tonight is apple crumble although fraiche version lol while signature has solid dishes from my rep, bespoke as you guessed is the wilder menu with new items on each week ie today has beetroot and chervil tubers with cocoa and sour cream and pain de epice so its bit more out there, also sweetbreads with truffle and olive and apple oil emulsion

wine wise we are to small to match we have tried but its too expensive so instead we have a very good 1/2 bottle list in place now to fill this gap though we have the sherries too which work well 15 by the glass and rising lol

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Finally made it to Fraiche today for lunch. I was made very welcome by Marc and his team. I won't go into details as its been covered on here before. I was spoilt by about 14 courses of brilliant cooking and flavours. Hats of to you Marc! One of the best chefs around at the mo, I'm chuffed to have him in the north west! I will try to get back soon. Anyone who could make it there, you should def make the effort, you will not be dissapointed.

Big up!

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Realised I never wrote up my meal at Fraiche the other month. Suffice to say, it was superb and I second every other person on here who says to go. And I'll be back very soon. Cheers Marc. The pork belly dish and the basil sorbet I had that night still live long in the memory!

Adam

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I've been toying with signing up to egullet for months but have waited until my first post could be a report on a really top meal. Last night's dinner was it!

We liked Fraiche. We liked Fraiche a lot.

A tiny restaurant, less than 20 covers, in what looks like a converted terraced house. A very modern décor, extending to the glass artwork on the walls and the water glasses on the tables. It was a lovely evening and we were led out to the back yard for aperitifs (which were accompanied by spiced pecans). A few days before, we’d had a telephone call asking if we’d like to eat the “bespoke” menu – a ten course surprise at £55. We would. Now we were asked if we had any allergies. We hadn’t.

So with no food menu to peruse, the wine list got a good viewing. I don't drink, so the companion in life was pleased to see such a good range of half bottles and by the glass. But, in the end, a full bottle of an Australian pinot noir was ordered (better value) - difficult to match wine when you don't know what food is coming but the advice was to keep it light. And so to food:

1 a small slab of salted berry chocolate. An unusual start, but one which worked.

2 diced sashimi tuna and watermelon, with tomato water. Taste & texture were imprtant here as the tuna and melon had almost identical colours and sized dice. Tomato water was just fab – pure essence of tomato. Came with a poppy seed biscuit and parmesan crisp which added another layer of texture.

3 four different breads, with unsalted and seaweed butter.

4 chicken with globe artichoke and lemon puree. Perfectly cooked piece of thigh, the puree cutting through the richness. Companion in life is not normally a fan of chicken but declared this the best ever tasted. Rare praise. It was certainly non too shabby.

5 scallops with tarragon grapes and sweetcorn cream. It would be a picky diner who criticised the scallops for being a tad overcooked but that picky diner was on the other side of the table. Mine was fine but I wasn’t convinced by the sweetcorn cream which seemed to make the dish overly sweet (other side of table thought the flavour spot on).

6 three more different breads

7 chilled watercress, chorizo and crème fraiche soup. Refreshing with the crème adding richness.

8 seabass with aubergine yogurt and wild rice. My favourite dish of the evening. Absolutely bang on for flavour, concept and cooking.

9 lamb, pea cream, braised celery heart, fondant potato. Classic! Lovely dish even if the lamb was not the most flavoursome we’ve ever eaten.

10 a cheese came wrapped in leaves (the latter not to be eaten). Can’t recall the name but French, soft, probably goat and studded with peppercorns. Immediately followed by…..

11 ……fizzy grapes. A few grapes injected with fizzy water. Perhaps flavoured water (?) as there seemed to be some other taste than grape.

12 two spoons each. First one with sweet and sour pineapple. Chewy, tangy, refreshing. The second with lemon meringue pie – tasted just like my mother used to make (this is a compliment)

13 lemon grass pannacotta, cherry foam and pistachio “soil”. The “soil” being the first bit of menu-speak since we arrived. Foam was packed with cherry flavour. Pannacotta much more delicate. Soil provided a texture contrast.

14 roasted strawberries came with a rhubarb ice and hibiscus popcorn. The roasting really lifting the berry flavour and a good contrast with the slightly tart rhubarb.

15 “popping egg yolk”. Berry juice (raspberry?) to which something techie had been done to from a skin so it wobbles like, erm, a yolk. A wake-up taste particularly as there was “space dust” in there as well. We’ve had a very similar citrusy version at S’Atic in Soller, Mallorca. Great fun.

16 orange soda with vanilla straw.

17 chocolate orange. Bits of orange; chocolate ganache, something else.

Coffee and excellent fruit and chocolate petit fours were an extra. The coffee, drinks before, bottle of wine and water added nearly another fifty quid. In summary, the best meal we’ve had in many months and cracking good value. Service from the two front of house staff had been faultless.


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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Cheers Harters- a nice review and welcome. A reprobates lunch here has been mooted and having read your write up I am certainly keen to give it a try.

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Cheers Harters- a nice review and welcome. A reprobates lunch here has been mooted and having read your write up I am certainly keen to give it a try.

uh oh crash helmet where are you :biggrin:

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Cheers Harters- a nice review and welcome. A reprobates lunch here has been mooted and having read your write up I am certainly keen to give it a try.

Reprobate Hetherington, first class, reporting for duty Sir!


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Cheers Harters- a nice review and welcome. A reprobates lunch here has been mooted and having read your write up I am certainly keen to give it a try.

uh oh crash helmet where are you :biggrin:

You'll need more than a crash helmet my friend :smile: Glad you are on the case Thom. We just need to find out whether tax exile Marshall will be in the UK for more than a week, in between his fifteen annual European soujorns, to make this happen.

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I've been toying with signing up to egullet for months but have waited....

John good to hear your voice again. Great review.

This is the inspiration I need to put together a road trip for my partner who wants to see great English cities like Birmingham....! (she's not from round here). Purnell's on the way up to Fraiche, over the top to Anthony's (resisting the urge for a country break out to The Star) and then back down stopping at Sat Bains.....! Must get planning.

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Fraiche looks more and more appealing with every post on here.

We just cancelled a meal at Purnells that was booked a couple of months ago, as when I checked the website the other day, the menu had changed significantly and not for the better, and prices seemed to have shot up. Because of that, we'll be eating at the Walnut Tree on Friday night, and I can't wait.

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John good to hear your voice again.

Thanks, Phil.

I recall, ages back, you asking me on the "other forum" if I'd been to Fraiche. Glad to give you the encouragement to go here, if not on there.

I know you were also interested in our West Cork experiences. You'll find a brief summary on the Trip Advisor "Kinsale" forum (I have the same user name there) which IDs the places where we ate - you'll see it will point you on to fuller reviews posted on menupages.ie.

Great trip you're putting together. Look forward to the read.

John


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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Cheers Harters- a nice review and welcome. A reprobates lunch here has been mooted and having read your write up I am certainly keen to give it a try.

uh oh crash helmet where are you :biggrin:

You'll need more than a crash helmet my friend :smile: Glad you are on the case Thom. We just need to find out whether tax exile Marshall will be in the UK for more than a week, in between his fifteen annual European soujorns, to make this happen.

worry ye not, there's an airport at liverpool, be ok as long as they don't steal the wheel trims off the lear :wink:


you don't win friends with salad

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I was invited to a mate's 40th in my old university/work stomping ground of Liverpool which afforded a lunch shaped hole in the day to finally visit Fraiche last weekend.

After a blast across the M62 we hit a football rammed liverpool so abandoned all hope of checking into the hotel, dumped the car and took ourselves (and luggage) over the water to the wirral.

I was slighlty concerned that when i rang fraiche to let them know we were running slighlty late and get directions as the taxi driver 'didn't go over the river' i got an answerphone message and even more concerned that when we got there i thought it was closed, until i peered through the window and saw signs of life and then the not- at- all- hidden front door which had eluded me.

It was also at this point that the GPS on my phone that had got us there decided to crash it, and therefore there are no pics, just my memory which means this review will be short on fact and long on anecdotage.

So not a little frazzled we relaxed into a very enjoyable afternoon in marc and his team's capable hands, and it appears to be a small but perfectly formed one with marc alone in the kitchen, a most excellent FOH and 1 waitress running the show with aplomb and knowledge of the cuisine and wine that would shame a 2* restaurant (yes, that's you marcus wareing at the berkeley).

In email correspondence we had already pre-booked the bespoke menu and that just left the wines to be decided, aided by a very biscuity glass of house champagne. In many respects it was shame that i've had a bit of a run on dining these last few weeks, it was good to accurately place friache amongst some starred competition (the star at harome and MW at the berk) but unfortunately the small african nation sized GDP bills established - especially at MW, meant that total extravagance was out, but leaves a re-visit open to really have a go at the wine list. As i was about to go for a rene & vincent dauvissat 1 er cru chablis 05 for £29, i looked longingly at a roulot meursault le tillets 02 for £43 odd and remarkably mrs m agreed to go for it, you don't often see roulot on wine lists and the last one i had was a mieux chaveux (sp) at l'astrance in paris for over 100e so i had high hopes for it and wasn't disappointed. For the red it was an 04 champy gevrey chambertin which was perfectly good but shaded by the brilliance of the white.

we had plenty of courses, and naturally i'll forget many no-doubt undeservedly but some in common with harter's menu previously (marc said he does change it all the time) .

to start, neither of us were convinced by the chocolate starter, although very nicely made and tempered, it was all chocolate and no berry and lingered a bit too long to be a great amuse/starter, then we had crisps and again an unsure start all were meant to be flavoured but some were bland and belied their roots in prawn crackers but some were most definitely what they said on the tin, which i have of course foregotten.

we then had a 'mojito' which got things back on track and livened up the palate, we may have had bread then which was 4 different types with 2 butters one salted one seaweed, all excellent, and a second serving of bread - different again, was provided further on in the meal- the portion sizes and pacing of the meal overll was first class.

i don't think it came at this point but i certainly remember the tuna and melon in a lovely tomato water, we also had the scallops and tarragon grapes which were prefectly cooked and the grapes a nice touch.

favourite course was pork, cooked sous vide but, praise be to the lord, finished off with some proper , direct, caramelising heat! so all the benefits of long, low cooking, and nice crispy fat, excellent.

We opted to add a cheese course to the menu and there was a good selection including most of my favourites, vacherin mont d'or, 2 year aged montgomery, kidderton ash etc so a good show.

desserts were a highlight, all very interesting, especially the popping egg yolk and frozen-at-the-table pannacotta and the fizzy grapes (which are not injected with fizzy water but i'll not give away the trade secrets!)

coffee and petit fours to finish, again all home made and presented beautifully.

So apologies for the lack of detail but as i always mean to do full write ups and then never get round it i thought i'd get this done now as it really is a restaurant that deserves to be on a very shortlist of interesting places to dine right now. If you like anthony's , champignon sauvage, l'enclume, modern spanish/english cooking generally then you will have a very good time here. We ate and drank brilliantly here for two for the cost of my one average meal at marcus wareing.

It's good value (bespoke menu £55), has a great wine list, helpful keen staff, and a talented chef, what's not to like?


you don't win friends with salad

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Just a new year update on Marc,s recent michelin star,and my meal here last week.

Like scores of others, Fraiche has been on my list of "to do,s" for some time now,in fact since I noticed a mention in michelin last year.

Looking on the map it looked a good hour and thee quarters drive away so I put it to the back of my mind.However when the new guide was leaked(on this site)I sprung into action.

My focus of dining this year has been weekend trips to London plus a few meals at Aiden Byrnes Church Green Pub at Lymm.So I was thrilled to bits to find not only the aforementioned within driving distance but two new michelin in Birmingham which is only an hour away.

I have now completed my Birmingham dinings having had meals at Purnells,Turners. and last year,Simpsons.More of these another time.

At last! I can hear you cry.

Well the trip was not as long as I thought,an hour and fifteen minutes.

Firstly may I say that the food looked very appealing on the website and I was

looking forward to some excitement on the palate

Like Gary we had the bespoke menu.We lost count of the courses.There must have been about fifteen including all the little freebie bits.

Now then, I was expecting good,but let me tell you we were blown away by his food.

This meal was as good as Hibiscus and we enjoyed it more than Le Champignon Sauvage.That should tell you something.

The highlight of the meal was, the Pork Belly,it sort of dissolved in the mouth,I cant remember a nicer piece of pig.

But hang on it was all good,the bass,the venison,scallop,and chicken,etc,etc.

I didnt take photos(I wish I had)and I didnt make any tasting notes so I can not go into to much detail ,but I can guarantee to you ,that I will be knocking on his door very soon for a return visit

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Thanks for all the reviews everyone! It's been really helpful. I'm from Singapore and will be visiting UK this coming May/June. I've just emailed Fraiche a reservation request - fingers crossed for a table! It would be really disappointing to travel all the way to UK and not get to try this restaurant that everyone's spoken so well of.

Slightly off-topic here - sorry - but I was wondering if anyone has any other recommendations? We'll be doing a tour of the UK, so recommendations anywhere would be really welcome!

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thanks very much very nice shiny thing here to polish today  :biggrin:

Absolutely! Not that Michelin hand out a physical bauble anyway but if they did I'm sure it would be swept aside so your NHA trophy could rightfully assume pride of place.

Congrats to you and the team - it was very well-deserved - and I hope you enjoyed the night. Now if we can find a chink in your busy reservations book I will have to finally sort that lunch.

I'm sure we'll be looking at a mid-week anyway but you mentioned you now had no Saturday nights spots available till September? Impressive! Credit crunch? Pah, what credit crunch...?

Cheers

Thom


Edited by thom (log)

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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michelin ? just a memory now i have my shiny bauble bit heavy for the christmas tree though, with enough notice we can arrange a mid week lunch and give you the restaurant thom, il wear my crash helmet again and ban photography and note taking from the proceedings :raz: and il book a space at john lennon for mr marshalls lear

thanks very much very nice shiny thing here to polish today  :biggrin:

Absolutely! Not that Michelin hand out a physical bauble anyway but if they did I'm sure it would be swept aside so your NHA trophy could rightfully assume pride of place.

Congrats to you and the team - it was very well-deserved - and I hope you enjoyed the night. Now if we can find a chink in your business reservations book I will have to finally sort that lunch.

I'm sure we'll be looking at a mid-week anyway but you mentioned you now had no Saturday nights spots available till September? Impressive! Credit crunch? Pah, what credit crunch...?

Cheers

Thom

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Marc, have you bought any new shinny gadgetry or machines for me to covet?


Edited by adey73 (log)

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Marc, have you bought any new shinny gadgetry or machines for me to covet?

mmmm been playing with an ultrasonic atomiser to create aromas and looking at playing with the vacuum clarification idea, L2o have moved down that road if you check their blog as the clarimax is pants to be honest, uses an algea pressed tablet to pass liquid through clarrifying in the process but in simple terms its crap and its far cheaper using the freezer route with mild gelification and the brilliant super bags

have you seen anything new?

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Marc, have you bought any new shinny gadgetry or machines for me to covet?

mmmm been playing with an ultrasonic atomiser to create aromas and looking at playing with the vacuum clarification idea, L2o have moved down that road if you check their blog as the clarimax is pants to be honest, uses an algea pressed tablet to pass liquid through clarrifying in the process but in simple terms its crap and its far cheaper using the freezer route with mild gelification and the brilliant super bags

have you seen anything new?

Was reading with interest about your methods here

http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/item/3102/23/5/3

Will we be trying any of this on our next visit.?

Have you changed the bespoke recently?

Not of course that, I could'n't eat it again.

Just interested to see what you have up your sleeve,so to speak!

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Have made 2009 the year of not obsessing! It won't last!

I've just sold my chocovision tempering machine.

(after reading the Fat Duck and it dawning on me I can perfectly temper with the vac-packer & circulator)

Got the super bags after you told me about them, also like using a micro mesh skimmer that Origamicrane sent me. Sam also recommended getting a thermal cooker and it is the best/economical way to make stock & demi-glace, but way too small for your needs.

If the £/€ wasn't so god awful I'd get Chocolate by Ramon Morato.


Edited by adey73 (log)

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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