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I received a glossy 64-page WI magazine today, released in connection with the 30th anniversary celebrations.

The letter accompanying the magazine notes, among other things: "We have had many young chefs passing through our kitchen over the years but only 4 Head Chefs in 30 years! When we gathered together recently, there were 8 Michelin stars between us!" The four are Mark Dodson of Cliveden (*), Christian Germain of Chateau de Montreuil (*), of course Pierre Koffman of La Tante Claire (**, formerly ***) and Michel Perraud of Fleur de Sel in the UK (*). One of the articles describes a December 2001 lunch gathering of this group with Michel Roux (Sr.), Alain and the current WI head chef Russell Holborn.

Another interesting article describes some of the new recipes emanating from WI since Alain Roux became entrenched as chef-patron. Entitled "Plus Ca Change...", the article notes:

"The first Alain creation calls itself minestrone printanier aux petits coquillages -- spring minestrone with delicate shellfish. This came with (very English) cockles and winkles and (rather Italian) bold pesto ravioli to give it a delicately spicy Mediterranean flavor . . . . sauteed baby snails, which were served on a bed of morels and lardons of bacon over a celeriac base in parsley puree and a light Madeira jus, topped with a puff pastry cap [Alain, like Michel, also trained as a patissier] . . . .What about something new with scallops? Take some sliced baby artichokes, infused with honey, orange and lemon; place on a bed of wilted rocket leaves, roast the scallops and place on top, and sprinkle with fresh crab. . . . And how can you revitalise salmon? Well how about cooking it en papillote with pine needles and serving it with deep-fried pak choi and a star anise sauce? Do we detect a hint of Asian fusion here -- something for which Michel has shown scant regard in the past? Alain disagrees . . . . Alain has taken breasts of Bresse pigeon and quail and served them on a bed of crushed potatoes and cabbage, served with a lime jus: the freshness of the citrus-based sauce serves to emphasize the rich, almost gamey savouriness of the birds. . . . Alain has also turned his hand to his father's favorite discipline -- desserts -- although once again in a **creative and (dare one suggest it?) rahter 'off-the-wall' style** [that's for sure]. . . . ."

Furthermore, there is the following observation (apparently accurate, based on the description of some of Alain's dishes):

"Alain . . . like all sons, immediately wanted to begin stamping his own individuality on a legendary menu created by his father. . . But the main fact is that, even as the chain of command has evolved and changed, the quality and attention to detail in both kitchen and front-of-house have been maintained and those three stars burn as brightly as ever. Indeed, in addition we may be seeing the fulfilment of another prophecy (with apologies to Ernest Hemingway): 'The Son Also Rises.' . . . Plus c'est la meme chose [The more it's the same thing, translated; a reference to the greater the change, the more it's the same thing]

Change is obviously about at WI. Based on past meals at WI following Alain's becoming the chef-patron, Alain is capable of the nice classicism inherent in his father's cuisine. :wink: His new creations appear, shall we say, rather distinct from his father's dishes. :huh:

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Mr Grant - you must be LOADED to spend so much ££££ at WI.

I dont rate WI however. Food is not worht 3 stars when i went there for my birthday 1 year ago. stale bread and overpriced fish.

Not loaded, just careful with our money (currently unemployed so no decent meals out for several months:angry:)! When we visited in the past, I had to make sure I arrived before the valet parking started, I couldn't stand the embarassment of him parking my V reg mini (1st time) or E reg Fiesta (1.3L). :shock:

No avoiding the embarassment at Manoir where the Valet looked horrified when he returned with my car as we checked out. I smiled politely and said "That must have been a treat for you, don't get too many of those around here!" :cool:

Both meals at WI were exemplary and service was out of this world although Cabrales last post is a little worrying and other reports have made me wonder whether we have been lucky both times. I also think there is a lot of jealousy from other chefs who resent the 3 stars. It is expensive but the rooms are reasonably priced for this type of establishment.


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

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Matthew -- I agree the rooms are worthwhile. I like the cuisine at WI, and believe (leaving aside the Alain adjustments, on which I have not reached any conclusions pending a sampling of them) that the cuisine merits three stars. GR RHR remains my favorite restaurant in the UK, but I will be making a stop in London in the forseeable future specifically to sample the limited time Menu of Reflection. Note one way to cut down the expense of accommodations in Bray, for diners who do not mind long lunches, is to have that Menu of Reflection during a weekend lunch and then return to London before nightfall. I will be doing that, primarily because I have to travel elsewhere the next day and do not wish to wake up as early as would be required from Bray.

I still have not received the Menu of Reflection's contents. However, I guess it will contain the signature lobster with port wine and perhaps a souffle (perhaps of the flavor served to the queen on one of her birthdays).

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Cappers - Although not "loaded", I did spend a lot at the Waterside inn however, presumably not as much as Cabrales as I have not received the glossy 64 page brochure she describes :raz:


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

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Matthew,

Your reference to the your E -reg Fiesta and the WI made me chuckle. I had the same quandry when I had a clapped out gold Granada (The Golden Beast). Thankfully, the old man was abroad, so I "borrowed" his car.

Also received the same magazine as Cabrales, (only because I filled in a form in our room on a previous visit to be kept informed of future events).

There is an article within it, about the White Hart at Nayland, Suffolk, which Michel Roux also owns. Although I first read about it in the now defunct EatSoup" magazine , anyone remember that?

Its run by Frank Delatang , who is ex - WI. We have eaten there twice for lunch and it is very good value for money, excellent Guinea fowl dish for £12, which everyone on the table had and enjoyed. Rooms are v reasonable in price although I have never stayed. Tried to book a night's stay and to dine at the end of August, but fully booked.

:sad:

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Cabrales,

The lady on reservations seemed perfectly genuine in knowing nothing about the Sept 25 event. She was of the opinion that it might be for members of the "Waterside Club" (??).

As for your offer, thanks a lot, but, on reflection, the death of Ms Montgomery has stolen a little of the kismet from the event for me. So, right now, I don't think I will be trying for a table. If I change my mind ...

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OSulliM78 -- To my knowledge, I'm not a member of any Waterside Club. I have never heard of such a club before. :huh:

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Below are the expected contents of the Menu of Reflection (Pounds 76):

Soupe de moules aux diamants de sole (Mussel soup with "diamonds" of sole)

Escalope de foie gras au citrus (Escalope of foie gras with citrus)

Tronçonnette de homard poêlée minute au Porto Blanc (Pan fried lobster medallion with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable julienne) :wink:

Médaillon de veau voilé de parmesan, au parfum de sauge (Veal medallions with parmesan and sage)

Tierce de fromages (Three cheeses)

Soufflé chaud aux framboises (Raspberry soufflé) :wink:

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Sounds very good Cabrales. Thanks for posting it. Glad to see the lobster dish will be available.

Do you know when this menu will commence? :huh:

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(2) "Menu of Reflection" (this sounds promising)

The six-course Menu Exceptionel typically offered by WI will be replaced with Roux's favorite dishes from the past, from mid-August until October 1. Cost is Pounds 76.

Bapi -- Contrary to the early indications from the restaurant, the Menu of Reflection will run from August 20 through September 29, 2002.:wink:

Soupe de moules aux diamants de sole (Mussel soup with "diamonds" of sole)

I'd appreciate input from members as to why the sole dish might be included in the menu.

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Glad to see the lobster dish will be available.

One of the best dishes I have eaten. If ordered a la carte it is presented sliced, claws cracked etc but reconstructed on the plate complete with head.

Definitely not a cheap dish to order a la carte :wacko: but it is recommended


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

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I sampled Michel Roux's Menu of Reflection recently, as prepared by Alain Roux and his kitchen team. I am saddened to report that, subjectively, the meal was moderately disappointing. :sad:

The menu of reflection is described as follows: "These dishes featured here have appeared on our menus over the last 30 years. We are recreating them for this summer menu in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Waterside Inn. This menu must be taken by the whole party."

The service remained very good, with good recollection on the part of certain dining room team members of certain dishes I had previously sampled and good sommelier advice. However, even understanding that Waterside Inn was never one of my favorite restaurants (although I liked it somewhat), my meal may have been the least appealing I remember having had there. The price of the Menu of Reflection was that of the Menu Exceptionel, £76 before a 12.5% service charge.

(1) Amuses -- I enjoyed sitting outside the terrace beside the Thames. This time around, I was sitting at level 2 (with the first being the little tables right at the level of the river, the boat docking area and one of the little yellow-colored "huts" for aperatifs and digestifs; the second being at the level of the seats right next to the large, yawning tree framing the restaurant). The amuses were: (a) rillettes on a thin "traditional" toast with a little roasted cornnut-like nut (it was not cornnut) sitting on top of this item -- this was nice; (b) a small red cherry tomato partially hollowed out and housing strands of celeriac, which in turn had a mustard and light, light-cream-like based saucing; © a section of sardine flesh atop a piece of thicker Italian-style toast (not bruscetta), with the toast infused with flavored olive oil (not dissimilar to certain flavors in pesto); and (d) thin pastry-like thin crisp, with three green olive rings embedded along the middle section of the crisp. I liked the tiny tomato, and the amuses overall were average. I had the amuses with Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne, which is frequently available at WI by the glass (at less than £15/glass).

(2) Soupe de moules aux diamants de sole; Mussel soup garnished with dimaonds of sole. This soup was fairly good, although it was nothing innovative. Three or four very plump mussels were included in a broth that to me hinted at a crustacean base and that was akin to a bisque. The broth contained mussels and fish stock, and was nice, but not particularly different in general character from, say, the better lobster bisques. The little diamond-shaped bits of sole included in the soup were appropriate, as were the small juliennes of softened carrots. Surprisingly, the soup also contained small juliennes of an egg omelette/crepe that had herbs folded into it. Strangely (in a good way), the little strands of egg had an elasticity to them that I do not generally associate with this type of preparation. Thyme was the dominant flavor-providing ingredient in this soup, and that was not inappropriate.

I chose a Corton Charlemagne, Bonneau de Martray 1995 (1/2 bottle; £100-105) for most of the dishes in the Menu of Reflection. This wine ages very different in a half bottle than in a bottle or magnum. This is only the second place I have ever noticed Bonneau de Martray Corton Charlemagne available in 1/2 bottles (the first being on Jacques Thorel's wine list at La Roche Bernard, a restaurant which I have yet to eat at).

(3) Escalope de foie gras au citrus; Warm escalope of foie gras with citrus sauce. This was below average, potentially bordering on poor. I have had foie gras several times at WI, and at least 50% of the time I have detected a hint of bitterness and a bit too much "veining" still remaining in the foie gras specimen. Today was no exception, and I took in no more than 1/3 of the portion served. :sad: The grapfruit and orange (or mandarin?) segments were placed next to candied orange peel, but the foie gras itself was not to my liking, even before the saucing was taken into account. I have to say that the saucing would not have been to my liking either, being a bit stark and offering an unappealing melding of the sweetness of the candying with the acidity of the citrus fruit. Also, the jus-based saucing for the foie gras contained little citrus and did not seem to meld well with the fruit segments themselves. I ordered a glass of Gewurtztraminer, Fronzel 2000, with this dish.

(4) Tronconnette de homard poelee minute au Porto Blanc; Pan fried lobster medallion with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable julienne. This is a dish I have enjoyed in the past, both ordered a la carte and as part of a "Menu Exceptionel" tasting menu. However, here, the portion size was noticeably smaller than that even in the Menu Exceptionel. There were two pieces of flesh -- one from a claw and the other a section of the lobster's body. The serving temperature was slightly lower than that I had previously experienced, and the dish overall was less appealing. Among other things, the ginger aspect of the strands of vegetables became more pronounced because of the smaller relative amount of lobster, and the ginger was somewhat too strong in this dish. In addition, the saucing had a hint of bitterness that I had not detected on prior encounters (?).

(5) Medallion de veau voile de parmesan, au parfum de sauge; Veal medallion glazed with parmesan and sage, served with a gateau of ratatouille, white wine and sage sauce. This dish was disappointing. Cooked rose, the veal was simply run-of-the-mill. When I took in the aromas of the dish, I am sad to report that what was brought to mind were certain veal dishes included in airplane meals. The veal was a small piece, but fairly thick. On top of the veal was a layer of softened white breadcrumbs, emoliated by melted mutter, mixed with parmesan and some sage. The jus was a mediocre jus-based reduction. Bordering on poor for a three-star. Included in the dish was a "tart" that consisted of a sandwich of diced vegetables (different peppers, zucchini, onion) between pieces of roasted aubergines. The tart had significant "Mediterranean" connotations to me, for some reason, and reminded me of one of the reasons I dislike Ducasse's cuisine at Plaza Athenee and elsewhere. :sad: I ate perhaps 1/2 of the portion of veal served to me.

(6) Tierce de Fromages; Our selection of three unpasteurised farm cheeses. The cheese were average, with a Reblechon, a goat's cheese and some cheese from Champagne. I sampled very little of the cheese platter, which which one is typically offered olive or walnut bread and celery stalks.

(7) Souffle chaud aux framboises; Warm raspberry souffle. Despite the Rouxs' strength in desserts, it was somewhat sad that this was, for me, the best dish of the meal. This was likely included in the Menu of Reflection because it was served to the Queen and one other royal guest several years ago on her birthday (an off-site event described in Michel Roux's autobiography, Life Is A Menu). I have sampled probably two souffles at WI previously, including a decent mirabelles (yellow plum souffle).

The souffle was soft and airy, fragrant with raspberry sensations that were not too artifically-tasting and not too concentrated. The top of the souffle had a wonderful quality of being partially egg-based, partially flour-based. It was nicely sweet without being too sweet. A dining room team member pierced the top of the souffle slightly to add some burgundy-colored raspberry syrup. On top of the souffle sat three plump raspberries and a sprig of mint.

The surprising aspect of the souffle, for me, was the inclusion of a macaron (likely not raspberry flavored) half-way inside the souffle! This gave a brief taste of flour-based textures amidst the fluffiness of the souffle that was appealing. Note that the mirabelle souffle at WI does not ordinarily have this macaron. Interestingly, I have been surprised by ingredients lodged deep within souffles at WI before. On some prior visit, I had sampled a haddock savory souffle that had an intact, runny-interior egg (likely gulls') lodged inside, in addition to a quail egg on top.

Coffee (Mocha or Columbia) was included.

Miscellaneous -- The train ride to WI from Paddington is straight-forward, as previously described. The applicable destination station is Maidenhead, and the round trip this time cost £7. Taxis to/from the train station and WI amounted to approximately £5-7 each way. In case members do not know, WI is closer to Heathrow than central London is. (However, the Heathrow Express train accesses central London in a more efficient way.)

Matthew -- If you are comfortable discussing it, why did you change your Avatar from the "dejected" clown? :wink:

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Cabrales, an excellent report, but I'm sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy the experience as much as you might have anticipated. I would have been beside myself if I had visited on such an occassion and the food had not been as near perfect as damn it. Has this influenced the way you view 3 star restaurants (even if only in the UK) as I truely believe the least you can expect at that level, at that price, is some decent grub.

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Has this influenced the way you view 3 star restaurants (even if only in the UK)  as I truely believe the least you can expect at that level, at that price, is some decent grub.

Andy -- I hope my report doesn't discourage members who would otherwise be interested in sampling the Menu of Reflection from doing so. :wink: The meal had no impact on my view of three-star restaurants because I had already come to the conclusion long ago, with all respect, that few of even the three-stars offer cuisine that is subjectively compelling to me. Note also that I apply much higher standards in Europe than I do in the US, and perhaps my posts with respect to restaurants in different geographic locations should be read with that in mind. I have always found Gordon Ramsay RHR to be the preferred restaurant, for me, in the UK, and that has not changed.

With respect to the WI a la carte menu, I noticed certain Alain Roux concoctions, although traditional favorites such as the rabbit with candied chestnuts were retained. :hmmm:

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The dejected clown has been changed to Edward from League of Gentlemen in light of another thread (Click here)

I'm touched that you noticed :smile: I'm not sure whether to revert to Krusty the clown (member input welcome)

As for the Waterside Inn, it's all sounding very depressing, my two meals there have been almost flawless but recent reports re: Alain Roux and from yourself would make me think long and hard before I went again. :hmmm:


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

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As we were meeting a large group of egulleters at the Fat Duck for lunch the following day, we decided to be a tad profligate and book into The Waterside Inn the night before as a treat. ( No wise cracks please Charlene).

We had the same room we have had in the past La Tamise, which has been given a slight makeover and from which it has benefited greatly; since it is now a lot lighter.The private balcony it shares with another room, is fenced off which, thankfully partly blocks out the sight of extraction units that sit above the restaurant. Nevertheless, the view down the river is rather pleasant, especially when you are sitting in the sun drinking a glass of champagne.

We sauntered down to dinner and were seated in the reception area for an aperitif. Rosie opted for a Kir Royale and I had a Dry martini cocktail- stupidly asking for it to be served over ice- poor choice by me. Appetisers were an excellent chicken liver parfait on brioche, a small new potato hollowed out and stuffed with morels and creamed spinach and a twirly anchovy pastry creation. I liked the first two but the latter did nothing for me.

I have said before that the staff here are superb, obscenely charming and all very well skilled in their trade. Rosie noticed that the one of the staff members called Benoit( sp?) - recognised us from last December, went to check our name and then came out to greet us . She loves that sort of thing bless her and was near to collapse when Michel Roux walked past and said hello to her. Crikey- he has the deepest voice of any man I have ever met in my life and would give Barry White a run for his money.

To drink with the meal, we chose a Condrieu Vernetoo and a half of red which the Manager Diego Mascigia recommended as being a better alternative to the lighter wine I had chosen. Again a charming chap and he clearly knew his stuff as it was excellent, but I am dammed if I can remember what it was called now, other than it came from the stock of Nuits St Georges.

The dining room has been slightly redesigned and the large central work station as you walk in has been removed.The first section is an oval alcove with banquette seating on either side underneath a series of mirrors. This leads through to the main dining area, which over looks the river. They gave us a great table right by the window and we watched the last glimmer of twilight fade away as we finished our aperitifs.

We had opted for the Menu Exceptionnel which is a five course meal and where you have a choice of two dishes per course ( three for the final one) plus an obligatory granite or sorbet in the middle. An amuse arrived of a tartare of tuna, with a quail's egg- very fresh tuna and nicely judged.

First course was a choice of a Pan fried escalope of Foie Gras with soft white beans and wild mushrooms, citrus sauce or a delicate Shellfish minestrone.

We both went for the Shellfish minestrone- I was suprised to see that the colour of the broth was a deep golden brown. It was packed full of intense flavour , with little pieces of mussel, squid, prawns and a tiny ravioli filled with an excellent pesto. This was served, if required, with a sprinkling of parmesan which I opted for, but wish I hadn't as the cheese unsurprisingly, coagulated into a stringy heap, that was impossible to. That aside, and excellent an flavoursome start.

Second Course was a choice of Pan Fried Lobster medallion with a white port sauce and a ginger flavoured vegetable julienne or Poached fillet of sole with a mousse flavoured with smoked salmon, served with brown shrimps and a champagne sauce. I went for the former, which, as ever, was excellent. A wonderful dark brown, rich buttery sauce, with slivers of the julienne giving little hints of astringency, whilst the flesh of the medallion and the lobster claw were flawlessly cooked. I have in the past threatened to sell Rosie to be able to have this dish again- and it would definitely be right up there on my all time favourite dish. Rosie had the sole which was the one dish she had read on the menu and really wanted. The sauce was very good indeed and the fish, although small, was faultless, being well seasoned and just the right side of translucent.

We both noticed that the Condrieu we were drinking with our meal was very different to the one we had at Winteringham Fields recently. Much paler in colour, and much more adept at changing on the palate with each different course, absolutely wonderful with the lobster dish. A youngish wine, but well worth seeking out.

Third Course was granite of passion fruit and white rum - quite refreshing, but I am not sure this course was really needed.

Fourth Course - Roasted leg of milk-fed lamb with seasonal vegetables, and a minted hollandaise sauce or Roasted Challanadais duck with cloves and honey, served with a bitter-sweet sauce.( For two persons) We saw the duck dish being expertly carved, each of the studded cloves being whisked out and the duck being sliced at unnerving speed, but we had this before and so opted for the lamb- actually, I was told I was having the lamb by the Senior partner.

A beautiful dish- the lamb was very pale pink in colour ( we learnt the reason for this later) and very succulent. It was served with baby carrots, turnips and asparagus bathed in a light jus and accompanied with an excellent hollandaise; the mint in the hollandaise having been used sparingly.

Fifth Course was a choice of Cheese, a selection of chocolate treats or a warm golden plum soufflé. We usually share - actually, she gives me tiny bits of her cheese course and I allow her to sit with me and listen to my nuggets of wisdom, whilst I devour my pudding( thankfully she hasn't got a sweet tooth). I opted for the chocolate treats with a glass of 15 year old Muscat. Incidentally, the Italian Sommelier called Luca, who recommended the Muscat, is the absolute spitting image of Johnny Vaughan! Rosie's cheese selection was good, I remember an excellent camembert and a fiery cheese with paprika, which I didn't like.

Alain Roux - as Chef Patron now tours the dining room and cam out to speak to the guests. A pleasant chap and he explained that the lamb is so pale and veal like to look at because of being fed milk and er, being dispatched at a quite tender age. A wonderful evening was finished off with two kummels and tea in or room.(Note to Mr Marshall - NO LAGER NIGHTCAP). We couldn't eat the Petit Fours so asked for a box to take them away. Very galling, but as we had packed them away in our bag, which was stolen from our car the next day, we never go to eat them. I hope the bastards choked on them.

Purposefully didn't eat a thing at breakfast the next morning, since as I mentioned at the beginning, we were meeting a bunch of reprobates for a rather lengthy (4 and a 1/2hr ) lunch at the Fat Duck

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We had a truly stellar day out on Saturday, the sort of day that will hopefully linger in my memory long after my children have farmed me off to an Old People's home. The God's were smiling on us as we had fortuitously picked the warmest, sunniest day of the year which only added to our high spirits for our little adventure in Bray. Our party of four arrived in good time from Paddington and we were ushered through the already packed dining room where the first thing that hit us as we passed through, was the noise of infectious geniality from the guests, gleefully tucking in to their food and wine with insouciant abandon. But it wasn't just the guests; every member of staff beamed and welcomed us as we were escorted through the opened up glass frontage of the Inn and down the few steps to be seated on the terrace in the warm sunshine, by the ebbing water of the Thames.

Aperitifs duly arrived which was champagne for three of us and a fruit cocktail, and these were quickly followed by wonderful canapés. Helium-light cheese gougeres, moreish Foie gras on brioche, tiny tartlets of shallot confit with gruyere and best of all delicious, sparklingly fresh lobster tartlets with a delicate sauce maltaise. An excellent start, and eagerly devoured by our friends. I have to admit, I was a tad nervous about taking Alan and Clare on this occasion. We have had many meals and weekends away over the years, but this was the first time that we had shared a three star experience together and with the necessary expense that this experience entails. Fine if you’re a keen and dedicated foodie, but as Alan's' favourite meal in the world would be Chinese crispy duck pancakes followed by a rare steak and chips, I wasn't sure he would judge this meal as good value. I needn't have worried, they were very willing to try the tasting menu exceptionnel instead of the set £40 set lunch we had originally envisaged having and I would have to agree; if this is your first time, there is no better way to sample what the Waterside Inn has to offer.

The delightful Diego duly appeared to take our order, pointing at the vibrant blue sky and the river and asking us "How can you not be happy on a day like this?" Quite right too- but then an odd thing happened. A young waitress appeared and ushered us down the side of the restaurant. Were we being ejected for bad behaviour? Surely not as Alan hadn't even broken a wine glass let alone any furniture unlike the last time we met in Orford. (You knew I was going to mention this somehow- Al) In fact, in getting wrapped up in the meal, I had completely forgotten that I had asked for a tour of the kitchen. We were received by Alain Roux who very kindly gave us a quick tour of the various sections which was fascinating and a nice thing to do as they were obviously very busy. The heat was fairly intense in the kitchen, with a good twenty-plus brigade flitting around, undertaking their designated duties. Two chaps were feverishly preparing the vast quantities of canapés required for lunch. Then we moved to a section where the meats, including whole Challandais ducks and loins of lamb, were being seared before being placed in the oven. Behind us was a stove with a huge selection of the sauces to go with the various dishes, and a large pot of wonderful aromatic stock with langoustines bubbling away; admittedly, I had to stop myself from having a surreptitious taste of this. Finally, to a little corner where four pastry chefs were beavering away. Alain Roux explained what they were doing and was even gracious enough to laugh off Al's comment about the raspberry coulis in a bottle being tomato sauce, with a "Yes, we have just scratched the Heinz label off". Fear not, I impaled the heathen- Alan through the heart later.

We had chosen the same excellent Chassagne Montrachet (Louis Jadot) we had last December for our first and fish courses. The girls opted for a delicate shellfish minestrone, which was a light but intensely flavoured broth with adroitly cooked vegetables and containing a small ravioli filled with delicious pesto. The dish is finished with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese should you wish it. Very much enjoyed by both of them and the dish I nearly went for. But instead, Alan and I opted for Pan-fried escalope of foie gras with soft white beans and wild mushrooms, citrus sauce. An excellent dish, the foie gras had a wonderful texture and just the right amount of caramelisation, this was counteracted by the delicate citrus flavour of the sauce and the further hint of citrus from the slivers of lime zest mixed in with the beans.

Next came the ethereal, Pan-fried lobster medallion with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable julienne. We all enjoyed this dish and this is my favourite dish of all time. But as I have written about it before I'll move on to….. Passion fruit and white rum granite, or as Alan expertly observed "Ice with flavours in it". Gosh, Jay Rayner and co can rest easy for now. I sometimes find this course unnecessary, but as a palate cleanser before the main course, I thought this worked well on the day.

Main courses were for our friends- Roasted leg and best end of milk lamb with seasonal vegetables, and a minted hollandaise sauce. This looked wonderful with slices of pinkish meat, surrounded by the freshest of baby carrots and beans. They loved it and cleared their plates. Rosie and I opted for Grilled and roasted Challandais duck served with thin slices of lightly spiced pineapple, and jus. We hadn't had this dish for two years and so we asked for it to be cooked very pink. It is brought to your table and displayed whole, before being effortlessly carved before you into thin slices within minutes. This was pure food theatre at its best. I thought at first it looked as if it was cooked past the requested pink, but I needn't have feared in the slightest, as slice after slice of perfect meat appeared thereafter. Served with a delicate light jus, the spiced pineapple, small unannounced fronds of sprouting broccoli and a fondant of sweetish turnip. An excellent dish, nothing to overtly intricate - just excellent ingredients. I too left nothing.

We then had a pleasant interlude outside to finish our wine, a fine Nuits St Georges, before being called back in for desserts and cheese. Rosie and I opted for a selection of chocolate treats - which included a devilish chocolate crème caramel; a white chocolate mousse served in a shot glass; a wonderful light chocolate mousse which tasted of rose water; and an intricate chocolate basket with summer fruits contained within it. Both our friends opted for cheese which they declared was some of the nicest they had ever tasted. I didn't pick up on any of the names of the cheese, diligently explained by the waiter, but noticed that one bore a marked resemblance to a Brillat Truffe we had tried at the Merchant House. That particular cheese has a dusting of truffle as a central vein through the cheese, the one before us looked similar and as the waiter explained actually had al layer of ash running through it. Except with the slight French inflexion in his accent - it sounded like "hash". Now, I cast no aspersions about Alan and his time at University - but lets just say the very mention of the word hash, made his eyes light up excitedly and so he plumped for a nice large portion of the cheese. Just in case! The charming waitress who had overheard him said she would wait fifteen minutes and see if there was any reaction. Which sort of typifies the easy, effervescent charm that all the staff seem to exude at the Waterside and which I rather suspect is because of the guiding hand of Diego Masciaga and his second in command, Bennoit. They have instilled into their staff the willingness to make sure that everyone who ventures through their door, has the best possible time and is treated with respect and in that regard, their team are the best we have ever come across. A fact not missed by our friends, who admitted that they were slightly perturbed by what they had feared might be a slightly stuffy experience. But both commented at how relaxed they felt and at the lack of pretension that pervades throughout the Inn.

Coffee and teas and petit fours were taken in one of the pagodas overlooking the water, along with armanagacs and a cognac. I have to admit that whilst in the pagoda and looking out, the devil inside us all were willing the slightly drunken, tottering couple, clutching their wine glasses on the private jetty, to fall in. With those stilettos, the girls thought she was done for, but hey ho, you can't have everything. In any case this was a lovely way to finish off what we declared to be the best lunch we had ever had. The pacing of the meal was absolutely perfect, as we were there for over four hours and so whilst replete, we did not feel overly full at the end of the meal. My only regret was that we unfortunately we didn't get a chance to show our friends the specific bedrooms that I had also requested, as the guests for that evening had already arrived. Thankfully, we are thinking of venturing back together to stay the night very soon and as luck would have it - it is nearly birthday time.


Edited by Bapi (log)

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Lovely report Bapi....

Is it hard to get into the Waterside Inn? I would certainly be tempted to combine a weekend staying here with a quick trip to the Fat Duck as a nice contrast.


Gav

"A man tired of London..should move to Essex!"

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oh my god. i am deeply impressed with you committment to food.

If you saw him you'd realise exactly how committed to the cause he is :biggrin:

he's not exactly lax on the drinking front either!

cheers

gary


you don't win friends with salad

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oh my god. i am deeply impressed with you committment to food.

If you saw him you'd realise exactly how committed to the cause he is :biggrin:

he's not exactly lax on the drinking front either!

cheers

gary

Gavin- Yes I totally agree, if venturing out there it would be a good thing to do both restaurants in two days. Rosie and I have done this in the past- most recently for an excellent eGullet meal Andy organised in May 2003. So that we had dinner and a stay over at the Waterside Inn the night before, followed by lunch at the Fat Duck the next day. As you write- the two places couldn't be more different. The only unmitigating factor is that if dining at two 3* stars and staying over, you may like my good self, need to do a few extra paper rounds and sell the mother-in-law (if only! :biggrin: ) to fund it. I suggest that a mid week dinner, followed by lunch the next day would be an easier way to get in to both; as weekends will be very booked up as we head towards the summer months.

Tarka- Glad you are impressed, couldn't possibly comment as to what my Bank manager thinks though.

Gary- The words "pot" and "kettle" spring to mind. As you know, I am but a young(ish) Padewan to your Yoda, when it comes to consuming and imbibing. Lager Nightcap anyone? :wacko:


Edited by Bapi (log)

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Lovely report Bapi....

Is it hard to get into the Waterside Inn? I would certainly be tempted to combine a weekend staying here with a quick trip to the Fat Duck as a nice contrast.

I booked up a week in advance for four for lunch on this last Easter Bank Holiday Friday.

Because I love Gavroche, I was looking forward to the opportunity to try the Waterside Inn for the first time with my regular crowd of four gluttons for lunch. I would have tried it before, but sadly as a townie I seem to struggle getting excited enough these days to venture much further than the North Circ!

Slightly unusually, although I was up for it, my co-diners couldn't get excited enough on taking the Menu Exceptionnel. So we all did our own thing and went a la carte. The food itself was certainly excellent, certainly on a par with Gavroche, though subtly different at the same time. Certainly this kind of clasical French gastronomy is just my cup of tea.

But....

Although the wine list is extensive, the sticker shock was almost enough to choke on - I would say on average it's about four times what you'd pay in the Offy. As an example, we had a '97 Pichon Baron which normally retails for about £25 to £30 but it cost £120 at the Waterside Inn. In comparison the same bottle is £85 at the Connaught and £60 at Racine.

The service was nowhere near as spectacularly clean and well executed as Gavroche. Several pregnant pauses, and we had some difficulty in attracting the attention of the waiting staff on a few occasions.

Worse was that a £110 bottle of dessert wine we'd ordered turned out to be out of stock, but still appeared on the bill. It must be said in their favour though that when we pointed out the error, the service manager Diego Masciaga rushed over immediately and was most apologetic.

So although the food was excellent, and the ambience was good, the service experience was sloppy and certainly not what I'd expect from a three star establishment.

Based on my experience, what I can't figure out is why the Waterside Inn maintains three Michelin stars but Gavroche only has two. Indeed, I'd give the WI only one star based on our experience. Perhaps it's the picturesque setting that gives it the edge.

IMHO it's recommended, but only if you happen to be in the area. I'll go again, but I won't be making a special trip to do it. :-(

Cheers, Howard

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does anyone know if the WI has a lunch menu at all?

weekdays or weekends?

just wondering if there is a more economical way to sample the surrounds.


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

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