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:laugh: looks yummy

langoustine with curry and sesame,

that I definitely haven't tried.

Now this is what I'm talking about, restaurants have to cater for the masses because if they didn't they wouldn't survive.

But there is a growing group that yearns for new, fun and more adventurous stuff

that isn't the run of the mill restuarant food.

Maybe home kitchen restaurants could be the next big thing?

Possibly something that egullet could encourage?

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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what really caught my eye was that the sadly now deceased restaurant PR Alan Compton Batt "used to boast about punching Jay Rayner."

I doubt if Jay knew ACB in his pomp as the drink was definitely getting the better of him by the time Mr Rayner acceded to his post @ The Observer. I also doubt if ACB ever actually laid a glove on JR (or, if he did, if Rayner noticed). Of course, there was a time when you were nobody if Compton Batt hadn't threatened to break your legs...

I also enjoyed the sidebar to this piece, The rise and fall of a fashionable restaurant (which includes a cameo from Jay Rayner as The Restaurant Critic!) How much am I looking forward to the reinvention of Shumi as a 100 seater Japanese restaurant with Alan Yau OBE spending another five million quid on the makeover? Not at all!

Apologies. I've been away and haven't had a chance to answer this. Mr Dick is absolutely right. Alan never did punch me. No idea where the story came from - presumably from Alan himself - but it surfaced in his obit in the Telegraph. I did read that OFM piece in proof many months ago and we took the line out. Then it got held over and, in the chaos of the berliner relaunch, they reverted to old copy.

All of which is more info than anybody needs. The point is Alan never punched me. Though he did get cross with me at a party once - and all because of a post here on dear old egullet.

Sorry for the interruption. Do all carry on.

Jay

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For me it's a lot to do with the marketing. Specialist restaurant PR has become such a mature and efficient industry that the sizzle on a new restaurant invariably outshines the steak.

It's become an essential and largely unquestioned part of the business plan. Puff in the style sheets, whispers that Gwyneth eats there, making the place seem entirely unbookable by non-celebs. The whole process is arse-achingly predictable and applied without thought or variation to every new venture.

There's a cumulative effect to all this - making eating seem more of a commercial than a sensual experience. Restaurant dining in London is beginning to feel like being gently and repeatedly mugged.

This has nothing to do with cost - I love an expensive meal as much as the next man - it's just the constant, nagging feeling, that at every point in the process that you're being taken for a ride by some shiny arsed marketeer.

Anybody got any idea when 'hospitality' became an 'industry'?

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Anybody got any idea when 'hospitality' became an 'industry'?

Roughly about the time John Fothergill died.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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There's a cumulative effect to all this - making eating seem more of a commercial than a sensual experience. Restaurant dining in London is beginning to feel like being gently and repeatedly mugged.

When living in the south of France I ate out 3 or 4 times a week, most weeks - because it was cheap, the food frequently excellent, every location different and not too far from that 'family business' feel that makes us believe the cheque is a well-deserved reward for our hosts' hard work.

Another idea (see Hong Kong 'home cooking' earlier) is an extension of the farm shop. Dine and gaze upon on the land which grew or fed your dinner! Difficult in London but a few more restaurants looking onto parks, rivers or canals, or even on the top floors of office blocks would surely pull in punters trying to find something different.

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I wanted to echo raj's post - it's really hard to think of middle-range places to go in London. High end, no problem if you can book far enough ahead and have few constraints on the wallet; low end - I'm happy with Masala Zone, Wagamama, Hamburger Union, etc. But I had to rack my brains for somewhere for a family Sunday lunch this weekend. Why are there so few simple gastropub-type places where you can expect simple dishes, well executed. My parents and in-laws (in the South West and Midlands respectively) seem to have much better access to this sort of food than we do!

BTW, in the end we went for Smith's of Smithfields top floor restaurant, where they did a great job - but it wasn't that cheap, nor that easy to get to from NW london.

What am I missing?

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Lou, I don't know what you're missing, but if you find it, let me know.

When we lived in Kensington, I really liked Wodka. We probably went there once or twice a month. The blini are really good, and I am fond of the fishcakes with leek sauce. But then, I'm polish, so what do you expect? I also really like Abbaye for Belgian. I think it's a thousand times better than the Belgos.

Now that we live in Highbury, everywhere seems like too far of a trek for mediocre food, so we stay in more often than not. We pop over to the Kingsland High Street for Vietnamese sometimes, or to Booth's for excellent pizza and Budvar on tap. It's cheap and cheerful, and we can get the bus door to door. No walking required.

We also like the Alwyne on St John's Road. They are better in the summer when they do angus burgers on the grill outside, but the roasts and sausages are pretty good during the week.

Oh, we went to Bistro La Trouvaille with the £19 top table offer a few weeks ago, and that was good too. I wouldn't have paid full price, but it was totally adequate for what it was.

I would say that's about the sum total of where we go regularly. We went to iznik last Sunday and it really wasn't very impressive. Living up there with two fantastic butchers, a knowledageble greengrocer, and La Fromagerie nearby, it's just hard to work up too much excitement about paying four times as much to eat out.

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I think many possible contributors to the UK forum are discouraged from posting by the highfalutin dining tastes of many of the regular contributors. One sometimes gets the feeling that unless one is on first-name terms with the maitre d of Petrus, or sleeping with the sommelier at the Ledbury, this forum is not the place to post. I know that there are lots of posts about the bloody new tayabb, but it is usually mentioned thus: "went to Pied a Terre (or the square or the capital etc) and paid loads of money, but then i went to New Tayabb and spent loads less".

I think there are some great new places to eat in London, and I remain enthused about the state of food in the capital. Moby P (who's posts i generally very much respect) suggests that in order to improve dining in London, we need more Blumenthals. But Blumenthals and their ilk are completely alien to most dining experiences in London today - whether or not the bar has been raised by another celebrity chef opening another overpriced and overmarketed restaurant is neither here nor there. The way in which restaurants standards are improved is through competition amongst solid neighbourhood eateries, and I think we are seeing more of that.

To give a (somewhat random) example, the tapas restaurant opened by the people who run Garcia on Portobello road is an astonishingly good value, tasty and friendly place to eat. I know you are all bored of tapas, and especially of tapas being the new black, but I highly recommend it. The restaurant eschews the traditional accoutrements of ye olde tapas bar, and instead nods firmly towards the clean lines of new spain. The food, however, is simple, well executed tapas classics: meat balls, patatas bravas, tortilla etc. It doesn't sound like much, but when executed properly it is a good and honest thing.

Oh and by the way, I went to Pied a Terre recently and it was historic.

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and La Fromagerie nearby, it's just hard to work up too much excitement about paying four times as much to eat out.

If I paid four times the amount La Fromagerie charged, I'd be bankrupt. The quality is marvellous, but the mark-up is beyond insulting.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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For me dinning in is the new dinning out. Given that cooking is an all consuming passion for me, I'm often disappointed by 1 starred restaurants. But 2 stars are a step up in price. And mark-ups on wine - enopugh to give you a heart attack.

I'd rather entertain friends at home than think about what time the last tube train is.

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For me dinning in is the new dinning out.  Given that cooking is an all consuming passion for me, I'm often disappointed by 1 starred restaurants.  But 2 stars are a step up in price.  And mark-ups on wine - enopugh to give you a heart attack.

I'd rather entertain friends at home than think about what time the last tube train is.

If dinning in is the new dinning out, is dinning the new dining? :huh:

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I think many possible contributors to the UK forum are discouraged from posting by the highfalutin dining tastes of many of the regular contributors. One sometimes gets the feeling that unless one is on first-name terms with the maitre d of Petrus, or sleeping with the sommelier at the Ledbury, this forum is not the place to post. I know that there are lots of posts about the bloody new tayabb, but it is usually mentioned thus: "went to Pied a Terre (or the square or the capital etc) and paid loads of money, but then i went to New Tayabb and spent loads less".

I think there are some great new places to eat in London, and I remain enthused about the state of food in the capital. Moby P (who's posts i generally very much respect) suggests that in order to improve dining in London, we need more Blumenthals. But Blumenthals and their ilk are completely alien to most dining experiences in London today - whether or not the bar has been raised by another celebrity chef opening another overpriced and overmarketed restaurant is neither here nor there. The way in which restaurants standards are improved is through competition amongst solid neighbourhood eateries, and I think we are seeing more of that.

To give a (somewhat random) example, the tapas restaurant opened by the people who run Garcia on Portobello road is an astonishingly good value, tasty and friendly place to eat. I know you are all bored of tapas, and especially of tapas being the new black, but I highly recommend it. The restaurant eschews the traditional accoutrements of ye olde tapas bar, and instead nods firmly towards the clean lines of new spain. The food, however, is simple, well executed tapas classics: meat balls, patatas bravas, tortilla etc. It doesn't sound like much, but when executed properly it is a good and honest thing. 

Oh and by the way, I went to Pied a Terre recently and it was historic.

Are you Michael Winner? Anyway, why not write about PDT or Garcia, I personally don't really give a toss if the meal cost less than an arm and a leg or more than my house. I don't even think that the argument about "highfalutin tastes" holds true, theres not even many reviews about those restaurants either. What's happened to the days when we got half a dozen different restaurants (not necessarily new) each day?

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

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I just finished the second part of Ruth Reichl's autobiography, 'Comfort me with Apples'. In talking about her audience as LA Times food critic, she makes a really interesting distinction between people who are passionate about food and people who love restaurants.

In Los Angeles, restaurant going was a competitive sport from the beginning - another arena for celebrity to conspicuously consume. Reichle, under strong influence of Northern California (specifically Alice Waters) championed the notion that it's all about food.

I would argue that, since the eighties, London has been going in the other direction - it's becoming less about the food and more about (hideous word) lifestyle.

Perhaps this thread is drifting into Reichle's knotty schism.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Anybody got any idea when 'hospitality' became an 'industry'?

Roughly about the time John Fothergill died.

I love the way it took you 3 seconds to come up with that response - It took me three days to understand it.

I will now chuckle happily for three hours.

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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and La Fromagerie nearby, it's just hard to work up too much excitement about paying four times as much to eat out.

If I paid four times the amount La Fromagerie charged, I'd be bankrupt. The quality is marvellous, but the mark-up is beyond insulting.

there you go - la fromagerie is a great example of the london dining scene - although the product can be good, the whole experience is over processed, over marketed, just over done...so it is no longer a traditional cheese shop with fantastic product, but rather an absurdly expensive, pretentious, modern boutique, with a good product an unknowledgeable staff - the result: poor value for money.

-che

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and La Fromagerie nearby, it's just hard to work up too much excitement about paying four times as much to eat out.

If I paid four times the amount La Fromagerie charged, I'd be bankrupt. The quality is marvellous, but the mark-up is beyond insulting.

there you go - la fromagerie is a great example of the london dining scene - although the product can be good, the whole experience is over processed, over marketed, just over done...so it is no longer a traditional cheese shop with fantastic product, but rather an absurdly expensive, pretentious, modern boutique, with a good product an unknowledgeable staff - the result: poor value for money.

-che

I have no interest (financial or personal) in La Fromagerie but I think that is a deeply unfair summary of them, especially the staff. Yes it is hyped, but that is not really of their own doing. It is because the likes of Jamie Oliver and other TV chefs and foodies are forever talking about them. The Marylebone branch also benefits significantly from its location in what has become the pre-eminent food lovers street in London - a transformation brought about largely by Patricia Michelson owner of La Fromagerie.

It is expensive, but also they generally have products there that you can't get easily elsewhere. No I don't mean the tomatoes or other fruit and veg, I mean good quality truffles, interesting oils, rare honey, hard to source drinks etc etc. It isn't Tesco's and it is not attempting to be like them. It's not the sort of place you go to for all your grocery needs and never was supposed to be. It is expensive but that doesn't mean it's bad value for money.

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a transformation brought about largely by Patricia Michelson owner of La Fromagerie. 

To be fair, the de Walden estate did most of the running in moulding Marylebone High St - not entirely altruistically, thinking they'd get higher rents by regenerating the area and ditching the charity shops. Patricia Michelson did apparently give them advice and helped cajole other shops in once she got on board, but the idea was already firmly in place.

Having said that I agree with Silverbrow that La Fromagerie still provides a service that it's difficult to find elsewhere, despite the prices.

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While it's true that expensive doesn't necessarily mean poor value for money, La Fromagerie manages to be both of these things in my opinion. In my experience it's also about as far away from the 'customer is king' philosophy as it's possible for any shop to be.

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a transformation brought about largely by Patricia Michelson owner of La Fromagerie. 

To be fair, the de Walden estate did most of the running in moulding Marylebone High St - not entirely altruistically, thinking they'd get higher rents by regenerating the area and ditching the charity shops. Patricia Michelson did apparently give them advice and helped cajole other shops in once she got on board, but the idea was already firmly in place.

Having said that I agree with Silverbrow that La Fromagerie still provides a service that it's difficult to find elsewhere, despite the prices.

The De Walden estate decided that the way to regenerate MHS was by making it a themed street and they hit on food. This was part of a wider regeneration of the area to the North of Oxford St.

My understanding is they went cap-in-hand to Patricia Michelson asking her to open a shop and advise on other shops to invite into the area. So although the plans were definitely well on their way she was crucial to their plans and to the general devpt of the area. I think she still has some involvement in what opens there.

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On a more positive note. the thing which most excites me about eating out in London at the moment is Ethiopian food, most especially the Peacock in Shepherd's Bush (107 Uxbridge Road).

My mission for 06 is to try more cuisines with which I'm unfamiliar, which I'm sure must be possible in London, though I've found Time Out not especially helpful on this front. Although it does offer a good geographic range of cuisines, the kind of places I'm really excited about finding are cheap cafes and similar whose raison d'etre is serving a particular community rather than getting noticed by restaurant guides. That said, a day-trip to New Walden for Korean food is on the cards soon, for which Time Out provides plenty of recommendations.

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I have no interest (financial or personal) in La Fromagerie but I think that is a deeply unfair summary of them, especially the staff.  Yes it is hyped, but that is not really of their own doing.  It is because the likes of Jamie Oliver and other TV chefs and foodies are forever talking about them.  The Marylebone branch also benefits significantly from its location in what has become the pre-eminent food lovers street in London - a transformation brought about largely by Patricia Michelson owner of La Fromagerie. 

It is expensive, but also they generally have products there that you can't get easily elsewhere.  No I don't mean the tomatoes or other fruit and veg, I mean good quality truffles, interesting oils, rare honey, hard to source drinks etc etc.  It isn't Tesco's and it is not attempting to be like them.  It's not the sort of place you go to for all your grocery needs and never was supposed to be.  It is expensive but that doesn't mean it's bad value for money.

if you know your way around london you can find intersting and "hard to find" products in many places - also, the people who import them are few and far between. years ago when the first store opened in highbury the prices were not cheap, but the store was genuine, different from anything else - now it seems she succumbed to the tastes of the ladies who lunch. buying a piece of cheese at la fromagerie is like shopping for fabric at liberty's.

many of you probably know of Peck in Milano - by far one of the best food shops in the world if not the best, in my opinion...expensive yes, but not overly - however the quality of the food, its presentation, and the knowledge and skill of the staff are second to none. they are all professionals working in there (some of the butchers used to own their own shops) and have been working there for years. last time i was there i saw a guy cut up an entire wheel of parmesan in 1/2kg chunks in about 15 min - a show in itself. i go there sporadically, and every time one of the brothers who owns it is always there, walking around making sure everything is as it should. quite a difference from la fromagerie.

wgallois - someone told me about this ethiopian place in shepherd's bush...it must be this one...they said it was fantastic.

-che

Edited by CheGuevara (log)
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That said, a day-trip to New Walden for Korean food is on the cards soon, for which Time Out provides plenty of recommendations.

I recently made a pilgrimage there (actually it's where I used to play cricket), and I think it really would help if you go with a Korean friend/acquaintance. The level of English in many of the good places is not so hot. Or, failing that, just go in and say "I'll have what they're having"

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That said, a day-trip to New Walden for Korean food is on the cards soon, for which Time Out provides plenty of recommendations.

I recently made a pilgrimage there (actually it's where I used to play cricket), and I think it really would help if you go with a Korean friend/acquaintance. The level of English in many of the good places is not so hot. Or, failing that, just go in and say "I'll have what they're having"

Ditto. We had tremendous problems making ourselves understood. The (very nice) waitress was nervous and giggly at the idea of Anglo Saxons who might want authentic Korean food, and the result was a bit disappointing (and certainly no better than the Korean restaurants in the shadow of Centrepoint).

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On a more positive note. the thing which most excites me about eating out in London at the moment is Ethiopian food, most especially the Peacock in Shepherd's Bush (107 Uxbridge Road).

My mission for 06 is to try more cuisines with which I'm unfamiliar, which I'm sure must be possible in London, though I've found Time Out not especially helpful on this front. Although it does offer a good geographic range of cuisines, the kind of places I'm really excited about finding are cheap cafes and similar whose raison d'etre is serving a particular community rather than getting noticed by restaurant guides. That said, a day-trip to New Walden for Korean food is on the cards soon, for which Time Out provides plenty of recommendations.

For Ethiopian I can't say enough good about Tobia - in a Ethiopian community center on Lithos Rd., near Finchley Rd. tube. Really wonderful. There's a Korean near Highbury Corner I've been planning on checking out that looks interesting, but haven't made it there yet.

Moving to other topics in the thread, I only shop at the Highbury Fromagerie, but I can't say I have that much trouble there, it is very expensive and I tend have to set myself a budget before I go in the door, but the cheese really is good and I don't have too much problem with the service, as long as you know what you want more or less. The only thing I've had trouble with is being sold over-ripe things that haven't lasted a day on a couple of occassions, which I wasn't too pleased about. I probably wouldn't ask the servers advice the way I do at Neal's Yard, its true, though.

In general, I have been eating out much less recently, mostly because I can afford to cook food that excites me, and, as importantly, to drink the wine that I want to with it, but the urge to eat out takes me less than it used to. Think I'll have to have a splurge lunch soon though - anyone been to Aikens recently?? Champignon Sauvage is the UK place I'm really excited by the idea of eating at though...

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