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Hibiscus moving?


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Our first night away from children in over two years, so we decided to go for it! We had a fabulous evening at Hibiscus last night, will post more when I've recovered from my hangover. We had the surprise tasting menu with matching wines, most of which has been covered here. Two different courses- Tartare of mackerel with Gariguette strawberries, wasabi, honey and soy and Blade of Beef with Seaweed vinaigrette and Razor clams. Loved the spring onion ravioli, wasn't as keen on the white asparagus tart, but hubbie loved it.

We liked the decor too- but the subtle signage outside nearly caught us out. Staff were fantastic too, all a thousand of them!!

http://www.allium.uk.net

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!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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By the way, why this predilection to use olives in  desserts.? Anthony did it a few years back with a  pineapple dessert and Sat Bains did it last week, pairing slivers of them with a delightful chocolate pudding.

It's something you encounter a lot isn't it... the darkly caramelised black olives they're doing at Midsummer House at the moment are the best thing about the desserts on the tasting menu, matched in this case with fennel and pear. I'm pretty sure I had something similar at Bacchus not long ago too, again with caramel (as with the pineapple tarte tatin at Anthony's)... in fact their website currently lists black olives with mango, sounds rather reminiscent!

Agreed with regards to the black olive, fennell and pear@Midsummer house, a very interesting and enjoyable desert.

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  • 4 months later...

Friday night a birthday dinner at Hibiscus for six of us, we chose the tasting menu at £75 and matching wines at £65. Given the rave reviews of the suckling pig we asked if his could be included and they obliged.

Overall the food was good but it didn't really "wow" any of us. We all enjoyed the suckling pig, although the pastry on the sausage roll was over cooked — very brown and very crispy. The post match reviews the next day at lunch were fairly muted, in fact we all tended to chat more about our visit to Mugaritz a year ago than the meal the previous evening.

Sarah (battleofthebulge - above) mentions the sweet elements of the dishes, and I tend to agree that there are quite a few - possibly too many. Two dishes with chestnuts, one with sweet-corn, the amuse, a Hibiscus cocktail with miniature (el bulli like) pineapple spheres, and obviously dessert. As a result I thought the meal lacked balance.

The one element of the meal that was especially poor was the wine service. It was slow, out of synch with the food, and mean. The wine was poured after the dishes had been served, and so we had to watch out food cool as they explained and served each wine. Each pour was small, often far less than a full bottle (between six), and generally just enough to enjoy with the dish. Early in the meal we sat for long periods with empty glasses between courses - not a great start for a celebration meal.

The sommelier said as she poured the first glass, "whilst the pours were small, they are not a mean restaurant and would top them up" - good. After my partner asked them to top up the wines glasses for a second time (after being ignored the first time) the waiter/maitre'd sniffily told us - "if you want more we would have to pay for it."

We generally choose the wine/food pairing if available and are usually very happy with the choices and generosity. Unfortunately the FOH team at Hibiscus really messed this up; we spent £1,000 on dinner and all felt cheated.

Edited by PhilD (log)
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Disappointing to hear this, Phil. We were there last January and had a great meal (the "taste of winter" menu). The sommelier (at the time) was a guy who had come from Ludlow and we knew he knew his stuff. Mrs H declared one of his picks, a Kiwi Pinot Noir, to be the best glass she had had - ever!

John Hartley

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Disappointing to hear this, Phil. We were there last January and had a great meal (the "taste of winter" menu). The sommelier (at the time) was a guy who had come from Ludlow and we knew he knew his stuff. Mrs H declared one of his picks, a Kiwi Pinot Noir, to be the best glass she had had - ever!

I have to agree with Harters, I also really enjoyed my dinner at Hibiscus last August.

Food was excellent and service was good. The sommelier, which sounds like it must have been Simon Freeman, though not employed by myself, came across very well and has generally been highly praised in the past.

Also, I'm surprised to read that the 'sausage roll' was not up-to-scratch - it has always been very popular.

On a final note, Bosi does indeed have a bit of a penchant for sweet things.

Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

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Good restaurant but the sausage roll was wildly overrated at the launch by fawning food critics. Its an OK sausage roll but thats about it. The pastry isn't anything that special. The forcemeats too crumby and not fatty enough. Yawn.

Was Mrs B on FoH? One of the strengths of the place is that it was always a family operation, which should mean consistency front to back.

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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We had a female sommelier to start, but the wine service was taken over by two gentlemen, one may have been the sommelier (Simon) but it wasn’t obvious.

My comments on the wine are about the pacing, generosity and attitude. The individual wines were good, so no complaints about this, in fact they served a really fantastic Rully.

The food did present a serious challenge to matching wines, twice we went from sweet whites to very dry whites, the worst change was from a Riesling (I think) matched with the foie gras, to a very dry white Bordeaux served with the fish dish. Each wine went really well with the dish it accompanied but they really didn't work at all well as a sequence of wines – sweet to dry, sweet to dry. More work is needed on this, I would expect a lot better at this level.

Jon – no I don’t think Claire Bosi was FoH. There was a receptionist who stayed at the desk and then all male waiters apart from the female sommelier.

We chose Hibiscus because of everyone’s positive comments. Has it slipped? Were we unlucky? Did it falter because Mrs B was absent? I noticed that Roger on the Foliage thread enjoyed Foliage more, and that mirrors our experience. It will be interesting to hear from others who have visited recently.

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Phil, I believe the issue isn't in the "quality" of the cooking but the style. I felt that what was there was done very well, by that I mean "fabricated" well. The chocolate sauce with the venison was smoked, very cool concept. And there lies the catch - it's "cool". It's weird, a combination of ingredients that many diners find innovative and catchy, and many others (a group which I belong to) just think "what is the point of this?" I think Bosi does this because he has had experience with the best chefs in the world, and he knows he can produce the most technically intricate classical and near-classical combinations (those that "work" for people like me). So he goes a step further and makes you "think". (thinking hard about it, yes, a slice of raw venison and a smoked dark chocolate sauce do share some flavours at the second or third degree although I think it would work better with raw pigeon)

I do agree with you about the wine. I found the BTG choices disappointing. How hard is it to establish a relationship with small growers in interesting areas of France and serve decent booze? When the restaurant owner himself is French?

Foliage I feel serves dishes that all "work" as a dish. Smaller portions, you are less full, granted. But again, it's well executed and this time you are not supposed to think about the food, merely to eat it and enjoy good ingredients prepared well. I prefer this personally.

I could make the comparison between Schumann's piano concerto and Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht.

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Not being familiar with the latter, and barely with the former, can someone please enlighten me as to why the comparison between Hibiscus and Foliage has been drawn?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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Not being familiar with the latter, and barely with the former, can someone please enlighten me as to why the comparison between Hibiscus and Foliage has been drawn?

For me it was that I ate in these two restaurants almost back to back.

I had very high expectations of Hibiscus given the comments here and elsewhere. These were not met. On the other hand I had read far less about Foliage and was simply looking for a good, but well priced set lunch. As you can see from my previous comments my experience was the opposite to my expectations.

Coincidentally Roger had written about Foliage and mentioned Hibiscus as a comparison.

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  • 3 months later...

I'd never been to Hibiscus. I always fancied visiting in Ludlow but never made it, and then a London visit was waylaid by some mixed stories upon opening. But I was at a loose end last week so scheduled a quick lunch visit and while I knew it would be good, I was very pleasantly suprised...

Lunch began with an soft-boiled egg and soldier: simple but rewarding. I'm a boy, so perhaps I would say this, but the only improvement here would be more soldiers in the ranks.

The starter was a royale of rhubarb and parmesan with a veloute of toasted rice. I love these elements, but this combination was new to me: together they produced a muscular, brusque, startling dish that was particularly memorable. It's with me again, as I tap these words out: very impressive.

A pile of rose veal chunks with goats cheese and black truffle risotto was very good too - although a little over-shadowed, for me, after the punch of the starter. It was nevertheless a compelling dish that was scoffed down sharpish.

A good lemon tart with clove ice cream concluded lunch but this was augmented by an Austrian Reisling-blend dessert wine (that I can't name now) that one of the staff was eulogising. I was sceptical, but gave it a try and the balance of sweetness and minerality sat beautifully with the lemon. Well recommended - indeed, top marks to all front of house staff who were excellent without exception.

All this, plus a glass of wine and tea / coffee plus petit fours for a set £33.50 (plus c. £8 for the dessert wine): a real steal, and a real pleasure that left me very impressed. I was meeting someone around the corner at Claridges for tea afterwards - and although the room was grander there, the same money brought us little more than good tea and some lacklustre finger food. Underwhelmed by Claridges; very enthused by Hibiscus.

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Oh, how I enjoy reading all the positive reports about a restaurant whose very name being mentioned makes me angry. As great as the food probably is, I'm not sure I will ever be able to make myself go.

It happened like this...

I was to visit London not too long ago, and I asked a friend of mine who lives nearby (and has Claude Bosi's personal email address) to send an email to him on my behalf. I was very, very excited about this restaurant you see. The chef's got one hell of a CV. And he's either hired a very talented menu writer, or his creations really are that appealing to me. In any case, my friend sends an email that said more or less:

Hello, I hope you are well and don't mind me emailing you...

My American friend and I are very much looking forward to visiting -- for him, the first time, and for me a happy return.  I've told him great things about your food.  I hope you don't find this rude or presumptuous, but we would be delighted if you would like to cook us a menu of your choosing.  Whether this includes traditional Lyonnaise cooking or more modern dishes, or both, we would be more than happy. Or if it is more convenient for you, we'll gladly choose off the current menus. Thanks again.

Polite and friendly, no?

Or so we thought at least.

Chef Bosi must have read it and tried to forward it to his receptionist, but accidently replied to my friend instead:

Hi can you replied to that twat and tell him it will be find for the tasting menu and I look to see them and Monday.

Thanks Claude.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Lovely response, no? I certainly feel more than welcome at his restaurant now...

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Oh, how I enjoy reading all the positive reports about a restaurant whose very name being mentioned makes me angry.  As great as the food probably is, I'm not sure I will ever be able to make myself go.

It happened like this...

I was to visit London not too long ago, and I asked a friend of mine who lives nearby (and has Claude Bosi's personal email address) to send an email to him on my behalf.  I was very, very excited about this restaurant you see.  The chef's got one hell of a CV.  And he's either hired a very talented menu writer, or his creations really are that appealing to me.  In any case, my friend sends an email that said more or less:

Hello, I hope you are well and don't mind me emailing you...

My American friend and I are very much looking forward to visiting -- for him, the first time, and for me a happy return.  I've told him great things about your food.  I hope you don't find this rude or presumptuous, but we would be delighted if you would like to cook us a menu of your choosing.  Whether this includes traditional Lyonnaise cooking or more modern dishes, or both, we would be more than happy. Or if it is more convenient for you, we'll gladly choose off the current menus. Thanks again.

Polite and friendly, no?

Or so we thought at least.

Chef Bosi must have read it and tried to forward it to his receptionist, but accidently replied to my friend instead:

Hi can you replied to that twat and tell him it will be find for the tasting menu and I look to see them and Monday.

Thanks Claude.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Lovely response, no? I certainly feel more than welcome at his restaurant now...

Your friend's email to Chef Bosi was certainly very polite. It's too bad that Mr. Bosi is not more careful with his words, or his spelling, which is rather tragic, or his relationship with the "SEND" button.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I hope you don't find this rude or presumptuous, but we would be delighted if you would like to cook us a menu of your choosing. 

I think my sympathies are with M. Bosi, after all doesn't he cook a menu of his choosing everyday i.e. the 6 course tasting menu...?

Therefore isn't it rude to mail him and suggest that you deserve something better. I assume he already believes he is delivering his best via the aforementioned tasting menu.

No wonder he was annoyed.

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I hope you don't find this rude or presumptuous, but we would be delighted if you would like to cook us a menu of your choosing. 

I think my sympathies are with M. Bosi, after all doesn't he cook a menu of his choosing everyday i.e. the 6 course tasting menu...?

Therefore isn't it rude to mail him and suggest that you deserve something better. I assume he already believes he is delivering his best via the aforementioned tasting menu.

No wonder he was annoyed.

I didn't read any presumption into the initial missive. The sender specifically states that no special treatment was expected (or deserved), but that an off-menu arrangement would be appreciated if the chef was so inclined.

I know many chefs who would take this request as a compliment.

Without knowing this chef's disposition, I see no way in which the sender could have foreseen such a surly and crass reaction. Certainly, Bosi's response doesn't seem to have been intended for the sender's eyes. But the fact that it did get misdirected does not make me sympathetic to Bosi, especially given the email's contents.

Running a restaurant puts you square in the middle of the hospitality industry. I'm not discounting the fact that many chefs probably do get rather frustrated and annoyed by a cloying public. This just may be a case of "everyone does it, but X was just stupid enough to get caught." So be it. But that doesn't change the fact that Bosi's email was not hospitable.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I didn't read any presumption into the initial missive.  The sender specifically states that no special treatment was expected (or deserved), but that an off-menu arrangement would be appreciated if the chef was so inclined.

I know many chefs who would take this request as a compliment.   

Without knowing this chef's disposition, I see no way in which the sender could have foreseen such a surly and crass reaction. Certainly, Bosi's response doesn't seem to have been intended for the sender's eyes.  But the fact that it did get misdirected does not make me sympathetic to Bosi, especially given the email's contents.

Running a restaurant puts you square in the middle of the hospitality industry. I'm not discounting the fact that many chefs probably do get rather frustrated and annoyed by a cloying public.  This just may be a case of "everyone does it, but X was just stupid enough to get caught."  So be it.  But that doesn't change the fact that Bosi's email was not hospitable.

...but why use his personal email address? What is wrong with ringing up the restaurant and asking the FOH team rather than "invading his privacy"?

I understand asking a chef if it is possible to ensure a signature dish is available can be a good idea (like his sausage roll). But I find it strange to ask a top chef to cook food that he already cooks, after all doesn't his menu already "includes traditional Lyonnaise cooking or more modern dishes, or both". To me the question show a lack of understanding of the restaurant rather than an informed request.

Bosi's mail may not be hospitable, but to me it is understandable.....it would be really good to hear the equivalent Ramsay, MPW or Aikens responses.

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PhilD, you make a good point about emailing a personal email address versus the restaurant's email address (or calling the restaurant). However, I don't, as a matter of common knowledge, know the personal email addresses of chefs unless:

(a) they advertise it on their website, or somewhere public (and here, that doesn't seem to be the case - unless "enquiries@hibiscus.uk.co" is Bosi's email address),

(b) someone gave it to me, or

© the chef gives it to the sender

If (a) or ©, then I'd say it's completely acceptable to email the chef; s/he has invited such "enquiries."

If (b), then it's really not a call I can make without knowing the context.

Without knowing how the sender came by the email address, I suppose we (me included) can't really judge the situation accurately.

At the end of the day, I'm sure it's Bosi's loss and not mine anyway, since it seems he has lost a customer in the sender (and yes, I'm fully expecting someone to make a snide comment like, "then the sender's not a customer Bosi cares to have..."), and, potentially, in tupac17616. But I'll let tupac17616 speak for himself.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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A few points on the above.

1. A lot of people pay a great deal of money to be swore at by a Chef, so consider it a compliment.

2. Nice to see a French man adopting good old English vulgar slang.

3. He is a Chef not Kofi Annan.

4. Sometimes words like these can be used in many other ways other than offence.

5. Why post the response on here?

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A few points on the above.

1. A lot of people pay a great deal of money to be swore at by a Chef, so consider it a compliment.

:laugh: So true. So true.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Jesus H Christ on a Bike, some people here will analyse anything!

Chef makes a mistake and refers to a punter as a twat.Does it matter if it was email, phone , or overheard from the kitchen?

Will Claude be a tad more carefull with his blackberry?, of course

Lets just move on with our lives.

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I am hopefully going to be spending a week's work experience at Hibiscus.

Anyone worked there before? What was it like?

Matt

I can't help you, but it might be helpful to know if you will be working in the front or back of the house. I assume you mean the kitchen?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I recently had dinner at Hibiscus and enjoyed most of the food immensely. I'm sad that I cannot echo all of the good things said here by others about the service. Here's an excerpt from my blog post:

I wasn’t surprised to learn that Bosi regained his second Michelin star just a month after my visit in December of 2008.

As I said at the beginning of this review, Bosi’s cooking walks that fine line between the weird and the homey.  Its appeal probably isn’t as universal as the food coming out of peer kitchens.  But, whether or not you like Bosi’s food - I’ll consider myself as one of the lucky ones, because, for the most part, I did - one can’t deny that the man is a true auteur chef: you won’t find Bosi’s brand of cooking anywhere else.

It’s not perfect - the raviolo was borne of perhaps one too many creative monkeys and there more than a couple moments of monotony.  It’s not even near-perfect - the mullet was unforgivably botched.  And Bosi doesn’t seem to have much use for subtlety, if that’s what you’re looking for. His food pops. Flavors are vivid.  But they can be a bit unstable.  Given the dynamism of the food, I suppose that’s a trade off I’m willing to live with.

Hibiscus doesn’t indulge its guests like so many in its class and category. I’m not just saying this because I wasn’t thrilled with my server or the service in general. Even without the unpleasant attitude I received, there is an asceticism to the operation. Pleasantries are trimmed. Smiles are rationed. And glad-handing is absolutely verbotin. The meal ends abruptly with your dessert: no coffee = no sweets (a practice I first encountered when I lived in der Nederlands). It’s a place I’d be more likely to return to in a business context rather than a celebration or date.

...

I left Hibiscus with mixed feelings.  I will not soon forget Bosi’s food, which was compelling and had moments of brilliance.  Unfortunately, those moments will forever be darkened in my memory by the looming shadow of the service.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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