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Canapés


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I was back at a regular haunt of mine the other day and it occurred to me that the canapés haven’t changed in about two years. Without fail, as you sit down at the table, they produce chickpea beignets (made to look like chips), cucumber with salmon/crayfish with pickled ginger on a stick and crudites (radish and baby carrot) with a wholegrain mustard dressing.

It’s a restaurant that is clearly gunning for its second star and has recently upped its prices. The tasting menu is now £70 – so getting on for serious, high-end money. The rest of the food, in my view, is approaching 2-star quality but the canapés are just rubbish.

In my cheffing days at Le Gavroche and the (now gone) Monsieur Max, we used to change the canapés most days and I thought they were great (especially when I was making them! :raz: ) but this place just doesn’t bother.

Am I wrong about this or, as the first thing that you eat, shouldn’t canapés aim to be something to awaken the taste buds, give you a taster of what is to come and impress you at the first opportunity?

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yes ur quite correct two philosophical approachs to canapes/amuse gueule either

a) chance to wake up palate, try experimental combos couldn't get away with on full size dish, make sure you leave a lasting first impression

b) going through the motions "oh shit we're supposed to be posh so we're expected to give a freebie whats cheap and easy". Otherwise known as puff pastry bites and YET ANOTHER DEMITASSE OF PUMPKING F**KING SOUP WITH A SLICK OF TRUFFLE OIL.

overall probably a good indicator of whether the chef really cares about their food.

e.g. gordon ramsay. still doing the truffled cream cheese with mini toasts after about five zillion years. about as much originality as a beef fillet with truffle pomme puree (another staple on his degustation...). to me that epitomises all that is wrong about his production-line approach to haute cuisine.

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I agree with you that this is important and a good opportunity for the chef to showcase his talents, stimulate the diners palette and experiment with new ideas without facing the risk of the diner not liking the dish and complaining as it is a complimentary item.

The only issue that I have is with regards to Gordon not changing the amuse/canape. This year I have been to La Noisette twice, Maze once, Claridges twice and RHR once and have never had the truffled cream cheese with mini toasts once. I had lovely amuses and canapes on my visits with the exception of one of the two amuses that I had a La Noisette which was seriously under-par

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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It really does get a meal of to a good start when the canapes are exciting. This year I had some amazing canapes at L'enclume, Sat Bains and Le Bristol Paris, sorry can't recall them all. The connecting feature being there were at least four different canapes presented, with varying tastes and textures, and great visual appeal. I was very dissapointed at Hibiscus were we received a basket of choux pastry which was meant to be taste of varying flavours such as smoked garlic and cheese. Unfortunately it tasted of dry choux pastry.

Special mention to canapes done with simplicity are Northcote Manor's slice of sausage roll, with a spread of English mustard under the pastry, absolutely top class!!!

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Excellent! Well, it's encouraging to know that I'm not being overly picky.

So the next debate is - what is the etiquette to feeding this sort of stuff back to restaurants? I feel like I know them reasonably well and do rate everything else they do, but if someone just told them to sort out the canapes, it would have an incrementally positive effect on the meal as a whole.

Has anyone ever tried to give such constructive criticism? Will they be mortally offended? Is it not for me to say?

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I reckon say something, absolutely. Once you have a relationship with a place, I believe it should be a two way process. In my experience, chefs are critical people, and self critical at times, as they have to be at this level. Any little pointers should be appreciated. Perhaps you should counteract the criticism with glowing reports of other elements of the meal!

By the way, the canapes sound like those at Roussillon. Am I right?

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I agree with Andy - a good restaurant will welcome feedback (as long as it is constructive). Any business that stops thinking or caring about what the client wants is on a fast spiral to failure.

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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I reckon say something, absolutely. Once you have a relationship with a place, I believe it should be a two way process. In my experience, chefs are critical people, and self critical at times, as they have to be at this level. Any little pointers should be appreciated. Perhaps you should counteract the criticism with glowing reports of other elements of the meal!

By the way, the canapes sound like those at Roussillon. Am I right?

you are!

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  • 4 years later...

Just dug this page up as I am into canapés at the moment as I have a lot to do for Christmas and I am looking for something different.

I agree with all that has been said, they are an introduction to a meal and need to be good and changed regularly. We have just come back from Wales and one night we were booked for the 7 course tasting menu. When the canapés came they were dire, we nearly walked out but were glad we didn’t as the rest of the meal was very good.

Anyone have any interesting ideas for something different?

Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

My link

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I've been making little parmesan biscuits as canapes recently. These take all sorts of lovely things chopped up inside or balanced on top - capers, anchovies, olives, cured meat...

not all at the same time.

Not very creative though.

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