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#31 Andy Lynes

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 08:08 AM

I don't care how its cooked as long as it tastes good.

#32 macrosan

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 10:37 AM

I don't care how its cooked as long as it tastes good.

That is, and always will be, my attitude towards food.

It seems to me that there are two good reasons for wanting to know how the food is cooked. One is that you are a cook and want to repeat the dish you just ate. The other is to satisfy intellectual curiosity.

What I cannot imagine myself doing is selecting a dish at a restaurant on the basis of the exact method of cooking. For example, I might choose roast lamb whilst rejecting braised lamb, because of my mood of the moment. But it would not matter to me if the lamb was slow roasted or fast roasted, or roasted in foil or open or both. I leave that to the chef in my chosen restaurant, and I am willing to allow that his specific method may be better than any other method I have heard of.

In the case of sous vide, like any other method of cooking, some cooks will know how to do it well and with what, and some will not. It is neither a better nor worse way of cooking something, it is just different, I think.

#33 Bapi

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 10:04 PM

namely sous vide cooked food served table side. Yes you read it right, the waiter brought the plates with garnish and the ordered turbot came in a plastic bag together with some spinach. The waiter showed the guests the plastic bags, which obviously did not look particularly appetising, and lectured on how it had been cooked. Not without some difficulty the bag was cut open with scissors and, again not without some difficulty, the fish and the spinach were squeezed out on to the plate and the plate was served the guest. :( :(


Oh dear god - say it isn't so. This idea is beyond laughable. It is one thing to present, for example, a whole roasted duck to a guest and then expertly carve it in front of them. The same applies to a whole lobster- deconstructed before one's eyes and then plated beautifuly, before it is served. But cutting a plastic bag open with a pair of scissors and then squeezing the contents out onto plate in a high end restaurant is just ridiculous. I fail to see how this can add to the experience of the diner.

Note- I am far from opposed to the process of Sous Vide cooking- but snipping plastic bags open is rather too reminiscent of Findus boil-in-the-bag fish dishes, I used to be served up, as a child when ill. :(

#34 degusto

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 10:26 PM

I am afraid it is the truth. Maybe Tom Aikens wants to relate some of his childhood memories. You know it is getting rather popular these days. Veyrat serves desserts from his childhood (not kept from then I hope) and I remember Heston asking you to fill out some form to advice him of the tastes from your childhood. Thinking about it is perhaps a logical step in the culinary evolution. I foresee in the near future courses in good manners and required pirouettes when cutting plastic bags and squeezing out the content. There will probably be competitions too. It is only a time before some magazine starts publishing the top 50 best sous vide-bag squeezing waiters in the world. :( :( :( :(

#35 Bapi

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 10:43 PM

I foresee in the near future courses in good manners and required pirouettes when cutting plastic bags and squeezing out the content. There will probably be competitions too. It is only a time before some magazine starts publishing the top 50 best sous vide-bag squeezing waiters in the world.


:(

#36 John Whiting

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 05:56 AM

Rule One of human behavior, as exemplified over and over in the restaurant business: If it can be done, it will be done.
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#37 Wilfrid1

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 02:55 PM

During a very recent (blah) meal at Aikens the table next to me was served something that may become the next absurd trend in fine dining trend, namely sous vide cooked food served table side. Yes you read it right, the waiter brought the plates with garnish and the ordered turbot came in a plastic bag together with some spinach. The waiter showed the guests the plastic bags, which obviously did not look particularly appetising, and lectured on how it had been cooked. Not without some difficulty the bag was cut open with scissors and, again not without some difficulty, the fish and the spinach were squeezed out on to the plate and the plate was served the guest. :( :(


We are ahead of you here in the Big Apple. See the Gilt thread for beetroot (I think it was) cooked sous vide, the plastic bag being precariously snipped open at the table. I might enjoy it more if I hadn't experienced boil-in-the-bag dinners in my childhood.* That squeezing it out business... :(

*I see Bapi is there already.

In the case of sous vide, like any other method of cooking, some cooks will know how to do it well and with what, and some will not. It is neither a better nor worse way of cooking something, it is just different, I think.


Foolish, I agree, to condemn it out of hand - but, as I said, John W. makes some good points. There are some things you inevitably sacrifice with this technique: the Maillard reaction, the much-prized roasted flavor which results, not to mention textural virtues such as crispness. If the food is going to be soft, pale and uncaramelized, it needs to have other things going for it. I have been served too many pieces of bland rectangular protein.
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#38 John Whiting

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 04:51 PM

I am reminded of a flight I once took on Air Canada in which the head steward was a campy gay with a great sense of humor. Following the in-flight meal, he came on the blower with the following announcement:

"Your attention, please! The winner of tonight's prize for naming the contents of the in-flight meal is the gentleman in seat 32B, who correctly guessed, 'some form of animal protein'."

The passengers were rolling in the aisles. I wonder how long he kept his job?
John Whiting, London
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#39 IanT

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 09:45 AM

Something about Arbutus didn't quite appeal to me. The incessant internet hype and the glut of early reports served to turn me off a little but, marooned in Soho on Saturday night with an hour or two to kill before I could meet my friends for drinks, I decided to chance my arm on a walk in. Sure enough, there was no problem getting a table (the hype has obviously yet to spread beyond the internet foodie community).

What can I say? The food was absolutely superb. Maybe the best value meal I've eaten in London. 3 courses, 2 carafes of wine and coffee for 40 including service. It was so good that I returned on Sunday night with a friend and I'm happy to say it again came up trumps.

To start I had the chicken oysters with macaroni, lemon thyme and hazelnuts on Saturday. Served with a gorgeous chicken veloute pointed by the lemon thyme. Fantastic sauce and they knew to bring a sauce spoon. On Sunday night I had the braised pigs head, also superb. Very rustic, lots of fat and cartilage which means lots of flavour. Served with butery pommes puree and excellent onion marmalade. My companion had the brandade with baby squid, a good dish but the brandade was oversalted on this occasion.

I loved my Pieds & Pacquets main on Saturday night. Not something you will find on many menus in London and Frith Street may now be the location of the capital's two best tripe dishes with this and Bar Shu's Man and Wife Offal. Served with an exceptionally rich little pan of mash - close to the 50/50 potato/butter ratio I'd wager. The saddle of rabbit, wrapped in bacon, stuffed with kidney and accompanied by a superb shoulder of rabbit cottage pie almost reached the same standard. The cottage pie very much deserves the hype. So much better than the saddle of rabbit I recently had at Foliage.

Desserts were just as strong. The rice pudding with alphonso mango, mango sorbet and breton biscuits might be the best dessert I've had this year. Simple but seasonal and the flavours sing. The vanilla cheesecake with strawberries was also superb, a deliciously light creamy texture.

Coffees were good and I love the carafes of wine. It adds so much flexibility when dining alone or as a couple.

The room lacks a little warmth, the wooden floors and white walls are not helped by the generic grey prints on the walls. The staff are good however and are obviously keen on making this work.

I went with a challenging mindset, almost hoping to be disappointed, but my expectations were confounded and Arbutus is most certainly an extremely welcome addition to London's dining scene. Those wanting a low key, inexpensive meal in Soho no longer have to rely on the very inconsistent Anthony Edmunds. Arbutus is leagues ahead and offers the best cooking in London at this price point (yes it is better than Galvin).

#40 ginger milk

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 12:10 PM

Arbutus is leagues ahead and offers the best cooking in London at this price point

Can we assume you've eaten at every London restaurant similarly priced then :( :(

#41 IanT

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 12:22 PM

Can we assume you've eaten at every London restaurant similarly priced then :( :(


My apologies for omitting any qualifiers and confusing you. :( :(

"I've eaten at most of the highly regarded restaurants at this price point in London and, in my opinion, Arbutus offers the best cooking."

#42 Matt

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 01:33 PM

....I decided to chance my arm on a walk in. Sure enough, there was no problem getting a table (the hype has obviously yet to spread beyond the internet foodie community).


You must have been there early, very busy by 21:30, 90 covers by the end of the night!

#43 IanT

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 01:38 PM

You must have been there early, very busy by 21:30, 90 covers by the end of the night!


I arrived about 8.15pm, left at close to 10pm. I didn't say it wasn't busy, just noting the fact that I could get a table (in the main area) on a walk-in at primetime on a Saturday night. I'm sure this will change once it gets a few more reviews and word of mouth grows.

#44 Matt

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 03:00 PM

sorry, misunderstood. The Maschler and Lander reviews seem to have had a very positive effect, the previous Friday there was only around 30 people.

#45 alexhills

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 12:02 PM

Ate here last night, honestly rather disappointed. Split chicken oysters and pigs head to start, both pretty good but a little underseasoned. Mains were sort of all over the place, rabbit as ballotine of saddle and cottage pie of leg didn't taste much of rabbit, save some nice liver in the ballotine, and the cottage pie was totally overwhelmed by tarragon. My friend's braised salt beef was decent meat but didn't marry with its vegetables at all and came with its 'braising jus', which was a little pot of mildly beef flavored water - literally that thickness. To be poured ON the meat?? Hmmmmm... Service was all over the place, with long waits at every point, and I think that may have left some of the food sitting under lights, there were certainly temperature and dryness issues.

That said, I do like the ambition and style of the menu, lots of gutsy sounding dishes with some originality, and if it delivered in execution and ingredient quality it would be superb value. From other reports I trust it is capable of that and I was just suffering an off night, but really not much of a meal I'm afraid.
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