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Member Since 20 Mar 2004
Offline Last Active Mar 01 2007 08:16 AM

#719347 Fat Duck

Posted by Tuckerman on 31 July 2006 - 02:31 PM

If you say it's good, I wholeheartedly believe you. My only problem is that thinking about salmon and licorice is making me feel a bit iffy. :P

Yes well that's a good example of their modus oprandi. The combos sound bizarre on paper but when you taste them the flavours have had their extremeness refined out of them. The liquorice flavour was very muted, very subtle. And it is this subtlety which gives the meal its precision and sophistication.

#714939 Midsummer House

Posted by Tuckerman on 15 July 2006 - 05:23 PM

It's a "real" house called Midsummer House on the edge of Midsummer Common backing on to the Cam but separated from it by a walled garden. The attached conservatory was a nice airy place to eat on a hot evening

"Translucent". We were told not once but twice that the Turbot was cooked so that it remained translucent in the middle. So where was the translucence? Cooked out, that's where. The Turbot had been cooked through to the point where all translucence had disappeared. I didn't mind all that much, but why make such a big deal about it if it wasn't going to happen?

Actually this sort of summed up the meal. Pleasant, colourful, light(ish), Summery-and just a touch off the mark. The Red Pepper Cannelloni was so crisp that it might have been anything and I suspect was used for its vivid redness apart from anything else. The foie gras mousse it enclosed was delicious but the "marinated" green beans were raw and raw tasting and the Jamaican pepper made no impression.

Previously the amuse of Pink Grapefruit and Champagne Foam did nothing but kill the Gerwurz I was sipping, but the Green Pea Veloute with Braised Prawns and "Sea Water Jelly" (where's the sea in Cambridge? ) was lovely-I could have doine a bowl of that.

Lots of bits and bobs on the plate with the mains. Fennel Roasted John Dory has Tomato Risotto, Crispy Bacon, Sauteed Squid and Nero Sauce. Did it work? Sort of. The fish was lovely but I couldn't quite get the relationship between fennel, squid, bacon and the tomato risotto (replete with parmesan). Sometimes less is more.

However, the few drops of Vanilla Essence poured from a bottle to accompany said Turbot lifted the fish flavour well and made up for an unconvincing coating of peanut and pistachio. "Fresh Asparagus" was encased in pastry like a mini asparagus samosa, but tasted good. A hot chocolate molten pudding thingy with Walnut puree and Walnut Ice Cream was luverly and the accompanying glass of PX was perfect as nothing else could have stood up. The sommelier advised us well generally.

A good restaurant, a good meal. Worth two stars? In the British context I'd say yes,although an altogether superior meal at the one star Winteringham Fields the next night showed that the latter doesn't have the recognition it deserves.

#612173 Michel Bras

Posted by Tuckerman on 29 July 2005 - 12:53 PM

Spectacularly situated on a hill surrounded by the beautiful rolling Aubrac countryside, the ambience of Bras alone has a huge wow factor. The moment when they rolled up the shades so that we could all watch the sunset was met with gasps and ripples of applause.

Yet there also something clinical and de-personalised about the restaurant. Maybe its because its modernity features clean, hard lines and surfaces. It lacks the warmth and intimacy of other restaurants, and although service was fine, I still sensed a little whiff of the production line approach.

"Wow- loads and loads of fresh vegetables", exclaimed Fahro as she grabbed my Gargouillou Classique from under my nose and snaffled it down, happily passing over her Terroir Menu starter of Tuna (from St Jean de Luz) and Fig Compote. But then: "they just can't resist can they", she opined, as she held up a piece of salty Jambon which had been buried under the pile of jeunes legumes.

Her menu also included Eel in a kind of Teriaki/Balsamic Sauce, a Cochon Torteau and pate-like a superior pork pie, but a bit salty and one note. The Aligot was outstanding, but as it was served after our main course Beef Aubrac dishes and everything we'd had before, neither of us could eat more than a mouthful or so of this very rich, filling dish.

I admired the clear way in which Bras is trying to express the local terroir, his determination to stay close to the earth, the singing freshness of the vegetables in the Gargouillou and in the garlic and butter oozing Haricots Verts that accompanied a beef dish, the flavour and quality of the beef etc. But there were faults. Some dishes were over salty for my taste. My Beef was served as a dun coloured lump. It needed charred caramelisation on the outside. Also I'm not a fan of very thin watery jus with meat. The beef was sitting in a truffle jus liquid in which truffle was undetectable and which just made the meat wet. The Aligot, as I said, was pointless served as the sixth course of a tasting menu. The yellow peach we had for one dessert, lacked all flavour and a replacement didn't have much more-a poor example of sticking close to local product. However another dessert of Cherries in an Olive Oil Cream was scrummy.

More hits than misses, but by no means the perfect meal I was hoping for. Need to return for a second round before making a definitve judgement

#611788 Lameloise

Posted by Tuckerman on 28 July 2005 - 03:35 PM

"You'll love Lameloise", Michel Troisgros told us while were telling him about our trip and where we were headed next. "It's fine cooking which stays close to its Burgundy roots"

And that sums it up. The place gives you the feeling of "old France", but the Burgundian cooking has been adapted to modern needs without losing its terroir links. For example: Escargots with the garlic and parsley butter was light on the butter and served not in the shells, but on pieces of roasted and then cross hatched grilled potato. Challans Duckling (this was the only restaurant to feature Duck and Chicken and also potato in various guises) was served with a sweet spiced sauce and Millefeuille of Potato. Fahro's Roasted Turbot (not sure how "Burgundian" Turbot is ) left the skin on (unlike Troisgros) and was served in a Chervil infused fish reduction and a bed of perfectly fresh vegetables. A hot Apple Tart served as a Tatin and as a small pudding with a lovely apple sorbet was simple but delicious and light. Lovely breads and amuses.

Exciting? Probably not in the sense that it wasn't a particularly radical meal. But it was just all so effing tasty. The wine list features excellent value Givrys and Mercureys and Rullys etc. Comfortable and old fashioned in the best sense of the term, and at about half the price of Troisgros and Bras, this is your provincial French restaurant par excellence. The sort of place Elizabeth David extolled and where you could go once a month and always emerge satisfied and content, if not thrilled.

Lovely stuff, the kind of restaurant that has always made rural France a pleasure to eat in.

#283426 Jean Georges

Posted by Tuckerman on 15 May 2004 - 11:59 AM

I must be easily pleased, or else on a roll, because , with the exception of one duff dish, we had a delightful "Tastes of Spring" lunch at Jean Georges yesterday.

Fahro was so excited at sitting a table away from lifetime hero Sidney Poitier that she could barely focus down on the menu Thiis comprises 17 "plates". You pay $24 dollars for two plates each miniumum and then each extra plate is $12 (with a couple of supplements). The menu makes no distinction between starters and mains. The waiter pointed out where one ended and the other began but in terms of portion size (small) it was hard to discern the difference.

If you've not been before it's a little tricky knowing how much to order. We went for three starters and three mains and one dessert plate, which is $8.

All the starters were superb. Egg Caviar is small egg (hen's? quail's? should have asked). Inside the egg has been lightly scrambled with cream. Sitting atop is a swirl of creme fraiche enlivened with a shot of vodka and sprinked with caviar, which imparts a lovely savoury saltiness to offset the creamy richness of the egg and creme.

Also fantastic was a Foie Gras Brulee with a Kumquat Confiture and Orange Liquer Gelee. The delicate caramelised crunch of the brulee was truly a thing of beauty. The dish was so rich and sweet it was almost like a dessert and so the small portion was about right,though at the time I wanted more.

The menu is shot through with tropical and citrus flavours-kunmquat, orange, passion fruit, mango, papaya-and then every now and again you get a classic French flavour-like the Chateau Chalon Sauce that accompanied Turbot-so creamy and winey you could have been in Burgundy

The only duff dish was the Caramelized Beef Tenderloin with Wild Leek Spatzel, Papaya, Ponzu Vinaigerette. This didn't work at all. The beef quality was way inferior to that we'd had at Peter Luger the previuous night, there was no evidence of caramelization on the meat and the citrussy sauce was too "wet" and just sour really-adding nothing to the meat.

Hoewver Poached Lobster with a Gewurtztraminer foam and lovely golden tapioca pearls made us happy as did the desserts and the chocolates and the fesh mint tea and the jar of colured cotton wool like marshmallows and the lovely light streaming into the room altering gradually as the afternoom wore on and, for Fahro at least, as did Sydney Poitier

#276964 Otto

Posted by Tuckerman on 13 May 2004 - 12:48 PM

After a light snack at Otto yesterday the admirable Wingding brought us out a selection of her amazing ice creams. Now here is a perfectionist. Caramel was perfectly balanced on that razor's edge between burnt/bitter and sweet- a "deep" gelato, as Wingding described it, and definitely one for the grown ups. As was, surprisingly, licorice gelato-not one to immediately appeal perhaps but no hint of allsorts here as it gave a new meaning to licorice flavour. Wingding explained exactly what type of strawberries worked best for strawberry flavour and then wowed us totally with her olive oil gelato, for which she uses an expensive specially imported oil which is both rich enough but light enough at the same time. The only slightly off note was hit by the avocado ice cream, which had a slightly too fatty, cloying mouthfeel, but Wingding admitted she's still working on that.

This was a truly great gastro experience-the finest ice cream I've ever tasted. I still feel excited by it. Wingding-you are an artist

#276824 Hearth

Posted by Tuckerman on 13 May 2004 - 11:46 AM

Six of us enjoyed an eclectic dinner at Hearth last night. This restaurant is modern without trying to be too new or fashionable. Service was attentive and friendly and the menu a varied mix of individual dishes which are original enough without being overly elaborate or ambitious.

We were able to try a good range of dishes after a pre-shot of hot yellow pepper soup. Various preparations of Tuna, Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad Vitello Tonnato, Beef Consomme, Rabbit Ballotine, Roasted Quail and Foie Gras Torchon give an idea of how the menu ranges around.

For mains Braised Veal Breast with Peas and Sweetbreads, Roasted Lamb Loin with Braised Ribs, Roasted Organic Chicken, Roasted Monkfish and Poached Halibut with Peas and Mussels were all enjoyed, along with sides of crispy, salty Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, though in truth we were all jabbering away so much we weren't focusing down on the food much

And maybe that's a criticism. The food was pleasant, no MORE than pleasant, it was good-but not good enough to force itself upon us-to make us stop our yaddering and go "Wow. This is GOOD!"

However a genuine criticism was the cheese plate. A measly portion was offered up for six and, despite a complaint, no more was forthcoming. I didn't particularly mind as I've long ceased being a fan of cheese courses, bit apart from the portion the cheeses weren't in good nick, and it was a failure of a course, really.

It may be slightly unfair because this restaurant is not aimng for the standard of Craft, Bouley, Daniel. Nor is it charging their prices. So I'm really stating the obvious when I say that it was a noticeable step down in quality from those places, but that clearly doesn't deter customers because the place was packed.

I was flagging somewhat come desert time. Walking around in this almost tropical heat was beginning to catch up with me (note to myself-must do less walking. Its affecting my eating) However I gamely soldiered on managed some slightly heavy apple glazed dougnuts and a goodly mouthful of Coconut Souffle with Chocolate Sauce with a glass of I-have-no-recall-whatsoever dessert wine.

Thanks to all for another terrific evening . I barely recognized Wilfred, he's lost so much weight. And he wasn't dressed up like Beau Brummel either. Great to meet Melonious Thunk and Stefany for the first time, and thanks to Omnivorette for getting the ordering together.

#271360 Daniel

Posted by Tuckerman on 11 May 2004 - 12:18 PM

I was surprised by the sheer grandness of Daniel-like an old fashioned luxury hotel dinner and dance dining room-lots of red plush, massive floral displays, huge paintings and mirrors and an army of besuited serving staff gliding and swirling wherever you look. I half expected the Edmundo Ross orchestra to pipe up any minute and invite us to take a twirl on the (non-existent ) dance floor.

The menu is $88 for three courses but with lots of supplements, which irked me. I mean if you're going to have a fixed price why unfix it with every other dish? Why not just price dishes individually? Ultimately it becomes like a ploy to ensure you order three courses.

Starters had excellent primary ingredients Fahro continued her love affair with scallops which came with a porcini, kale and black truffle based sauce. Lovely scallops but not much hint of truffle. My single Langoustine ($15 supplement if you please) was sweet and rich, but the advertized Ginger and Almond Crust was again so tentative with the ginger as to render it virtually undetectable. However surrounding the Langoustine was a Pea Soup (Scottish Langoustine, English Peas. I should have worn my Union Jack tee-shirt) which was none other than a play on peas, with sweet peas, a pea foam, little whole and split peas. If you like peas this was a fun dish.

Then came my dish of the trip so far Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine with Sauteed Porcini Scallion Mashed Potatoes and Early Spring Green Fricasee. Wow! The meat had been cooked gently for hours and had become infused with all the flavours of wine and porcini to a dark caramelised glaze. It had held together but with just the right degree of resistance when you cut it-like butter at the perfect temperature. It was deeply satisfying and beautiful tasting dish

Fahro's quartet of Baby Lamb with the usual olive and aubergeine and tomato concasse thing had lovely meat, but I'm not the greatest fan of this Provencal tratment of Lamb (wot no Mint Sauce?) but it was a good example of the genre.

Then another great dish-Hot Chocolate Upside Down Souflle with Cafe Brulot (?) Ice Cream. I know the hot chocoate cup cake with molten choc inside is commonplace now,but it was no less perfectly executed and scrummy for that. The molten chocolate was HOT, as it should be. Warm Griotte (?) Cherries Ceylon-Cinnamon Ile Flottante and a Pistachio Emulsion was fine. but again very tentative, this time with the Pistachio.

Despite one or two gripes there was a lot that was superb about this meal, enough to ensure that we left happy and satisfied, floating down Lexington-pleased to be in NYC