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2015 Dining highlights and lowlights

2015 Dining highlights and lowlights

Old Dec 4, 15, 5:38 am
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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2015 Dining highlights and lowlights

We haven't had a "Best of" dining thread for awhile, so thought I'd start one for 2015 based on the commentary in the Michelin thread. Other than an upcoming reservation at Hakkasan Mayfair, my traipsing around London is pretty much done for the year. Here is the nickel tour of my impressions of the more highly rated restaurants I visited, in no particular order.

*Restaurant Story (London)

Overall experience: Outstanding, aside from the dripping beef fat candle. This is one gimmick I simply don’t understand.
Service: Rapid fire from heavily accented wait staff, but very prompt.
Stand out dishes: Fallow deer cooked four ways, with cauliflower and yeast puree; frosted beet root and cranberries

Nobu (Malibu)

Overall experience: Outstanding food, great ambience, only marred by poor service.
Service: In a word, awful. As non-celebrities, we were warned to expect that, though.
Stand out dishes: The signature Black cod with miso, yellow tail with jalapenos

***Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (London)

Overall experience: Outstanding food, marred by over-bearing service.
Service: So over-bearing and over the top I remember less about this meal than almost any other during the course of the entire year. If I had sneezed they would have held the towel for me. Wait staff were having a very bad evening.
Stand out dishes: Sauteed foie gras with sweetbreads; Cotwolds lamb

**The Ledbury (London)

Overall experience: Fabulous from beginning to end. One of my best dining experiences of the year.
Service: Excellent. The wait staff were prompt, affable, easy to understand and just a joy to interact with.
Stand out dishes: Chantilly of oyster, Tartare of Sea Bream and Frozen English Wasabi; Herdwick lamb with salt-baked Kohlrabi; Brown sugar tart with stem ginger ice cream

The Five Fields (London)

Overall experience: Some of the most artistically presented dishes I’ve ever seen. The food quality was outstanding, but I felt the wine-pairings were off the mark. When I inquired they stated that the intention is to serve ‘challenging’ wines. Fair enough, but please challenge me in a good way. The first time I’ve ever objected to a wine pairing, and I drink pretty much everything.
Service: Excellent, easy to understand, interactive.
Stand out dishes: Herdwick mutton, Courgette, pistachio and rhubarb. I wasn’t crazy about the signature “Snails and Morels” dish.

The Typing Room (London)

Overall experience: Much better than the over-rated Viajante, which used to occupy the same space in the Town Hall hotel. Probably the most food I had in a tasting menu all year. I couldn’t even finish the last course – that is the first and last time that has ever happened to me.
Service: On point. Many questions about why I was dining there, where else I have eaten, my thoughts. Very interactive
Stand out dishes: Stone bass with mussel and spice, and the fabulous yeasted cauliflower with raisins, capers, and mint. Chef Westcott’s recipe for this is here: http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/rec...iflower-recipe, if anyone is adventurous enough to try it. I wanted to, but it is beyond my ability. I can, however, now make a very tasty cauliflower puree.

*Texture (London)

Overall experience: Outstanding value for lunch.
Service: Very polished and interactive. The front of house manager constantly circulates and is a great ambassador for this restaurant. His pride in the restaurant is unmistakable.
Stand out dishes: English beet roots with frosted goat’s cheese snow (this one is replicable at home without too much trouble) and dessert of frosted rhubarb granita with granola honey ice cream. One of the best desserts all year – eight months later and I’m still thinking about it.

**The Greenhouse (London)

Overall experience: Very dark interior, quiet, lot of whispering going on. Probably would be a great place to take a very hungry mistress. Most of the food was outstanding with one or two misses. Foie gras with popcorn, in a two star restaurant? And I thought being served pizza at the three star Le Calandre was tacky. This is one of only two restaurants I ate at this year that I would probably not return.
Service: As a solo diner, I believe they gave me the most junior, most difficult to understand waiter. Very irritating.
Food: Mixed. Aside from the foie gras debacle there were two other misses: “Winter Truffle” was black truffle over potato puree and egg yolk - it was so slimy I simply couldn’t get it down. Turbot was covered in hollandaise when, in my opinion, it would have been much better with simply some salt and lemon.
Stand out dishes: Lobster with grapefruit and tarragon; scallops with cucumber and dill.

*Ente (Wiesbaden, Germany)

Overall experience: Great food with the best wine-pairing I’ve ever had. They brought out bottles from the mid 80’s and early 90’s that simply blew me away. Odd to have such a wonderful experience in an otherwise deserted restaurant – I was the only one there during my entire 2.5 hour meal.
Service: As I was the only one there I was a rock star for the evening.
Stand out dishes: Canadian lobster poached with orange butter, and a coconut milk curry; Challon duck with celery and saffron.

*Dabbous (London)

Overall experience: Left the restaurant thinking, are you kidding me? Easily my worst dining experience ever at a Michelin star restaurant. I looked around for cameras, but apparently I wasn’t being punked.
Service: Pathetic. It is difficult for wait staff to serve tables when they are busy flirting with each other. I so wished I could have witnessed a “Madam! I’m done with you! GET OUT” moment. They both deserved to be booted from the establishment.
Stand out dishes: Bubblegum ice cream, but in a bad way. Easily the worst dessert I’ve ever been served. My seven year old would have probably loved it, though.

*Pollen Street Social (London)

Overall experience: Amazing. I would have licked my plate if I could have gotten away with it. This was a very tough ticket, by the way. I got so tired of failing to get a reservation I finally came without one and begged them for a table, and they accommodated me. One of my best meals of the year.
Service: Outstanding. No issues whatsoever.
Stand out dishes: Jerusalem artichoke soup with seared Orkney scallops; breast of pheasant with dates and carrots.
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