Archive for June, 2008

Ambassade de l’Ile (The Return), London

I know what you must be thinking: “Another ‘return’? Again, Food Snob? But we want to hear about different places, not the same ones over and over again.” Well, settle down readers, I agree; of course I too want to try new restaurants, but exceptions are acceptable and do sometimes seriously pay off…
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Le Gavroche, London

The Le Gavroche. That is not an error that is emphasis. Londoners owe It a debt of gratitude. A huge debt. Before Its arrival, fine dining did not exist in the city. Eating well was not a priority/desire/care; ‘we knew nothing of the British indifference to food because we had only ever cooked for the rich,’ Albert Roux has admitted. It was the sixties and Albert and younger brother Michel, already in London as personal chefs to the Cazelet and Rothschild families respectively, saw their opportunity. With their former employers turned patrons, Le Gavroche was established in 1967 and It changed everything.
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St. John (The Return), London

Whilst reflecting on the previous evening’s meal at St. John, embellishing on the notes I had made mid-mouthful, it came to my attention that I had not left a tip when settling the bill. I must admit, having idly inured to seeing that now-standard syntax, 12.5%-discretionary-service-charge-included, so often, when it came to paying, I literally did not give the gratuity a single thought. An honest mistake, n’est-ce pas? Well, it was a mistake that would return to haunt me that very day…
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St. John, London

St. John

I must be spending far too much time in Chowhound chat rooms; a post from the esteemed Hermano Primero, of Dos Hermanos. kindly informing Chowhounds that St. John would be closing from late June until late August for “a much needed programme of refurbishment and maintenance” was all it took for me to immediately book a table for ‘final week’.

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Ambassade de l’Ile, London

Some heated conversation on the chowhound boards piqued my interest: Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex, the 2* Michelin chef/owner of Auberge de l’Ile, Lyon was opening a new restaurant in Knightsbridge. A little research uncovered that, from mid-June until July, there would be a soft opening on. When I discovered the 25% discount offered over this period, I immediately made reservations for what turned out to be opening night.

Ambassade de l'Ile - InteriorAmbassade de l'Ile - Interior 2Ambassade de l'Ile - Interior 3
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Bacchus, London

Bacchus

Carbonation, emulsification, oil spherification, vacuum distillation…alright, settle down, I am not reviewing el Bulli, it’s not Fat Duck either (well, this week anyway), but of course you already know this from the post heading. Yes, it is Bacchus of Hoxton. Of where? Of Hoxton. You would be forgiven for not having heard of it before; it is a pretty miserable, impoverished and ugly area just north of the City, so miserable, impoverished and ugly in fact, it is rather trendy. Actually, it is not all bad; Hoxton did give the world the Kray twins, Lenny McLean (actor, bouncer, bare-knuckle boxer and ‘hardest man in Britain’) and Jamie Oliver. Well, OK…maybe it is that bad.
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Club Gascon, London

The menu here, although characteristic of the rich and hearty cuisine of Gascony, features classic dishes interlaced with modern and exotic twists, for example, confit of organic salmon, violet tea & citrus chutney and asparagus coulis, eucalyptus jelly & baby lobster. Furthermore, it is difficult to find a review not written in overwhelming praise; the inventiveness and skill of Pascal Aussignac (previously of Guy Savoy and Carré des Feuillants) is lauded and the foie gras dishes branded the best London has to offer.
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