Archive for the ‘Award Winners’ Category

NO EXPERT ANNUAL AWARDS 2011

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

 

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Best of the best

and the winner for BEST FOOD is

The Ritz

See post:-

The Ritz – getting past The Glitz

 

Runners up – Providores and Chez Bruce

 


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Worst of the worst

 

and the winner for WORST FOOD is

Apsleys

See post :-

Apsleys at the Lanesborough – Where Taste Fails

 

and the winner for MOST DISAPPOINTING FOOD is

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

See post:-

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Simmer down and reduce your expectations

 

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Other Awards

Best Bread – The Modern Pantry

See post:-

The Modern Pantry – Food Fusion

NO EXPERT ANNUAL AWARDS FOR 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

 

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Best of the best

 

and the Northern Hemisphere winner for BEST FOOD is

The Ledbury

See posts:-

The Ledbury – embarassing leaks

 

Runner up – Chez Bruce

 

and the Southern Hemisphere winner for BEST FOOD is

Tetsuya’s -  Sydney

See post:-

Tetsuya’s – Its a knockout

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Worst of the worst

 

and the winner for WORST FOOD is

Dog & Fox  – Wimbledon Village

See post :-

Dog & Fox – less is more

Runners up –

Altitude 360

Menier Chocolate Factory

 

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Worst of the worst

 

 

and the winner for MOST DISAPPOINTING FOOD is

Murano’s – London

See post:-

Murano – oh dear!

Runner up – Tom Aikens

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For information on the other awards, see

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No Expert Annual Awards for 2010 – Other Categories

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Best Starter of the Year

  • Gravadlax and beetroot club sandwich with herring salade lyonaise and horseradish : Chez Bruce

Best Main Course of the Year

  • Skate Poached in Brown Butter with Truffle Puree, Cauliflower, Parmesan Gnocchi and Sea Vegetables : The Ledbury.

Best Dessert – 2 winners

  • Passion Fruit Souffle with Sauterne Ice cream : The Ledbury.
  • Raspberries/vinegar and quark Ice cream/vinaigrette – or RED as it was called on the menu : Moments in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (Barcelona).

Worst Dessert- 2 winners

  • Peanut butter crumble with caramelized bananas – Muranos : A boring, unattractive dessert (one of these occasions where it would help to have a peanut allergy, so as to avoid accidentally ordering it).
  • Strawberry shortcake at the Blueprint Cafe : Not my idea of shortcake. It was  more like oatcake, with cream and strawberries, basically rather dull.

Best Service

  • Foliage, Mandarin Oriental Hotel (London) - closely followed by Moments in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (Barcelona).

Worst Service

  • Tetsuya’s (Sydney)more for the handling of an incident rather than overall service. Saying sorry always helps. See Tetsuya’s – It’s a knockout for details.

Best Bread

Best Brunch

Most disappointing - Places where the hype was  really out of step with our experience.

Best value for money - 3 winners here

  • The Landmark : Champagne brunch in the Winter Garden – SERIOUSLY. I know  it is expensive but you more than get your money’s worth, fabulous selection of food and unlimited champagne.
  • Coq d’Argent : A Top Table deal of £19 for 3 courses that included escargot and venison.
  • The Atheneaum : Another Top Table deal, a Christmas menu providing 2 substantial courses for £24.50 or 3 for £29.50 – with coffee and mince pies and a glass of “really good” champagne.

Worst value for money

  • The Blueprint Cafe – even with a couple of courses free (using Top Table points), it was still far too expensive for the food quality delivered.

The £21 Fish & Chips at The Mayflower Inn, might have won this award, but since the price stopped us even trying that dish, I can not judge. However I still do not believe any Pub should get away with charging £21 for Fish & Chips.

Best View

The Ledbury – embarassing leaks

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Lunch at The Ledbury was always going to be an occasion. The food is superb.  I simply could not fault any of the dishes I chose from their Sunday Lunch menu.  Indeed it was one of these occasions where I really wanted to try nearly all the dishes on the menu.  Fortunately I was part of a large enough group to be able to order a range of different dishes. There were no dissenting voices at all, every one loved the food.  Only one thing went wrong during the lunch, which impacted on the table next to ours.  Water started coming through the ceiling from the room above,  I guess a burst pipe due to the cold weather. Nothing much the restaurant could do except, put a bowl on the table, call the plumber and move the guests to another table.  However it must have been very embarrassing for the staff, as the guests concerned included Martin Scorsese, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher who certainly did not seem to particularly want to draw attention to themselves. Something that is hard to do when you have to stand up to avoid being splashed!

However when the food is this good, you do not let little things like plumbing problems get in the way, so back to the food.

My starter was the Flamed Grilled Mackerel with Smoked Eel, Tokyo Turnips and Celtic Mustard, it was a great choice. The Mackerel had so much flavour, it was really fresh and just melted in my mouth. The portion was quite substantial for a starter, but despite that I could easily have had seconds.

I was also tempted by the Ceviche of Hand Dived Scallops with Seaweed and Herb Dill Kohlrabi and Frozen Horseradish which one of my companions ordered. Visually it did not look as good, but I was told it was delicious, if a little light and summery for a winter menu.

For my main course I choose fish again. The Skate Poached in Brown Butter with Truffle Puree, Cauliflower, Parmesan Gnocchi and Sea Vegetables. This has to be my dish of the year. It was just so moreish. The Skate was perfect and the Parmesan Gnocchi reminded me so much of another favorite, the Gnocchi dish I had at The Foliage.

For dessert I ordered the Brown Sugar Tart with Muscat Grapes and Stem Ginger Ice Cream, which was matched with a surprisingly fruity Pedro Ximenez sherry from Barossa Valley in Australia, it was very different from the Spanish ones I have had in the past.  The tart was very light and the ice cream was very subtle.  The dessert highlight however had to be the Passion Fruit Souffle with Sauterne Icecream, which was large enough for us all to try  – a perfect Souffle.

Marks out of 10

Food 8.6

Service 7.4

Ambience 8

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION

Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – London, UK

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Tetsuya’s – It’s a knockout!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
A post from No Experts Australian Correspondent

I have to confess Tetsuya’s has been very high on my list of restaurants to visit since our move down under. Despite losing a “hat” recently, it remains the most notoriously difficult restaurant in Sydney to bag a table at. Think Fat Duck, at the height of it’s fame and you’ll be  getting close! Waiting lists currently exceed 3 months.

The restaurant itself is tucked away on Kent St,  behind an extremely industrial looking grey wall and electronic gates. On entry, however one is greeted by a beautiful Japanese Garden and Villa. The steps up to the entrance are pretty intimidating, and one could be forgiven for thinking one was braving the domain of a noble Samurai Lord. Entrance to this exclusive domain is the privilege of few.

Our entry, on this occasion, was to attend The New South Wales Wine Awards Dinner, part of the Sydney International Food Festival, hosted by “Tets” himself (why do the Aussies have to shorten everything?) and  Huon Hooke, the Sydney Morning Herald’s wine critic. We were certainly in for a treat.  Hosted in the Private Dining Room, we were a little disappointed that we would miss the views of the garden that diners downstairs enjoy, however we were not to be disappointed in the food! We were greeted with a Glass of Centennial Sparkling and settled in to meet and chat to our fellow diners.

Our 13 course dinner was absolutely incredible,  and I am at a complete loss as to where to start.  Chilled Cucumber soup with sheep’s curd ice cream was deliciously refreshing, somewhat overwhelming the poor Pokolbin Estate Riesling that really didn’t have a chance. Sashimi of Kingfish with Black Bean and orange, was an exquisite dish, the citrus from the orange beautifully counter balancing the black bean.  Our surprise dish of “Just like Oysters”, turned out to be a shaving of scallop, with seaweed and foie gras, which with the metallic zinc seaweed tasted “just like oysters” but finished with an amazing rich finish from the foie gras! Delicious!

The NSW wine of the year, Tempus  Two’s Copper Zenith Semillon From 2003  turned out to be a revelation. It had a kerosene like nose typical of Semillon, but with layers and layers of complexity. It went surprisingly well with Marinated Scampi, Avocado, and caviar. Having been to this winery on a visit to the Hunter Valley, I was extremely unimpressed with their wines, and the poor knowledge of the staff at the Cellar door. The winery is located in one of the most stunning winery buildings I have ever seen, but all style and no substance does not  impress me! Earlier in the evening I had been fairly vocal about my disbelief that Tempus Two could actually produce a decent wine, only to discover that Scott Comyns the wine maker was at the table next to us! Oops! My embarrassing moment didn’t last long, and Scott proved to be a nice guy, who was delighted to have proved that his winery can produce a decent drop!

Tetsuya’s signature dish of Confit Ocean Trout followed. The accompaniments  to this dish are varied by season, and while the apple complemented the fish superbly, I found the flavours of the celery a little bitter.  Every dish was brilliant, and it is almost impossible to pick fault. The nuttiness of the grilled artichoke with the barramundi matched well with our wooded Chardonnay. Braised oxtail  just melted in the mouth,  the sea cucumber that accompanied this dish was an interesting experience for someone who had never before tasted this delicacy.  I found it rather bland, although the texture contrasted nicely with the softness of the Braised oxtail, making this one of my favourite dishes of the night.

I could wax lyrical for hours on how wonderfully exquisite and beautifully delicate each dish was. However I am conscious that a blow by blow account of 13 courses will  probably have your eye’s glazing over! The food at Tetsuya’s is simply world class. So how indeed did they lose a GFG Hat?  I was absolutely perplexed as to how this amazing restaurant could possibly be deemed unworthy of 3 GFG Hats?  The answer lay  half way through this meal,  when I was elbowed in the temple by a waitress. No apologies at all from this young lady!  In response to my discomfort, she retorted with a sarcastic “would you like an ice pack for that madam?” An hour later, with my head still ringing from the blow I’d received, I was beginning to wish I’d accepted that offer!  Quite shocking in a restaurant where other than this one incident,  the service was superbly courteous and friendly.

In summary then, the food at Tetsuya’s is an absolute knock out, that is providing the staff don’t knock you out first. Despite my bad experience with one waitress, I would not hesitate to return. Simply, despite the blow to the head, this probably is the top dining experience of my life.  If there’s one restaurant that’s worth flying across the world for, then Tetsuya’s is it.

Marks out of 10

Food  9.2

Service  6.9 (Should rate a high 8 really)

Ambience  9.0

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :-NoExpert Food Blog – NSW, Australia

NO EXPERT ANNUAL AWARDS FOR 2009

Friday, January 1st, 2010

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Best of the bestnoexpert_awards_best_2009_100

and the INTERNATIONAL winner for BEST FOOD is

Comerç 24 – Barcelona

See posts:-

noexpert_awards_best_2009_100

and the BRITISH winner for BEST FOOD is

The Kitchin – Edinburgh

See posts:-

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Best of the best

noexpert_awards_best_2009_100

and a special award for SERVICES TO GASTRONOMY

Foliage - London

See posts:-

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Worst of the worst

noexpert_awards_worst_2009_100

and the winner for WORST FOOD is

Harveys Fish Market, Oyster Bar & Restaurant – Ramsgate

See posts:-

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Worst of the worst

noexpert_awards_worst_2009_100

and the winner for MOST DISAPPOINTING FOOD is

Hibiscus – London

See post:-

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For information on the other awards, see

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NO EXPERT ANNUAL AWARDS FOR 2009 – Other Categories

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Best Service

1. The Foliage – London.

2. Number One at The Balmoral - Edinburgh.

3. du Parc des Eaux Vives – Geneva.

Worst Service

1. Craft – New York. Choking man at next table ignored.

2. Abobe - Canterbury. Dinning room empty of staff on more than one occasion, forgetful waiter, customer repeatly having to shut the door to keep out the draft.

3. Benares – London. Guests having to  make a real  effort to attract the waiters attention.

Funniest excuse for bad service

“I am so sorry, but your wine order did not get to me” from the waiter who took the order : Abobe – Canterbury.

Fastest Napkin folding time

1. Craft - New York.  All they were good at, unfortunately.

2. The Foliage – London.

3. San Pau – Spain. They don’t fold them they bring you a new one on a silver tray!.

Best Bread

1. Number One at The Balmoral - Edinburgh

2. Tom Aikens – London.

3. du Parc des Eaux Vives – Geneva.  Formally number 1, but they no longer do the seaweed bread.

Best Dessert

1. Tom Aikens – London. Prune delight.

2. Semproniana -  Barcelona. White chocolate infantile.

3. RSJ – London.  Poached pear and Perkin ice cream.

The Portrait Restaurants Peanut Butter Cheese Cake would have been up here too, if they had not taken it off the menu.  Hate when that happens :-(

Worst Dessert

1. Harveys – Ramsgate.

2. Abobe - Canterbury.

3. Alkima – Barcelona.

Most disappointing - Places where the hype was  really out of step with our experience.

1. Hibiscus – London.

2. Harveys – Ramsgate.

3. Alfie’s – London.

4. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley – London.

Best value for money

1. Bistro de I’Hotel de Ville – Vevey.

2. The Foliage – London. Fixed price lunch.

3. Tram Tram – Barcelona.

Worst value for money

1. Hibiscus – London.

2. Abobe - Canterbury.

3. Harveys – Ramsgate.

Best View

30|40 at the Gerkin – London.

Best for Afternoon Tea

1. The Berkeley, Pret a Portea – London.

2. The Athenaeum – London.

Best Advertizing Video

Eleven Madison Park – New York.

Best Web site for a Restaurant

1. Eleven Madison Park – New York. Simple to navigate, easy to book, stylish with very appetising pictures.

2. Cinc Sentits – Barcelona. Stylish, easy to find key information, good on-line booking facilities.

3. Per Se – New York. Provides a lot of information, uses a simple format.

Worse Web site for a Restaurant

1. Sketch – London. A complete nightmare to navigate. What were they thinking when they choose this?.  A good design is one that is both stylish and practical, this one is just downright silly.

2. El Celler De Can Roca – Girona. Another navigational nightmare, although not in the same class as Sketch.

3. Mugaritz – San Sebastian. You have to put your cursor over flying images to see tooltips and access key parts of the site. Not very practical at all.

For an interesting artical on this subject see:-

Most pretentious, but in a bad way!

1. Beau Rivage Palace (La Rotonde) – Lausanne.  This restaurant fortunately is gone, its been replaced by Anne-Sophie Pic’s new restaurant.

2. La Dama – Barcelona. See also the La Dama entry in the post :-  Worst of the Worst .

See also :-

The Kitchin – Sunshine (& Snow) on Leith

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

We had watched Tom Kitchin on BBC’s  Great British Menu and admired his ability to follow the brief and not merely repeat his normal repertoire.  So it was with some anticipation that we made our way to a beautiful snowy yet sunny Leith. After our visit to Number One at The Balmoral the ambience was disappointing in comparison but then again not every restaurant can be located in a 5 star hotel.  The Kitchin is a more modern colder affair located in a converted warehouse. However all was not lost, as course after course we were treated to some of the best food we had experienced this year with perfectly matched wine.

Again the highlight of this meal was the Monkfish, specifically Monkfish tail wrapped in pancetta with an amazing broccoli puree and pumpkin gnocchi.

The service was excellent and if we were ever in Edinburgh this would be one restaurant that we would happily visit regularly. If was also nice to see that even on a day so close to the Xmas holiday Tom was busy in the kitchen.

Marks out of 10

Food 8.6

Service 8

Ambience 6.5

The Kitchin on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – Scotland, UK

Comerç 24 – we want you to be happy!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Comerç 24 will never win awards for its service I suspect, based on our experience (the exception being the sommelier, who is one of the best). I know it must be boring to repeat the same menu options and descriptions of food all day long but most good restaurants manage it. It was bewildering to watch the waiter describe in detail the food on our plates for every course while gazing out the window.

On the food front however its exceptional. It began as before with a selection of olive oils of varying strengths and bread, an olive stuffed with anchovy, golden macadamia nuts and a Parmesan cheese straw. If anything these were the weaker elements in the meal before it really got started.

The Cod ice-cream and Tuna tartare being real standouts.

We had just finished commenting on Comerc 24 food – stating that it was never just good, it was always either “very good” or “sublime”, then came a course I did not enjoy (the steak and strawberries). I left most of it, and got a reaction that really showed just how much Comerc 24 do care about the customer experience.  When the waiter saw I had not finished the course he asked if there was any problems, when I said I had not really enjoyed it, he immediately insisted that I have a replacement, as quote “we want you to be happy”. The replacement course was delicious and delivered with apologies from the waiter, the sommelier and the restaurant manager!

For all its small flaws this is one restaurant we hope to return to.

Marks out of 10

Food 8.7

Service 7.5

Ambience 7

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – Barcelona, Spain

Farewell to Chris Staines @ the Foliage

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Had my last meal at my favourite London restaurant the Foliage with Chris Staines as Head Chef. Chris was in the last week of his 3 months notice before he moves onto pastures new. Heston Blumenthal will open up his first London restaurant in its place in the Mandarin Oriental in a  years time.

What amazed me was that even in his last week Chris was producing simply breathtakingly stunning dishes…Respect.

Over the years I’ve  had some fantastic meals at the Foliage. In fact I use it as a benchmark to judge every other restaurant I visit. The service there is exceptional and the way Chris uses flavour and texture is the mark of a true artist. I suspect that the much larger replacement restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental will not live up to the high standard set by Chris or indeed Heston at the Fat Duck.

So many celebrity chefs are going down the “franchise” route, with disastrous results. The Abode chain (Micheal Caines) being a prime example and don’t get me started on how awful Harveys is (John Burton Race).

I’d like to thank Chris and his team at the Foliage for giving us many memorable meals (It was my experience of eating at the Foliage that got me interested in food) and to wish him the very best for the future. I just wish he was staying in London as his talent will be sorely missed.

Marks out of 10

Food 8

Service 9

Ambience 7

LOCATION INFORMATION

Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – London, UK

UPDATE : Chris Staines is now Head Chef at the Allium Brasserie in Bath.

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Comerç 24 – restoring faith in Molecular gastronomy

Monday, May 11th, 2009

This 1 star Michelin is something of a Barcelona gem. Its much more experimental and adventurous in its cooking than most. At the beginning of the meal we were presented with a rack of 4 olive oil bottles to try with the bread. Gold leaf coated Macadamia nuts inside a Sardine tin prepare you for a meal that is not traditional by any measure. One particularly memorable course was the soup. Six tiny flavoured  egg yokes suspended in the soup. When eaten they pop and melt over your tongue. A wonderful effect.

I was going off the idea of going to elBulli in this life time, considering it seems impossible to get a reservation, thinking that perhaps its a bit too out there, but my experience at Comerç 24 made me think there might be something to this Molecular gastronomy after all, so if you can not get to elBulli, Comerç 24 might be a more acceptable alternative.

Marks out of 10

Food 8.5

Service 6 – ( Sommelier 8 )

Ambience 5

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – Barcelona, Spain