Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Ramsay’

Maze – constrained by design

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Maze has a very specific dining style. It focuses on smaller tasting sized dishes. It is definitely not a place to visit for a hearty lunch.

We chose from the 4 course set menu, going for 3 savory dishes and 1 dessert along with a flight of wine.  I remember enjoying the flights from an earlier visit, they work well in that they consist of one white, one red and one dessert wine. They were very good wines of the sort that would work well with most food selections, rather than being specifically matched to individual dishes.

One of the constraints we found at Maze was that the dishes were delivered in the order of the menu, which means you can find yourself starting with a meat dish and finishing with a fish dish. Another constraint is that the set menu is not very extensive, so even when it is just two people dining, you can not avoid having duplicate dishes. They are just served in a different order, as you can see from our example:-

1st diner had:

Course 1 – Pressed confit duck and foie gras, Waldorf salad

Course 2 – Braised veal shin, rocket pesto, white onion risotto

Course 3 – Loch Duart salmon, fondue of leek, vinaigrette of brown shrimps, horseradish

2nd diner had:

Course 1 – Braised veal shin, rocket pesto, white onion risotto

Course 2 – Loch Duart salmon, fondue of leek, vinaigrette of brown shrimps, horseradish

Course 3 – Szechuan-spiced Suffolk pork belly, chilli apple purée, bok choy

I have to admit that I found it a bit strange to be eating a dish that my companion was about to have as his next course. It did mean though that we could be in 100% agreement on the standout dish – the rather stunning Loch Duart salmon, with its wonderful flavour and texture combinations.

For dessert we both chose the attractively presented Hazelnut parfait, cherry sorbet and griotte cherries.

Alex Marks formally of the Foliage is head chef here now following Jason Athertons departure to open his own restaurant (Pollen Street Social) and we had hoped that perhaps Alex would bring in some of the artistic and culinary style we experienced at the Foliage. He was not in the kitchen on our visit, but it did rather seem as though the concept of Maze would perhaps be a bit too restrictive to allow that.

However despite the constraints and dainty portions, I have to say we did rather enjoy our lunch at Maze.

Marks out of 10

Food 7.1

Service 6.3

Ambience 6.5

Maze on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

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Harveys Fish Market, Oyster Bar & Restaurant – still not the plaice to go!

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Harveys of Ramsgate now has an AA Rosette and a change of chef (or so we were told).  We thought we would give it a second chance, and see if our opinion of it differs now from our last rather damming post.

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Harveys Fish Market, Oyster Bar & Restaurant

We ordered the fixed price ‘grazing menu’, (which had a very limited fish selection)  2 courses for £12 (this certainly sounded like a bargain),  and a couple of glasses of pretty good wine. We also ordered a portion of their own baked bread which was okay. The starters arrived. Things were looking up as the presentation appeared to be not too bad. My salmon and beetroot with micro greens actually had flavour. Unbalanced but flavour none the less. My companion went for the butternut squash risotto. It also looked good but turned out to be completely lacking in flavour, basically just stodge ….oh dear as we were ready to amend our opinion and eat humble pie.

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My main course arrived. Apparently this was a ‘belly of pork’. Well it was like no cut of meat I had ever seen. It looked more like a cross section of spinal column (more cartilage than belly!). Only one word came to mind during this course and that I’m afraid was ‘Repulsive’.

Belly of Pork!

Belly of Pork!

My companions Plaice looked like it had been bitten by a Shark!. It was also over cooked.

Plaice and Potato salad

Plaice and Potato salad

When asked if we wanted dessert or coffee we decided to pass and left the restaurant as hungry as we went in.

Instead we had pancakes at Miles Cafe Culture – a genuinely buzzy and quality establishment.

Pancakes at Miles

Pancakes at Miles Cafe Culture

Our visit to Harveys was on a Saturday at lunchtime, only two other tables were occupied, so for ambience we had some background music and a baby crying in the corner. We were also a bit surprised that the fish slab was not  in use, to let us see what fresh fish was on offer.

We passed by again in the evening, on the way to Age & Sons, and noticed that the restaurant was barely half full. Which was interesting when compared to the completely full Age & Sons, which attracts exactly the type of clientel that Harveys are trying to target.

How the AA could award Harveys with “The only AA Rosette in Thanet” is beyond me. There are more deserving restaurants in Thanet, such as Age & Sons. It was also disconcerting to read the description of Harveys in toptable, it used words like “steller seafood” and intimated that Celebrity Chef John Burton Race was involved in the cooking. I am pretty sure he is not.

After two visits now, our conclusion was that Harveys would be an ideal candidate for another Celebrity Chefs TV show – Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

It’s great that so much money has been invested in Ramsgate, which does really need a good fish restaurant. We just don’t feel the investment has  been made in the kitchen where it really counts. It’s also good to know we are not alone in our views, as I have spotted a couple of reviews now that use words like “Dire” to describe the food in Harveys. So unless there are some major changes here, Harveys can relax as we won’t be reviewing them again.

UPDATE – November 2009 : Just read Jay Rayners recent review for the Observer, spot on. He was also brave enough to try the Oysters!

UPDATE – July 2010 : See picture below, this is amazing. It looks like they are actually using the negative review in The Observer to market the restaurant.

UPDATE – October 2010 : About time!  Harveys is finally closed – RIP please! For more information see post from Isle One.

Harvey's Fish Market & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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Marcus Wareing…a bit thin?

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

This was my first visit to The Berkeley to experience the 2 star Michelin cooking of Marcus Wareing. A chef that many critics believe to be eclipsing the cooking of his former boss Gordon Ramsay. I must say the room was very impressive. Unfortunately the cooking didn’t live up to expectations. I did get the chance to try the famous custard tart. It was certainly an amazing texture. It was so light that it seemed to defy the laws of physics. You’d  think it would collapse under its own weight.  I didn’t think the taste was that great however so overall was not that impressed.

This restaurant is currently number 52 on the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list and has 5 AA Rosettes.

Marks out of 10

Food 6

Service 6

Ambience 8

LOCATION INFORMATION
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El Celler De Can Roca – numbers do lie!

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list rates El Celler De Can Roca as number 5, not that the place is bad, far from it. It is just that I haven’t been to all the best restaurants in the world yet, and this one already is not in my top 5.  Actually I should have know better than trust this list, as last year I visited number 11 L’Astrance in Paris, again not bad – but not really worth in my view the acolades it receives. Plus this year Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea did not even make the top 100, and that is most definately in my top 10.

El Celler De Can Roca is out in the suburbs of Girona, so about 1 hour on the train from Barcelona, then a 10-15 minute taxi ride.  It is a very stylish venue, and they had some nice touches, the one I especially approved off, was the complimentary Cava and water (not that we did not really pay for it in the bill – as El Celler De Can Roca is not cheap). This is a much nicer approach than staff pushing you to buy a glass of overpriced Champagne before your meal (one of my pet hates).

An easier alternative in the Roca Brothers empire, is to just stay in Barcelona and go to their restaurant at Hotel Omm , Moo.

UPDATE: March 2010 – El Celler De Can Roca, was awarded its third Michelin star this year.

UPDATE: April 2010 -  El Celler De Can Roca is now at number 4 on the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list.

UPDATE: April 2013 -  El Celler De Can Roca is now number 1 on the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list.

Marks out of 10

Food 7

Service 8

Ambience 8

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

Reads – got the looks but not the substance

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

A while back Gordon Ramsay described Michelin-starred David Pitchford restaurant Reads, just outside Faversham as his 11th favorite restaurant in the UK (in the Sunday Times if I remember correctly).

Unfortunately our visit was a bit of a disappointment, at least on the food front, which was a real shame as the venue is quite lovely.

It is really sad that so many places get this balance wrong.  The restaurant has 3 AA Rosettes, which is 2 too many in my view.

Marks out of 10

Food 4

Service 5

Ambience 7

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

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – Royal Hospital Road

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Must do a return visit to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – Royal Hospital Road, maybe once the credit crunch is over.  On my first visit I was pleasantly surprised how low key and unpretentious this place was, as all really good restaurants tend to be. The staff were highly professional and friendly.

The food here was off a high standard – do not confuse this place with other Gordon Ramsay outposts like :-

  • Boxwood Cafe – which on my visit served up fairly boring food on chipped china!
  • Claridges -  which has 1 Michelin star that I do not think it merits. This is based on my own experience and reports from friends, the conclusion being that the food in Claridges is quite ordinary and the service leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Maze – which does provide good food and wines, but is let down by the casual style of service and the room, which is far too big and somewhat  lacking in ambience.

Royal Hospital Road however is the real deal – haute cuisine at its finest. When we were there the man himself was actually in the kitchen (this must be a rarity now with all his TV work). The wines are also top quality, I had a stunning Gewurztraminer to accompany my Fois Gras. We over ordered on the dessert front though, as after a lovely light pre-dessert, we elected to share a rather large tarte tatin (we had spotted one at the next table and it looked so good), and some how managed to find room for the lovely petit fours too. We left the restaurant fully satisfied and off the opinion that this place seriously rivaled our then favorite restaurant Pied a terre.

Marks out of 10

Food – 8.8

Service 9

Ambience 7

Gordon Ramsay on Urbanspoon

UPDATE  April  2010 : The Boxwood Cafe is now closed and Claridges has lost its star.

UPDATE November 2010 : A friends recent visit to Royal Hospital Road, confirmed that the restaurant is still delivering outstanding traditional french haute cuisine and first class service.

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