Posts Tagged ‘S.Pellegrino’

Quay – mana from heaven and 8 textures of chocolate WOW!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
A post from No Experts Australian Correspondent

Quay is considered one of the best restaurants in Sydney, certainly at number 26 in the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, it is the highest placed Australian restaurant. It is also one of only 3 restaurants in Sydney to be deemed worthy of 3 hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide this year. When we arrived, on a wet Sunday night, with a group of friends, our expectations were very high, and we had been saving this visit for a special occasion, my birthday.

Now I have to confess that my experience of the service at Quay may have been extra special, as we had an ace up our sleeves.  One of the guests at our table is a wine distributor for some amazing boutique wineries, and we were fortunate that Quay are one of his clients. As a result,  we were treated to one of the best tables in the house, with views of both the Opera House and Bridge, fabulous service, and a delicious complimentary bottle of Clover Hill Sparkling from Tasmania, courtesy of Daniel the sommelier.  Service all night was exceptional.

The food at Quay was delicious, although we opted for the four course menu, over what the Aussies call the “dego” (short for degustation – how that makes me cringe), primarily because Peter Gilmore’s signature dish, the Guava and Custard apple snow egg, did not feature on the taster menu.

My starter of sea pearls was divine, a selection of beautifully crafted seafood dishes presented beautifully on a platter.  Mud Crab, Yuzu and Tapioca with silver leaf, Smoked eel, Dashi and Abalone and Sashimi of Tuna were all delicious and left us with the dilemma did one pop a pearl whole into one’s mouth, or did one use a knife and fork to examine the insides and savour it slowly. Needless to say each of us took a different line of attack!  In retrospect I believe that we were missing a 5th pearl, the Sea Scallop Sea Pearl. Check out this Peter Gilmore’s video and you’ll see what I mean!

The second fish course of southern squid & rock lobster, lettuce hearts, golden tapioca, lobster velvet, button squash, pea flowers, was a little unmemorable, but the Mr T’s Slow braised pig’s cheek with abalone, palm hearts and an amazing mushroom consommé was mouthwateringly delicious. For my main, I opted for the wagyu beef poached in an oxtail and morel reduction, molé puree, farro & ezekiel crumbs, which was accompanied perfectly by a 2004 Muga Rioja Reserva. Now in case you’re curious, Ezekiel bread is made without flour and is made from sprouted whole grains. It’s the original super food, and what the bible refers to as manna, i.e., mana from heaven. A pretty good description of this dish. Mr T chose the Confit of Suffolk lamb loin, smoked white carrot cream, fennel infused milk curd. This dish featured fennel pollen, although I have to confess I couldn’t really taste the pollen.

Lastly,  the  famous snow egg…..well never has something that’s so difficult to make, 3 hours and 8 different processes, been polished off so quickly. It was delicious with amazing layers of flavour.  I also had a very generous portion of Mr T’s 8 textures of chocolate, which arrived with a hot chocolate sauce in a separate copper handled pot, which when poured on top, melted into the pudding, like a glorious chocolate volcano.  Accompanied by a PX,  it was sublime. I know I’ll be choosing this dish if I return to Quay.

Overall, fabulous service, great views and divine food, although in the food stakes, this didn’t quite knock Tetsuya off it’s number one spot for me.

Marks out of 10

Food  8.9

Service  9

Ambience  9.2

Quay on Urbanspoon

 

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

Michelin Stars v AA Rosettes – Ding Ding!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

No Expert has just hit the 100th post mark, so for that milestone rather than single out a restaurant, this post focuses on an issue that impacted on a number of our restaurant choices and that is can we trust Michelin Star and AA Rosette ratings alone.

I know there is a lot of debate over how accurate the Michelin star rating system is. I believe we have been to enough Michelin starred restaurants to give an opinion on the subject. Basically the  problems seem to be inconsistency and big name restaurants hanging on to stars they no longer merit. The Michelin star rating seems to be about as reliable as the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, i.e., not reliable at all.

The rating system definition for Michelin stars is:-

  • 1 star – A very good restaurant in its category
  • 2 stars – Excellent cooking, worth a detour
  • 3 stars – Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey

For more information see Michelin Guide

We have been to some 3 star and 2 star Michelin restaurants that are not in the same class as 1 star restaurants.  Compare Tom Aikens to The Waterside Inn for example.

The 5 AA Rosettes award however does seem to match our tastes. The ones on the list in England for example are among our all time favorite restaurants.

The rating system definition for 5 AA Rosettes :-

  • The supreme accolade awarded only when the cooking is at the pinnacle of achievement. Flavours, combinations and textures show a faultless sense of balance, giving each dish an extra dimension.

The rating system definition for 4 AA Rosettes :-

  • At this level, not only should all technical skills be exemplary, but there should also be daring ideas, and they must work. There is no room for disappointment. Flavours should be accurate and vibrant.

Then just when I thought I could maybe rely on the AA Rosettes I find out that one of our worst of the worst restaurants Harveys of Ramsgate has just been awarded one AA Rosette, and that another of our least favorite places Abode in Canterbury has 2.

The rating system definition for 1 AA Rosette :-

  • Chefs should display a mastery of basic techniques and be able to produce dishes of sound quality and clarity of flavours, using good, fresh ingredients.

The rating system definition for 2 AA Rosettes :-

  • Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level

Our experience of Harveys of Ramsgate and Abode indicated that they were sadly lacking in several of the areas associated with the definitions.

For more information see:-

The conclusion is that research is essential before you  commit to the really expensive dining experiences in the high end restaurants.

  • Check out the food blogs.
  • Check out Hardens and Zagat.
  • Look for real customer reviews via Google Maps.
  • Be really wary of the hype.
  • Be wary of Celebrity Chef endorsements.

Click here to access our prefered Food Blog/Site list.

  • It is also worth trying one of the restaurants deals first, e.g., a pre-theatre or set lunch deal.  It is surprising just how many of the top restaurants do offer less expensive options. The toptable web site is a good place to start to find these deals.

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

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

L’Astrance – a little bit strange!

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

The S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list rates this place as the 11th top restaurant in the world, it is certainly one of the hardest to get through to on the phone. I managed to get a reservation via a contact in the industry, but found I had problems reconfirming it, eventually after numerous attempts at different times of the day I managed to reconfirm.

It is quite a small room with a mezzanine area.  Every table was taken, this was so obviously the place to be.

The service was first rate, but we found that the food was a bit hit and miss, which is surprising for a 3 Star Michelin.

 

Some courses worked, others tasted either a bit odd or bland, the desserts were in my view the highlight.

They also finished off the meal by serving tomatoes!  L’Astrance was definately a bit strange.

Marks out of 10

Food 6.5

Service 8

Ambience 6.5

LOCATION INFORMATION
Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – Paris, France

Hibiscus – too much hype!

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

For a while Hibiscus seemed to be the most talked about place.  Everyone just raved about it. We even had it recommended while in L’Astrance in Paris.

The conclusion from our visit on a Saturday evening when they only do tasting menus (a rather mercenary approach in my view), was that it was over hyped, overpriced rather boring food.

When the best dish in a £175 a head meal (food with matching wines) is the cheese course, then there is something wrong.

This restaurant is currently number 56 on the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list. It has 2 Michelin stars and 4 AA Rosettes, so it should have been superb or a least very good, as at this level there really should be no off days.

Very disappointing

Marks out of 10

Food 4

Service 4

Ambience 7

Hibiscus on Urbanspoon

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