Saturday, January 27, 2007

per se - Manhattan

Introduction On the 4th floor at ther Time Warner Centre, Columbus Circle called the best restaurant in New York by Zagat and rated in the top 10 in the world by most restaurant afficionados
Ambience Everything about per se from the attractive entrance and spacious lounge area for pre dinner drinks to the 15 well spaced tables with their fine linen and cutlery and specially made crockery speaks of the utmost care and quality. A very sophisticated area with large windows overlooking Central Park and East Manahattan

Service The attention to every need could not be bettered from the small stool provided for my wife's handbag to the immediate care of any request

Food There were 3 degustation menus on offer, The Chefs tasting menu - which we chose the Tasting of vegetables and the Black and White Truffle menu

Suffice it to say that each dish was absolutely superb
Our menu was as follows

"Oysters and Pearls"
"Sabayon" of pearl tapioca with island Greek oysters and sterling white sturgeon caviar
Salad of Slow Baked Heirloom Beets
Marinated King Richard leeks, garden chervil and red beet essence
CarnoroliRisotto Biologica
White truffles from Alba and Castlmangno cheese -
to my surprise the maitre d brought two large white truffles to the table and proceeded to shave an entire truffle on to each risotto. (There was a US$60 supplement for this dish)
Crispy Skin Fillet of "Loup de Mer"
Fennel bulb,Nicoise olive "petals", Piquillo peppers, Haricot verts and Meyer lemon "Supremes" with "Vierge au citron"
Herb Roasted Atlantic Sea Scallop an extremely large and very delicate scallop served with crispy Hen-of-the-Woods mushroom, celery branch "coulis", celeriac "fondant" and "Creme de Champignon"
"Aguilette" of Liberty Valley Pekin Duck Breastwith garnet yam puree, "Confit of Crosnes and Keepsake farm chestnuts with duck "Jus"
Elysian Fields Farm's "Carr'e D' Agneau" with ragout of Cranberry beans, cardoons, oven roasted Roma tomatoes and sweet garlic with rosemary- infusedlamb sauce
Tomme de la Chataigneraie" - Yukon gold potato salad, pickled pearl onions, "guancile" chip and burgundy mustard vinaigrette
Cranberry Sorbet with almond "pain de Gnes", poached cranberries and cosmopolitan "nuage"
per se "Tarte au Choclat Noir" - passionfruit syrup, coffee "Gelee", candied cocoa nibs, per se coffee ice cream and spiced bread

Apart from the usual gratis bouche amuse having finished the 11 courses our waiter brought two more very excellent desserts including an unbeatable creme brulee after eating them yet another dessert appeared. Including coffee we had had more than an elegant sufficiency and refused the beautiful chocolates. Oh said the waitress we will box them for you and you can pick them up as you leave. On departure we received a large box of perhaps 20 most exquisite chocolates and half a dozen mouth watering biscuits

I was amused and amazed when we asked for salt for a tray to appear with about a dozn small containers of salts - five from Hawaii, this from that beach in Hawaii this from the foot of a volcano this from here and that from there
Wine Wines go up to more than US$6000.00 per bottle. A glass of Champagne a mere $31 and a French red $25 sufficed for us
Price From US$210 to $360 plus wine ($270 for our menu)
Comments Despite the lavish use of quotation marks and the heavy sprinkling of unknown place names and the French terminology, which makes the menu almost meaningless to the casual reader, in every other way I am incredibly impressed with per se A truly memorable dining experience different but the equal of the Fat Duck

Score: 19/20

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Fat Duck

Introduction Renowned for the last 2 years as "the best restaurant in the world" I certainly rank it among the best I have ever enjoyed In the tiny village of Bray, about an hour and a half out of London - near Windsor currently it has no sign in front of the restaurant but with so few houses in the main street it is not hard to find. Reservations open 60 days ahead and usually close very soon after -say an hour or so!

Ambience In a ?18th century building, whitewashed walls and black painted thick wood beams. Old England atmosphere somewhat decreased by the slightly crowded white linen covered tables with specially made very modern crockery

Service Immaculate

Food The degustation menu with matched wines is unique

For the record this was it
Nitro-Green Tea and Lime Mousse (2001) This palate cleanser is available at Fenix and I love it!
Oyster,, Passion Fruit Jelly, Lavender. The lavender was a lovely addition
Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream, Red Cabbage Gaspacho
Jelly of Quail, Langoustine Cream, Parfait of Foie Gras (Homage to Alain Chapel)
Manzanaen Rama Barbadillo - Spain

Snail Porridge
Joselito ham shaved fennel
2004 Vin de Pays Cotes Catalannes de Soula Gaury Roussellon - France (could you guess)

Roast Foie Gras Almond fluid gel,cherry andchamomile , 2003VinoptimaGewurtztraminerReserve, =Gisborne NewZealand

Sardine on Toast Sorbet Ballotine of mackeral 'invertebrate', marinated daikon, sea salad The only dish I did not care for very strong sardine taste Rashiko Ginjo-Sake, Yamatogawa - Japan

Salmon Poached with Liquorice Artichoke, pink grapefruit, Manni olive oil 1999 Douro, uinta Daleda, Casa Ferreirinha, Doura Valley - Portugal

Poached Breast of Anjou Pigeon Pancetta Fastilla of its leg, pistachio, cocoa and quatre 'epices 1999 Barolo, Costa Grimaldi, Poderi Luigi Einaudi Piedmont - Italy

Hot and Cold Tea This is a bit of magic the cup has hot tea on one side and cold tea on the other!

Mrs Marshall's Margaret Coronet Mrs Agnes B Marshall was one of the finest cooks in Victorian times (1855 - 1905). She wrote four books and tested all the recipes - they have stood the test of time. She was the Queen of Ice cream, invented an extremely efficient machine capable of making a litre of ice cream in 3 minutes and was the first to suggest making an edible cone (the coronet) from which to eat ice cream

Pine Sherbet Fountain - a fine example of nostalgia food - reminds me of my childhood sweet delights!!

Mango and Douglas Fir Puree Bavois of lychee and mango, blackcurrent sorbet 2003 Schneiderberger Reisling eiswein, Weinviertel - Austria

Carrot and Orange Tuille, Beetroot Jelly

Nitro Scrambled Eggs and Bacon Icecream (2006) Pain perdu and tea jelly NV Buller fine old Muscat, Rutherglen Victoria - Australia

Whisky Wine Gum Violet Tartelet

By the time we got to the scrambled eggs is was a bit that way myself. Every dish is unique. Either you love it like or don't but the next will soon be there

At the end of all this you can have a choice of 12 different teas fom 12.50 (eg Silver Needle Jasmine picked in early spring before the April rains, doubtlessly by 15 year old virgins, and only the topmost buds then scented over 5 consecutive nights with fresh Jasine flowers!) to 4.75 pounds sterling that is.
Wine It was an extra 90 quid to have the matched wines. The were very generous and without hesitation offered more of anything you might wish for however you need to have a designated driver if you really want to take all that's offered I would have been perfectly happy with a reasonable bottle of white or red but we're only here once
Price I think it was 165 pounds for the Sunday lunch degustation which lasted about 4 hours

Comments Heston Blumenthal has my unbounded admiration. Without formal training , with a scientific approach and the assistance of a food chemist - Dr Peter Barham, he has reinvented modern cooking. He deserves his success
Score: 19/20

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Misto Caff'e and Bakery

Introduction Busy open Bistro style eatery at 24558 Hawthorn Blvd, Torrance, California
Ambience Friendly, unpretentious

Service As for the ambience

Food Except for the Angel hair pasta with shrimps (prawns in Australia) which was excellent, everything was good. The mixed appetizer a good size meal with 2 chicken shashliks, 2 large cheese filled potato skins, 3 pot stickers, 2 egg rolls and a large lettuce leaf filled with diced turkey breast in a light BBQ sauce all on a bed of crisp rice noodles. Equally large omelletes and salads were very satisfying

Price Very reasonable - US$15 to $30 + gratuities, depending on how much you wanted to eat

Comments Good value

Score: 13/20

Tarnino restorante bar San Pedro - LA

Introduction In the heart of Westwood Blvd at 1043 and around the corner from Westwood Village and 2 blocks from the Geffen Theatre
Ambience Has the atmosphere of a quality Roman restaurant.

Service A
s Italian as the decor
Food Indifferent. The menu is in Italian and English. For "Gli Antipasti Caldi" I had the Mussels and clams in a fresh tomato sauce. Quite tasty small mussels dominated by the peppery tomato soup they floated in. The special papparadelles with duck, served as an appetizer was excellent

Le Insalate undistiguished, the carciofi - artichoke with aged peccorino cheese just OK and the extremely ordinary
The Veal shank with saffron risotto was really Osso Bucco but there does not seem to be any difference to the waiter- also nothing special whilst the breaded rack of veal turned out to be one large, beaten veal chop on the bone and yearling beef at that. not improved by the covering of small tomatoes and argulla lettuce. Perhaps lucky we were running too late for dessert!
Wine Premium Cab/sav by the glass very good

Price around US$50/head + gratuity without wine,dessert or coffee

Comments I'd try somewhere else for better food and less pretentious

Score: 13/20

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Christines - Los Angeles

Introduction Tucked away, with no sign out the front, at 24530 Hawthorn Blvd, Torrance, California

Ambience Cosy, friendly

Service Very obliging

Food The salad starter was large and very frsh. Extremely tasty sauces accompany the pasta dishes. The Papparadelles were tops though the Angel hair pasta was far too thick.

Price Reasonable around $25/ person

Comments A very nice place for lunch or dinner

Score: 14.5/20

Papadakis Taverna - San Pedro California

Introduction On the southern edge of Los Angeles at 301 West 6th Street (Phone 310548 1186)
Ambience A few Bronze heads of ?family members wear medallions praising the restaurant. It's a very warm welcoming family restaurant

Service Very friendly

Food Tadziki and a bean paste appear with the bread Entrees (mains) are huge, good standard , domestic quality and accompanied by soup (chicken or lentil) and a Greek salad. I did not think it much mattered if you ordered veal, They bring the meat and fish on a glad wrapped tray for inspection

Both the cheese cake and the coconut sorbet were pleasant and the Greek style coffee in a full size cup, excellent
There is a bit of showmanship starting with the gratis Cheese starter flamed at the table and later the host and waiter do Zorba's dance finished with a glass of wine smashed on the stone floor as soon as it was emptied. Then a well rounded scantly dressed young lady belly dances around the tables collecting folding money tucked under her garments by the men
Wine You can bring your own for about $25/bottle Their's by the glass was less than ordinary

Price Around US$35/ person

Comments Packed on weekends Reservations essential

Score: 14/20

The Restaurant at The Getty Centre

Introduction A sophisticated restaurant at the Getty Centre on the outskirts of Los

Ambience S
uperb views from the Pacific Ocean to LA. Well spaced tables with quality linen and crockery You feel the quality of theplace as soon as you enter
Service In keeping with the venue

Food Menu changes every week.

The Beetroot salad aqppetizer was excellent, the Oxtail and occherini very good and the slow cooked pork shank near pefect
The Pannacotta dessert - wonderful
Wine The Blackberry with
Mojito excessively sweet but the 2003 Bordeau by the glass very good
Price After gratuity about US$60/person

Comments Don't go without a reservation

Score: 16/20

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shelly's Restaurant - Manhattan

Introduction A fairly recent addition to the restaurant scene at 104 W 57th Street.
Ambience The oyster, crab and lobster filled front window sets the scene Not too noisy despite the stone floor. Small tables hardly hold the required accoutrements plus the food

Service E
xtremely attent.ive without being excessively obtrusive
Food An appetizer of tasty Mulligatawny soup followd by a magnificent dish of huge crabs legs in a light garlic sauce, shells split and very easy to eat was good value for us at US$45/pound The 3lb Maine lobster was not as sweet or tender as I expected.

I did see other diners eating handsome steaks and was sorry not to try some of the 8 varieties of oysters on the menu (only 3 were actually available)
A Bomb Alaska flamed with rum at the table was about average tho it looked good
Wine A 1/4 litre of Pinot Grigio and another of Sauvingon Blanc at US$11 and $12 were just OK

Price The bill was US$182 and they expect a 20% gratuity

Comments Unpretentious. They were extremely nice to me after I spilled a full glass of water over the table, and my wife's lap and then managed to break a wine glass

Score: 14.75/20

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Prime Grill - Manhattan

Introduction At 60 East 49th Street this kosher restaurant is well known to New Yorkers
Ambience Indistinguishable from a heap of medium price busy restaurants. They do make you feel welcome and whatever you order the waiter is likely to say, with great sincerity, "very good choice sir"
Service Extremely pleasant and quite efficient

Food I tried 3 appetizers (Americans call main courses Entrees) The Sushi was rather bland all 8 pieces, The country Chicken Bouillon (their spelling) a good farmers soup, basil flavoured and full of vegetables and the Spicy Italian Sausage on a bed of Broccoli, hearts of palm and garlic confit very good as long as you don't mind a bit of pepper

For mains the the grilled "Nova Scotia" Halibut with creamy butternut squash risotto, and tarragon infused tomato broth was a good size serve of a fine white fleshed delicate flavoured fish.
The crispy golden French hen , a whole good sized bird, with a smoked duck and chestnut sausage, savoy cabbage, lemon gnocchi and chantere was very tasty indeed tho I did not care for the gnocchi which were too firm
The Prime Grill Filet was also a handsome serve with non mass produced French fries is also a good choice
Wine I have not got a grip on wines in America so I generally take the waiters suggstion for wine of the style I want to drink, by the glass. It usually works out as just OK and it's not cheap. US$12 is quite common

Price You get a fairly good meal with wine for US$100

Comments Kosher or not this is quite a good place to eat

Score: 15.5/20