L’Ambroisie, Paris – Food For The Gods


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9 Place des Vosges, 
75004 Paris, France
Tel. +33 1 42 78 51 45

Food type: French

Website: L’Ambroisie

Paris. The city is the playground for the rich and famous. If you can afford it, it offers some of the best food that money can buy. The accolade of 3 Michelin Stars still stands for a restaurant delivering the pinnacle of gastronomy. This is especially true given Michelin’s rapid expansion worldwide with the necessity to dole out new 3 stars to sell more guides and generate headlines. L’Ambroisie is the grand daddy of all of Paris’ 3 star temples with Bernard Pacaud holding the full monty since 1988 – a time where Michelin had yet to expand outside Europe. When a restaurant has held 3*s for such a long time, there is of course a fear that the accolade may be one of historical value. Yet, even with todays eating trends of tweezed flowers and foraged herbs, many serious foodies still consider Pacaud’s cooking as the pinnacle of gastronomy.



Truth is, I have never dared make a reservation at L’Ambroisie. Perhaps its my inability to speak French. Maybe its the stories of the haughty service here. Or indeed the astronomical prices commanded for a starter alone. I have always looked in admiration at the photos other people post but never had the guts to pick up the phone. But it was recently, following the sudden passing of pastry chef Laurent Jennin (of Le Bristol fame) did it strike me that time will wait for no one. I had only been eating at Epicure two weeks prior to his passing. As someone who truly enjoys French gastronomy, I really wanted to experience the masterworks of these great maestros while they are still around. Pacaud will be 70 this September and while still a spring chicken in relative terms compared to Michel Guérard and Paul Bocuse, you have to wonder how many years he still has left cooking before he hangs up his frying pan. So with a little bit of egging on by Kang, I booked a table for two for a nice, leisurely Saturday lunch.

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the Hind’s Head, Bray – All That Is Old Is New


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The Hind’s Head
High Street
Bray, SL6 2AB
Tel. 01628 616151

Food type: British

Website: Hind’s Head

Earlier this year, the Hind’s Head closed for a complete refurbishment. The dining room has now been expanded across the whole of the ground floor with the upper floor now used for pre-dinner drinks. To be honest, it has taken me some time to return here since the makeover because of the decision to do away with the a la carte menu and now offer a tasting/ set menu only format. I often associate tasting menu only restaurants as a cynical way to cut cost and increase profits at the expense of the customers choice.

One of the criticisms in the past about this place was that the menus here were static, but for 1 or 2 seasonal variations. Sure some of the staples, like the ‘Hash of Snails’ and ‘Strawberry Tart’ rotate in and out depending on availability and seasonality, but for the most part the old a la carte menu featured a core of dishes which would never budge from the menu. A bit like Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental I suppose.



The idea of the tasting/ set menus is to allow the restaurant to continually change dishes on a monthly basis. It also allows the kitchen to produce slightly more elaborate dishes while keeping costs down and having good quality control.  There are 3 menus on offer – the 3 course ‘Mary’ menu (£25) is essentially their set lunch menu while at dinner there is a 4 course ‘Aleyn’ menu (£48) and 6 course ‘Elizabeth’ menu (£58). Between these 3 menus there is a core repertoire of dishes that they can draw from to cater for various dietary requirements. As of August, the restaurant has also started to offer an a la carte option for lunch which brings into question how popular the whole set menu idea is. In fact when I visited, there were a couple of walk-in punters who decided against dining here because of the set menus.

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the Ledbury, London – Evolution


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The Ledbury
127 Ledbury Road,
Ladbroke Grove
London, W11 2AQ
Tel: 020 7792 9090

Food type: Modern French/ European

Nearest tube: Westbourne Grove/ Notting Hill

Website: The Ledbury



Restaurant Entrance

It has been almost a year since my last visit to the Ledbury. As it was with my last visit here, the company is the same with Kang from Londoneater and Mark. Since the Square had been demoted this year in the Michelin Guide, the Ledbury is in fact the second oldest 2* restaurant in London behind Le Gavroche. Third if you include Marcus and its various name changes since its Petrus days. These days Kang is a bit of a regular at the Ledbury and as he had kindly made the booking, I left it to him to arrange a menu. Brett was in the kitchen cooking, an anomaly for the London restaurant scene given that most chefs tend to get ‘too busy’ for their own kitchen once they restaurant becomes successful. The restaurant still packs it in for both lunch and dinner service and remains tricky to book.

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the Oxford Blue, Windsor – Promising


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the Oxford Blue
10 Crimp Hill,
Old Windsor,
Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2QY
Tel. 01753 861954

Food type: British

Nearest tube: N/A

Website: the Oxford Blue


I was having a casual meal at Beehive when the manager there, Alicia, asked me “Have you tried the Oxford Blue?”

The Oxford what?” I answered

There is a new pub in Windsor” she said enthusiastically. “The chef there is ex-Ramsay.” So I did a little bit of research, but there was not much about the restaurant. Chef/ proprietor Steven Ellis heads up the kitchen here and was formerly sous chef under Clare Smyth at Royal Hospital Road. His fiancee Amy has joined him as the pastry chef here, again having experience at Royal Hospital Road as well as the Star Inn under Andrew Pern. Whoever is financially backing this restaurant is aiming high. This is not your ordinary gastropub. There is an extensive selection of beers, ales and bitters as well as a wine list. There are also plenty of fine wines by the glass through the Coravin system.


Restaurant Exterior

We visited the Oxford Blue for lunch. At the time of visit, the restaurant was still relatively new. You can still smell the fresh coat of paint which had gone into refurbishing the restaurant. Starters from the a la carte menu are between £7 and £15, Mains £19 to £32 and desserts £6.50 to £8.50. On average, you will be spending £45 for a 3 course meal from the a la carte menu. There is also a set lunch menu priced at £30 for 3 courses. In addition, there is an additional fairly extensive menu consisting of the daily specials. We ordered from the a la carte menu.

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the Crown at Burchetts Green, Maidenhead – Bourgeoisie Cooking


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the Crown
Burchetts Green Road,
Berkshire, SL6 6QZ
Tel. 01628 824 079

Food type: French

Nearest tube: N/A

Website: the Crown at Burchetts Green

It has been a while since I last wrote about the Crown at Burchetts Green. Back then, they were a Bib Gourmand restaurant and a table was pretty easy to come by. In fact, the night we visited, we were the only two people dining at the restaurant the whole night. Since being awarded a Michelin star in the 2017 guide, the fortunes of the restaurants have completely changed. A table for Saturday night dinner requires booking 2 months in advance. Part of it may be down to the fact that they are a small restaurant, and do a maximum of 16 covers. But if anything, this just goes to show the power of the Michelin guide and as much as people try to downplay its relevance, no other guide/ list/ award has the same effect on a restaurant’s fortunes. Chef Simon Bonwick still cooks alone in his own kitchen flanked by his children who lead the front of house.


Restaurant Exterior

This would be our 5th meal here since they were promoted to 1* status and as usual, I left it to chef to serve us the food of his choice. The menu prices here have gone up slightly but this is also a reflection of the fact that the restaurant is now serving prime ingredients as opposed to cheaper cuts. Take for example the poisson du jour of Turbot, which is sold for around £35-40. The turbot is cut from a large beast of a fish and you get a generous portion of it. The restaurant also has expanded on their wine list – now with a board featuring ‘haggle’ wines. They have also upgraded their stemware to Zalto and added the Coravin system to their arsenal to offer more wines by the glass.

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