the Oxford Blue, Windsor – Promising

Tags

, , ,

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.

DSC03544

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.

Continue reading

the Crown at Burchetts Green, Maidenhead – Bourgeoisie Cooking

Tags

, , , , ,

the Crown
Burchetts Green Road,
Maidenhead,
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.

IMG_0063

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.

Continue reading

La Dame de Pic, London – Clean Flavours

Tags

, , ,

La Dame de Pic
Four Seasons Hotel,
10 Trinity Square,
London, EC3N 4AJ
United Kingdom
Tel. 020 3297 9200

Food type: Modern French

Nearest tube: Tower Hill

Website: La Dame de Pic

When a foreign chef opens up an outpost in London, I often greet it with a lot of scepticism. There have been many lazy efforts where chef think they can hoodwink the English diners by offering a half-baked interpretation of their flagship. Just off the top of my head are Tokimeite and Eneko at One Aldwych, both restaurants associated with chefs who hold 3*s in their country. So, when it was announced that Anne-Sophie Pic would be opening an outpost at the new Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square, I greeted that news with general apathy. That was until I started to see some of the dishes on Instagram and Twitter – they actually looked half decent. So we decided to give it a go and head to La Dame de Pic, shortly after they opened. In fact, the hotel was so new, that the taxi driver did not even know where it was.

fullsizeoutput_3248

Pumpkin Consomme infused with Geranium

The first thing to note with the a la carte menu is that the items are quite fully priced. This is the Four Seasons after all and a newly minted one at that. Items are individually priced with starters £19 to £32, Fish & Meats £32 to £42 (there is Sea Bass on the menu at £56 but that features caviar) and desserts £14. On average, you will be spending £75-80 for a 3 course meal at dinner which is on par with most 1 Michelin star restaurants in Central London. The tasting menu is £105 and the concessions lunch menu (from Monday to Friday) is £39 for 3 courses. The best bet is actually the weekend lunch menu at £55 for 4 courses – this is a set menu which consists of dishes from the main menu, so it is a good way to try out the kitchens repertoire without breaking the bank. As we visited for dinner, we went the 3 course a la carte route, splitting an intermediate fish course.

Continue reading

Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, London – Ambitious Pricing

Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
The Connaught,
Carlos Place, Mayfair
London, W1K 2AL
United Kingdom
Tel. 020 3147 7200

Food type: French

Nearest tube: Green Park

Website: Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

It has been a while since I last visited Hélène Darroze at the Connaught. I’ve been twice, once when the restaurant shortly opened and the second shortly after they were promoted to two stars. The cooking here is pleasant enough, although its not on the top of my list of places to revisit as I feel that there are other stronger 2* restaurants in London I would rather go back to. Interestingly enough, Darroze’s flagship restaurant in Paris was demoted from 2*s to 1* around the same time her restaurant in London was promoted. Perhaps Madame Darroze has been concentrating more of efforts here in London, although from what I understand, she splits her time between both restaurants equally.

Ping Pong Ball Menu

Ping Pong Ball Menus

Since my last visit, the restaurant has introduced their now famous ‘ping pong ball and board’ menu concept. Each ball contains the core ingredient of a specific dish on the menu and the idea is that you would leave on the board the items you want while putting aside the items you do not fancy. If you are ordering from the lunch menu you  er… order the old fashioned way. I guess it makes it easier for the front of house when taking the orders with their multi-course, design your own tasting menu. It is a bit of fun, but my wife thinks that this is a naff idea and out of place in a dining room which is formal and opulent.

Continue reading

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London – In Safe Hands

Tags

, , , , , ,

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
Dorchester Hotel
53 Park Lane Mayfair
London W1K 1QA
Tel: 020 7629 8866

Food type: French

Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner

Website: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

We returned to the Dorchester recently to celebrate our wedding anniversary. One year has flown by very quickly for us. This time last year, all I could remember was the stress of wedding planning leading up to the big day. Thankfully, this is something you only have to do once in your lifetime. Restaurant Alain Ducasse holds a lot of sentimental value for us as I proposed to my wife here (dining at the Table Lumiere) and of course, our wedding reception took place at the hotel.

Table Setting

Table Setting

Much has changed since we last dined here, almost a year and half ago. Former Executive chef Jocelyn Herland has now moved to Ducasse’s restaurant at Le Meurice (Paris) and in his place is Jean-Phillipe Blondet, previously his 2nd in command. He brings with him a more contemporary style of cooking compared to Jocelyn’s more unashamedly classical style. Restaurant Director, Damien Pepin is one of London’s finest Maitre Ds and recognised us immediately on arrival. After all, he was responsible for helping to ensure that the engagement went smoothly. After handing us the menus, he made our choices a lot easier by offering us a bespoke tasting menu to allow us to try some of chef’s favourite dishes making use of the best seasonal ingredients. As a side note, given that menu prices in London have pretty much skyrocketed in the last couple of years, the prices here have remained relatively the same. The tasting menu is now £140 compared to £135 2 years back, and the seasonal tasting menu is still £180.

Continue reading