Visited Eric Frechon’s restaurant Le Bristol (www.hotel-bristol.com) last Summer, and am so pleased to hear that it now has its third Michelin star, it’s the only restaurant in France to get one this year apparently. We had the summer tasting menu, which was in a class of its own, everything was perfect. Unfortunately I was so into the food I did not take enough pictures to truly capture the experience.
It was very expensive last year and now with the Euro exchange rate and its third star, it’s way out of most peoples price range (gents also require jacket and tie….argh).
This is my benchmark for culinary excellence, no wonder it is rumoured to be Nicolas Sarkozys favorite.
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.
I enjoyed Eleven Madison Park, the place has style.
On the food front I especially remember a sharing dessert platter.
It was way too big for us to finish, which may have been the idea, as they were only too happy to box it up for us to take back to our Hotel. It was absolutely yummy, just thinking about it gives me a sugar rush!.
UPDATE February 2010 – It seems like Eleven Madison Park is not loosing its touch, Andy Hayler gave it very high marks in his recent review.
The Fat Duck in Bray is the complete opposite of its near neighbour the Waterside Inn, The Waterside goes for old fashioned comfort (old money clientele), the Fat Duck does “flash” (new money clientele).
The room is minimalist in style and the food is excellent with very over the top presentation.
We visited before the recent alleged food poisoning problems, and experienced all the trade mark gimmicks – Dry Ice, Dragons Breath, IPods and the obligatory Snails Porridge. We also went for a matching flight of wines. There are two price options here, expensive and extortionate. We restrained ourselves and kept the wine bill under £100 per person.
It was an experience, but I have to admit I missed the warmth of the Waterside Inn as once the meal is finished, there is no way you would want to hang around or indeed be encouraged to hang around in the rather cold room. Then again I guess that is why Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head is only a few yards away.
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
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.