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June 25, 2019, 02:51:28 am

The Michelin Star Experience

Started by Neph, September 01, 2010, 11:33:33 am

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Nïckslïkk2112

September 03, 2018, 20:31:51 pm #60 Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 20:46:27 pm by Nïckslïkk2112
Mrs S and my good self are very much people with Champagne tastes, but a beer income. Having sampled Michelin star cooking with lunch at the Kitchin in Edinburgh, followed by the full monty at the Kitchin a couple of years later, then dinner at Purnells a couple of years ago, we decided it was time to step up to sample the Two Star level.
Being an avid watcher of Great British Menu, I'd long harboured a desire to visit Daniel Clifford's Midsummer House in Cambridge. Never having been to Cambridge before, I thought it would make a nice two night break. We can't really do long breaks these days, as Mrs S's mother is housebound and she doesn't like being away from her for two long, although Mrs S was still on tenterhooks all the time we were away.
Midsummer House, is very much a house, sitting by the side of the Cam on Midsummer Common, with a herd of cattle grazing close by, meaning there is an element of dodge the cow-flop as you walk there. We were greeted at the gate by the Maitre D and asked if we would like to sit in the garden with a glass of Champagne. Would we? Of course we would! Is the Champers complimentary? We'll just sit in the garden thanks... No, of course we had the Champers - just the House Champagne - but in for a penny, in for a pound.

Whilst perusing the menu we were served with canapés which were like a miniature three course meal in themselves: starting with a lime cream filled tart; then one with Cod and Chorizo and finally a Gingerbread Cannelloni filled with I can't remember what honestly, but very nice they were.

We didn't really have to contemplate the Menu as we knew in advance that we'd be choosing the Menu Gourmand. I actually received a compliment from the oh so French waiter - all the front of house staff appear to be French - on my pronunciation of Menu Gourmand, that's something that's never happened to me before! We also decided to have the matching wine flight with our meals. Mrs S wasn't going to, to try and cut down on costs, but hey, in for a penny, in for a pound!
Called through to our table in the Conservatory we were treated to an amuse-bouche consisting of a little glass container with frozen pink grapefruit in the bottom. This was then topped with a Champagne foam and some "Magic" powder - actually, a dust made from freeze dried Pink Grapefruit. Very clean, very fresh, very zingy.
So, on to the main event. Course one was Cornish crab, new season turnip, Granny Smith apple sorbet. I'm not a big turnip fan, but this was super, the turnip having more of a radishy flavour, and the crab was very intensely crabby. The apple sorbet rounded things off nicely. Paired with this was an Australian Riesling with a pronounced  "Petrolly" aroma. This worked perfectly with the turnip and crab with the appleiness of the wine matching the sorbet. Nice.

At this point the bread appeared. A nice slice of crusty sourdough. A bit meagre though I thought. However, as soon as I'd scoffed it a waiter appeared to offer more. And again. "I Could eat this bread all night" I said. "Careful what you weesh for" said the waiter. Was this a threat or a promise? By the end of the meal I wasn't even being asked :)
Onto course two. Salad of Isle of Wight tomatoes, aged parmesan, tomato consomme, basil and hazelnuts. A tomato salad? I've come to a 2* Michelin restaurant and I'm getting a tomato salad? Well knock me down with a tin of Cirio plum tomatoes! This was just tomato heaven, interspersed with the tomatoes were chopped hazelnuts which made a great addition to the dish marrying well with the parmesan. The wine match for this was an Italian Manzoni, a grape which is a cross between Pinot Blanc and Riesling. A first for me.

Next to arrive in front of us willing victims was Quail, grapes and celery, shallot puree, sour dough. A perfectly cooked Quail breast was covered in finely sliced grapes, served with Quail liver on sourdough bread and for a bit of theatre Quail eggs were presented in a cloche smoked in hay. The eggs were surrounded with fried potato and were cooked to perfection - the whites set and the yolk with no setting at all. Coo, er, gosh sir, look at that egg, isn't it runny. Yes, and all the better for it! And what's this? The French Sommelier picked a Pinot Noir from Kent to accompany this one. She didn't think English Wines would take over the world though...

Post Quail, it was the turn of Sea scallop, apples, celeriac puree and truffle. Hopefully a Scallop caught by a British Boat off the coast of France! After the dish was placed on the table, the waiter donned a white glove and proceeded to grate a black truffle all over the dish. I thought the truffle might overwhelm the delicate scallop, but it's earthy tastes went well with the apple and sweet scallop flesh. I was getting into the swig of things with wine now and knocked back the South African Chenin Blanc with great gusto.

Now on to the last savoury course Anjou pigeon, fig and Hoisin leg, salad of salt baked beetroot, walnut and blue cheese. Now I do like me a bit of Pigeon. I don't like me a bit of Beetroot. However, the salt baking of the beetroot combined with the Hoisin leg was a revelation. I'm not going to start on the jar of pickled beetroot in our fridge, but this was perfectly comestible. The wine match for this was one of my favourite wines - Chateau Musar from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, a 1999 vintage, which was still very much alive.

As a palette cleansing transition before the desserts, we were served a Pousse Café. This was a layered cocktail in a shot glass and was meant to be knocked back in one. It really was a transitional thing, the top layer was cream with chives, the middle layer a Whisky cream and the bottom layer was maple syrup. An odd sounding combo, but when knocked back it transitioned from savoury to sweet. Interesting. Mrs S cost us the chance of a second when she told the waiter that our palettes were sufficiently cleansed.

First pudding was Lemon posset, olive oil cake, mint, black olive tuile. This was the night's "Theatre" dish. A trolley was brought to the table with a big pestle and mortar on it. Into the mortar were placed: olives, mint, olive oil and then liquid Nitrogen. The Nitrogen froze the ingredients which were then ground into a paste. Quite why this had to be done at table I knoweth not, but as I know from my science studies days, liquid Nitrogen is always fun :) Mrs S blotted her copybook by laughing until the tears rolled down her face at the po-faced mortar activity. I can't take her anywhere...

And finally, the last course. Coriander white chocolate dome, coconut and mango, Jasmine rice. This consisted of a green dome, with a ginger tuile on top of it which was covered in puffed Jasmine rice. Breaking into the coriander chocolate dome revealed an interior akin to that of a boiled egg, with a layer of coconut filled with mango. A most intriguing dessert, it wasn't overly sweet and was quite like a Thai green curry sauce in flavour - without the chili. I enjoyed its lack of overt sweetness and managed to bag half of Mrs S's too. Yum. To swill this one down we got a Pedro Ximenez from Jerez, an unctuous wine like liquid Christmas pudding.

And finally, with the coffee, we were treated to a basket of six beignets, rhomboidal doughnuts filled with apple sauce and served with a salted caramel and apple dipping sauces. I had five.

And finally, a waiter appeared with a heavy wooden box, its brass plaque revealing it was the Midsummer House Chocolate box, from which I chose a passionfruit and a ginger one. Nice.
Was the 2* experience a higher level than the 1*? Hard to say, I can't say as there were any "Wow" dishes, but everything was of an exceedingly high standard, overall it probably was a notch above The Kitchin and Purnells. Daniel Clifford wasn't working the pass when we were there, but his head chef Mark Abbott was and he's no slouch. He got a dish containing only potatoes to the Great British menu banquet in 2016 and was the first man to get consecutive 10s in a heat of the GBM.
All in all a good night out. Almost worth every penny. I wouldn't say I needed to take out a mortgage to eat there, but what I paid would more than pay off my mortgage.

Disclaimer: Any spelling mistakes and poor grammatical construction are all deliberate.


Legend in my own Mind


Bez

Interesting post, Simmers....

Did you come away feeling "full up" ?
RC1.1 abd g/n 11/0/bcd/tG PeW/- ~600 x 0 61%

The Letter R

You look suitably relaxed before all the wine!! - nice write up that was some menu you worked your way through  8)

Nïckslïkk2112

Quote from: Bez on September 04, 2018, 12:07:25 pm
Interesting post, Simmers....

Did you come away feeling "full up" ?

Not full up, but satisfied.
Probably helps that I'm only just over 11 stone these days!
Legend in my own Mind


Nick

Anything you would try and replicate Chez Simms?
Everybody's got to evalate from the norm.

zoony


Nïckslïkk2112

Quote from: Nick on September 04, 2018, 20:39:58 pm
Anything you would try and replicate Chez Simms?

I think the only thing I could get close to is the Tomato Salad.

After visiting Purnell's last year, I did recreate his burnt English Custard dessert as I found the recipe online :)

Don't know if we'll ever move up to 3* level. I want to try Sat Bain's in Nottingham another 2* yet, although he's a traitor, born in Derby but restaurant in Nottingham >:(
Legend in my own Mind


pdw1

Glad you enjoyed your stay in Cambridge.
Better drowned than duffers if not duffers wont drown

captainkurtz

fecking hell, Nick - you've turned into a right handsome bastard...
Anger is a gift.

zoony

Quote from: captainkurtz on November 19, 2018, 15:38:15 pm
fecking hell, Nick - you've turned into a right handsome bastard...



Mad as a hatter though mate! 😉.

Nïckslïkk2112

Quote from: captainkurtz on November 19, 2018, 15:38:15 pm
fecking hell, Nick - you've turned into a right handsome bastard...

Whaddya mean turned? I was born that way! (Although not actually a bastard, or probably even handsome...)
Legend in my own Mind


captainkurtz

Booked for Newcastle's only Michelin star restaurant for the wife's birthday in January and a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Darlington, off all places, in April.  I'm a bit of a pleb, really, but Wife is happy.
Anger is a gift.

Nïckslïkk2112

Quote from: captainkurtz on November 25, 2018, 17:25:48 pm
Booked for Newcastle's only Michelin star restaurant for the wife's birthday in January and a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Darlington, off all places, in April.  I'm a bit of a pleb, really, but Wife is happy.

So, that'll be House of Tides and Raby Hunt then. We've got them on our long-list.

I want to try Restaurant Sat Bains next or Tommy Banks' Black Swan. I want to try The Man Behind the Curtain, but Mrs S thinks that might be a bit OTT.
Legend in my own Mind


captainkurtz

Quote from: Nïckslïkk2112 on November 25, 2018, 21:57:03 pm
So, that'll be House of Tides and Raby Hunt then. We've got them on our long-list.

Yes, indeed.


I've been to House of Tides before - found the whole tasting menu experience exhausting - I just want a big fecking plate of food, thanks.  So exhausting that I was nearly asleep at the end of the night.  I threw a bit of a wobbler when I was still waiting for an espresso 15 minutes after I'd asked for one.  Highlight of the night was seeing one of the waiters go arse over tit whilst carrying a tray of cheese and biscuits - shit flying everywhere.  Made the whole evening worthwhile....


I did say I was a pleb...
Anger is a gift.

captainkurtz

April 07, 2019, 11:20:25 am #74 Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 11:22:20 am by captainkurtz
Did Raby Hunt last night.  Can't be bothered to write a simmers style review, but it was superb - I'd say at least 15 of the 18 courses were just ridiculous - and not being too poncey, each separate dish seemed to reveal their flavours in little tiny waves...a lot going on, but not in an overpowering or fussy way.  Presentation throughout was fantastic - as you'd expect. We were asked if we'd like to meet owner and head chef dude James Close.  I didn't really want to, being the shy type, but feared I'd offend if I said 'No, not really', so we walked off to meet him.  I was quite surprised to meet a rather shy, unassuming and modest chap - and his journey over the last decade is really amazing and very admirable.  It kind of made the night for me.  Lovely bloke.

I'm not a food snob and this morning I'm questioning whether I really should have spent the amount I did, but the Wife is happy and that probably makes it worth it.
Anger is a gift.