Sunday, 10 June 2012
Le Champignon Sauvage
I'm not really sure where to start this review, as my last two visits here have not been too pleasant.
Ah well, I had best start at the beginning then.
David Everitt- Mathias and his wife Helen have been running this highly respected restaurant for what seems an age. During that time they have achieved stardom from the Michelin guide with two stars no less. A rarefied achievement indeed. It is also widely noted that Mr EM has never missed a service at his restaurant. A fact that I am unable to verify. Having said that though, if that is the case, consistency should certainly be to the fore. Which has not always been the case in my experience. We have had some truly wonderful meals here and some not so good.
We used to be regular diners here, A two hundred mile, round trip journey twice a year for quite a number of years and then ?......... Well, I happened to comment on a fish dish that was not to my taste and Madam blanked me for the rest of the evening, even choosing not to say goodnight after we waited for a good fifteen minutes. This, after much much previous praise on our other visits did not go down well at all. So we were reluctant to return.
Yes. Time is a great healer. We are six years on, and genuinely looking forward to eating here again, As I have stated we have had some very good food here.
When I booked the table I asked for 1 or 1.30. I was offered 12.30. We arrived at 12.15 but were locked out. I knocked. No reply. We browsed the menu in the glass case and lo and behold they don't open until 12.30? Eventually at 12.25 the door opened.
The initial greeting seemed pleasant enough from one of the servers, the other one looked a bit sullen and unfriendly. Helen was in the background.
The room is exactly as it was six years ago, formal, with brightly coloured summery prints covering the walls. The lighting however is poor and needs attention. The tables on the far wall, away from the windows are too dark. I think that I would struggle to see the food at its best. As the only diners, we were seated in the far right hand corner away from the entrance door, next to a venetian blind covered window which did not let an awful lot of light in to the room. Given a choice, this table would have been no where near the top of my list.
Food wise things started off fine. A couple of tasty blue cheese and walnut cookies, and rye bread, horseradish cream and ? Well I could not understand what our Eastern European server said, and that was to be a regular occurrence throughout the meal, as one of our other servers was Polish.
This meant that I had to ask repeatedly for both servers to state again what they were saying. Inevitably this led to frustration and the service descended into a poor state with very frosty, unfriendly attitude from both of them. It has to be said that there was no feeling of warmth from the moment that we arrived. Not good at all for anyone in the hospitality industry.
I only had to ask a couple of times what was in this little appetiser. Parsley? panna cotta white onion puree and bacon foam. This was extremely nice. Different layers and textures. Good.
The set lunch menu that I chose from had only one course that we both liked the look of, Cinderford Lamb Fillet. So my wife chose from the carte which was a lot more appealing.
Cannelloni of Kid, roasted onion puree, peas and wilted lettuce. (from the carte)
Not my dish, but I/we have eaten it before, in one form or another. I don't think its ever been off the menu. Yes, I enjoyed it back then and enjoyed what I tasted this time. My wife cleared her plate.
My dish next from the lunch menu (two courses £26 three courses £32)
Seared Cod cheeks, smoked eel, pear, horseradish and potato salad.
Well. What can I say about this dish except massive fail. If this had of been on GBM the judges would have ripped it apart. Cod? The cheeks had the texture of overcooked chicken. I raise my hat to KFC.
Apart from the texture they failed miserably on the flavour front. A bit of moisture in them would not have gone a miss too.
Note the dry stringy nature of the beasts in the photo.
Bread was a game of two halves as well. Some delicious bacon brioche and some rubbery seed crusted white that was below standard at this level. We did not try the granary.
At this point I was beginning to get annoyed with the face pulling antics of our server especially when I asked her to hold the bread basket so that I could take a photograph. I was starting to regret our return visit.
From the carte (two courses £48. Three courses £59) my wife went for the Winchcombe Venison, morels, smoked almonds, wild garlic pesto. nasturtium millet.
In the main my wife enjoyed this dish except that that the venison was "slightly" chewy. My taste from the smaller piece to the rear of the photo made me think that my wife was being far too kind.
My main course next up. Cinderford Lamb Fillet, bolognaise of shank, carrot cream, heritage carrots.
A hunky plate of food which reminded me very slightly of a dish that we ate at Pollen Street Social earlier this year. This was not as good though.The fail on this plate was a large chunk of minced flank that had not been broken up, so it did not take on any of the rather nice sauce. Having said that perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if the service had not grated on me so much.
By this time there were six other tables of two in the restaurant, everything was hushed and low key with little or no atmosphere.
We skipped dessert, unusually so for us. Truth be told I could not wait to get the bill and get back home. We waited five minutes and in the end made the journey to the desk to get the bill and to pay. This helped speed things up.
Naturally, there are those who love this place, and so did we, for many years, but?
Would we ever go back?
Did not Charles Dickens famously state? " Never say never"