Friday, 30 October 2009

The Restaurant

I watched the first episode of The Restaurant last night on BBC Two. What a bunch - one of them was reminiscent if Miss Piggy; and her partner looked remarkably similar. Monsieur Blanc seemed to be quite underwhelmed by most of them, and I do not blame him. The pair of army chaps and the two male Blondes were akin to the proverbial chalk and cheese.

Blanc asked one of the male Blondes: "Why are you winking at me? Do you wink at everybody?" The Blonde replied that he was a bit nervous. A nervous tic!

If you read Page 30 in this week's Radio Times, Raymond Blanc imparts a measure of his culinary experience and wisdom on eight ways to spot a great restaurant, great being the operative word.

The Telephone Test is first on his List: Does the establishment inquire whether the reservation is for a special occasion - like a birthday; or do they simply say something like "Hello ... yes, great."?

The Pavement Test: Is the outside of the restaurant impeccable, including the pavement?

The Speed Test: How efficient are they when you are seated?

The Bread Test: How generous are they with the bread? And are there several types?

The Butter Test: Is it wrapped with the maker's label all over it? Or in a butter dish?

The Boil-In-The-Bag Test: Seemingly many Michelin-starred restaurants use an "under-vacuum" method, cooking the contents slowly at low temperatures.

The Stock Test: Monsieur Blanc is particular about real stock.

The Visibility Test: He's a fan of open-plan!

I have condensed Blanc's list (now there's a pun!), but you get the gist, don't you? Perhaps it is just as well that he doesn't visit Belfast or Northern Ireland too frequently! His criteria might go some way towards explaining why we have one mere Michelin Star establishment in the Province.

Attention to detail is clearly paramount in Pop Blanc's book.


Peregrine's Bird Blog said...

This may surprise you in 1997 I was one of four contestants to get in the final for a competition where the prize was a year working in Blanc's kitchen at le Manoir de Quatre Seasons.

We had to cook a meal at Le Manoir for him. Quite daunting to say the least. Especially with the lifesize bronze of him in the kitchen!!!!

It was filmed and we had three hours to do it. I was the only one of the four to have their meal plated and ready. Robbie Millar had given me some advice and showed me how to cook scallops to perfection and thought my meal was excellent. Basically a Scallop dish to start with followed by Woodcock and a Sloe Gin and Chocolate Souffle to finish.

By the time the last contestant finished twenty minutes later, and my beautiful souffle had sunk, our food was then tasted.

I didnt win. The contestant whose meal took the 3hrs 20 mins won. I dont begrudge him it was a very nice Teal ballotine. But in my opinion rules are rules!!

I found Blanc very egotistical and not really a very nice guy, mainly from overhearing him say something to his PR lady.

However I did have the previous evening one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. The highlight being the ravioli containing the perfectly poached quails egg!!

I am in agreement with his ideas about service apart from cooking sous vide which I think is perfectly acceptable.

Timothy Belmont said...

The Life-sized bronze would seem to affirm his egotism!

Of course he appears agreeable enough on the telly; however, as you say, he "didn't get where he was" by being nice presumably! I imagine he must be exceptionally demanding to work for.

That's fascinating, Craig. I had no idea about your appearance 10 years ago.


davethewineguy said...

Robbie Millar - Now there was a guy who could cook. sadly missed.

Timothy Belmont said...

I wonder how his family are keeping, Dave.

Have you heard any news about the Lobster Pot and how they are doing?