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Last night we had a meal in The Epicurean. Actually, it seems to be called “The Epicurean at Seventeen”, thus preserving a reference to this restaurant’s previous name, ‘XVII’. The meal was good but for various reasons we didn’t have the best time.

We both started with ‘Wild Mushroom and Champagne Veloute’. Val then had ‘Loin of Wild Boar with a Smoked Pork Cheek Croquette and Lancashire Black Pudding’ which came with beetroot and blackberry cabbage, vanilla charred pear and boulengere potatoes. I had ‘Herb Roasted Poulet de Bresse’ which came with chicken pastilla, vegetable dauphinoise, baby leeks, morel voloute and chorizo foam. Then for dessert we both had ‘Lime Leaf Pannacotta and coconut butter milk foam’.

To be truthful, it was all presented very fussily and this made us uncomfortable. Take, for example, the first course – the Wild Mushroom, etc. Put simple, this was a mushroom soup with added bits. What first appeared was a large soup dish, in the middle of which was a small block of minced(?) mushroom, about an one inch on each side and perhaps half an inch high; then on top of that was a single slice of cooked mushroom. Nothing else – big dish, small mushroom bits in the middle. The waitress put these down in front of us without saying anything, and disappeared. We sat and waited, feeling fairly certain that there must be more – please! – and after perhaps 30 seconds she reappeared. Thirty seconds is a long time when you’re looking at a nearly-empty dish with nothing but some artfully-arranged mushroom bits in the middle and feeling unsure if yourself…. What she came back with was in fact the soup – a jug for each of us which she poured into our dishes. Then there were some side dishes for each of us – a small bowl of thick cream which we could spoon into the soup, and three sticks – ‘salted caraway cheese straws’. It was in fact very tasty, but the presentation was just too fussy. The main course was similar. It all left me feeling unsure of what I was supposed to be getting, and that detracted from the enjoyment of the meal. What’s odd is that we enjoyed our meal here last year very much, but I don’t remember the presentation being like this. Perhaps the change of name reflects a change of policy.

We didn’t make the best choice of wine, either. We bought a bottle of chardonnay, on the basis that it was pretty full-bodied for a white wine and ought to go reasonably well with both our meals. In the event, it didn’t – it came across as a bit thin. Obviously our Glasshouse tasting meal didn’t rub off on us…

We have another dinner booked in The Epicurean, and we’re in two minds about it. However, it ought to be from their other menu – there are two menus which alternate every few days – and looking at it there may be more dishes on this other menu that we’ll enjoy. Cancelling the second meal would cost us £5 for the cancellation. Perhaps we’re more Bistro eaters than Fine Diners? – we love the food in the Glasshouse, for example.

Today has been a sea day, and we’ve spent it relaxing. We’re also trying to have a sober day, and we are keeping clear of the Glasshouse. Tonight is a formal night, and tomorrow we will be at Villefranche, where we will be tendering. We will be doing our own thing there.

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