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The Wonder Years..how much of this life can we do? : Would you complain to Mr Michelin about one of his restaurants?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Would you complain to Mr Michelin about one of his restaurants?

Easter weekend was pretty indulgent not for chocolate reasons, but due to a visit to Paris House - Bedford's only Michelin Star restaurant. Thanks to Heart, who'd generously bought The Hubster and I a voucher as a wedding present, we managed to get a table for lunch on Easter Sunday and were really looking forward to our visit.

On arrival, 15 minutes early (a first for the pair of us) we walked through the main door into the compact Lounge and the Maitre d' was addressing a party about how things worked. Instead of stopping for a second and welcoming us in, the pair of us had to hover in the doorway until he finished his patter and then offered us a seat. Not the best first impression.

As we sat, and observed the room, which like I said, is a very small Lounge it was full of a group of people eagerly perusing the menus looking forward to their gastronomy. We sat and waited to be 'greeted' and after 15 mins were offered a glass of champagne. Once everyone else had been shown to their tables, the pair of us were the only ones left in the room accompanied by the empty champagne glasses which remained there for another 10 mins. As we surveyed what looked a bit like we'd missed the party, a waitress came to clear the glasses and the Maitre d' returned, somewhat flustered. He apologised for things being out of sync and proceeded to tell us the Restaurant Manager had left him in the lurch, thus him not being able to find everything. He then convinced us to have a second glass of champagne and left us with the menus.

By this time we had been at Paris House for 35 minutes. After 50 minutes, we were asked if we'd like to be seated and we reminded the Maitre d' about the promised glass of champagne to which he disclaimed 'Oh has it not been served?'. We were dutifully brought our glass, told we weren't going to be charged for it and left to drink it.

We were seated at our table 1 hour after we had arrived.

Now by this point, The Hubster who likes his food and has eaten at many a fancy restaurant was more than vocal to me about what the experience of a Michelin star should be like. Previously I'd eaten at the Chef's table at Paris House which was something arranged through work and it was a really fun experience and I'd been keen to my other half to enjoy it. So far though, not so good..

The food arrived, first up yummy amuse bouche of a zingy foamy soup with carrot and coriander, orange zest, served with incredible freshly baked black treacle bread - delicious. Next a melt in your mouth smoked salmon dish with a compressed cucumber amongst other pretty detail ( i ain't no food critic).

Then it was the chicken terrine, which came served with pig skin! I had told the Maitre d' my dietry requirement was that I didn't eat pork products so you can imagine my suprise that this bit of information hadn't made it to the kitchen in such an establishment. He whipped away and brought an alternative, which looked amazing, wonderful wafer thin purple stuff replaced the pig skin, I have no idea what it was!

The main course of Woburn Estate pigeon was the best part of the meal, truly delightful. The Hubster opted for the supplementary cheese dish and the pair of us had to stifle our giggles as the waiter told us the goats cheese had been unpasteurised! Really!

The pre-desert was a little icecream bomb, coating a white choc truffle, dusted in a passion fruit powder which was gobbled down and finally we had a rhubarb dish, which was brilliantly devised in a candy shell, along with other devine bits of rhubarb.  I'm sure I've not done it justice in the description but the whole meal was as you have read was overshadowed by the service.

The Hubster comes from a family of antique silver dealers and when we do dine somewhere fancy he takes great pleasure in giving me the background to any silverware we might have on the table. We were both somewhat surprised to the the Trust House Forte stag logo on the back of the knives and forks, there probably is a reason and this could possible sound pernikity, but as The Hubster pointed out - is all part of the experience.

We weren't asked if we wanted any tea and coffee and had to wait a good while before catching anyones eye to get the bill. By that point the discretionary service charge was almost questioned, but we paid and left, unimpressed.

I have since heard several poor reports of the service at Paris House and having met Chef Phil Fanning, he was so passionate about his food it's hard to believe it isn't being presented properly by front of house and I can only hope something is done, before Mr Michelin hears about it!

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