3 star Michelin Arnsbourg revisited

Saturday, October 01st , 2011

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It is almost a decade since I sampled the innovative cooking of Arnsbourg, just after it received its third Michelin star.  It is not an easy place to get to: last time it was a long drive from Strasbourg, and this time it was a long drive from Luxembourg (pictured). The business has clearly prospered, with a larger dining room and also some rooms that you can stay overnight at.  Yet I found this meal, while technically capable, rather less satisfying than my last one here.  Service was superb once more, and there were some clever touches, yet this time I had the sense that the food theatre was sometimes at the expense of the dish.  I didn’t get this impression last time, and have the impression that it has lost some of the edge that earned its third star.  It is an interesting debating point as to when a top restaurant is really delivering its best meals during its development.  Few places get constantly better and better, and in many cases a restaurant’s best meals seem to be just before or after they have gained their third star.   It must be difficult to keep up the same level of intensity, and easy to coast somewhat knowing that the third star pretty much ensures a constant stream of business, even in a location as out of the way as this one.  I still enjoyed Arnsbourg, but I have fonder memories of my earlier visit here.

The current closure of Royal China in Queensway is giving me an excuse to try some other places I have not been to for years, one of which is Four Seasons.  This bustling place produced some very good food this week, with particularly good sea bass and gai lan. It was not entirely consistent, but this is definitely some of the better Cantonese cooking in London.

Malina has been getting some press attention recently, and I am always curious to try and find a good Polish restaurant.  This occasional quest has had some distinct disappointments over the years, including in Krakow a few years ago.  Molina was actually pretty good, and although the dishes did not compare with the very best food I had eaten in Krakow (at Under the Angels), Molina was actually better than several other well-known restaurants that I tried when I was over there, and certainly better than the places I have tried in London.  It is at its heart a simple neighbourhood restaurant rather than a destination place, but if you are in west London and want to try Polish food then you can do much worse (trust me: much, much worse…).

I also had a quick visit to long-time favourite Diwana Bhel Poori.  In case you thought food in London was always expensive, we had enough snacks for two people (bhel poori, aloo papri chat, samosas) and lassi to drink, and the bill came to £14.40. Not each you understand, but for two. £7 a head for genuinely tasty food.

I have revamped the 3 star Michelin map on the web site.  This now has proper previews and link through to the reviews from the map “pins”. Please let me know if you spot any glitches.