What follows are notes from a lunch in February 2009.
These days there is a fairly priced £45 three course lunch menu including wine, while the full tasting menu runs to £115, or £75 for a la carte. The wine list has some excellent producers but sky-high mark-ups. Egon Muller Rieling Kabinett was £95 for a wine that costs about £22 retail, Jermann Dreams 2006 was £120 for a wine costing around £31 in the shops, Leewin estate Prelude was £65 for a wine that you can buy for about £14, while Antinori Tignanello 1995 was £250 for a wine you can get hold of for about £65 (the 1997 vintage was £390 for a wine costing in the region of £85 retail).
A generous pile of goujères arrived: pepper, paprika and gruyere. While the choux pastry was piped out neatly, and the finished articles were certainly light, I found the flavours remarkably subdued, with the gruyère ones in particular tasting as in insufficient gruyère had been used (16/20). More appealing were little fried ravioli parcels of spinach, which had excellent texture (18/20). Breads are made on the premises and is a choice of white mini-baguettes, sourdough or black olive bread. These were very good indeed, the olive taste coming though well in the rolls, the sourdough nicely crusty (18/20). An amuse-bouche of vegetables suffered from very ordinary-tasting ingredients (15/20).
A starter of crayfish salad had pleasant crayfish, with a subdued horseradish cream, coral jus, chicken leg sticks, Parmesan and slices of some of the most tasteless tomatoes I can recall having for some time. I am not sure the components worked especially well together, and the tomato was very disappointing (14/20). Better was lobster with further chicken sticks, chicken jus, slightly hard pasta and black truffle (17/20).
A main course of “meagre” (a relative of sea-bass) seared and served with cauliflower puree, capers, parsley and chicken jus. This seemed to me a well conceived dish, the capers working well with the fish, which in itself was well timed, the sauce a touch gloopy (17/20). A taste of a fellow diner’s excellent scallop suggests I could have ordered better.
Cheeses are still just a selection of four pieces rather than from a board; in this case Valencay, creamy Camembert, aged Comte and Roqeufort, from Bernard Antony and in quite good condition (18/20). A little grid of milk and dark chocolates were excellent (bought in, but lovely) while macaroons were made on the premises and were very impressive indeed, as light as you could wish and with full flavour (19/20). An orange cream tart was a fine creation, with fine pastry, excellent orange taste and served with a superb ginger sorbet (19/20). Coffee was also excellent, and served in generous portions which were happily topped up on request at no charge.
Just as on my previous meal, what struck me was the contrast between the genuinely superb desserts and the distinctly variable and much less impressive savoury courses. I really think they should reconsider their vegetable supplier in particular. Although the cooking certainly seems more settled than on my first visit just after opening, I am going to leave my 16/20 score for now, even though desserts and some individual dishes are clearly far better than this. Perhaps this is a tad mean, but the crayfish salad really bothered me. Service was very good, far better than my previous experience.