There’s something strange about restaurants with a reputation. We’ve noticed it at many, many places – those with 1, 2 or 3 Michelin stars, or a particularly beautiful location perhaps. The diners aren’t going there for the food. Well, some are obviously. Us, for example. However, you get all sorts of odd groupings – parents and daughter at university, visitors to the country or couples who’ve come for the experience rather than the food. What many of these people have in common is that they spend most of their time not talking, or going “ooh” like we do, but staring at their phones. Separately or, even more worryingly, together, gigglingly huddled over one shared phone.
Is the art of conversation dead? Can’t they simply concentrate on appreciating the care and effort that’s gone into preparation and serving of exquisite food? They treat each course as rather an unwelcome interlude between whatever else they’re doing. There’s a sigh as they have to put the iPhone away whilst the server tries to place a perfectly crafted plate of food in front of them. Ban the lot, we say; throw their iPhones into the glass of perfectly chilled water they’ve so eagerly sought.
Last night we were at Le Cochon Aveugle [thanks Marina] for a stunning 6 course tasting menu. Well, 9 if you count the extras and it took us around three and a half hours. The other tables – see above. One pair of women [chinese maybe] spent 99.5% of the time each looking at their phones, with the remainder crafting some abstract sculpture out of the melting candle, and then holding it up against one of the pictures in the room and taking photographs of said sculpture. What is going on?
Le Cochon Aveugle [aka The Blind Swine] is a very welcome addition to York’s restaurant scene which hasn’t, to be fair, set the world alight all the time we’ve been going [about 100 years]. The venue was once part of Michael O’Hare’s first foray and you still see the evidence with a cuddly hare sticking out of the wall – that perfect backdrop for a naff wax sculpture.
We’re not always fans of tasting menus but there is no choice here, and it’s all a surprise as well. No warnings, just a hint maybe of white with the first few courses and red the rest. There’s a surprise if ever there was one.
So, wonderfully crafted food. Fascinating balance of sweet and savoury in the dishes with only a few of the obligatory edible flowers. Must grow more marigolds. The simplest possible bill at the end: 4 x Aveugle and a bottle of wine. £188 for four plus service. Seven people working: three working magic in the tiny visible kitchen, three serving with relaxed professionalism rarely found in the provinces and that would shame many London establishments, and one at the back washing hundreds and hundreds of plates. We can say it no better than Marina: “It’s simply excellent”. Just go – and leave your phone at home.
Restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle York.