The Artichoke 4444

9 Market Square , Old Amersham, HP7 0DF

  • The Artichoke
  • The Artichoke
  • The Artichoke restaurant Amersham
  • The Artichoke restaurant Amersham
  • Artichoke restaurant Buckinghamshire
  • Artichoke restaurant Buckinghamshire

SquareMeal Review of The Artichoke

“Excellent in every way”; “a high-end star”; “a gem outside London” … readers continue to heap praise on Laurie and Jackie Gear’s Artichoke – a “small place with a great ambience” that seems to get everything right. Really confident clued-up staff help things along nicely, the well-oiled open kitchen adds its own entertainment, while the food is reckoned to be outstanding value for the quality on show. Laurie’s team are capable of delivering “unassuming world-class dishes” from an ever-evolving repertoire that runs in tandem with the seasons while hoovering up the best from the region’s producers. Regulars have their own favourites from the line-up: a picture-pretty plate of smoked haddock tartare with Royal Russet apple, radish and “beguiling” horseradish cream; a fat juicy roasted scallop with charred octopus, carrot, sea beet, pork and tarragon dressing; a vivid plate of Yorkshire grouse with blackberries, blackberry sauce and a cornet of foie gras ganache. Our own top picks include dishes from nearer home – notably saddle of Buckinghamshire venison partnered by smoked celeriac purée, a marvellous blue-cheese crumble, poached quince and cavolo nero. Presentation has “reached new heights” of late, especially when it comes to desserts such as a lemon bavarois with Arbequina olive oil jelly, citrus salad and powdery lemon thyme sherbet. Brilliant-value tasting menus and perfectly matched wines top things off admirably.  

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UK Top 100 Restaurants 2018

SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Amersham Station 1km

Amersham Tube Station 1km

Address

Address: 9 Market Square , Old Amersham HP7 0DF

Opening times

Tues-Sat 12N-2.30pm 6-11pm

Nearby Landmarks

Harewood Downs Golf Club 3km

Highclere Farm Country Touring Park 4km

Details

Telephone: 01494 726 611

Website:

Cuisine: Modern European

Private Dining: 14

9.1

Food & Drink: 9.1

Service: 9.4

Atmosphere: 9.1

Value: 8.9

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 25 October 2017

We make no bones about it - Artichoke remains one of our favourite restaurants, and we are still capable of judging it as dispassionately as possible and making unbiased comparisons of it with other fine-dining destinations. The atmosphere is relaxed, something made natural by the confident and always friendly service, and enhanced by the variety of dinner guests, on the evening we were there ranging from ordinary citizens like us to a member of the House of Lords (and Times journalist). For the level of cuisine achieved the menu is remarkably reasonably priced, and Laurie Gear and Ben Jenkins have reached new heights in the quality of their cooking and the wonderful presentation of the dishes on the plate. We opted for the tasting menu, the prelude to which was a sensational Lancashire bomb mousse, served at just the right not-too-hot temperature. A great start and just the way to get you looking forward to the rest of the meal. This feeling was underlined by the smoked haddock tartare with its rocket, radish, microherbs, beguiling horseradish ice cream and russet apple - a perfect demonstration of the three t’s (taste, texture and temperature). Another example of how to match ingredients followed, roasted scallop with a mild curried cockle sauce, pickled cauliflower and cauliflower purée - a joy to eat and a joy to behold! An extra course was kindly served, a tribute to the game season in the form of Yorkshire grouse, blackberries and blackberry sauce, bacon, a little cornet containing a terrific concentrated foie gras ganache, and crunchy nuts; yet another winner. It appears to be a trend to serve one veggie dish on an otherwise conventional menu, and Artichoke came up with a stunning mix of roasted salsify, autumn truffle, a selection of mushrooms, puffed wild rice and rye bread, topped off with a delicious chervil emulsion. The fish course was a homage to Cornwall, superb cod loin, River Fowey mussels, “coastal” vegetables, chickpeas, which worked surprisingly well with the fish, and a sensational chicken tea adding a contrast. We chose different dishes for our mains, my wife had some excellent local Buckinghamshire venison saddle with smoked celeriac purée, a marvellous blue cheese crumble, fruity poached quince and cavolo nero, and mine was tender local partridge, nicely gamey, with classic golden raisins and traditional chestnuts, hispi cabbage and a suitably meaty sauce. The pre-dessert was another stand-out, the lightest blackcurrant and goats cheese mousse matched with a lovely biscuit crumble. After a surprise extra, an amazing, light, orange soufflé with ginger, we went for different desserts: a brilliant Brillat-Savarin cheesecake with pickled pear, an outstanding granola and poire William sorbet, and a truly great lemon Bavarois with a perfect arbequina olive oil jelly, citrus fruit salad, properly powdery lemon thyme sherbet and topped off with excellent almond biscuit crumbs. Just to complete this wonderful meal a delicious finale of chocolate sprinkle tart, chocolate ganache and pistachio came with our after-dinner mint tea. And still the Michelin enigma remains: How can this restaurant be properly ranked by The Good Food Guide in its Top 50 and given a score equal to that of a number of Michelin two-star venues, and superior to some others, and Hardens justifiably award it top marks, and yet not get even one measly star from the tyre company.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

David H. platinum reviewer 05 April 2017

This is the thought that occupied my mind as we paid and left the Artichoke after a meal that had some good points but on balance left me underwhelmed, and unconvinced by what almost seems like a lobby to get this place a Michelin star. The food I had today- a set lunch of pickled herring, megrim sole in a beurre noisette , and their selection of cheeses , was not ambitious or complex. It was testing no-one to make it, and was unable to convince me at least that this is one of the best restaurants in the UK outside London. Further the portion sizes for starter and main were very small. Now I need to say at this point that we eat out a lot- our main meal is in a restaurant well over 100 times a year, and our repertoire ranges from 3* to neighbourhood Italian . So I really do understand that quality modern European cuisine is not served in huge platefuls; nevertheless these portions stood out for their smallness. Three tiny pieces of pickled herring, and a dreadfully small megrim (which I buy and cook myself) . Nevertheless there were clear signs- in the bread, the petits fours, the coffee, that this kitchen can do better than what we were given to choose from and eat today. Its just a pity we didn't get to see more of it. Now I do have a clear view on the question set in this review's title. It is that if you are an ambitious restaurant then everything that leaves the kitchen should be of a style , quality and quantity to make you feel you're showing what you can do. If it doesn't then what incentive are you offering to make customers want to come back, and maybe next time choose a la carte? If showing what the kitchen can do ( even within a restricted choice) isn't possible for £28, then charge what you need to do that, but I'm unimpressed by a two-tier kitchen, trading on great reviews and awards but actually delivering something different. This is a highly rated restaurant on Square Meal, but I do note that of 12 diner reviews, eight are from the same two reviewers, all rating across the board 10's . This seems odd, and is artificially inflating the aggregate rating, and unfairly reducing the value of those votes that aren't 10. Square Meal- should this be happening? Our bill for 4 today was a little over £220, which included a decent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and a glass of a slightly flabby Gavi. Not expensive if what we'd eaten was as good as this kitchen could produce, though we may never know. Service was pleasant and nicely paced throughout, though we did feel a little pressured to order at the outset.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Lloyd S. gold reviewer 05 February 2017

This was the first time we've been here for an evening and what an excellent dining experience it was . A very warm and friendly greeting on arrival then escorted to our table to let the festivities begin. We decided to go for the Tasting Menu with matching Wines and I have to say it was heaven starting with a fantastic Trout dish then an amazing Crab Thermidor followed by a delightful Artichoke dish and stunning Cod course then on to the main courses and my highlight a glorious Venison with orange curd and the braised Beef which was very rich . The matching wines were a delight coming from Italy,Hungary,Austria,South Africa and France. Now to dessert a fabulous Poached Pear Galette and a Cambridge Cream & Rhubbarb . All in all it was truly a fantastic evening which was made even better due to the great warm and excellent service from every member of staff . So if it's a fantastic evening with amazing food and wine in a great little town then take a trip to Amersham and visit this restaurant. I'm already looking forward to returning in June #food #hospitality #restaurant

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Lloyd S. gold reviewer 04 December 2016

Onwards & upwards for this fantastic restaurant glad to have visited again and when the food & service is of this quality it's not a hard choice to make. This time we had the New Lunch Tasting Menu and as expected it was stunning with amazing Beetroot Soup to start followed by Brill , Brezain Cheese , the stunning Venison Sausage added to this were excellent desserts Zabaglione , Mincemeat Galette and a little extra a fantastic Prune & Armagnac Soufflé. All I can say don't feel you have to travel to London for Michelin style food just take a trip to Amersham and you will not be disappointed I for one will be returning again soon

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Lloyd S. gold reviewer 19 October 2016

The Artichoke is a fantastic restaurant set in a beautiful village of Amersham creating food that any Michelin Star restaurant would be proud and along with the excellent service you receive make it a pleasure to visit. Can't wait to return which is soon

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 23 September 2016

We are devotees of The Artichoke and have been for some years which is why we are fully in agreement both with Hardens when they state that “the debate should not be whether or not it should have a star, but whether or not it should have two” and with The Good Food Guide which rates it much higher than a whole raft of one star outfits. You are guaranteed a top-class fine dining experience here, without the self-conscious flashiness and theatre some places seem to consider necessary to make an impression. We got straight into the amuse-bouche, a delightfully pure and welcomingly refreshing chilled watermelon soup, which set us up nicely for the smoked haddock with radish, super horseradish cream balancing the subtle smokiness of the fish, and shades of beetroot. We had decided not to take the wine flight with the tasting menu, and after consulting the knowledgeable restaurant manager and sommelier, Matteo, we chose what turned out to be the perfect white for the first four fish and shellfish dishes - inevitably an Italian wine by a top maker, Cervaro della Sala. Scallops are customary, almost obligatory, in good restaurants these days, but not all of them are handled as well as this - impeccably roasted and with a stunning shellfish tarragon reduction, outstanding local, peanut fed, ham, and an amusing carrot mousse decorated with a carrot top. The next dish on the menu was cucumber, not something I enjoy as the main ingredient, so I was offered Lyme Bay crab which I gratefully accepted. My wife was very happy with the pickled cucumber, the ubiquitous burrata, cucumber foam, rye bread crumbs and nasturtium leaves and flowers adding colour and bite. My classic shredded crab was graced with Isle of Wight heritage tomatoes, a remarkable tomato essence jelly, an original passion fruit dressing which brought out the taste of the crab, and croutons for crunch, and made me really pleased that I had managed to forgo the cucumber. There was no question of declining the next dish, the king of fish, turbot, a generous fillet simply presented in all its glory, bathing in a superb oyster and champagne sauce and accompanied by Jersey royals, and quite munchy sea veg and seaweed provided added texture. The Artichoke tasting menu permits a choice of main, and my wife preferred a change from lamb, so she selected the very local duck, succulent breast and extra-tasty confit leg, confit bacon, a proper portion of ripe peas, cooked baby gem lettuce, fragrant marjoram and some amazing duck liver butter on a large crisp. I wanted to try the Sicilian syrah with the lamb rump, and they proved to be very suitable match, with the melt-in-the-mouth meat perfectly backed up by a lovely aubergine purée, borlotti and cocoa beans, juicy olives, tenderstem broccoli, quite pungent feta, and an unannounced but very welcome portion of stunningly good sweetbread. The pre-dessert was a sharp yet sweet redcurrant compôte on iced yoghurt, just the job to cleanse the palate for our desserts: a szechuan pepper ice cream with pineapple tart and pistachio, followed by a winning strawberry galette with pastry cream, caramelised white chocolate and strawberry sorbet for my wife, and a sensational pickled French cherry jelly with Brillat Savarin cheesecake and toasted oats for me. Laurie Gear and head chef Ben Jenkins had pulled it off again!

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 26 May 2016

At the Artichoke you are always guaranteed top-class dining, the superb cooking reinforced by front-of-house staff who are properly trained, responsive and enthusiastic about the food they present to the diners, unlike the one-star place in Leeds we visited recently, and by perfectly matched wines with the tasting menu selected by the always excellent restaurant manager/head sommelier Matteo. Laurie Gear and his sous-chef Ben Jenkins are constantly devising new combinations of ingredients to add to their store of successes and cleverly reflecting the best of seasonal produce, and the tasting menu is a perfect example of this. The home-made bread was well up to standard and came in very handy to mop up any last drops of the super sauces and purées. The amuse-bouche of white onion and cider soup with nettle pesto began the tasting menu on a high note which was held in perfect pitch throughout the meal. The starters were uniformly excellent - artistically presented smoked haddock in a brilliant combination with horseradish sauce, a selection of heritage beetroot, radishes and a decoration of microherbs; followed by delicious Lyme Bay crab, three varieties of Isle of Wight tomatoes and passion fruit seeds; perfectly roasted Isle of Skye scallops with a lovely heritage carrot purée, peanut-fed ham and a striking pork and shellfish tarragon dressing; and, finally, a top-drawer asparagus dish blending asparagus tips with a duck egg sabayon, morels, Lancashire bomb cheese and surprising rye bread cubes to deliver another lip-smackingly good plate. This led on to a splendid fish dish of halibut in an historic oyster and champagne sauce and flanked by sea vegetables and Jersey royal new potatoes. We both chose hogget as our main dish, the meat tender and with the proper taste of the yearling sheep and this was complemented by amazing sweetbreads, white sprouting broccoli, borlotti beans, lovely gravy and a white garlic and olive pesto adding to the richness. We had no qualms about the two desserts to follow as all the dishes had been so well balanced with each other and the service so immaculately paced to match our particular intake. Orange was the theme of the palate cleanser and the orange cream, sherbert and crystallised rind more than adequately met the requirements and the rhubarb galette with a pastry cream that was equal to the slightly sharp rhubarb sorbet, caramelised white chocolate underpinned by an element of ginger brought the feast to a climactic finale. Once again a triumph!

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 06 November 2015

There has been some trumpeting lately of the virtues of keeping things simple and venues which set out to do just that appear to have been rewarded for it. This is all well and good but it should not mean that imagination and technique should be overshadowed. We have had issues in the past with starred pubs and restaurants that put dishes on the table which simply do not come up to good home cooking standard and which we resent paying out good money for when we can eat better chez nous. We tend to go out of our way to find the best in fine dining because we consider it a treat when we eat out to be able to enjoy top-class cooking rather than home from home stuff, although this appears to be a concept which is not "trending" at the moment. To this end we have in the last three years dined in over 60 Michelin star restaurants and more than 30 of the restaurants listed in the top 50 Good Food Guide. Most of these serve anything but "simple" food but still retain their ratings, some though, by our reckoning, are simply overrated. We have our own, not exclusive, list of those worth returning to and a fairly long list of those we see no point patronising again, and Artichoke figures most definitely in the former category whether it has a star or not. It is thanks to The Good Food Guide and Square Meal that we first tried Artichoke and we have been irregular regulars now for getting on for three years and have even considered moving closer than our habitual two hour drive to make it possible to eat here more frequently. Laurie Gear is a prime example of consistent top quality. He clearly believes that what he puts on the table should be rather more than a cut above bog standard simplicity and he seeks out the best of ingredients and new combinations thereof without ever losing sight of the fact that he is cooking for the general dining public and not just to impress professionals in the catering business, and our latest exploration of his tasting menu confirmed this for us and the other lucky diners present in his restaurant. The amuse-bouche set the tone for the rest of the meal - a soft and super tasty mix of thick parsnip soup with Lancashire bomb cheese, and the perfectly balanced sequence of dishes that followed certainly lived up to the expectations it aroused, starting with delicately smoked cod, the smokiness beautifully matched by horseradish cream and contrasted with radish and heritage beetroot, then a stunning marriage of outstanding scallop with "winter finished" ham and a lovely pork and shellfish tarragon dressing. Next came a surprising veggie dish which amazed us with its textural complexity and fulfilling tastiness - roasted salsify with terrific hazelnut crumbs and truffle jel, super chervil emulsion and sweet cicely and golden enoki. Delicious! The fish course was distinguished by the way the basil sauce went perfectly with the wild stone bass and by some truly excellent crab gnocchi, fennel and courgette. The local Chiltern Hills partridge was my selection for the main course and, of course, it was a perfect example of how to cook a game bird and combined superbly with charred pear on a bed of curly kale, which is not my favourite but handled properly can make a valid contribution to the overall dish, as was the case here, parsnip bark and purée and, heralding Christmas, some lovely chestnut. My wife went for the other game option, a delectable cut of smoked venison saddle with an epic companion in the form of an orange curd which was an ideal match for the smokiness of the meat, and chervil root, brussels sprouts and sweet pickled red onions. The clever goat's milk mousse and sorrel sorbet pre-dessert set us up brilliantly for the raspberry-based dessert with its bavarois, lemon jelly, yoghurt curd background for the outstanding combination of fresh raspberries and basil sorbet balanced to perfection with a whey meringue. Once again an example of the talent, imagination and technical skill of the chef, and rounded off by a great selection of accompanying wines properly and expertly presented by the sommelier Matteo, and good service from quite young staff clearly under the tutelage of Jackie Gear herself.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 10 June 2015

Artichoke is the epitome of fine dining, consistently providing star quality cuisine, service and attention to detail in every respect, and yet its rating status remains something of a conundrum. In one national guide it is not rated as a fine dining venue while in all the rest it is top 50 material and recognised as outshining so many restaurants rated more highly in the one publication that remains out of step. We side most strongly with the majority, and if that were not so we would not have revisited Artichoke as often as we have. On this occasion, as usual, everything was exceptionally good, but there are always things that remain in the memory for a very long time and serve as a reference for comparison with other restaurants. This time the souvenirs started with the amuse-bouche, a white onion soup of lovely consistency combined with a nettle pesto to assail the palate with sweetness and richness and bring the tastebuds into action in readiness for the other treats to come. Then there was a stupendous mix of lightly smoked cod with a perfect horseradish cream contrasted with heritage beets and microherbs. This led interestingly on to an idyll of temperatures in the delicate scallops, the wonderful curried yoghurt and the pickled broccoli. The taste of peanuts in the ham, the main ingredient in the next course, was provocative and the girolles lovely, but we were raving about the parmesan custard and the asparagus purée that were a touch of genius and yet almost surpassed by the fragrance of the basil sauce, the crunchy crust on the sea bass, the wonderfully light crab gnocchi and the little fennel leaf bars in the first main course. I chose the duck breast to some extent because of the superb rosso di montalcino paired with it by super sommelier Matteo, but it was difficult to decide which was better - the duck, both the breast and the confit perfect examples of how to bring the best out of a sometimes tricky bird to cook, with mild sweet turnip and a phenomenal pink grapefruit and mead emulsion, a dish that showcased the three Ts, taste, texture, and temperature, to a T, or the subtle melt-in-the-mouth veal loin with its wild garlic, truffle wafer and pickled mushroom background. To have a goat's milk mousse as a palate cleanser/pre-dessert appeared curious, but in fact it worked both as a cheese course, the mousse left on the tongue becoming more and more cheesey, and a palate cleanser, the clever sorrel sorbet contrasting its almost sweet sharpness to leave the right mouthfeel for the dessert to follow. We sampled two desserts, one a terrific Brillat Savarin cheese cake with historic pear sorbet, pickled poire william and a light granola for crunch, the other amazing blackberry and apple ravioli accentuated with a blackberry sorbet cum parfait and moreish hazelnut toffee. Laurie Gear and his team deserve all the praise and recognition they get, and more than deserve more recognition from one particular corner.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 04 November 2014

As foodies, our philosophy when indulging in our favourite hobby is that we see no reason to spend good money on inferior products, and the fact that we paid another return visit to Artichoke, and consider it worth driving 70 miles to do so, is a tribute to Laurie Gear's superlative cooking and a measure of his consistency in combining technical refinement and creativity with an ability to develop and improve. He displays more than just talent, he has a knack of putting ingredients together in an innovative manner without ever losing sight of the need for a respect of the basics and an approach which makes the best use of the best in seasonal products. The cooking is matched by the perfectly proportioned dining room, by the friendly, skilled service, and especially the well-chosen tasting menu wine flight, described in informative detail by the the expert sommelier. As befits a restaurant of this quality, it was completely full, tables were being turned and it appeared that the tasting menu was rightly popular. Every single dish in the succession of wow-factor plates made for a perfectly balanced meal, contrasting tastes and textures and temperatures and visual presentation in a manner that clearly reflected the thought processes behind the various combinations and the skill required to execute them. The amuse-bouche gave a taste of what was to come with celeriac, cold truffle cream and grated black truffle, luxuriously setting the taste buds in motion. The hop-smoked sea trout was brilliantly matched by a beetroot sorbet and backed up with malted barley grains and a terrific dill sauce. Lovely Skye scallop was served with lime-pickled mooli, an inspired shrimp cracker and terrific seaweed jelly. Roasted salsify followed in a superb combination with toasted hazelnut "soil", enoki, sweet cicely and a beautiful truffle gel. We wondered if watercress and spinach together might a step too far even for the matchmaker supreme, but in this sauté mix it not only worked but it somehow brought out the true taste of the very fresh Cornish cod and together with the potato and truffle foam, the amazing watercress pesto and the lipsmacking madeira sauce it had us shaking our heads with admiration. Game is in season and the local partridge I had was a splendid example of how to handle the more delicate of the game birds, tender, perfectly cooked and with oodles of light gamey flavour in tandem with curly kale, surprising parsnip purée and bark powder, chestnuts and a marvellous charred pear. My wife chose the saddle of venison, a top-notch example of Highland game, which came in an amazing combination with an orange curd, striking chervil root, soft pickled red onions and, an early hint of Christmas, Brussels sprouts. The pre-dessert showed how to serve a palate cleanser that can stand on its own as a proper menu dish - a goat's milk mousse with a sorrel sorbet that just evaporated in the mouth yet left behind the distinct tastes of both elements. Finally, we were treated to yet another amazing combination of different flavours and textures with a brilliant Brillat Savarin cheesecake, poire William sorbet, a nutty granola, pickled pear and sweet cicely. Actually, not finally, because we still had room for the top-class homemade petits fours. What Laurie Gear achieves is, in our judgement, on a level that few of the one-star restaurants we have visited can even aspire to. Needless to say, we have not paid our last visit to Artichoke, where the wow-factor is the norm.