The Artichoke
The Artichoke
The Artichoke
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SquareMeal Review of The Artichoke

Gold Award

“Excellent in every way”; “a high-end star”; “a gem outside London” … readers continue to heap praise on husband and wife 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 (not least a three-course set lunch for £30). 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, or one reader’s favourite of “amazing” rice-pudding soufflé. Perfectly matched wines top things off admirably, while vegetarians get their own lunch menu and an eight-course tasting menu in the evening to match the meat-and-fish menu – and it’s all brilliant value to boot.

“We keep having to think of special occasions to justify going yet again” admits one fan – but when there’s “fantastic food at a great price served by staff who understand food and wine in a comfortable restaurant” – why wait?

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Modern European
Ambience
Fine dining, Quiet conversation, Romantic
Other Awards
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegetarian options
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Romantic, Special occasions

Location for The Artichoke

9 Market Square, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP7 0DF

01494 726611

Website

Opening Times

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

Reviews of The Artichoke

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17 Reviews 
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Service
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Dr Mohsin Ali FRCP(UK)

Excellent Restaurant
26 July 2019   - Verified Diner

The best restaurant in Amersham and in

its surroundings .

 

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Mr. Lloyd S

Fabulous Festive Sunday Lunch
05 December 2018  
It was nice to return to the Artichoke which we have had the real pleasure of visiting a few times now and which is set in the delightful little town of Amersham. This is a fabulous restaurant run by Chef Patron Laurie and along with head chef Ben they produce some fantastic dishes. They also have a very friendly and professional Front of House team who really look after you throughout your stay. Our visit on this occasion was for the first of this years Christmas Sunday Lunches something they do every December. You always receive a lovely welcome when you arrive and on this occasion it was no different. We were then shown to our table which was actually the one we generally sit at and which gives you a good view of the open kitchen. While we looked at the menu we were given a nice surprise in being presented with a complimentary glass of champagne. You have the choice of three menus the A la Carte , Lunch Tasting Menu and the Full 8 Course Tasting Menu. It was the latter which we decided to choose. We started with some Chiltern Black Ale Bread with Lamb Fat Butter this was followed by a fabulous Amuse Bouche a Smoked Celeriac Veloute. Our first course was a delightful Isle of Skye Scallop with octopus , heritage carrots , pork & shellfish reduction. Followed by a fantastic Roasted Salsify with black truffle & creme fraiche dressing , toasted hazelnuts & radicchio The next two courses were equally as amazing with the first being a Pan Roasted Foie Gras with agen prune , malted almonds & puff pastry. This was followed by a great take on fish and chips. It was a fillet of Halibut with apple mussel & cider sauce , triple cooked chips & sea beet just devine Now it was time for the main course to which you are given a choice either the Venison or Partridge. We decided to have one of each. The Saddle of Venison came with a venison sausage , red cabbage purée , beetroot , potato , flowering sprouts , onion & bacon crumb & a sloe gin sauce. While the Partridge was accompanied by black pudding , morteau sausage , parsnip , kale , raisin purée , chestnuts & pear. Both of these dishes were simply amazing We then had a cheese course but with a difference as it was a Vacherin Cheese Soup this came with quince compote , spruce powder & fruit bread. This was a very clever dish and absolutely delicious We then finished with desserts with to which we started with a fabulous Rum Glazed Pineapple with candied red chilli , pistachio pastry cream , meringue & Szechuan pepper ice cream. This was followed by a Dark Chocolate Ganache with cherries , buttermilk ice cream & salted caramel ricciarelli. We then finished with coffee and petit fours which really rounded another truly fantastic lunch. During this time we were joined for a chat by owner Laurie. It's always nice to talk to ether the owner or the chefs when you visit a restaurant as you really get a feel for their passion and dedication that goes into every plate of food. This is definitely a restaurant I would highly recommend and don't worry if you think it's a little far to travel for a lunch as there are plenty of places to stay which are all quite reasonable and just a short walk away. I'm certainly looking forward to my next visit in the not to distant future
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Paul A

As brilliant as usual
04 September 2018  
Seasonality appears to have taken pride of place over local sourcing and provenance of ingredients, but happily there still some chefs who manage to combine both factors and at Artichoke this is certainly the case. The tasting menu no longer offers a choice of main, which always seemed to us something of a throw-back, and every course was in perfect harmony with the rest to make up an extremely well-balanced ensemble. Super home-made focaccia and whipped butter preceded a chilled melon soup amuse-bouche which set us up for some brilliant, tenderly charred octopus, with oyster leaf adding a touch of minerality to the dish, and this was followed by poached, charred and pickled elements, in particular some beautiful beetroot, contrasting with green vegetables and brought together by a super dill emulsion. Outstanding foie gras with tayberries and toasted rice for the crunch brought us to a fish stew (or bouillabaisse) with classic fish, brill and John Dory, highlighted by pickled fennel, saffron potatoes and an excellent rouille. The main dish was local duck which exhibited exemplary flavours and was notable for its black garlic dressing. Three desserts may seem a bit much, but each contained just enough perfection to make you want more. Macerated blueberries with an excellent digestive biscuit crumble, an accent of lime, and viola leaf chiming in with white chocolate mousse brought us swiftly on to one of the all-time ultimate indulgences of strawberries and chocolate, lavender meringue, strawberry crème pâtissière and buttermilk sherbet strawberry soup. We finished up with a feta medita, the stupendous baked apricot backed up by intriguing puffed mustard seeds. If there is one thing you can guarantee when you dine at the Artichoke it is that Laurie Gear and Ben Jenkins will serve up a meal that will leave the offerings in many one-star restaurants absolutely standing. This has been the case for many years, and, with its style evolving and advancing on a regular basis, Artichoke continues to be synonymous with high class and delicious fine dining.
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Paul A

As good as ever
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.
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David H

Should the food served on a set lunch represent the restaurants capability?
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.
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Mr. Lloyd S

A fantastic evening at The Artichoke
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
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Mr. Lloyd S

Festive Christmas Lunch
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
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Mr. Lloyd S

Amazing Restaurant
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
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Paul A

Two stars?
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!
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Paul A

A real triumph
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!
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