The first tastes, smoked-bacon and shallot focaccia rolls, hot from the oven, and an amuse-bouche in the form of a tiny cup of intensely flavoured chilled cucumber and passion-fruit soup, suggested the chef knew his business. The starters confirmed it. My fried lamb sweetbreads, with a crisp coating of Moroccan spices, were creamily tender inside, and a bed of nubbly bright-green buckwheat in a sharp minty sauce was a great foil...the atmosphere in these pretty rooms is relaxed, and the service is calm and friendly. It was full for an evening early in the week......Also on the plate was a foamy sweet-onion mousse trapped in acylinder of crisp brik pastry, which was so delicious that I ate it all while still puzzling how they kept the pastry so crisp while wrapping a mousse.... They like a busy plate here, but every element played its part to perfection...... they brought a glass of fluffy goat’s-milk mousse with an intense sorrel purée, one of the best things I have tasted in ages. G’s raspberry soufflé was perfectly risen, fruity and buttery, with a sharp lemon-balm ice cream to cut its richness
Elfreda Pownall - Stella Magazine, The Telegraph on Sunday, 8th September 2013
The Good Food Guide 2013 writes “Expect waves of amazement - texture, colour, impact, surprise - Laurie Gear's cooking is gaining depth as well as clarity - seasonality is king and the menu is tweaked as the months roll by'
The place is still on fire, but now it's in the happy, metaphorical way. Things to think about start with the amuse bouche, a pumpkin foam with orange and nutmeg cream that was an unexpectedly complicated dance of autumn flavours between the sweet pumpkin, the citrus and the dairy. Gear puts the cumin in a carrot puree and serves it with scallops that have the faintest detectable curry taste ... a lovely dish, and a fascinating interplay of textures ... saddle of venison was served the perfect degree of under-doneness with a robust dumpling of its haunch, cavolo nero, celeriac, pickled red baby onions and a rosehip and hawthorn berry emulsion. It looked ravishing and tasted just as good. Far be it from me to suggest that's the most fun you can have in Amersham with your clothes on
John Lanchester, The Guardian on Saturday, 19 November 2011
A potentially disastrous fire three years ago came close to destroying the cosy restaurant that Laurie and Jackie Gear built...It proved to be the catalyst that has transformed Artichoke into one of the best of the new breed of adventurous British restaurants
The Food List - Britain's Top 100 Restaurants - The Sunday Times (in association with Hardens) 30 October 2011
Wandering inside, the first thing that one notices about Artichoke is that it pulls off the incredibly rare feat of being stylish without being over-formal or stuffy... I’d had my eye on the fabulously named ‘snail bonbons’, which proved a stirring hors d’oeuvre. Coupled with a perfectly cooked piece of red wine glazed pig’s tail... They were about as good a dish as I’ve eaten all year,and came superbly paired with a glass of New Zealand Riesling. Desserts maintained the impeccable quality of the meal – my blackcurrant crumble soufflé was really quite exceptional, and the sort of thing that Poet Laureates ought to be penning verses to...we bid Artichoke a sad but fond farewell, hatching plans to return.
http://www.arbuturian.com/2011/artichoke - Alex Larmen, August 2011
Laurie has been awarded 'Local Legend' by the Daily Mail group - read the Artichoke story
The Good Food Guide 2013 writes “Expect waves of amazement - texture, colour, impact, surprise Laurie Gear's cooking is gaining depth as well as clarity - seasonality is king and the menu is tweaked as the months roll by'
THE TIMES - The Artichoke was delighted to be featured in 'the table - dine out' 'http://www.timesplus.co.uk
16 September 2010
THE TIMES - The Artichoke was delighted to be featured in 'the table - dine out' 'http://www.timesplus.co.uk 16 September 2010
‘It’s rare for a chef to recommend a rival restaurant. But Raymond Blanc, a restaurateur with nothing to prove, has done so with Artichoke. The proprietors are a young couple, Laurie and Jacqueline Gear, who have built a country restaurant showcasing food that provides original touches on classic fare. After losing everything in a devastating fire two years ago, they have since rebuilt the restaurant and have successfully lured customers back. In reach of London, it’s a gem of a place and worth the trip, as Raymond Blanc would testify.’
British Airways High Life Magazine, July 2010
'The tiny room is a deft mix of olde worlde and crisp newness ….the effect is of right place, right time. My starter is sumptuous: lightly curried scallops, pickled carrot and coriander... the others opt for young beets , Shepton’s goat cheese ….which has an eye popping beetroot sorbet, English rose veal Holstein …it’s a bit like a millionaires fried breakfast. Each main is perfectly balanced - duck with soft apple sauce and wintery vegetables: lamb with creamy cauliflower, garlic and aubergine and a superb piece of bass ... the puddings ... are all exemplary. Even the petits fours are fabulous. Artichoke is serious without being pompous. I advise visiting before you can’t get a table at all. If necessary, move into the neighbourhood.'
Lisa Markwell, The Independent on Sunday, 7 February 2010
'After an extensive 12-month rebuild overseen by English Heritage this lovely and cosy little restaurant is back in business. And now, chef-patron Laurie Gear, whose wife Jacqueline runs front of house, puts greater emphasis on British produce, much of it sourced from the surrounding Chilterns. His cooking has never been better – full of surprises and delights with an astute handling of ingredients.'
Humayun Hussein, The Guardian Guide, 9 January 2010
'We are delighted to see the reopening of an outstanding restaurant - at The Artichoke the Gears have created somewhere that achieves true gastronomic highs whilst keeping its feet firmly on the ground.
Amersham Life, December 2009
'Critics love the place ... Since the restaurant reopened this year after a fire, Gear has become even more passionate about using local produce. During the enforced sabbatical caused by the fire, he visited Noma in Copenhagen (recently ranked as third-best restaurant in the world), where the sous-chef is also a forager and the ethos is about getting the flavour of the local land into the dishes. Gear grew up in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and foraged for hazelnuts with his father as a child. He first made elderflower champagne at the age of 13. Next spring he plans to take his whole cooking team foraging for wild sorrel, mushrooms, elderberries and cobnuts.'
Viv Groskop, The Guardian, 12 November 2009
‘The Artichoke set out to be a good-quality neighborhood restaurant & it has never strayed from that path. From the amuse-bouches to delicate petits-fours, every mouthful is a joy.’
Fay Maschler, Evening Standard
‘The Artichoke is a smart outfit, the kind of restaurant you'd hope any fair-sized British town with a modicum of taste could support but, sadly, doesn't.’
Jay Rayner, The Observer