Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

Text

Fed up with celebrity chefs drizzling sauces over undercooked pieces of meat? I am!

I regularly dine out and am happy to share my restaurant experiences, and views on food, with you.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Turkey Tips

Turkey Tips

When cooking your turkey this Christmas don't forget, that when calculating the cooking time, to allow for the weight of the stuffing.

Make sure that the juices run clear from the thickest part of the bird, ie the leg area, before serving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Ham Made Simple

Christmas Ham Made Simple

Christams Hams

Here is an easy recipe for a gorgeous and succulent Christmas ham.

Select a good quality smoked gammon joint, plenty of fat and not skinned, not less than 2kg.

-Soak overnight in cold water

-Bring to the boil in fresh water

-Simmer for 20 minutes per pound

-Skin (put the skin in the stock, and use for making split pea soup)

-Stud the fat with cloves

-Smear the fat with a paste of brown sugar, egg yolks and English mustard

-Cover this with breadcrumbs

-Put in a pre heated oven (180 degrees) for 20 minutes, or until golden brown

-Allow to cool

-Eat when cold

Absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Healthy Smoked Salmon

Healthy Smoked Salmon

Those of you who will tuck into smoked salmon this Christmas, thinking that you are eating at least one thing that is good for you may need to think again.

Channel 4 last night tested farmed smoked salmon, purchased from Britain's leading supermarkets, and came to the rather alarming conclusion that many of the leading products contained approximately 20% fat. This compares with the 6% fat content of wild smoked salmon.

Therefore for evey 100g of supermarket smoked salmon that you eat, you are eating 20g of fat. The recommended daily allowance of fat is around 90g.

Maybe it is better to stick to the mince pies!

Monday, December 19, 2005

How Much?

How Much?

We have all felt, at one time or another, that we have paid too much for a pint and that the breweries were "having a laugh" at the drinker's expense.

However, the prices that we pay in pubs for even the most "designer and trendy" of beers pale into insignificance when compared to the beer that costs you £32 per pint.

Yes, you did read that correctly, £32 a pint!

Deus, brewed in the Belgian village of Buggenhout, will set you back £32 a bottle in certai restaurants.

Aubergine, a Michelin starred restaurant in Chelsea London, has a beer list which includes pint bottles of Deus for £32.

The Bosteels brewery that brews Deus, which comes in at 11.5%, claims that they treat it like champagne.

Whilst they may treat it like champagne there is no way that it tastes like champagne, nor is there any justification for charging a champagne mark up.

The fact that restaurants are able to get away with charging ridiculous prices like this show that, regrettably, some customers have more money than sense.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ramsay May Float

Ramsay May Float

Gordon Ramsay is reportedly considering floating his restaurant empire on the London Stock Exchange, in order to obtain funding to market Maze internationally.

Maze is a tapas style restaurant in Mayfair, London, which Ramsay wants to turn into an international chain.

Ramsay is quoted as saying:

"We'd be very stupid not to think about it. The level of interest we got on the back of publishing our accounts last year was phenomenal, so of course I'm interested in the idea of floating."

Gordon Ramsay Holdings consists of eight restaurants in London, and earned profits in 2004 of approximately £4M.

Ramsay made it clear that he won't give up control of his group, in order to ensure that standards are maintained.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

To Serve Is An Honour

To Serve Is An Honour

It seems, that despite the fact that London's restaurants are now recognised as producing the world's finest food, they still can't get past that old "British disease" that waiters are doing the customers a favour by serving them.

That at least is the conclusion of the annual Square Meal restaurant guide survey.

Some of London's most famous restaurants, such as Cipriani, The Wolseley and Yauatcha, have been rubbished by their customers for the arrogant, surly and slow service.

One contributor is quoted as saying:

"I have learnt to be happy with inefficient staff as long as they are charming, and [with] charmless staff as long as they are efficient."

8,000 people replied to the guide's poll, 45% complained about shoddy service for the third year running.

Gaby Huddart, the guide's editor, is quoted as saying:

"Our restaurants are absolutely fabulous, but one aspect lets them down. If you go to Paris, it is a very rare day that you don't get very good service in an A-class restaurant.

Similarly, a New Yorker would be gobsmacked if you weren't served with a smile
."

Cipriani, which I featured in a positive manner on this site less than a fortnight ago, was criticised; one person described his visit as a "horrible experience".

The Wolseley was "snobby and unfriendly", "Just the most unhelpful and incredibly arrogant and rude receptionists that can be found."

It is time that staff and managers of these places realised that people are there as much for the experience, as for the food. A smile and a cheerful "can do" manner really does go a long way to making the meal memorable.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Value of Chip Fat

The Value of Chip Fat

In one rather unexpected outcome of the recent Tory leadership battle, chip shops and restaurants have been told by David Cameron to collect their old cooking fat so that it can be used to fuel cars.

The chip fat proposal is being promoted by John Gummer, he of the "safe burger" claim in the 1980's, whom Mr Cameron has appointed one of the chairmen of the group overhauling the party's environmental policies.

Gummer claims that more than 75% of the 300,000 tons of waste fat produced by restaurants in Britain each year "goes down the drain, where it has a terrible effect on sewers".

However, the fat can easily be turned into an eco-friendly substitute for diesel. Gummer goes on to claim that it is even greener than other biofuels, since it causes the emission of much less carbon dioxide.

You learn something new every day!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

King Cobra

King Cobra

Cobra Beer, beloved of many a curry aficionado, plans to start production in India to gain a foothold in an increasing market.

The firm was founded by Karan Bilimoria in 1989, and the beer is sold in most major UK supermarket chains and 6,000 restaurants throughout Britain.

Cobra says it is in talks about setting up a brewery and distribution centre in Hyderabad.

Cobra has fewer bubbles than many other lagers, so that it is easier to drink while eating.

Cobra now has an annual turnover of £80BN, and is exported to over 35 countries worldwide.

It also tastes good!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cipriani

Cipriani

My compliments to Cipriani (25 Davies Street, London) for providing myself and two friends with a table for us to have a few drinks at this Saturday, despite the fact that we had just walked in off the street on a very busy night.

The service was professional and courteous; the champagne cocktails, that we indulged in, provided a splendid start to our evening.

I look forward to dining in Cipriani's one evening, and trying the food which looked delicious.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Dangers of Salads

The Dangers of Salads

Those of you who think that you are being virtuous by having a salad in a fast food establishment, may have to think again.

Tests by Which? of items bought at McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, have revealed that three salads were the saltiest options on the menus.

Each contained over 3g of salt per salad portion, this is over half the recommended maximum daily intake of 6g.

Which? also noted that the websites of Burger King and KFC were inaccurate, in respect of their food's nutrition content.

The report noted that there was in fact 19g of saturated fat in a Burger King Whopper and regular fries, which was 6g more than the 13g stated on the company website.

A KFC Zinger Crunch salad had 6.7g of saturated fat, almost treble the 2.4g stated by KFC. The company told Which? that discrepancies could be due to "over portioning" at some stores.

Which? editor Malcolm Coles said:

"Don't assume that a salad is always a healthy option - you could be getting a large helping of fat and salt on the side. Although fast food companies now offer more choice, it's hard to know what you're really getting."

Burger King said in a statement that the company website gave "typical" nutrition figures, intended as a guide for customers.

Fluctuations in ingredients used by staff could lead to some variations, it said.

The lesson here is, that if you are in fast food place, stick to the fries, burgers and chicken; at least you will feel full.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Scotland's Largest Restaurant

Scotland's Largest Restaurant

Glasgow will host Scotland's largest restaurant, which will serve Glasgow's favourite dish ... curry.

Restaurateur Azher Baig will build a 750 seat restaurant in Bellahouston Park. It will be called Village in the Park.

He expects it to be open in time for Christmas.

It is being built in a converted building, near the park's entrance on Paisley Road West.

The building will have a seating capacity for 250, and there will be a permanent marquee with room for 500.

The restaurant will also have its own car park and play area.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Japanese Restaurants On The Rise

Japanese Restaurants On The Rise

It seems that once considered exotic and strange, by many Britons, Japanese food is now becoming more mainstream.

The Ajimura, opened in London in 1972, and was the first Japanese restaurant to do so. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the number of such establishments.

In the last few years, there has been strong growth in the number of Japanese eateries across Britain; noodle and sushi bars can be found in most towns up and down the country.

This increase is due to the number of relatively cheap chain restaurants, such as Wagamama, which is modelled on Japanese ramen shops.

Additionally, Japanese food is perceived to be healthier than Western food.

A recent survey by restaurant guide Zagat placed Wagamama as the No. 1 restaurant in London, beating Nobu and the Ivy.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jamie Gives The Game Away

Jamie Gives The Game Away

I watched the final episode on TV, last night, of Jamie Oliver's tour of Italy.

During this series he has taken a film crew with him, as he tours Italy in an old camper van; his objective, to learn more about regional cooking in Italy.

Last night, as he sat in a lemon grove picking fresh leomns, he extolled the virtues of the natural lemon; with all its "nobbly bits".

He went on to say that these natural lemons were far superior to the sanitised, uniform variety that are sold to us in the UK.

He almost used the word supermarkets, but stopped himself short; as he remembered that he in fact is paid a hefty sum by Sainsburys to sell us their uniform, sanitised products.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pierre White Lambasts British Food

Marco Pierre White, the first British chef to receive three Michelin stars, has lambasted British cooking and the diners who tolerate it.

White, in an article for Waitrose Food Illustrated, said that Britain could not claim to have "the world's best restaurants"; he claims that British food is "depressing" and "totally unacceptable".

Whilst this to me seems a rather large generalisation, he possibly makes a valid point; in noting that young chefs "all just want to be celebrities", and that restaurant owners are "greedy".

Friday, November 18, 2005

Britain's Best

Britain's Best

Birmingham's Maharaja Restaurant has been named the best in Britain by "Olive", a BBC food magazine.

The Maharaja is Birmingham's oldest and finest Indian restaurant, it was established in 1971.

It was chosen from hundreds of Indian restaurants for its "superb curries" and "excellent tandoori specialities" served in "an elegant and civilised setting".

Nat Batt, the restaurant's proprietor, said:

"We are delighted to receive this accolade by such a prestigious publication.

It confirms our commitment to serving the finest authentic Indian food using a tandoor oven from India and spices prepared on our premises
".

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Britain's Booming Booze Sales

Britain's Booming Booze Sales

It seems that the British are developing a taste for fine wine; that is at least according to figures released, which show sales of fine wines are soaring.

Majestic Wines have reported a 43% rise in sales of wines costing more than £20, supermarkets have also revealed a surge in demand for their "top end" bottles.

The rise in high end consumption stems from an increased confidence of the British consumer, coupled with increased disposable income.

Needless to say, the fact that restaurants overcharge by up to 300% on their wines has encouraged people to stock their own cellars at home.

However, Wine Intelligence report that less than one in 1,000 of the 14.4 billion bottles sold each year cost more than £10.

There is still some way to go then, before Britain loses its taste for the "Blue Nuns" of this world!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tiffin Club Formed

Over 50 British MPs, from all parties, have formed the first-ever "All Parliamentarian Tiffin Club" to select the best South Asian restaurant in the UK.

This event will be held every year, and the proceeds raised will be donated to charity.

The Club will be jointly headed by Keith Vaz, MP, former minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, John Barrett, MP and Michael Fabricant, MP.

It was formally launched at the Gaylord Indian Restaurant, one of the top five Restaurants in the UK at yesterday.

MPs present on the occasion included John Barrett, Janet Anderson, Crispin Blunt, Peter Bottomley, Dr Vincent Cable, Philip Davies, Andrew Dismore, Simon Hughes, Anne Mcintosh and Derek Wyatt.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Roast

Restaurant

Roast
The Floral Hall
Borough Market
Stoney Street
London

Phone:- 0207 940 1300

Website: www.roast-restaurant.com

Overview

Eva and I decided to try out the newly opened Roast restaurant in Borough Market last Friday.

Roast is the brainchild creation of Iqbal Wahhab, who founded The Cinnamon Club in Westminster. Roast has 120 seats, and is constructed on the site of Britain's oldest surviving food market, by London Bridge.

Edward Barry designed the Floral Hall in 1858, to house flowers for resale by the market traders; the upper floor now houses Roast, whilst the ground floor will house market traders.

Roast serves traditional British food in a modern lively setting, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I would advise you to book, as the restaurant was packed when we went there.

Ambience

Roast is situated on the first floor of the Floral Hall of Borough Market. It consists of a large split level dining room and open fronted spit roast kitchen, together with a bar placed mid centre of the main part of the dining room.

The building has been given a stunning frontage in the form of the portico of the old Covent Garden flower market, which offers diners views onto the market on one side and over into St Paul's Cathedral on the other.

If you like the colour scheme white, then you are in for a treat; white is the order of the day for the walls and high ceilings, together with the linen napkins and tablecloths.

This, coupled with the large glass windows, gives Roast an airy and spacious atmosphere.

The layout of the restaurant means that those diners who are placed on the upper split level by the windows are afforded an excellent view of the market and St Paul's, whilst many of those on the lower level are afforded an excellent view of the bar and kitchen.

I would therefore advise you to specify your preference when booking your table.

As noted the restaurant was very lively, bright and spacious; as such it may not be first choice for a romantic cosy meal for two.

We were given a very good table on the "upper deck" by the window. I was more than pleased to note that, despite the fact the restaurant has a high ceiling and large glass frontage, it was not cold.

Menu

The menu was unashamedly British, and contained a variety of traditional dishes such as; roast pork with black pudding, potted shrimps, roast pheasant, steak and fish.

However, rather bizarrely for a restaurant that calls itself Roast, the one dish that was missing was Roast Beef!

I find this omission to be more than a little daft, and indeed said as much to the staff.

I really would suggest that this dish, that is widely regarded as the national dish of Britain, should be included on Roast's menu as soon as possible.

One other point that I would suggest that Roast address, is the fact that their website does not at the time of writing have a sample menu uploaded. The key feature of any well designed restaurant website is the menu page.

Service

We were warmly greeted, and promptly shown to our table.

The staff were very friendly and efficient. The service and attention to detail was smooth and well co-ordinated as it needed to be, given the number of covers.

Eva's dropped butter knife, was replaced immediately without prompting.

Food

I started with the green split pea soup with salt beef and vegetables. This was a little too thin and watery for my taste; I have been brought up eating yellow split pea soup, which had a much thicker consistency.

I would also suggest that the split peas and vegetables could have benefited from being cooked for a little longer; as they were, to my view/taste, a touch underdone.

I chose the roast suckling pig with black pudding for my main course.

This consisted of several slices of good quality pork, a good cut with just the right amount of fat and crackling, served with a thin slice of black pudding which had been placed atop half an apple.

The pork was very good, the taste and texture was first class.

I would, however, make two observations:
  • The majority of the crackling did not crackle


  • The pork was luke warm rather than hot, I suspect that it had been left a little too long on the plate before being taken from the kitchen to our table
I chose roast potatoes and roast pumpkin to accompany the dish. These were both excellent, the potatoes had been cooked in dripping and were crunchy on the outside, but soft and yielding within.

Unlike the pork, they were hot.

The slices of roast pumpkin were splendid, and had been roasted to perfection.

Eva started with the potted shrimps, which came with a lemon wedge and a little toast. They were delightfully indulgent, rich, tasty and filling.

Eva then chose the roast pheasant for her main course, she chose mashed potatoes to accompany it.

The pheasant consisted of a generous portion of both breast and leg, served on top of sherry glazed parsnips. The bird had been well, but not over, cooked. It was succulent, tender and had a delicate game flavour. The size of the portion defeated Eva; so we made off with the remainder in a doggy bag, and had it the next day in a sandwich.

The mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy, and had a better taste and consistency than many that we have had elsewhere.

The meal, which included a bottle of Pinot Grigio (unaccountably they had no Chablis on the wine list) and a liqueur, came to £100 including service.

Overall Opinion

We enjoyed our evening; once the few “teething” issues that I have raised above are addressed, Roast will enjoy commercial and culinary success.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Would You Like Some Ham With Your Water?

Would You Like Some Ham With Your Water?

Which? reports that some brands of ham contain just over 50% of meat, the remainder of the contents being water and chemicals.

Seemingly, Ye Olde Oak ham is the worst; containing 55% meat and 37% water.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The World's Saltiest Lasagne

The World's Saltiest Lasagne

Eva and I were in Brighton yesterday, and popped into Donatello for an end of day pizza and pasta.

There, I had what I can only describe as the world's saltiest lasagne.

Message to the chef...way too much salt in your lasagne.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ixxy's Hot Salt Beef Bagel

Ixxy's Hot Salt Beef Bagel

Those of you who fancy a nice hot salt beef bagel, whilst waiting for your train at London's Victoria station, should not bother buying one from Ixxy's Bagel Shop (owned by the Compass Group).

I tried one yesterday:

- The beef was reheated in a microwave, instead of being cut from a joint

- The beef was luke warm and bland, instead of being hot and tasty

- Ixxy's advertise that the hot beef bagel comes with mustard; I had to remind the girl behind the counter to put mustard in, after she had made the bagel. Thus she had to disassemble the bagel

- The bagel itself was dry

- The counter girl forgot the use of the phrases "please" and "thank you", and indeed how to smile

- The cost of this gastronomic disappointment, together with a can of fizzy sugared water, came to £5.99

Bottom line: if you want a tasty hot salt beef bagel, that is good value for money, don't go to Ixxy's.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The World's Most Expensive Restaurants

The World's Most Expensive Restaurants

Forbes has put together a list of the world's most expensive restaurants.

Top of that list comes Aragawa, in Tokyo, where the average meal for one runs about ¥1,672 (approximately $277).

The list can be viewed on Forbes.

The question is though, are they value for money?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Bad Start

A Bad Start

We all know that breakfast is meant to set you up for the day, and according to tradition the best start to the day is an English breakfast.

Unfortunately, those of you who stay in some of Britain's hotels may find their start to the day to be less than perfect.

That at least is the view according to the 2006 edition of The Good Hotel Guide of Great Britain and Ireland.

It claims that some guests have experienced "watery porridge and cold eggs," "toast with the texture of cardboard," as well as bad service and overpriced meals.

The best hotels for a good English breakfast appear to be small independent ones.

The guide in particular recommends Bark House Hotel in Bampton, southwest England; for its "superb" breakfast of, "moist muesli, exceptional porridge with honey and brown sugar, meaty Bampton bangers, tasty mushrooms, dry-cured bacon, free-range eggs, crisp fried bread."

Quote from the Bark House website:

"All meals are cooked by the proprietor, Alastair, who is a largely self-taught cook. Strong emphasis is placed on sourcing produce from high-quality West Country suppliers. Most fish comes from Cornwall whilst meat comes from a handful of known local farms. Breakfasts are treated seriously, too..."

It definitely sounds like it is worth a visit.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Smoking U Turn

Smoking U Turn

Smoking is set to be completely banned throughout pubs and restaurants in England, after cabinet ministers decided to ask for a U-turn on plans for a partial ban.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has caved in and let it be known that he will not block Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt's calls to overturn the current plans; under which smoking would be banned only in places where food is served.

Those of you who enjoy smoking after a meal, may have just a short time left to enjoy the last gasps of nicotine in public.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pasties Go Mexican

Pasties Go Mexican

It seems that the traditional Cornish Pasty, once the staple diet of Cornish tin miners, has now become the staple diet of Mexican silver miners.

The pasty is now classified as a local delicacy, alongside tacos and beans.

There is of course a Mexican twist to the dish that normally contains meat, potatoes and swede; they have added a few chillis.

Those of you who wish to try out the Mexican version should go to Real del Monte in Mexico, where the pasty was first imported by Cornish tin miners in the 19th century.

Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe

Cornish Pasties originated in Cornwall as a handy way for miners to take their lunch to work.

Shortcrust pastry encases a mixture of finely chopped meat and vegetables.

Ingredients

10 oz flour
A pinch of salt
4 oz of cold butter
1 to 3 tablespoons of water

8 oz of cubed beef
2 potatoes 1 swede/turnip
1 medium onion
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon of mustard
2 teaspoons of tomato sauce / ketchup (optional)
1 egg

Short Pastry

In a large bowl or food processor sift the flour and salt, cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the flour.

Rub the butter into the flour with your hands or using the food processor, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the centre and add sufficient water to mix to a firm dough.

Handle as little as possible as this prevents the pastry from becoming hard when it is baked.

Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Filling

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Put the cubed meat into a large bowl.

Chop the onion finely, and add to the meat.

Peel the potatoes and swede turnip, cut into very small cubes.

Mix thoroughly with the meat, add the seasonings (a little water may be added to moisten) and cover.

On a lightly floured bench or board roll the pastry out to around 1/8 inch thick.

Cut 6 rounds, using a 6 1/2 inch diameter plate as a guide.

Arrange the filling evenly in the centre of each round.

Lightly beat the egg and glaze the edge of each round with a pastry brush.

Lift the two opposite edges of the pastry and pull together over the filling.

Pinch at regular intervals along the edge to form a frill.

Brush each pasty with egg and place on a baking tray.

Bake for 3/4 to 1 hour.

Eat hot or cold.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Eating In, The New Eating Out

Eating In, The New Eating Out

A new dining fad appears to be coming to Britain.

Those with money to spend and a nice kitchen, but with no time or energy to cook, can now hire in top name chefs to do the work for them.

Jamie Oliver is the latest "name" to get on the "hire a chef" for home dining bandwagon. Although he is unlikely to ever turn up to your house himself, for a fee of around £80 per head, one of his chefs from his restaurant Fifteen will come and do the cooking for you.

"Fifteen to You" will offer such dishes as scallop crudo cured in lime.

Personally speaking, half the fun of dining is going out and enjoying the ambience of a restaurant.

When we invite friends round for dinner, we enjoy doing the cooking ourselves; to hire chefs in, just seems plain rude and lazy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Big Bill

Big Bill

An unknown City banker spent £36K on drinks in the Aviva bar in the Baglioni Hotel, in Kensington last Thursday.

He was celebrating a £3M deal.

So were the staff, they received a £4.7K tip.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Curry Honour

Curry Honour

The mayor of Westminster, central London, unveiled a plaque yesterday on the wall of 102 George Street.

This was in honour of Indian businessman Sake Dean Mahomed, who set up Britain's first curry restaurant in 1810.

The Hindoostane Coffee House was said to sell food "unequalled to any curries ever made in England".

Mahomed was born in 1759, and came to Britain in 1784.

The restaurant went bankrupt in 1812.

Britain now has around 9,000 curry houses.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Rib Room Revisited

The Rib Room Revisited

Eva, myself and our good friends David and Gabi dined at the Rib Room and Oyster Bar of the Carlton Tower Hotel on Saturday night.

Eva and I have been there before (see the review here), David and Gabi have not.

We are more than pleased to say that the food, service and ambience were every bit as good as on our first visit.

-Salmon, delicious.

-Duck, delicate and flavoursome.

-Beef, unctuous and magnificent.

-Trifle, huge.

-Chocolate cake, awesome.

A good time was had by all.

My compliments to the Rib Room, and my thanks to our friends who paid the bill!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Maggie Jones's Revisited

Maggie Jones's Revisited

Full marks to Maggie Jones's off Kensington Church Street London, for being consistently excellent when it comes to food, service and ambience.

Eva and I dined there last night, again, and had another splendid evening.

Leek and cheese tart and smoked salmon stuffed with crab were followed by roast duck and stuffed rolled pork.

Top marks!

Long may they continue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Palm Beach Innovation

Palm Beach Innovation

Hats off to the authorities in Palm Beach.

Palm Beach County restaurants may soon be asked to put a notice on their menus, alerting diners that their latest health inspection reports are available on request.

That doesn't sound like a bad idea, why not implement it elsewhere around the world?

Most certainly, fast food establishments should be targeted.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kidsbeer

Kidsbeer

Kidsbeer, a Japanese soft drink bottled and formulated to look like beer, may soon be hitting the supermarket shelves in Europe.

However, not surprisingly, watchdogs of underage drinking say they will fight it.

The drink comes in a brown bottle, and is advertised with the slogan "Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink".

It is the colour of lager, foams like beer but tastes like cola.

It sounds absolutely ghastly!

It was introduced in Japan two years ago, and is sold by more than 150 restaurants and supermarkets in Japan.

Tim Loughton MP said that the drink's expected arrival was "an alarming development."

Friday, September 16, 2005

BOGOFF

BOGOFF

For those of you unfamiliar with the expression, BOGOFF is short for "buy one, get one free".

This is frequently used by supermarkets and fast food chains, such as pizzarias, to market their products.

However, in Ohio, the use of this phrase has caused a legal despute between "Master Pizza" and "Pizza Pan".

"Master Pizza" has advertised many buy one, get one free specials. However, "Pizza Pan" restaurant chain are now disputing their right to use this phrase.

It seems that Pizza Pan has trademarked the slogan "Home of the Free Pizza" and, they say, the concept of buy one, get one free.

Now this dispute is heading for the Lorain County Common Pleas Court.

This phrase, as already noted, is widely used throughout the world.

I doubt that "Pizza Pan" have a leg to stand on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Britain's Curry Crisis

Britain's Curry Crisis

Britain now has nearly 10,000 Indian restaurants, serving two million curry meals a week; having a "curry" is now a weekly tradition for many British families.

However, the growth of the "curry" industry in Britain now faces a threat from a shortage of labour.

The 10,000 curry restaurants in Britain require 20,000 chefs and 40,000 helpers, as a minimum. Unfortunately, these requirements are proving to be too much for restaurants which are struggling to recruit trained/experienced chefs and assistants.

Immigration policies have been toughened up in the last few decades, and the recent terrorist bombings have made immigration authorities reluctant to give out new work permits or renew existing ones.

Such is the crisis that the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs, which represents 2000 South Asian restaurants, has appealed to Home Secretary to relax immigration rules.

Namita Punjabi, owner of the Chelsea-based Chutney Mary Anglo-Indian restaurant, is reported to have said:

"It is very difficult to get good cooks. We normally just can't find them in this country. And remember that India is the size of Europe. Each area has its own specific types of food. As a company, we can't look for talent in Britain it just doesn't exist."

It may be that the traditional "curry" house will have to start increasing prices, in order to stem demand.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The End of River Cafe?

The End of River Cafe?

The River Cafe, in London, a popular Italian restaurant could soon be under new management.

Ruth Rogers, who has run it since 1987 with friend and joint proprietor Rose Gray, is disputing a rent increase proposed by the landlords of the building who are a pension fund run by Ruth's husband Roger.

The fund is administered by a law firm, who act as trustees.

The trustees are seeking annual rent of over £100K, the current rent of £87K.

The length of the dispute has caused the site to be now offered for sale to other chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Banglatown Curry Festival

Banglatown Curry Festival

The Banglatown International Curry Festival is launched again this Sunday, in Brick Lane London, and will be celebrating its fifth year in 2005.

It will go on for two weeks, and is a celebration of everything that Banglatown has to offer; giving visitors an opportunity to try a variety of dishes.

The launch coincides with the Brick Lane Festival, and more than 60,000 visitors are expected to attend to experience the global mix of food, music, history and culture.

Visitors are given the chance to experience the very best of the curry capital of Europe.

Over 45 restaurants will be offering special deals and family menus to encourage customers to try dishes, and for families to dine together.

Eateries will be offering al-fresco dining, and food stalls on the weekends. International music will be played live in Allen Gardens and the Vibe Bar courtyard during the first day of celebration, and both weekends will see live music and street entertainment up and down Brick Lane.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

School Fat Ban

School Fat Ban

The image of school dinners, once associated with chips stodge and stew, is going to be given a makeover.

Burgers, chips, sticky puddings and other fondly remembered food stuffs will be banned from British schools. This follows a government edict, that says that food fed to children should not contain more than 10% fat.

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, will announce the plans to eradicate junk food from school canteens when she addresses the Labour conference in Brighton next month.

Experts are recommending limits on the number of times per week that ice cream, chips and other fun food will be served.

One idea is that they should be served only once a week, to try to wean children off them. The trouble with this "noble idea" is that the fat children, being targeted, eat this stuff at home all the time; there is no chance of weaning them off it, until the diet at home is changed.

Additionally, unless you lock children in the school during lunchbreaks, they will simply go out and buy chips and burgers elsewhere.

A well meaning idea, no doubt, but destined to fail.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Gate Gourmet Faces Investigation

Gate Gourmet Faces Investigation

Those of you who are worried about the catering arrangements on BA, may have further cause for concern.

It is reported that gate Gourmet, the catering company in dispute with 670 dismissed workers and sole supplier to BA, is under investigation over allegations that it deceived British Airways about the cost of catering on its flights.

Nesco, a former supplier to Gate Gourmet, has accused Gate Gourmet of making it sign a contract under which it made payments to the company's European headquarters in Switzerland.

Gate Gourmet received a rebate of £90K for every £3M it paid to the supplier.

Nesco is in dispute with Gate Gourmet over allegations that it was the source of E. coli bacteria found last year in meals destined for BA passengers.

Lawyers for Nesco wrote to Gate Gourmet in December claiming that the contract requiring rebates was a "sham", designed to conceal from BA the true cost of in-flight meals.

Jameel Dada, the managing director of Nesco, said that he was planning to sue Gate Gourmet for £1.4M for payments that he claims have been withheld.

Gate Gourmet said in a statement that it has:

"legitimate, group-wide purchasing arrangements designed to ensure that the group is able to benefit from and centralise its volume purchasing power. All transactions are legitimate and booked and taxed appropriately."

If I were BA, I would be looking for another supplier.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Halal Burgers

Halal Burgers

Those of you visiting Paris, with a desire to eat a halal burger should pop into Beurger King Muslim (BKM).

This is a new fast food burger restaurant, opened in the northern suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois last month, catering for those who choose to eat halal.

The beef and chicken are halal, and there is also an imitation of bacon made from halal turkey meat.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gate Gourmet - A Contradiction in Terms

Gate Gourmet - A Contradiction in Terms

Those of you thinking of eating on a BA flight, may wish to read this article in The Times first.

The article covers the health and hygiene standards of Gate Gourmet (the sole supplier of BA's in flight catering).

Not a pleasant read, and I don't mean that it was poorly written!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Food Fight

Food Fight

A food fight got a little out of hand in Tennessee.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Marco Ruiz from McMinnville got angry when someone threw birthday cake in his face. He then got into his SUV and repeatedly drove toward a group of partygoers at about 40 mph. He hit a friend, breaking both his legs.

He is now in custody at the Warren County Jail, facing charges.

As my parents always told me; don't throw your food about the place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

China Food Scare

China Food Scare

Hong Kong's health secretary has stated that China often fails to inform the territory of dangers in food supplies.

This statement was as a result of tests on five kinds of freshwater fish imported from China, that showed that they contained a banned suspected carcinogen, recently found in eels for sale there.

A Hong Kong health official said China, which produces 90% of the world's supply of farmed eels, failed to inform it when it issued an urgent nationwide health alert last month.

That alert said the eels could contain the industrial dye malachite green, a toxin widely used as a disinfectant on fish farms which has been shown to cause cancer in rats.

Tests then found the chemical in five different species of freshwater fish, that are regularly eaten in Hong Kong.

Needless to say, Hong Kong have now banned these fish in the territory.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Gate Gourmet

Gate Gourmet

Those of you who regularly fly BA, may well have your own views as to the quality of the food on board. However, no food at all on a long haul flight is not a particularly pleasant prospect.

The catering company, Gate Gourmet, has been in the headlines of late as a result of a dispute with it staff that had grounded British Airways flights 10 days ago.

It seems that its troubles are only just beginning, as today it announced that it could go out of business; unless it can agree on new terms with the airline by tomorrow night.

The company issued the warning, as it lost a High Court attempt to ban large protests near the gates of its headquarters at Heathrow.

Gate Gourmet sacked 670 of its 2,000 staff this month, after unballoted strike action and alleged breach of contract. The action gave rise to a walk out by 1,000 baggage handlers and other staff at BA. This cost BA £20M, and left them with thousands of stranded passengers .

Gate Gourmet is now preparing to call in the administrators, Kroll, unless it quickly agrees new terms with BA.

BA have been insisting on some changes to "1970s working practices", including paying staff a full day's pay for half a day's work.

Kroll's first obligation would be to keep Gate Gourmet trading as a going concern as it sought a buyer.

I think there will be trouble ahead, and that travellers may well face some problems over the coming weeks.

I suggest that if you are planning on flying BA, you take your own pakced lunch.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fancy A Cuppa?

Fancy A Cuppa?

Those of you who like nothing better than a nice cup of tea, may think twice before venturing into the Plaisir du Chocolat on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

There, if you choose the have a pot of Japanese tea called Kiyosawa, you will be charged £23.80.

Allegedly this brand of organic white tea is harvested in the first flush, from a very small garden where only eight people grow the Yabukita variety of tea plant.

Bertrand Espouy, owner of Plaisir du Chocolat on the Royal Mile, said:

"Japanese tea is always quite expensive as they don't produce a lot and there is a great demand.

It's the first flush - there are only two harvests a year - from the spring harvest, totally organic and very limited in quantity
."

Not surprisingly, he noted that it was rare for a customer to order the Kiyosawa.

Fortunately I can't stand the stuff, and stick to alcohol when dining out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Edinburgh Restaurants Help The Homeless

Edinburgh Restaurants Help The Homeless

During this year's Edinburgh Festival, 35 restaurants across the city have joined together to help support the homeless.

During the Edinburgh Festival, people in the city are being asked to donate £1 to the StreetSmart charity campaign each time they visit a restaurant.

StreetSmart is an independent charity that raises money to help the homeless get back on their feet.

Do the restaurants also contribute £1?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Stein Slams French Supermarkets

Stein Slams French Supermarkets

Rick Stein, a British celebrity chef, has put his two feet into the Anglo-French culinary spat that preceded the Gleneagles G8 summit; by claiming that oenophiles have a better choice of wine in British supermarkets, than in some of France's finest restaurants.

Quote:

"You've only got to go into any UK supermarket to see how enthusiastically we have embraced all the different wines of the world,".

Adding:

"Meanwhile, the French stick doggedly to their own stuff, and while they still make the best, they're missing out on all those lovely Australians and New Zealands and Chileans they could be enjoying,".

"The best French wines are still the best in the world," conceded Stein. "But for every one really good French wine, there are 10 bad ones,".

Monday, August 15, 2005

New Chef At The White House

Those of you expecting an invitation to dine at the White House, in the next few months, may be interested to learn that a new chef has been appointed there.

Cristeta Comerford, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Philippines, has been chosen to head the executive kitchen team. She will be the first woman and first minority to hold the post.

Comerford has been an assistant chef at the White House for 10 years. She worked under former executive chef Walter Scheib III, who resigned in February.

Approximately 2,000 guests are fed at the White House each month.

Comerford will be responsible for designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons hosted by the president and first lady. The job pays from $80K-$100K a year.

Aside from formal dinners, the Bushes are known to enjoy; cheeseburgers, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, Tex-Mex and barbecue.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Trans Fats To Be Banned

Trans Fats To Be Banned

New York City Health Department has asked all city restaurants to voluntarily stop serving food containing trans fats. They argue that the chemically modified ingredient significantly increases the risk of heart disease, and should not be part of any healthy diet.

Scientists and nutrition experts agree that trans fat is America's most dangerous fat, and recommend the use of alternatives like olive and sunflower oils.

A survey by the department's food inspectors found that 30%-60% of the city's 20,000 restaurants use partially hydrogenated oil in food preparation.

Trans fats are mainly used in baked goods, frying oils and breads.

Changes to the ingredients will be expensive, and change the taste of familiar products.

Many of New York's more expensive restaurants already avoid using the fats.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Rabbit Shortage

Rabbit Shortage

Those of you with a penchant for eating rabbit in restaurants, may have a hard time satisfying your craving in the USA.

It seems that there is a shortage of rabbit meat there.

Demand for rabbit meat has surged in recent years, but supply has declined.

It seems that the number of US producers has been in a steady decline for the last 60 years.

Therefore the US now imports rabbit meat, mainly from China, in 2004 the US imported more than 1 million pounds of rabbit meat.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cooking At Google

Cooking At Google

Normally staff canteens do not rate that highly in the world of gastronomy.

However, as with many things, Google aims to be a world leader; and in respect of providing its employees with good food, for free, it aims to be the best.

Google's chef, Charlie Ayers who once cooked for the Grateful, has left Google to start his own chain of restaurants.

Google are now looking for two new chefs, and have advertised as such. They say that the chefs would oversee menus "from vegan entrees to pad Thai, grilled burgers, and wood-fired pizza all while using organic ingredients whenever possible."

Google said it would sponsor a cook-off between its top four applicants, selecting the best two out of the four.

Standard Google fayre includes sweet potato jalapeno bisque with corn, and grilled petite New York sirloins seasoned with Creole spices.

Better than many restaurants in my view.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Restaurant Strike

Restaurant Strike

Restaurants and bakeries in Dahka have begun a 2 day strike in the Bangladeshi capital, they are protesting at a government drive against sub-standard food.

The government campaign is targeting the vendors of unsafe food who are breaching safety standards.

However, the restaurants, fast food chains and bakeries say that the drive was punishing honest traders.

The campaign began two weeks ago, and has led to the jailing of some shop owners and fining of nearly 100 shops.

The campaign has been welcomed by consumer rights groups in Dhaka, who say that the restaurants often use unauthorised chemicals and colours in their food which are harmful and unsafe for human consumption.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Stunning Statistic

Stunning Statistic

There are nearly 18,000 restaurants in New York City, according to www.nycvisit.com.

That's about one restaurant for every 40 people who live there.

New York is currently celebrating Restaurant Week, a bi-annual dining promotion that offers deals on gastronomy with bargain three-course prix fixe-lunches and dinners.

It's worth a visit, Eva and I have always enjoyed our trips there.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Drink Licensing Shambles

Drink Licensing Shambles

The Federation of Small Businesses has said that the new system for licensing alcohol sales in the UK is a "shambles".

There are only six days to go until the August 6 deadline. However, 58% of the 180,000 licence-holders in England and Wales have not yet submitted renewal applications.

This means that over 100,000 businesses will miss the deadline, including; 30,000 restaurants and fast-food outlets, 26,000 hotels and guest houses and 6,500 shops.

Policy chairman John Walker said:

"The Licensing Minister may well be predicting that the new system will be seen favourably in a couple of years' time, but few businesses will forget that its introduction has been a shambles.

We have some sympathy with local authorities. The failure of businesses to renew their licences is a time-bomb of the Government's making, which we warned was set to explode this summer.

Ministers under-estimated the vast array of firms that come under the new regime, including many that make just a tiny proportion of their profits from alcohol.

They didn't listen when we told them that 26-page forms and a requirement to submit plans of premises were all right for national chains with in-house legal teams but not for independent traders
."

This means that some areas may well face a dry Christmas.

You have been warned!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pretentious Moi?

Pretentious Moi?

Eva and I popped into The Bishop, 25-27 Lordship Lane Dulwich, last night for a quick drink before going on for dinner.

The bar is trendy and newly opened, it serves a selection of beers Leffe, Budvar, Scrumpy, Abbotts, Ale Fresco; it also has a reasonable looking food menu.

However, there is one issue that I would like to draw attention to.

They do not serve pints of Leffe.

I ordered a pint and a half of Leffe last night, and was told that they only serve it in half pints.

When I pointed out that the other beers were served in pints, I was told that it was not the case for Leffe.

When I asked why, I was initially told "I don't know" by the barman.

Never daunted by being fobbed off, I made further enquiries; it turns out that they believe that it is only served on the Continent in half pints.

Nonsense!

Sorry guys, pretentious nonsense in my view.

If the customer wants a pint, then serve him a pint.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Japanese Food Invasion

Japanese Food Invasion

Japanese restaurants are reportedly taking off in the UK.

The number of restaurants grew 20% last year, making Japanese cuisine one of the fastest growing segments of the ethnic food market, along with Thai.

Peter Grove, editor of Menu, a trade magazine for Asian restaurateurs, said:

"Japanese restaurants in the UK are now where Thai restaurants were four years ago. The industry is on the verge of a major breakthrough in terms of size and popularity."

Monday, July 25, 2005

La Brasa Revisited

La Brasa Revisited

Eva and I dined in La Brasa on Saturday, and had another enjoyable meal; every bit as good as the first time that we went there.

We are also pleased to see that La Brasa has received recognition from The Independent, being nominated in the "best of local London" category for 2005.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Treehouse Revisited

Treehouse Revisited

Eva and I went to the Treehouse last night for a drink and a meal, we have not been there since January.

We are pleased to say that the food and service were as enjoyable as our first visit there.

We had meatballs in strawberry coolie, smoked salmon in crepes, shank of lamb and cottage pie.

All excellent.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Garbo's Revisited

Garbo's Revisited

Eva and I dined in Garbo's, London's best Swedish restaurant, last night with some of the members of her Swedish course.

A jolly time was had by all, and we are pleased to note that the quality of the food, service and ambience is as good as it was when we first dined there in May 2004.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hong Kong's Rat Invasion

Hong Kong's Rat Invasion

Hong Kong's central business district is facing an invasion of rats.

Between January and June, the densely populated area's rodent infestation rate rose from 0 to 17%.

Ho Yuk-yin, a consultant with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, said that the invasion was down to poor hygiene standards at restaurants in the area's old, run-down and poorly-maintained buildings and maze of dank alleyways.

Government officers are distributing pamphlets to educate restaurant workers about hygiene, food storage, rubbish disposal and rat prevention. Workers were also putting out poisoned bait.

The district is now the second-worst rat infested area in Hong Kong, behind a shopping center in rural New Territories. A rodent infestation rate above 20 percent is considered high.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Black Marks For The Gaucho Grill

Black Marks For The Gaucho Grill

Eva and I returned to the Gaucho Grill at Canary Wharf yesterday, for a meal.

Whilst the food and service were good, they did let themselves down in one respect.

Their sirloin steak, that is proudly displayed raw, comes with a layer of fat; as indeed it should do.

Indeed the layer of fat is one of the key selling points that the Gaucho Grill makes in its sales pitch.

Duly sold, I ordered a steak.

Unfortunately, the chef and the sales team do not seem to be talking to each other; as when the steak arrived, the fat had been cut off.

The error was further compounded by the manager saying, when I queried this, that the fat had probably burnt away.

Nonsense!

Effective communication between the kitchen and front house staff is essential, if a restaurant is to succeed.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Chinese Beer Recalled

Chinese Beer Recalled

The Korea Food and Drug Administration has ordered a recall of all beer imported from China, amid recent reports that it contains formaldehyde.

The order follows recent Chinese media reports that formaldehyde, a harmful chemical that can cause cancer, was used by Chinese beer producers to remove deposited material in the alcoholic beverage.

The report alleged that 95% of all Chinese beer contains formaldehyde, at levels as high as six times the 0.2 milligram per litre recommendation in China's food safety law.

The recalled beer will be tested, as well as of all Chinese beer brought into the country in the future.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Low Paid Demo

Low Paid Demo

Union activists, in the GMB, will stage a demonstration highlighting low pay in the hospitality industry.

The union said that employees who serve in hotels, restaurants, casinos and tourist attractions deserved a greater share of profits made by companies in the sector.

A study, commissioned by the union, shows that workers in these industries are among the lowest paid in the UK.

The protest will be held outside the annual lunch in London of the British Hospitality Association.

I wonder though if they included the tips, that good service attracts, in their survey?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Guts Squeezed

Guts Squeezed

Despite the fact that US waistlines may be expanding, the size of the seating in restaurants is being reduced.

This is due to the fact that real estate prices are rising, forcing restaurants to increase capacity per square foot.

This is affecting the chain restaurants most of all.

O'Charley's and Captain D's, both Nashville-based restaurant companies, are building smaller versions of their restaurants and help franchisees get into new buildings for a little less money.

Burger King, which has 70 percent drive-through sales, is also looking at smaller prototypes.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Stallmastaregarden

Restaurant

Stallmastaregarden
Norrtull
113 47 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- +46 8 610 1300

Website www.stallmastaregarden.se

Overview

Eva and I celebrated Midsummer in Stockholm this year. As the weather was exceptionally fine, we dined alfresco at the Stallmastaregarden (Stable Master) Restaurant.

Stallmastaregarden is Stockholm’s oldest inn, and features a hotel and several restaurants.

Stallmastaregarden Inn has been in existence since the 17th century and is one of Stockholm’s, as well as Sweden’s, most well known restaurants. Many famous Swedish chefs began their careers there. With an emphasis on Swedish produce of the highest quality together with their very own smokehouse, rotisserie and grill, traditional Swedish cuisine is kept alive with inspirations from the present day.

Ambience

The restaurant and hotel is made up of several buildings, styled in the manner of an 18th century inn.

There are a number of dining rooms available; some for private functions, a water front café (The "Lill-Stallis café" by Brunnsviken bay), a main dining room with an open terrace overlooking the water front and the “lust” house, a stand alone dining room that can accommodate up to six people.

We dined on the open terrace of the main restaurant.

The atmosphere was cosy and inviting; the fact that it was summer, and that most diners were on the terrace, gave the place a more informal and relaxed atmosphere.

Menu

The menu (presented in both English and Swedish) contained a variety of Swedish and European dishes including; a herring buffet, lobster salad, asparagus and crayfish, halibut, chicken, veal served with duck liver sauce and lamb.

The homemade bread presented to us in a bread basket, whilst we perused the menu, was of a good quality; consisting of a variety of Swedish crisp breads and dark rye breads,

Service

The staff were very friendly and helpful, they were attentive but not intrusive. As you would expect in a good quality Stockholm restaurant, their English was impeccable.

Food

I chose the smoked tenderloin for my starter. This consisted of wafer thin slices of delicately smoked beef, served with roasted cashew nuts and a Dijon mustard dressing. It was a delight to eat, the taste was sublime; it proved to be an ideal starter for a warm summer’s evening.

I chose the lamb for my main course. This consisted of a variety of cuts of lamb, including cutlets and carved shoulder.

The lamb was cooked to perfection, and was succulent and flavoursome. The lamb was served with jus, pickled onions and avocado cream; these complimented the delicate flavour of the meat without overpowering it.

The dish was accompanied by sauté potatoes and vegetables; an excellent combination.

Eva chose the grilled chicken, with morel cream sauce, for her main course. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, the flavour enhanced by the morel sauce. The dish came with a delightful potato cake and fresh asparagus.

I indulgently concluded my repast with strawberries, marinated in Grand Marnier, served with homemade vanilla ice cream.

The meal, which included a bottle of Chablis and liqueurs, came to SEK1840 including service.

Overall Opinion

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and evening there, and will happily visit again. We recommend that you visit it the next time that your are in Stockholm.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Northern Ireland May Ban Smoking In Restaurants

Northern Ireland May Ban Smoking In Restaurants

Northern Ireland may ban smoking in workplaces including bars and restaurants.

The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety will decide, after the summer, whether to prohibit smoking in all enclosed workplaces or to implement a partial ban that would allow smoking in some bars.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Visa Scheme Scrapped

Visa Scheme Scrapped

The British government has scrapped the short term visa scheme for people working in Indian restaurants, as a result of an illegal immigration scam involving Bangladeshis.

The scrapping will affect nearly 10,000 Indian restaurants in Britain.

The Immigration Minister, Tony McNulty, took the decision after a review uncovered fraud among Bangladeshis seeking work in the restaurants.

The Minister claims that the scheme was no longer needed, because many jobs in bars and restaurants were being filled by migrants from the new European Union states.

However, the decision was criticised by the UK's Immigration Advisory Service; it accused the minister of turning his back on the Indian restaurant industry, which is largely run by Bangladeshis.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

A Michael Bagwell, has been arrested, on suspicion of presenting fake dry cleaning bills to restaurant managers.

Bagwell, who used the alias Mark Laskowski, took his dry-cleaning bill to seven suburban Des Moines restaurants in Texas earlier this month.

He has been charged with theft, perjury and stealing the identity of a former Georgia jail inmate. The investigation also has spread to Illinois, Georgia and Louisiana.

Bagwell allegedly went to the Lone Star Steakhouse in the first week of June, and told the manager that his wife had been in the week before and that a waitress had spilled iced tea on her. He presented a dry cleaning bill for $25.90 and the restaurant's manager, Nicole Graham, apologized and paid the bill.

She became suspicious when Bagwell couldn't remember the zip code for his address. She then saw him go across the road, to Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que, where he asked the manager to pay the bill.

Police found 14 fake dry cleaning bills in his car, along with identification cards with Bagwell's photograph and four other names.

Police said Bagwell also told officers his name was Mark Matherne, the name of a man released from a Georgia jail in 2004. The car Bagwell was driving was registered to an Illinois woman, who officers couldn't find, police said.

Trial is scheduled for the end of July.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Italian PM Insults Finnish Cuisine

Italian PM Insults Finnish Cuisine

Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, managed to upset the Finns on Tuesday by insulting the cuisine of Finland; which Italy beat to host the new European Food Safety Authority.

Berlusconi told local dignitaries, ahead of the inauguration of the EFSA in the northern Italian town of Parma:

"I've been to Finland and I had to endure the Finnish diet so I am in a position to make a comparison,"

At the opening ceremony European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, would have the chance to sample Parma's famous smoked ham, Berlusconi said; and see for himself that it was better than traditional Finnish food.

Quote:

"Barroso today will be able to taste our 'culatello' as opposed to smoked herrings from Finland,".

Berlusconi reportedly told a summit of European leaders in December 2001:

"Parma is synonymous with good cuisine. The Finns don't even know what prosciutto is."

I would advise the PM not to make so free with his insults. I have worked in Finland, and can tell him that the Finns are not to be messed with.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Singapore Food Festival

Singapore Food Festival

The Singapore Food Festival starts on 1st July, and will feature dishes from the sixties.

The event last for a month, and begins with Makan Mania hawker fare at Parco Bugis Junction.

Food Festival organisers hope that noodles, and other nostalgic food, will bring in the crowds.

Over half a million people are expected to visit the festival. It is expected to earn Singapore around $700M.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Christmas Chaos Warning

Christmas Chaos Warning

Whilst it may seem a tad early for the majority of people to be thinking of Christmas, that is not the case if you are in the pub and restaurant trade.

There is a warning that hundreds of local pubs and restaurants in the UK will be shut at Christmas, because they may miss the deadline for new drinks licences.

It seems that only 3% of licence holders across England and Wales have applied to their local authority for a licence.

August 6th is the deadline for applications.

The applications are compulsory following the passing of the 2003 Licensing Act, which transfers responsibility from magistrates to local councils.

Every premises selling alcohol, putting on entertainment or serving hot food (after 11pm) must apply for a new licence.

Councils have warned that they will not be able to cope with a deluge of late applications in July and early August, because many staff will be absent on summer holidays.

You have been warned!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Purveyors of Gandhi Curry in a Stew

Purveyors of Gandhi Curry in a Stew

An Australian takeaway firm, called Handi Ghandi "Great Curries...No Worries", has annoyed Mahatma Gandhi's family.

They are asking the Indian government to stop the company using Gandhi's name.

The company sells meat and vegetarian curries; including beef, which is sacred to Hindus and forbidden.

Tushar Gandhi, the activist's Bombay-based great-grandson and head of the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, is quoted as saying:

"It's offensive..It goes absolutely against all his beliefs. Using his image to sell beef curries and such doesn't gel".

Gandhi's name and image are protected under India's constitution. However, these laws quite clearly do not apply to other countries.

It may be that the Gandhi's family will have an uphill struggle with their complaint.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Indian Wine

Indian Wine

Following hot on the heels of the success of Cobra beer, the very popular Indian beer served in many Indian restaurants, wine merchants believe that Indian wine may be the next Cobra.

It seems that vineyards in India are starting to target the UK market.

Novum Wines has put its money where its mouth is, and has started to import wine from Sula, India's second largest producer of premium wine.

The wine is currently only being sold in Indian restaurants in the UK at the moment. However, it is soon to be available in off-licences.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dangerous Dining In Dhaka

Dangerous Dining In Dhaka

There are more than 5,000 restaurants in Dhaka City. However, the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) registration lists only 1000 of these.

The remaining 4000 appear to be "missing".

As to the 1000 "official" restaurants, there are only 18 inspectors available to monitor the hygiene standards of these.

Needless to say the hygiene in most of them is generally abysmal. It is reported that restaurant owners often do not clean plates, glasses, and spoons properly; additionally, the water is dirty.

The restaurants are reportedly serving rotten fish, meat from sick cattle, and spoiled vegetables.

Infections of Escherichia coli (E-coli), Salmonella, and Shigella bacteria in restaurant food and street foods in the city are not uncommon.

Sounds like a place to avoid.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Recipe For Disaster?

A Recipe For Disaster?

It seems that some restaurants in Britain are playing with fire, in as much as they are trying an experiment with allowing customers to pay what they like.

Michael Vasos, the owner of Just Around The Corner a French bistro in north London, tried the idea first. His customers are allowed to work out what they want to pay, without any argument, at the end of their meal.

Three other restaurants are following suit; Mju in Knightsbridge central London, Lanes in East London and Sweet Melinda's in Edinburgh.

However, Mr Vasos has a way of ensuring that people do not underpay. He gives them their money back, in order to humiliate them.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Chinese Restaurants Raided

Chinese Restaurants Raided

It is reported that authorities in Michigan USA have raided 17 Chinese restaurants, which they suspect have avoided paying millions of dollars in taxes and importing undocumented workers as a "modern version of indentured servants."

Search warrants were also issued at 21 homes of suspected undocumented Chinese workers.

Investigators believe that one family/related families own the restaurants, which are mostly in the central and west-central areas of the Lower Peninsula.

It is reported that 20 workers were living in one house with "very spartan" furnishings in Grand Rapids.

The owners are accused of understating their income by 2/3rds.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack

Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares programme, screened on UK Channel 4 last night, proved to be very interesting.

He visited Mama Cherri's Soul Food Shack in Brighton, a place that Eva and I visited a couple of years ago. See our review here Momma Cherri.

We were impressed with the quality of the food, when we visited.

It was interesting to see that Gordon Ramsay felt the same. However, as was evident, the business was failing; owing to a lack of clear delineation of duties in the kitchen, and effective marketing "front of house".

Unfortunately, this is a problem that affects many restaurants.

I was pleased to see that, after a week of Ramsay, the restaurant had taken on board his suggestions and by all accounts is now thriving.

We look forward to going there again.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Transvestite Sues

Transvestite Sues

A sociology teacher who was thrown out of two Lexington restaurants, for wearing women's clothing, is suing them.

Georgetown College for sexual discrimination.

Jeremy D. Kerr said that he regularly wears women's clothing, to demonstrate the "overall reduction of femininity in society."

Kerr first made headlines gained notice in May 2004 when he was thrown out of two Lexington restaurants for wearing a skirt and corset.

In separate lawsuits filed last month, Kerr has sued the owners of Pazzo's and Tolly-Ho restaurants, claiming discrimination and other charges.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Booze Blanket

Booze Blanket

The British Government is preparing to impose a blanket levy on all pubs, clubs restaurants and off licences in its new "alcohol disorder zones".

Home Secretary Charles Clarke had rejected calls to limit the charges to pay for extra policing in the zones of known troublespots.

All licensed premises in the areas designated as alcohol disorder zones will be faced with an average charge of £100-a-week.

Whilst this measure may be appropriate for pubs and clubs, where people go and get "blotto", I fail to understand why the measure is to apply to restaurants as well.

This will have a disasterous effect on local restaurants.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Anti Smoking Campaign Gathers Pace

Anti Smoking Campaign Gathers Pace

As the anti smoking lobby continues to push their views on the rest of society, Denmark is now edging towards emulating Sweden's ban on smoking.

It is reported that bars, cafes and restaurants in Denmark must now post signs at their doors indicating whether they allow smoking or not, under a new law that went into force on Wednesday.

Establishments must also indicate if they offer special smoking sections.

The Danes are still divided over whether to introduce a total ban on smoking in public places and the workplace.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sweden Bans Smoking In Restaurants

Sweden Bans Smoking In Restaurants

Much to the annoyance of my partner Eva, who is Swedish, Sweden will introduce a ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants midnight tonight.

A recent poll showed that 85% favour an end to smoking in restaurants, and 77% support a ban in bars and clubs.

As of June 1 Swedish diners will have to go outside to have a smoke, which will be very unpleasant in winter when temperatures drop to -20 degrees.

Establishments will only be allowed to permit smoking indoors if they build a separate, closed-off section with specially-designed ventilation. However, no food or drinks can be consumed in the special area.

This is expected to boost sales of snus. This is Sweden's centuries-old tradition of placing a form of moist snuff placed under the lip. It is used by more than a million Swedes.

Snus comes individually packaged in portion sizes, wrapped in a thin layer of paper which is placed under the lip and sucked on for several hours. A pack of 20 packets is sold in a round, plastic pillbox.

The only problem being, that the EU banned the sale of snus in 1992; citing research that said it causes cancer, but granted an exception to Sweden when it joined the bloc in 1995.

Some Swedish bars and restaurants plan to place "snus-trays", instead of ashtrays, in their establishments.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Full marks to Gordon Ramsay's new show "Kitchen Nightmares", which was screened on Channel 4 last night.

In this show Ramsay descends upon a failing restaurant, and tries to turn it around.

Last night he highlighted a problem that is seemingly becoming endemic in many middle ranking eateries.

Namely that of "reheating".

These failing establishments believe that they can con their customers by serving reheated food which has either been purchased from the local supermarket, or prepared from a packet.

Message to these establishments:

We, the customers, are not that stupid; and can more often than not tell when we are eating reheats.

It is time that this disgraceful practice was stopped.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Poker and Food

Poker and Food

In what I would say it a novel innovation, New York may be on the verge of legalising the playing of poker in bars and restaurants.

State Senator John Sabini has introduced a bill that would expressly legalise poker for businesses, that are licensed by the state alcohol beverage control law, provided that these businesses apply for a new "social poker" license.

The bill would limit stakes to being no more than $50 buy in, and a winnings cap of no more than $100.

Don't hold your breath though, there is still a long way to go.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Disney Lands In The Soup

Disney Lands In The Soup

Disney has managed to get itself into hot water, over its plans to serve dishes such as shark's fin soup, sea cucumber and abalone in its hotel restaurants in its new theme park in Hong Kong.

Clarus Chu, of the World Wildlife Fund in Hong Kong, said:

"Promoting these marine species is not responsible because they are not sustainably harvested. Disney should have the social responsibility to promote responsible consumption...Serving these in wedding banquets will also make the bride and groom feel they are not doing something right."

The Chinese consider these dishes to be a sign of affluence.

Disney is quoted as saying that it will serve the dish "upon request".

Quote:

"Hong Kong Disneyland takes environmental stewardship very seriously and we are equally sensitive to local cultures..It is customary for Chinese restaurants and 5-star hotels to serve shark's fin soup in Hong Kong as the dish is considered as an integral part of Chinese banquets."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Veggie Burgers

Veggie Burgers

Kellogg Co. said Tuesday its Morningstar Farms unit will make a vegetarian "burger". This veggie burger will be sold at Burger King restaurants in the United States.

Burger King is the only fast-food restaurant to offer a vegetarian burger nationally in the USA.

Fast-food restaurants have been increasingly offering more health-conscious menu options like salads and fruit.

McDonald's does sells a vegetarian burger in some places, but has not announced plans to expand it nationwide.

Burger King has approximately 7,700 mostly franchised restaurants in the United States.

Burger King also recently launched another new product in the USA, an Enormous Omelette Sandwich.

The sandwich has one sausage patty, two eggs, two American cheese slices and three strips of bacon.

The calories content of this gut buster works out at 730 calories and 47 grams of fat; this is more than a Whopper sandwich, which has 700 calories and 42 grams of fat.

Question, do Americans really need to add calories to their diet?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Veg Out In Salt Lake City

Veg Out In Salt Lake City

Andrea Mather, the author of "VegOut" a vegetarian restaurant guide for Denver and Salt Lake City, has proclaimed that Salt Lake area restaurants are more vegetarian friendly than at first supposed.

In addition to vegetarian meals, they also offer vegan options (made without meat, eggs or dairy products).

Quote:

"The vegan consciousness in Salt Lake far surpasses the Denver-Boulder area...It's a great food town; it's easy to eat your way through it, which is what I did."

Her top Salt Lake City Vegetarian restaurants, as listed in her book, are:

-Bangkok Thai, 1400 S. Foothill Drive
-Blue Iguana, 155 S. West Temple
-Bombay House, 1615 S. Foothill Drive
-Cafe Shambala, 382 E. 4th Ave.
-Caffe Molise, 55 W. 100 South
-Frank Granato Importing Co., 1391 S. 300 West
-Ginza, 209 W. 200 South
-Mazza Mediterranean Restaurant, 1515 S. 1500 East
-Noodles & Company, (downtown, Murray, Sugar House and Layton)
-Oasis Cafe, 151 S. 500 East
-One World Cafe, 41 S. 300 East
-Pinon Market & Cafe, 2095 E. 1300 South
-Red Iguana, 736 W. North Temple
-Morning Ray Cafe, 255 Mountain St., Park City
-Royal India, 10263 S. 1300 East

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

StreetSmart

StreetSmart

Over £16K has been raised by restaurants in Edinburgh for a number of homeless charities, under the StreetSmart initiative.

Diners made donations, in the form of a tip, towards the charity.

Thirty-one restaurants in Edinburgh took part in the scheme, which raised funds for several homeless charities in the city.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Wine Doggie Bags

Wine Doggie Bags

The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, will this week grapple with the thorny question of whether wine doggie bags should be allowed.

In other words, along with the unfinished food, should diners be allowed to take their unfinished wine home with them.

The current law prohibits restaurateurs from allowing customers to keep partially empty bottles of wine. The law is, rather tenuously, intended to reduce the chances drink driving.

I don't think that it is that likely that if you can't finish your wine at the table, you are then going to take a swig a few minutes later at the wheel of your car.

Granholm will probably sign the bill, but wants to see all of its provisions before making a decision.

Under the measure the wine buyer, or a restaurant worker, would have to reinsert the cork so that the top of it is level with the lip of the wine bottle.

The restaurants would have to be licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Iffy WiFi

Iffy WiFi

Much like the annoyance that the use of mobile phones in restaurants arouses, it seems that laptops are destined to become equally annoying.

There seem to be some diners who, for reasons best know to themselves, choose to bring their laptop into a restaurant.

Sad bastards!

Good manners dictates that both mobiles and laptops should be turned off when dining. However, there are those selfish individuals amongst us who choose to ignore the feelings of others.

Several restaurants in Silicon valley, where else?, have decided to cater for these techno nerds; and are now offering a haven for them, and their laptops.

The Trapeze Restaurant offers a wall down one side of the restaurant for the diners and their laptops, whilst the Burlingame restaurant offers WiFi service.

Others are set to follow.

This is bad news for those ordinary mortals amongst us, who go to a restaurant for the food and atmosphere.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Health Warnings For Top London Restaurants

Health Warnings For Top London Restaurants

It is reported that health inspectors have made criticisms of some of Britain's most prestigious restaurants.

These criticisms were made in confidential reports, obtained by the media under the Freedom of Information Act.

The list reads like a who's who of celebrity chefs and restaurants, it includes; Gordon Ramsay, Raymond Blanc, the Ivy, Sketch and Momo, the Cinnamon Club and Nobu Nobu in Mayfair.

The criticims generally relate to minor health issues, and should not be a major cause for concern to the average diner.

I would venture to suggest that if all restaurants were subjected to a health review on the same day, at least 80% of them would receive some form of criticism.

What the customer doesn't see, won't hurt him!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Swedes Favour Smoke Ban

Swedes Favour Smoke Ban

The majority of Swedes favour the country-wide ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants, which is scheduled to take effect next month, according to a poll.

It is reported that 85% of Swedes said they favoured a total ban on smoking in restaurants, and 95% said that they expected to go out to eat as often or more often once the ban goes into effect.

67% of smokers questioned said they agreed with the ban.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Hong Kong Bans Smoking

Hong Kong Bans Smoking

The Hong Kong government has published a bill extending anti-smoking laws to nearly all public indoor areas including restaurants, bars and workplaces.

The bill will also ban smoking in schools, karaoke bars, mahjong parlours, commercial bath-houses and nursing homes.

Anyone breaking the new law, will be liable to a $600 fine.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Guns Banned

Guns Banned

Following on from an earlier article here about guns being allowed back into restaurants, it seems that this proposal has been overturned.

Arizona governor Janet Napolitano has vetoed the bill, that would have let people bring their guns into bars and restaurants.

The supporters of the bill said current law deprives citizens of protection, and subjects their guns to the risk of theft if they're left in vehicles parked outside bars or restaurants.

Critics said the measure would lead to fights and accidents.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Restaurants May Be Sued For Making You Fat

Restaurants May Be Sued For Making You Fat

It seems that the march of the compensation culture in the USA has reached new heights of stupidity.

People are trying to sue restaurants and food outlets for serving them food that makes them fat.

Has it not occurred to these people, that if they eat too mauch and don't exercise then they will get fat?

They only have themselves to blames.

A state legislator in Pennsylvania is taking no chances, Rep. Douglas Reichley wants to add Pennsylvania to the list of states that protect the food industry from these lawsuits.

He introduced the bill last month to protect the state's agriculture and food industries, because he doesn't think that they should be sued for "making food that tastes good."

In New York two fat teenagers, clearly on the make, filed a suit against McDonald's for allegedly making them fat by serving them burgers and fries.

Pathetic!

Lower courts in New York have dismissed the case twice, but a federal appeals court reinstated part of it earlier this year.

A handful of similar suits have been thrown out since the New York case was filed in 2002 and there are no other known cases pending, legal experts said.

In the last two years, 16 states have enacted laws prohibiting such obesity lawsuits; in New Mexico, lawmakers approved a "right-to-eat-enchiladas act."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Don't Bring Your Servants

Don't Bring Your Servants

Those of you with servants who are thinking of visiting Lahore for dinner, should maybe consider booking elsewhere.

It seems that many restaurants in Lahore are banning diners from bringing maids, and other domestic staff, into the premises.

Apparently some customers, in certain restaurants, do not like to share the same dining room with domestic staff such as; maids, bodyguards and drivers.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Louisiana Sanitation

Louisiana Sanitation

Those of you thinking of dining in Louisiana may wish to check out a website, run by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, which provides diners with the sanitation reports of 30,000 restaurants across Louisiana.

The sanitation ratings for dining establishments can be searched by name, street address, city or parish.

Restaurants are rated by pelicans, with five denoting a nearly immaculate establishment and one indicating a place where some sort of mandatory corrections are under way.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Dangers of Cooking

The Dangers of Cooking

Kitchens, as we all know, contain many hazards; accidents with knives, fire and hot fat are all well documented.

However, equally dangerous is the humble chili.

These spices must be carefully handled by the chef, otherwise burns to the skin and eyes can occur.

One hapless chef had a little trouble with this recently. Having prepared a large batch of chilies, he went to relive himself in the urinal without washing his hands first.

The result?

A little while later his penis began to burn very painfully.

So bad was the pain, in fact, that he had to go to hospital. They had a solution for his problem, he had to dip his penis into yoghurt for an hour or so.

You have been warned!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck

Good news for all you British foodies, who have laboured under the delusion that British cuisine and cooking was not highly rated by the rest of the world.

Heston Blumenthal's restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray Berkshire, has been crowned the best in the world by a panel of 600 international chefs and critics.

Blumenthal's award winning dishes include, smoked bacon and egg ice cream and green tea and lime mousse dipped in liquid nitrogen.

The Fat Duck, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, also won the Best in Europe accolade.

Blumenthal reportedly said:

"There are so many very good chefs in the world I cannot believe my name is even in the running for the top. It is fantastic for Britain, though this is all down to the Roux brothers, who first put England on the gastronomic map..".

Adding:

"I like to experiment with different tastes and flavours of sweet and savoury and show they have no boundaries. People expect ice-cream to be sweet, but the Victorians ate it savoury. Cucumber ice, for example, with fresh cucumber was common as a starter or deappetiser in a meal. Crab ice-cream was also popular and I have a recipe dated 1800 for parmesan ice-cream,"..

Quote:

"The award is the culmination of what has been happening to cooking in Britain since the mid-1990s and makes it now the best place to eat, especially in London and just outside. You can still get appalling food in restaurants outside London. I just don?t think there is a good food culture here as there is in France and Italy. But food trends trickle down from restaurants and some time that will trickle down to people?s own kitchens."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Air Conditioning II

Air Conditioning II

Whilst I am on the subject of air conditioning in restaurants; it is a good time to vent my spleen on those establishments that employ their air conditioning units as a means to encourage people to leave quickly, when the restaurant is closing.

You have all been in these places, as you linger near to closing time enjoying another liqueur, the management try to hasten your departure by turning up the air conditioning.

I don't like this trick, and avoid places that employ it.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Restaurant Air Conditioning

Restaurant Air Conditioning

I have some simple advice for restaurant owners, regarding their air conditioning systems.

Restaurants that have their air conditioning set too high, make the restaurant feel like a refrigerator.

Please be aware that if I wished to eat in a refrigerator, then I would simply climb into my Electrolux and dine there.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Check Your Gun Sir?

Check Your Gun Sir?

The Arizona Senate has voted to allow people take guns into bars and restaurants, if the establishments don't deny them permission and if the bearers aren't drinking alcohol.

Supporters say that the current law, which prevents this, deprives law-abiding citizens of the means to protect themselves and others. It also subjects their guns to the risk of theft, if they're left in vehicles parked outside bars or restaurants.

Under the bill, backed by the National Rifle Association, people could carry weapons into bars and restaurants that don't post notices prohibiting it. Not surprisingly it is opposed by law enforcement groups and organisations representing bar and restaurant operators.

I would imagine that service improves dramatically in establishments where the customers are wielding a firearm.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Franklins

Restaurant

Franklins
157 Lordship Lane
Dulwich

Phone:- 0208 299 9598

Website www.franklinsrestaurant.com

Overview

Eva and I went to Dulwich last week to try out Franklins, a pub and restaurant that has gained a reputation for good quality English food. I also understand that the pub is recommended for its beer as well.

Ambience

Franklins consists of a small cosy pub at the front, and an intimate romantic restaurant at the rear. The restaurant is situated on both the ground floor and the basement.

It was a Friday evening, and both the pub and restaurant were very busy, it is therefore advisable to book in advance.

The restaurant was lively, with the open kitchen situated along the wall at the back, yet intimate and cosy. The wooden floor of the restaurant contrasted with the brick walls, on which were hung several large antique mirrors and a large picture of an Empire day outdoor party.

The tables were laid with paper cloths, and were quite close together but not uncomfortably so.

The atmosphere was relaxed, but lively; I would swear that I saw Prince William dining at the table next to us.

Menu

The menu, which was unashamedly English, is varied on a regular basis and had a variety of hearty dishes to choose between. This particular evening, amongst others, it contained; devilled kidneys, jellied oxtail, pork belly with snails, rack of lamb, calves liver with Pease pudding and a sirloin steak.

They even serve a savoury course, which is something that is not so common in restaurants these days.

Service

We were warmly greeted, and promptly shown to our table.

The staff were very friendly and efficient. Service and food preparation were well coordinated as they needed to be, given the number of covers.

We were kindly offered another, less central table, when it became free; a nice gesture.

Food

I started with the devilled kidneys on toast. This was a splendid dish, consisting of a very generous portion of lambs kidneys served atop a chunky cut piece of well toasted bread.

The kidneys were delightful; tender, rich and very piquant.

First class!

I chose the spring chicken with leeks for my main course. This dish was a combination of a succulent, tender whole poussin served with a delicate white wine tarragon sauce on top of leeks.

I chose boiled new potatoes to accompany it. Both the chicken and the potatoes were delightful.

Eva started with the scallop roe on toast. This consisted of a generous portion of pink, fluffy delicate tasting roe accompanied by two triangles of thick cut toast.

It was delicate, delicious and a pleasure to eat.

Eva then chose the rack of lamb with garlic for her main course. This was pink and tender. I tried some and was impressed with the flavour, and texture, of the lamb; it was not overpowered, but complimented, by the garlic. Eva ordered the dauphine potatoes to accompany the lamb, an ideal combination.

Now, by this stage, we normally opt for coffee and liqueurs. However, I was feeling greedy and decided to try the savoury. Therefore I ordered a Welsh rarebit.

I was not disappointed; a more piquant and flavoursome rarebit I could not have wished for, duly arrived.

It consisted of a very generous slice of thick cut toast, smothered in melted Irish cheddar and mustard.

Outstanding!

The meal, which included a bottle of Chablis and liqueurs, came to £87 before service.

Overall Opinion

We had a most splendid meal, and evening. I guarantee that we will be returning to Franklins again.

We have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this fine restaurant.

Pope's Busts To Return?

Pope's Busts To Return?

It is reported that the Italian restaurant chain, Buca di Beppo, has removed 90 plaster busts of Pope John Paul II from its private dining rooms out of respect for the deceased pope.

The removed busts were to have been donated to Catholic schools.

However, this move has not gone down so well with some customers; who have complained to the chain.

The customers say that the "pope rooms" look and feel bare without the busts. As such, the company is rumoured to be having second thoughts about its hasty decision.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Chicago Tries To Ban Foie Gras

Chicago Tries To Ban Foie Gras

It seems that those of you who live in Chicago, and love foie gras, may soon find this delicacy a little harder to come by.

That is if Alderman Joseph Moore has his way. Moore is proposing an ordinance that would ban foie gras from city menus.

He is following the lead taken by well known Chicago chef, Charlie Trotter, who pulled foie gras from his menu.

Moore is reported a saying:

"The unethical treatment of animals should be completely distasteful..It's incumbent on us..I just think that the public needs to be informed about the cruelty the birds must undergo, and it's incumbent on us for those who hold public office to take action,"

The council could vote on the matter as soon as its May 11 meeting.

I suggest that you indulge yourselves fully, before then, just in case he wins.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Canadian Seafood Boycott

It is reported that Legal Sea Foods, the 31-restaurant chain based in Boston, has joined the Humane Society of the United States in asking American restaurants and consumers to boycott Canadian seafood.

This is in response to the ongoing seal hunt that is practiced in Canada.

This comes on the heals of the new labelling law in the USA, which gives consumers details on their seafood products as to the country-of-origin.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Prince Charles's Stag Night

Prince Charles's Stag Night

Those of you who are planning a stag night, might care to take a look at what Prince Charles did on his last Friday.

It was organised by Prince William and Harry at the Rustico restaurant, in the Swiss resort of Kloster.

The main course, at £14 per head, was the "Chas Fondue".

Prince Charles thanked his guests at the surprise party, by toasting them with glasses of champagne.

Seemingly the restaurant is quiet and out of the way, therefore it is ideal for royalty and those wishing to escape the media.

The restaurant's signature dish, the Rustico Chas Fondue, comes with; grilled potatoes, onions, gherkins and bacon smothered in melted cheese.

Drinkies consisted of several bottles of white and red wine, plus £50 magnums of Louise Roederer Brut Premier champagne.