Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

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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.

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.