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.

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.