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.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Tips

Christmas Tips

Now that the season of overindulgence, and colds, is with us again here are a few tips to stay healthy:

1 Eat plenty of raw garlic, to stave off colds and other bugs

2 Eat plenty of fresh ginger, to ease bloating and to promote a healthy digestive system

3 Drink plenty of water to flush your kidneys

4 Drink hot toddies when you are feeling cold:

-whisky
-lemon juice
-cinnamon stick
-cloves
-sugar
-hot water

5 Make sure that your turkey is properly cooked; 25 minutes per pound at 180 (allow for the weight of the stuffing), and make sure that the juices run clear when the thickest part of the flesh around the legs is pierced.

Have a happy and enjoyable Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Croydon's Dirtiest "Restaurants"

Croydon's Dirtiest "Restaurants"

The Croydon Advertiser names and shames Croyodn's dirtiest restaurants. However, it fails to let the readership in on the secret of Croydon's cleanest.

It also rather misleadingly uses the word "restaurant" in the article's title, given that many in the list are takeaways this description is misleading.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Truffle of The Century

The Truffle of The Century

Congratulations to Stanley Ho for securing ownership of the the largest truffle found in half a century.

The massive truffle, weighing in at 3.3lb, was unearthed in Italy last month and sold for $330K at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, London and Florence.

The winning bid on Saturday night came from Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho, who bid by phone.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tesco's Crab Paste

Tesco's Crab Paste

Why does Tesco's Crab paste contain more mackerel than crab?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Money To Burn

Money To Burn

Those of you with a spare £100K or so lying around could emulate Li Sze Lim, who sat down to dinner last night in Hong Kong with some friends and feasted on a truffle that cost him £102K in an auction.

The white truffle, all 750g of it, has gone into the record books as being the most expensive ever.

Those of you who fancy a nibble can take part in the online auction of truffles being held on www.whitetruffleauction.com.

Try some shaved over omelettes, scrambled eggs, risotto, polenta and pasta dishes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bird Flu

Bird Flu

Bird flu has struck a UK turkey farm at the most inopportune moment, namely the run up to Christmas.

Vets have ordered 5,000 turkeys to be slaughtered at a free-range farm in Diss, Norfolk.

Needless to say this could not have come at a worst time for the British food and farming industry, in the wake of foot and mouth and an earlier flu scare at Bernard Matthews turkey plant in February.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that early tests showed the turkeys had the H5 strain of bird flu, but it is not yet known if it is a highly pathogenic form.

The deputy chief veterinary officer, Fred Landeg, said the cause of the infection was unknown.

"Everybody needs to be concerned. This is avian influenza.

We are asking every poultry keeper to be vigilant, to house their birds where they are required to do so in any restricted area and carry out good bio-security measures and report any signs of disease."

We will be looking at the movements on to the premises and off the premises of birds; and movements of people, vehicles and things, to see whether there is another origin somewhere in the country or whether the disease could have spread
."

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union, tried to put a brave face on it.

Quote:

"We fully support the measures Defra have put in place in the protection and surveillance zones and we will be working with them to make sure producers within the zones understand the implications of the restrictions.

But it is important to remember that avian influenza is a disease of birds. There is no reason for public concern and the Food Standards Agency says there are no risks from eating poultry meat and eggs provided they are cooked properly as, of course, all food should be
."

He is of course quite right.

Unfortunately, the already unnerved British consumer may well not see it that way, sales of turkey's in the run up to Christmas are likely to be adversely affected if this is not resolved very quickly.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Yorkshire Truffles

Yorkshire Truffles

I see that Asda has announced plans to plant and grow gourmet truffles in Yorkshire. They are conducting a trial to see if truffles, a valuable and much sought after delicacy, can be grown successfully at a one-acre site near Cridling Stubbs, near Pontefract.

Normally truffles sell for thousands of pounds per kilo.

However, Asda spokesman Alan Slator has a mission to bring them to the tables of ordinary people:

"Truffles are normally the food of millionaires. People eating in some restaurants can pay £50 just to have a few scrapings on the top of their food.

We want to bring them to ordinary people
."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bad Food Award

Bad Food Award

The Consumers International World Congress is meeting in Sydney this week, and will present on Tuesday its Bad Products Awards.

Quote:

"The 'awards' will be given to leading brand companies guilty of high profile examples of irresponsible behaviour."

Those companies that market products high in sugar and salt had best beware.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to that eponymous British dish (that claims to be Indian) Chicken Tikka Masala, which celebrates 60 years this month.

It is the UK's most popular dish, according to Food Service Intelligence.

It represents 25% of the total turnover of £2.5BN of all the 9000 "curry houses" in the UK. In another staggering statistic the organisers of the National Curry Week have estimated that if all the portions of chicken tikka masala consumed annually in the UK were stacked on top of one another, they would form a tower 2770 times taller than the Greenwich Millennium Dome.

The origin of this peculiar hybrid dish is rumoured to be one of the first Bangladeshi restaurants that opened in Britain in the 1940s. A customer was disappointed to find that his Chicken Tikka was "dry", as it was meant to be. He therefore asked for some gravy, the chef opened a can of tomato soup and poured that over it.

Result?

The birth of a new dish, the rest is history.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Greed

Greed

It is regrettable to see that some pubs are jumping in on the "gastro pub" bandwagon and attempting to pass of very mediocre food as "gastro", whilst charging top prices for it.

The price of pub food has now "soared" to an average £20 for a two-course lunch and glass of wine, according to the Good Pub Guide.

The guide lists about 5,000 UK pubs and is based on reports from more than 2,000 pub-goers, plus anonymous visits from its editors.

Seemingly some pubs are charging over £10 for a rather pathetic steak and kidney pie. The guide concludes that pubs are overcharging customers by about 67% for food.

I am a firm believer in "what goes around, comes around". Customers will not tolerate being ripped off with poor quality shit, and will vote with their feet by going elsewhere.

The pubs that try to rip people off in this manner deserve to go out of business.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Compulsory UHT?

Compulsory UHT?

A row has broken out over media reports that the government was going to force people to drink UHT (a most disgusting and foul tasting product) in place of fresh milk, so as to cut down on carbon emissions (UHT uses less energy to store).

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has rushed to deny the press reports:

"Defra has been working in close collaboration with all parts of the dairy supply chain to look at ways to reduce the environmental impact of dairy production and consumption, including greenhouse gas emissions.

The paper referred to was drawn up to stimulate discussion - it does not represent government policy and was never intended to.

The government is not and will not be telling people what kind of milk to drink, people need to make their own decisions
."

It sounds to me as though the leak was designed to test public reaction, the reaction being so vehemently negative Defra was forced to rush out the denial.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ramsay Rated by Michelin

Ramsay Rated by Michelin

Gordon Ramsay has become one of the two most Michelin starred chefs in the world, after his New York restaurant (Gordon Ramsay at the London) was awarded two stars in its first year.

This is a welcome change of fortune for the restaurant, which received poor reviews when it opened earlier this year. There have also been reports of arguments between the restaurant's staff over tips, and neighbours of restaurant complained about noise and other irritations.

The 2008 Michelin guide awarded the London two stars, signifying "excellent cuisine, worth a detour", it praised its consistency in food and service and singled out its seven-course Menu Prestige.

Ramsay now has 11 Michelin stars.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jamie's Authentic Italian

Jamie's Authentic Italian

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has announced that he will create a chain of Italian restaurants across Britain. The first branch of "Jamie's Italian" will open in Bath next year. He is planning to create a chain of up to 40 across Britain.

The aim is to prepare "rustic Italian" cuisine. All pasta will be freshly made on site, and the bread will be baked daily by artisan bakers.

The mission of the chain is to create a "fast, urban casual dining" experience.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Irish Coffees

Irish Coffees

Those of you with a penchant for Irish coffees, as I do, could do a lot worse than pay a visit to Mae Ping a Thai restaurant in Croydon.

The preparation of the coffee is a most enjoyable performance to watch, as the waiter brings a trolley to your table and then begins the show.

-The rim of the glass is dipped in liqueur and then in sugar

-A small stove on the trolley is lit, and the sugar caramelised in the flame

-Whisky is flamed in a ladle and poured, with a flourish, into the glass

-A coffee liqueur is then flamed and poured

-After which the coffee itself is poured

-Finally the cream added

I would hasten to add that the Irish coffee looks, and tastes as good, as the performance leading up to it.

Therefore Mae Ping is worth visiting for the Irish coffees alone. The food, atmosphere and service are also good!

Mae Ping
16-18 South End
Croydon
0208 760 0278

Monday, October 01, 2007

The World's Largest Salad

The World's Largest Salad

Pulpi, in the Almeria province of Spain has entered the record books for having tossed the world's largest salad.

It contained 6,700kg of vegetables, and took 20 chefs over three hours to prepare it.

The salad was prepared in a container 18m (59ft) long and 4.8m (15.7ft) wide.

The salad was distributed to restaurants in Pulpi, to provide free to their clients, Mr Navarro told reporters.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

British Food Fortnight

British Food Fortnight

In case you were unaware of it, the sixth British Food Fortnight has just begun.

It runs from 22nd September to 7th October 2007. Details of activities around the country, recipes and advice on eating British are available on www.britishfoodfortnight.co.uk

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

World's Largest Soup

World's Largest Soup

Following on from Edinburgh's largest bowl of porridge, Venezuela have claimed the world record on Saturday for making the largest pot of soup; a giant cauldron of stew, prepared by President Hugo Chavez's government.

The soup was prepared outdoors in downtown Caracas, and contained about 3,960 gallons of "sancocho" stew. The current record-holder listed on the Guinness World Records Web site, a pot of 1,413 gallons of spicy soup prepared in Durango, Mexico, in July.

The soup, called "Bolivarian stew", was enough to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people.

It contained 6,600 pounds of chicken, 4,400 pounds of beef and tons of vegetables.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Porridge

Porridge

The world's largest bowl of porridge ever was created in Edinburgh this weekend.

It weighed 81.2kg, easily beating the previous world record of 66.26kg, and was served to around 2,000 people at the Edinburgh Farmers' Market.

The porridge was stirred by a specially commissioned 1.5m spurtle, and Stoats Porridge Bars provided 25kg of organic oats.

Border Tablet provided pieces of tablet to be sprinkled on top of the porridge, while Caurnie Soap produced a giant soap made with oats.

The Edinburgh Farmers' Market is held in the city's Castle Terrace

Edinburgh Farmers' Market takes place in the Castle Terrace car park, off Lothian Road, every Saturday from 0900 BST until 1400 BST.

It is the largest in Scotland, with over 70 producers attending regularly.

Friday, September 14, 2007

London Dining

London Dining

In news that will not surprise anyone who has eaten recently in London, Britain's capital city now rates as the world's most expensive city (even above Tokyo) for dining out.

An average meal, including a drink, tax and service for London diners runs to £39.09 pounds, up 2.9% from last year.

This is the conclusion of Zagat Survey, which published its 2008 London Restaurants guide on Wednesday.

I am a firm believer in "what goes around, comes around". Whilst London restaurant owners in the short term may be milking their customers, in the medium term once City bonuses have been slashed by the effects of the ongoing credit crunch we will see more realistic prices as the restaurants battle to find custom.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Restaurant

The Restaurant

Raymond Blanc hosted a new BBC 2 show last night, that is meant to be to foodies what "The Apprentice" is to "business people".

True enough it showcased a group of restaurant wanabees, many of whom were staggeringly incompetent and naive. However, much like "The Apprentice", it is very clearly staged (the hapless wanabees had one week to open for business) and bears no resemblance to the reality of setting up and running a restaurant.

When Alan Sugar dealt with his apprentice failures, the encounter took place in a "Star Trek" style board room mock up. Blanc, for reasons that baffle me, chooses to take his "apprentices" to task in a room decorated like a brothel.

If you like watching people fail and cry, then this is the show for you; you certainly won't learn anything about food from this show.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Price of Meat

The Price of Meat

Those of you who enjoy flesh, as indeed I do, will be concerned to know that the price of meat in the UK is going to rise.

Meat prices will rise as farmers pass on the rise in costs of wheat and animal feed. Deloittes report that the costs of these items have almost doubled for farmers.

Deloittes warn that the price rises are vital, as the industry is at "breaking point" after the recent foot-and-mouth scare and floods.

The bad weather has not just been confined to the UK, but to key grain growing areas such as Canada and parts of Europe. There are now fears of a grain shortfall, exacerbated by the rising demand from the biofuel industry which uses the grain to produce ethanol for cars.

The Labour government's "Islington centred" neglect of the countryside for the last 10 years will come home back to haunt them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The World's Most Expensive Dessert

The World's Most Expensive Dessert

The golden plum souffle, a British creation, has made the Top Ten of the world's most expensive desserts (it came tenth); the list is compiled Forbes Traveler magazine.

The golden plum souffle costs £24, and is served at the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire.

The dish is the creation of Michel Roux, and contains mirabelle plums, a delicacy from Alsace in France.

Top of the list was Fortress Aquamarine, costing £7,300, available in Galle, Sri Lanka. This contains an 80-carat aquamarine which is balanced on an upright sliver of chocolate shaped like the resort's logo. It comes with cassata served in a vase of sugar.

Oddly enough, no one has bought this absurdly priced dessert yet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spicy Chicken

Spicy Chicken

Here is my recipe for Spicy Chicken.

Ingredients (per person)

-1 or 2 fresh chicken quarters

-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

-2 Scotch Bonnets, chopped

-2 long sweet peppers, sliced in half

-A generous portion of tomato puree

-A good dollop of Tabasco

-A good dollop of Peri Peri

-A good spoonful of cayenne pepper

-A good spoonful of paprika pepper

-A drizzle of olive oil

-Black pepper

Method

-Mix all the ingredients (except for the chicken and the sweet peppers) together

-Smear the chicken on all sides with the mixture, massage your bird well with the mixture

-Place the chicken into an oven dish and cover the chicken with the sweet peppers

-Drizzle with olive oil

-Allow to rest for an hour or so

-Roast in an oven at 180 for around 45 minutes, until cooked.

Serve with rice or saute spuds.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Restaurant 7 Portes

Restaurant 7 Portes
Paseig Isabel II
Barcelona
Spain

Phone 93 319 30 33

Website www.7portes.com

Overview

Whilst Eva and I were on holiday in Spain we took the opportunity to study the hotel guidebook of recommended restaurants, and Eva came across the Restaurant 7 Portes.

Here is how they describe themselves on their website:

"Originally called "Cafe de les 7 Portes", this establishment opened in 1836. Its over 150 years of excellence since then have made today's "Restaurant de les 7 Portes" the most classic of Barcelona's eating-places. It is housed in the "Portics d'en Xifre", a building declared a national monument that was, incidentally, the first place in Barcelona where running water was installed and the back drop for the first photograph ever taken in Spain, In 1942, it became the property of Paco Parellada, founder of one of the fore most dynasties of restaurateurs in all of Catalonia.

At "7 Portes", any time without interruption from one in the afternoon to one in the morning every day of the year, you can enjoy the finest Catalan cooking in an intimate setting or in one of the spacious banquet halls, accompanied by Spain's best wines and "cavas" (sparking wines) from the well-stocked cellar
."

With a write up like that we simply had to go along and try it out for ourselves.

By the way, the list of famous diners is quite entertaining eg; Bo Derek, John Wayne and Yoko Ono have all dined there.

Ambience

We went along on a Friday evening, rather boldly without booking. We were a tad concerned on arriving to see that there was a queue of people waiting outside the restaurant, being marshaled by a doorman and head waiter. The restaurant, as could be seen through the window, was very large but also very full. The question dominating our thoughts was whether we would get in or not.

Within two minutes of arriving in the queue, the head waiter appeared and took our names and placed them on a list. Less than five minutes later, he came out again and called us to a table.

Excellent!

Quite clearly the flow through of people, and size of the restaurant means that waiting times are not at all excessive. The additional plus point being that 7 Portes is open until 1:00. However, I would recommend that if you are in a large group you make a reservation, just to be on the safe side.

The 7 Portes has a number of private dining rooms (accommodating from between 2 to 70 people) and the main public dining room, which is fashioned in the style of a grand Victorian cafe. Absolutely delightful, bright, cheerful, stylish and full of energy and life. Cafe style dining of the "old school".

The tables were laid with linen clothes and napkins, and the waiters dressed in the white uniforms reminiscent of ships' stewards. All adding to the atmosphere.

Menu

The menu offered a magnificent selection of Catalan dishes including; ham, "Esqueixada" (salt cod salad), cannelloni, salt cod fritters, Black rice Emporda style (with cuttle-fish and its ink), paella, Senyor Cortina's oven-baked langoustines, black or white sausage with haricot beans, roast suckling pig, roast shoulder of kid etc.

The portions were of the hearty variety, I am pleased to say.

I was therefore quite concerned to observe the English gentleman on the table next to us, meandering around a most excellent and succulent sirloin steak in a most unsatisfactory manner. This place is not for people with poor, unhealthy appetites.

Service

The service was absolutely first class, efficient, friendly and polite. As already noted, we were handled very professionally at the door even though we had not made a reservation. Our waitress was absolutely delightful, complementing me on my incredibly poor grasp of the basics of the Spanish language (yes, I am easily flattered).

She was also very helpful with regard to Eva's special request for a paella without seafood but with some chicken, this was no problem at all (even though it wasn't on the menu).

Full marks, we couldn't have had better service.

Food

I started with the cannelloni, which was made in the "Spanish way" with pork. I have to say, this was a delightful starter; a good sized portion of pork mince flavoured with herbs, rolled in pasta bathed (not drowned) in a light bechamel sauce.

Splendid!

I chose the roast shoulder of kid for my main course. This was heaven on a plate. A truly magnificent joint of meat was presented to me, slow cooked so that the meat fell off the bone but cooked in manner that the meat was not dry. It had been infused with rosemary, which complimented and brought out the flavour of the kid magnificently. It came with saute potatoes and assorted vegetables.

I thoroughly recommend this dish.

Eva chose the Torronada for her starter. This was rather a jolly dish consisting of fried egg and ham, served atop a mound of fried mashed potato. I thought this rather reminiscent of an English breakfast, which in my view often makes rather a good starter for dinner.

Eva then had the specially made paella, which was a vegetable based paella with chicken pieces. It was both filling and flavoursome, a nice version of paella if you or your stomach is a little tired of seafood.

The meal, including a bottle of Torres Del Veguer, came to 93Euros.

Overall Opinion

In our view this is one of the best restaurants we have dined, in whilst in Barcelona. It has everything that you could could wish for; ambience, good service, good food and energy.

Under no circumstances miss out on the opportunity of dining there, if you ever have the good fortune to be visiting Barcelona.

We most certainly will be coming back!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sedna

Sedna
Paseo Colon 5
Barcelona
Spain

Phone 93 268 9372

Website www.restaurantesedna.com

Overview

As noted earlier, Eva and I spent our summer vacation in Barcelona this year. Here is another place that we dined in during our time there in July.

We were ambling around late one evening and came across Sedna, which afforded us the opportunity to eat outside.

Restaurante Sedna is located on the ground floor of an 18th century building, that has been catalogued by UNESCO as Gothic Catalan art heritage. It is in front of Port Vell (Old Port) in the oldest part of the Barcelona sea facade, and is surrounded by monuments and historical buildings eg; the Colon's Monument (1888), the Church of La Merced (XII centure), the Duke of Medinaceli Place (1851), the Militar Government (1847), the Post Office Building (1927), the Via Layetana Street and the Palau Place.

It is, according to the restaurant website, the place where Don Miguel de Cervantes author of the novel Don Quijote de la Mancha went to write when he lived in Paseo Colon.

Sedna has both inside dining, for 45 persons, and outside dining for 52 persons in the terrace.

Ambience

Sedna was lively and busy, both in the terrace and inside, even though it was quite late (around 23:00).

The atmosphere was friendly, the terrace comfortable, pleasant and the tables laid with linen clothes.

Despite the fact that it was quite late, and that it was busy, there was no problem in finding a table and ordering a meal at a leisurely unhurried pace.

Menu

The menu offered a variety of Spanish dishes ranging from Tapas to main courses of meat, fish and paella. I would note that in contrast to some of the other restaurants that we visited the food, although Spanish, had been given more of an "international" twist in its presentation/style (ie more attention to presentation, and slightly less hearty than some other establishments).

The menu included such dishes as; goat's milk cheese & lettuce salad with honey and pine nuts vinaigrette, salad of mozarella bufala and pesto with tomatoes and small lettuces, Iberico cured ham, Magret of duck roasted with apples and Calvados, entrecote with small vegetables, ham croquettes, mussels vinaigrette style and grilled small blood sausages with onions etc.

Service

The service was very friendly, attentive and efficient; I could not fault it. Our waiter was happy to have chat with us about Barcelona and the food.

Food

I started with the Gazpacho soup, which was refreshing and piquant.

I chose the lamb for my main course. This consisted of four lamb cutlets served with vegetables and potatoes. The lamb was perfect, tender and succulent cooked just right. However, since I had been spoilt on my holiday, and had enjoyed some rather hearty portions of meat in other establishments, I couldn't help but feel that another couple of cutlets would have been in order. That, of course, is just me being greedy!

Eva opted for a selection of Tapas dishes that evening; croquettes, hams, chorizos and cheese. All of which were of good quality and fresh.

The meal, including a bottle of Vinasol, came to 91Euros.

Overall Opinion

Sedna is a good quality restaurant, located in a nice part of town. It is worth a visit should you happen to be in the area.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Advice For Barbecues

Advice For Barbecues

Now that the sun has finally deigned to shine upon Britain, people will be making the most of this short period of warmth and making merry with their barbecues.

Just as Eva and I did the other night.

Unfortunately the warm weather also brings out that perennial nuisance, and scourge of outdoor eating, the wasp.

May I commend that you have to hand a stout package of gammon steaks. This is a most excellent and sturdy weapon to use to fend off/exterminate all manner of wasps and bugs.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trobador

Trobador
Rambla Catalunya 2
Barcelona
Spain

Phone 93 318 40 41

Website www.restaurantetrobador.com

Overview

On our first evening in Barcelona, Eva and I were wandering around acclimatising ourselves and looking for somewhere to eat. It was late, around 11:00pm, so we were quite peckish by this stage.

We chanced upon a very lively venue called Trobador.

Trobador is a bar and restaurant that serves a variety of Spanish dishes, grills and Tapas in an informal atmosphere.

Ambience

Trobador was very lively and packed bar/restaurant; well lit, bright, cheerful and bustling. We didn't think that we would be able to find a table. However, we were assured that if we waited for ten minutes, at the bar, a table would be found.

I am delighted to say that they kept their word, and a table was found for us within five minutes.

Menu

The menu offered a good selection of Spanish dishes ranging from Tapas to main courses of meat, fish and paella.

Service

The service was very efficient and courteous. However, I would suggest that maybe our waitress could learn to smile a little more readily.

Food

This being Spain, I started with the egg and chips...don't laugh, I was hungry and wondered how they would present them.

I have to say I was rather impressed, two large eggs sprinkled with chili powder were presented atop a pile of fries.

I rather enjoyed this dish, despite Eva castigating me for being so "British":)

I chose the Catalan sausage and beans for my main course. This consisted of a most excellent, large and porky herbed sausage served with cannellini beans. An ideal meal for the weary traveller.

Eva started with the Iberian ham, which was a generous portion of local smoked ham.

She then had a selection of sausages and sauteed potatoes. The sausages were first class, one being spicy the others being variations on the version of mine.

An absolutely splendid introduction to our holiday.

The meal included a bottle of Chablis, unfortunately I have lost the bill. However, I can assure you it was less than 60Euros.

Overall Opinion

A great place, good fun and good food; give it a go!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

El Cafe D'en Victor

Restaurant El Cafe D'en Victor
Tapineria 12
Barcelona
Spain

Phone 93 310 2872

Overview

One particularly fine and warm evening in Barcelona Eva and I decided to dine alfresco, and descended upon El Cafe D'en Victor.

El Cafe D'en Victor is a restaurant with outside terrace, near the old town.

El Cafe D'en Victor serves a mixture of traditional Spanish dishes and Tapas, using local ingredients.

Ambience

El Cafe D'en Victor is a pleasant lively restaurant near the old town. The outside area, where we sat, was busy but we were able to find a table that afforded us a decent view without being "plonked" in the middle of the passing tourists or wandering musicians.

Menu

The menu provided a good selection of Spanish dishes ranging from Tapas to main courses of meat, fish and paella.

Service

The service was very friendly, good humoured, efficient and courteous.

Food

I started with the Gazpacho soup. This was a most excellent dish, chilled to perfection, it was generous in portion and in body. The taste of tomatoes was stimulating but not overbearing.

Eva started with a tortilla potatas (potato omelet), which was firm and well stuffed with potato. The taste and texture was just right.

We accompanied our starters with bread rubbed with tomatoes, garlic and drizzled in olive oil.

We both chose paella for our main courses. I had the chicken paella and Eva the fish.

My paella was absolutely first class, a very generous portion served in an iron paella pan. There was a more than ample portion of tender chicken pieces in the rice, which itself was cooked in chicken stock and was unctuous and delightfully claggy.

I was thoroughly delighted with my choice.

Eva's seafood paella was equally good, again served in an iron paella pan. The rice had been cooked in a seafood stock that was flavoursome, but not overpowering. The paella itself contained a variety of fish; prawns, squid, mussels etc.

An excellent meal!

The meal, which included a bottle of local wine, came to 68Euros.

Overall Opinion

A very pleasant meal and restaurant, it is ideal for lunch or dinner alfresco.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Restaurant Ria De Vigo

Restaurant Ria De Vigo
Sevilla 84
Barcelona
Spain

Phone 932 215 131

Overview

Eva and I were recently in Barcelona on a well deserved holiday. We decided to pop into Rio De Vigo, one of the numerous restaurants/cafes that are by the sea at Platja de Sant Miquel, for lunch.

It was a glorious sunny day, and we decided to sit at a table outside under one of the sun umbrellas.

Rio De Vigo serves a mixture of seafood and meat dishes, using local ingredients.

Ambience

Rio de Vigo is a pleasant restaurant near the seafront. The outside area, where we sat, was clean fresh and well shaded by the umbrellas. Although it was busy, the tables were not packed together too closely to make it feel unpleasant.

Menu

The menu provided an excellent selection of seafood and meat dishes including; the obligatory paella (in various guises), locally caught fish, steaks and pasta.

Service

The service was very friendly, efficient and courteous.

Food

I started with green peppers fried in olive oil and generously salted with sea salt. A most excellent dish, piquant and flavoursome.

I chose a sirloin steak for my main course, garnished with peppers and fires. The meat was of good quality, tender and had a decent layer of fat.

I have no complaints at all.

Eva started with fried prawns. This was a most excellent starter, consisting of a generous plateful of prawns in their shells that had been dipped in flour then fried in olive oil. The taste was piquant and fresh.

Eva then chose the veal escalope for her main course. This was covered in bread crumbs and fried, and garnished with fries and a salad. It was a reasonable effort, not the best that I have seen (as the meat was a little darker and drier than I would prefer); however, it was perfectly adequate.

The meal, which included a jug of Cava Sangria, a beer and two Irish coffees (well, it was our last day!), came to 88Euros.

Overall Opinion

A perfectly decent and fun seaside restaurant, worth visiting on a hot day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Barcelona

Barcelona

Eva and I have just returned from a most excellent and enjoyable holiday in Barcelona, where we tried out some more superb local restaurants.

We also had time to pop into a couple of old haunts, and are happy to say that they were as good as before.

el Yantar de la ribera, which specialises in oven roast baby lamb, was again absolutely superb; we had a sumptuous meal of peppers, sausages and lamb (wine, food and liqueurs came to 105Euros).

Mi Burrito y Yo (My Donkey and I), a charming and lively steak house, was also a pleasure to revisit. We had a lovely meal of tortilla, soup, succulent barbecued chicken and barbecued pork; including wine, this came to 78Euros.

I will update the site with details of the other restaurants that we visited over the coming days.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Food Safe For Olympics

Food Safe For Olympics

China has reassured prospective visitors and athletes to next year's Olympics, that the food is safe and that they should not be concerned by recent Chinese food scandals; as many safety measures are being put in place for the Games.

China's food inspectors announced last week that a six-month crackdown had uncovered industrial oils, acid, cancer-causing chemicals and other dangerous ingredients in thousands of everyday foods sold domestically.

Beijing State Administration for Industry and Commerce said that dangers do exist, but it is taking extensive measures to ensure quality and safety in 2008.

Round-the-clock guards will be on duty in Olympic kitchens, food storage areas will be under video surveillance and food transport vehicles will be fitted with global positioning systems.

White mice will also be used to test food to be consumed by the athletes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rotten Carrots

Rotten Carrots

Commiserations to Prince Charles, champion of organic farming, who has had his carrots rejected by Sainsbury's as they were deemed to be "rotten".

Sainsbury's also rejected carrots supplied by the head of the Soil Association, Patrick Holden.

Sainsbury's stated that the crop was rotten, because it had been kept in a cold storage centre since being harvested last year. A spokeswoman said:

"They put the carrots in cold storage near their farms, where they suffered rapid deterioration and as a result we have had to reject the remainder of the crop."

Mr Holden said his carrots were sent by truck from his farm in Wales to a packing plant in Peterborough. He said the "quality issues" were "at least in part caused by transport".

"The truth is, if you buy your carrots in Sainsbury's, they will only come from this one pack house in Peterborough.

I haven't got anything in for Sainsbury's. My issue is that all supermarkets have adopted this policy of centralisation of supply
."

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Taste of London

The Taste of London

The Taste of London kicked off yesterday, in Regent's Park, and will run until 24th of June.

The festival hosts 50 of London's top chefs and restaurants.

The Times Chefs' Theatre exhibits some of the UK's most famous chefs in action.

The Speciality Beer Masterclass hosts a selection of the world's finest speciality beers.

The Wine Experience offers a daily programme of wine tastings and tutorials. Leading wine connoisseurs from around the world host tutorials and give advice on pairing wine with food.

River Cottage will have its own marquee, with appearances by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

There will also be the opportunity to sample and buy authentic local produce from a selection of the producers of food and drink from London and the South East.

The Taste will also be held in Bath and Birmingham, on 28th June-1st July and 5th July-8th July respectively.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Organic Food Costs To Rise

Organic Food Costs To Rise

Those of you who have a liking for organic food, may find their food bills rising in the near term.

EU ministers have agreed that food accidentally contaminated with up to 0.9% GM content can still be labelled "GM free".

However, the UK's organic organisations and "purists" have promised to maintain their higher standard of 0.1% of GM content.

Promises, though, cost money.

Needless to say the extra cost will not be borne by the producers, or campaigners, but by the consumers.

The Soil Association and Organic Farmers and Growers say that farmers and growers could incur extra costs, as they seek to protect their crops from cross contamination.

These extra costs will naturally be passed on to consumers.

The organic "purists" are unrepentant, they claim that the 0.1% threshold is in line with what customers want.

Personally speaking I actively avoid anything labelled "organic", as I have no doubt that we are being "sold a pup" with this fad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fake Off!

Fake Off!

Gordon Ramsay has been accused of faking scenes for the American version of his show, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (where the "F" word is used more liberally than MSG in a down market Chinese restaurant).

The former restaurant manager, Martin Hyde, of Dillons an Indian restaurant in Manhattan has taken legal action against Ramsay.

Hyde is seeking to stop an episode of the series being aired, on the basis that Ramsay humiliated Hyde and exaggerated conditions at Dillons.

Hyde claims that Ramsay fabricated scenes for the episode featuring his business.

Hyde alleges that Ramsay falsely suggested that meat was spoiled and hired actors to pose as customers, so that it would appear the venue was busier after he intervened in its operations.

A spokesman for Ramsay has declined to comment on the lawsuit, which he said he had not yet seen, but in reference to the claims told the Associated Press:

"It is a reality show and as far as I know it's not something they do."

Those who seek free publicity for their restaurants, by bringing in Ramsay, should be well aware that the purpose of the show is to highlight failures and to show a turnaround after Ramsay has been called in.

What did Hyde think would happen?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pay What You Like

Pay What You Like

The White Horse in Epsom is trying a rather innovative experiment with its gastro cuisine. Every Thursday and Friday evening, in June, the pub allows its patrons to pay what they think that the meal is worth.

Landlord, Stuart Down, said:

"There are no catches.

Customers are leaving exactly what they think their meal was worth. So far it has been very successful and has certainly captured people's imaginations.

What is so exciting about it from my point of view is the feedback we're getting knowing what your customers think is extremely useful.

No one has walked out without paying anything yet, though I'm sure someone will. In fact a lot of people have actually left more than they would have been charged
."

As a rough guide, the mark up that a well run restaurant or food outlet should charge in order to make a respectable (not greedy profit) is about 3-4 times the cost of the food.

It would be a very interesting idea indeed, to see some of London's more over priced and pretentious restaurants try this experiment; they might learn some humility.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Smoke Detector

Smoke Detector

Those of you who are thinking of having a crafty fag break, in the toilets or a darkened corner of a restaurant or pub, when the no smoking ban comes into force in England in July may have to think again.

Restaurants and bars throughout England have been installing a hypersensitive talking alarm, which will catch the errant smokers out.. A pre-programmed voice message will tell the culprit:

"This is a no-smoking area, please extinguish your cigarette, a member of staff has been contacted."

Seemingly, the Cig-Arrete alarms can detect the slightest traces of tobacco smoke or the flame from a match or lighter; they will be used in hidden areas such as toilets and stairwells.

Thousands of the anti-smoking kits have been supplied to pubs and restaurants in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the ban has already come into effect.

The devices are made by Radal Technology, based in Burnley, Lancashire.

The alarms can be adjusted to deliver the voice message in any language or regional accent.

The restaurants installing them are more concerned about being fiend £2500 for inadvertently allowing smoking on the premises, rather than displaying concern for diners health.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Toby Carvery and Bar Croydon

The Toby Carvery and Bar Croydon

I popped into the Toby Carvery and Bar in Croydon for a drink yesterday afternoon, on my way to the dentist, and have the following observations/recommendations:

1 The first glass I was served my gin in had not been washed properly, and smelt/tasted of aniseed.

Glasses should be properly washed.

2 All four soap dispensers in the gents were empty.

These should be monitored and refilled on a regular basis.

3 The floor in the gents was semi flooded.

This should have been mopped up immediately, and not left for customers to wade through.

Sharpen up!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chinese Food Scare

Chinese Food Scare

Another food scare has hit the already badly dented reputation of Chinese food companies.

China's quality control watchdog found excessive amounts of preservatives in 13% of 46 chili products tested across the country recently.

The products came from 38 companies in 12 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

The administration also found that 8% of dried vegetables and dried fruits had failed safety tests, due mainly to excessive colour additives and the presence of sulphur dioxide.

China last month said it would tighten up inspections nationwide after a number of dangerous food products was found in domestic and export markets.

In one of the highest-profile cases, pet food contaminated by additives originating in China is suspected of killing thousands of dogs and cats in the United States.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Like Father Like Son

Like Father Like Son

It would appear that, when it comes to high level summits, George W Bush has the same delicate stomach as his father.

The Times reports that Bush has fallen ill, with a stomach disorder, at the GB summit in Germany.

Given that none of the other guests have reportedly keeled over, it is reasonable to assume that it was not the food served at Heiligendamm.

Given that the next in line to office is Cheney, I wish Bush a very very speedy recovery.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Food Fight Frenzy

Food Fight Frenzy

Food Fight Frenzy

It seems that a US high school food fight got a tad out of hand last Thursday, in scenes resembling a Laurel and Hardy movie police had to be called and an officer was injured.

At least 200 students were in West Aurora High School's cafeteria when french fries, milk, sandwiches and pizza slices were hurled in a food fight frenzy.

Zach Little, a student, said:

"It was just insane..Things like milk cartons, full pop bottles and blue slushies were flying around. Kids literally bought the food to throw it and, to me, that's a little expensive."

The alleged instigator, Demetrius Oglesby faces a felony charge of resisting arrest after authorities said he ran from a police officer. The officer tripped over another student, who had fallen during the food fight, breaking his foot. A school official also suffered minor injuries.

Two juveniles also face misdemeanor charges from the incident, including a 15-year-old charged with mob action and disorderly conduct and a 14-year-old charged with assault.

Seemingly the event was preplanned, as students had said that rumours about the food fight had been circulating throughout the 3,000 student school all week as a senior prank.

Letting off steam is what students do. However, given the number of starving people in the world wasting food in this manner just seems to be in very poor taste.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Patak's Sold

Patak's Sold

Patak's, Britain's best-known Indian food brand, is being sold by its founding family (the Pathaks) for over £100M to Associated British Foods, whose brands include; Sunblest bread, Silver Spoon sugar, Twinings tea and Ovaltine.

Patak's is run by husband and wife team Kirit and Meena Pathak, the "h" in the family name was dropped to make it easier for the English to pronounce.

Patak's was founded in 1957 by Kirit's father, Laxmishanker, who came to Britain in the 1950s as a refugee from Kenya, with his wife and six children. He started with just £5 in his pocket when he arrived in the country.

The business supplies approximately 75% of the 8,000 Indian restaurants in Britain. It also sells curry paste, pappadums, chapattis and cooking sauces through the major supermarket chains and exports to around 40 countries.

Mr Pathak will become chairman of the combined business of Patak's and Blue Dragon and wife Meena will also become a director.

The family is retaining the rights to the Patak brand in India.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Death Sentence

Death Sentence

China has sentenced the former head of its food and drugs agency to death for corruption, as the government sought to contain a wave of scandals over health safety.

Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, was convicted on charges of taking bribes and dereliction of duty.

The sentence reflects the importance that China's leaders are giving to the issues of corruption and food safety, as they grapple with a series of safety breaches involving toxins in food and other products.

Lucky for the management of some of our supermarkets, and food companies (recently tainted by food scandals) that they are not based in China!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Dangers of Curry

The Dangers of Curry

News that a ban has been imposed on British Airways staff microwaving their own food following, the explosion of a curry at 35,000 feet should cause a sigh or two of relief amongst those passengers of a nervous disposition.

The blast caused around £20,000 of damage to an aircraft.

However, for those of you who enjoy good food this story confirms what I have said many times before.

The food on BA is not particularly good, if it were then the staff would not take their own meals on board (note I have discussed this many times with BA staff, and they agree).

Would they?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Restaurant Capri

Restaurant Capri (Stockholm)

Eva and I dined at Capri, our favourite Italian restaurant in Stockholm the other evening.

One slight disappointment being that their signature dish "Pollo Diavola" is no longer on the menu.

I opted instead for a veal cutlet, which was excellent.

One word of caution, the English menu states that they serve T bone steak; this is in fact a mistranslation, the steak is entrecote.

That aside, we had an excellent evening.

It would be really good though if the "Pollo Diavola" were to make a comeback.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Customer Service

Customer Service

My compliments to the staff of La Habana in Stockholm, who went out of their way to look after Eva and myself last night.

Our choice of wine was not available, therefore one of the bar staff was seen "legging it" down the street to a nearby Italian restaurant to procure a bottle from them.

Now that's service!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BA Fish Tart

BA Fish Tart

Yesterday BA attempted to serve me with a salmon and dill tart for tea, on their London-Stockholm flight.

I took one sniff of it, and declined.

Fish should not smell of fish. A very poor offering for an in flight meal.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hangover Cure

Hangover Cure

Ease your way out of your hangover, and into your day, with this simple but effective hangover cure:

Marmalade on generously buttered toast.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Quick Slim Lunch

The Quick Slim Lunch

Those of you who want to lose a few pounds, but still need something to eat at lunchtime, should try this simple recipe.

Ingredients

-4 medium tomatoes
-a handful of fresh parsley
-3 cloves of garlic
-a drizzle of olive oil
-1 slice of wholemeal bread

Method

Toast the bread, and blitz the rest of the ingredients in a blender.

Spoon the blitzed mix onto the toast.

Eat.

It is tasty, non fattening, filling and good for you (detoxing and improving your body's defence mechanism to infenctions).

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fat Fears Close Burger King

Fat Fears Close Burger King

Burger King has spent $3M closing 21 restaurants and rescuing its franchisees in Britain, as the British consumer starts to shy away from fat laden burgers.

Burger King now has 578 locations in the UK, so there is still the opportunity to buy a burger.

Despite this new found fear of fat, some 66% of adult Brits are still obese!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cock Au Vin

Cock Au Vin

My commiserations to the staff and customers of Zizzi's restaurant in the Strand, who had their dining experience interrupted on Sunday by a man who came in, dropped his trousers, and cut off his penis.

They do say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but even so!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cadbury's Taken To Court

Cadbury's Taken To Court

In the wake of last year's salmonella outbreak in chocolate bars, Cadbury's is facing an appearance in court.

Cadbury Schweppes faces prosecution over the outbreak of salmonella that forced it to recall a million chocolate bars.

Birmigham City Council has accused Cadbury's of placing "unsafe" chocolate products on the market, and of failing to immediately inform the authorities about the contamination.

Cadbury's will also be prosecuted for failing to identify hazards from chocolate bars contaminated with salmonella, and of failing to identify "corrective actions".

The cost to the company of having to deal with the infection is estimated to be around £30M, plus the consequential damage to its brand value.

Cadbury's has been summoned to appear before Birmingham Magistrates' Court on 15 June.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cocktails Are Good For You

Cocktails Are Good For You

Finally the news that we have all been waiting for; cocktails are good for you!

US and Thai researchers have discovered that adding fruit such as strawberries and blackberries to eg rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits boosts the antioxidant nutrients in the strawberries and blackberries.

The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture say that any coloured fruit might be made even more healthy by the addition of alcohol.

I'll drink to that!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Ultimate Bacon Buttie

The Ultimate Bacon Buttie

Scientists at Leeds University have just announced the results of a study that they have been conducting into bacon sandwiches.

They were commissioned to test more than 700 variations of bacon sandwich, varying cooking method, type of oil, cut of bacon and type of bread.

They have now perfected the recipe for the ultimate bacon buttie.

It is: N=C+{fb(cm).fb(tc)}+fb(Ts)+fc.ta.

This shows how to make a sandwich that balances the force in Newtons required to crunch through the cooked bacon, with factors such as the temperature of the sandwich and the cooking time.

Back bacon needs to be grilled under a pre-heated grill for seven minutes at 240 degrees.

The bacon should be served on slices of white farmhouse bread 1-2cm thick, with sauce added to taste.

Dr Graham Clayton, who led the research team, said:

"We often think that it's the taste and smell of bacon that consumers find most attractive. But our research proves that texture and sound is just, if not more, important.

While there was much debate within our taste panels on the smoked or unsmoked decision, everyone agreed that tough or chewy bacon is a turn-off.

So, if you want to cook the perfect bacon buttie at home, our recommendation is to choose thinly sliced bacon with just enough fat, grilled in a hot oven and served with dollops of your favourite sauce
."

The research was commissioned by Danish Bacon and Meat Council as part of their 2007 promotional campaign, which is all about bacon sandwiches.

As far as I am concerned, crispy bacon is a turn off; I prefer it lightly grilled.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lilla Pakistan

Restaurant

Restaurant Lilla Pakistan
Sankt Eriksgatan 66
113 20 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone (46) (8) 30 56 46

Website www.lillapakistan.com

Overview

Stockholm has a paucity of good quality Indian/Pakistani restaurants, usually the food is too bland or the decor is that of a cold and uninviting cafe. After some considerable searching on the net, for anything resembling quality, Eva and I came across Restaurant Lilla Pakistan which we decided to try out a few weeks ago.

Lilla Pakistan was established in the early 1990's, and specialises in Pakistani food.

Ambience

Lilla Pakistan is a small, intimate restaurant with dark polished wooden tables, mirrors on the walls and a part open kitchen all of which contribute to a pleasant and inviting atmosphere.

Menu

The menu provided a good selection of Pakistani main courses; fish, meat, chicken and vegetables. However, there were only three appetisers to choose from.

Service

The service was professional and friendly, and advice was also on hand should we have needed it in respect of which wine to accompany our meal.

Food

I chose the Mezban Kae Teen Shorbe to start with. This consisted of 3 different types of soups seasoned with fresh herbs. The soups came in miniature bowls and were excellent. However, one was tomato soup and I would question as to what this really has to do with Pakistani cuisine.

Eva chose the Golshan Barre to start with. This is described on the menu as:

"Lentil dumplings soaked in yoghurt served with freshly chopped onions, tomatoes, chilies, herbs and chaat masala."

Quite honestly this was a complete disappointment, the dumplings were minuscule and hard to detect within the mound of chopped onions etc. Eva was not happy with her choice.

To our view, the appetiser section of the menu requires more attention in terms of choices of dishes on offer, and what actually goes into them.

Fortunately our main courses were better!

I chose the Zafrani Pasanda Fruita; which consisted of marinated tender chunks of lamb roast in a saffron gravy, garnished with fried fruits with ginger, roasted Pakistani pine kernels, with marinated cheese. This was first class, the meat was exceptional tender and flavoursome and was well complemented by the fruits and ginger.

Eva chose the Dahi Gosht for her main course. This was beef cooked in garam masala and yoghurt, a fine dish spicy and stimulating.

To accompany our meal we had Sabzi Ka Pakwan vegetables, potatoes baked with raisins,
fresh herbs and mushrooms; together with two nan breads and rice.

The meal, which included a bottle of sweet German wine, came to 1230SEK before tip.

Overall Opinion

A good quality Asian restaurant, one that Stockholm badly needs. However, as noted, we do feel that the appetisers need more work in terms of choice and content.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cafe Piastowska

Restaurant

Cafe Piastowska
Tegnergatan 5
111 40 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone (46) (8) 21 25 08

Overview

Eva and I tried out the Cafe Piastowska, a Polish restaurant in Stockholm, the other week.

Ambience

Cafe Piastowska has been in existence for quite a few years in Stockholm and is run by a Swedish gentleman and his Polish wife who have, shall we say, a rather distinctive style and approach to the restaurant trade.

It consists of two floors, the ground floor bar and restaurant area and a basement which is a veritable rabbit warren of nooks and crannies.

The walls were decorated with all manner of knickknacks and artifacts, including Polish imperial flags. Red velour was very much the dominant texture, complemented by the white lace table cloths placed on top of crimson cloths.

We sat downstairs for our meal, then retired upstairs for our coffees and liqueurs.

The atmosphere created by the basement decor and candlelight was very romantic, even though Eva's part of the sofa that she was sitting on collapsed.

You are advised to book, as the owners tend to open and shut when they please. Indeed, the owner was happily going to bar us from entering (even though it was not full) until we told him that we had in fact made a booking.

Menu

The menu was very limited, and only offered soup and three main courses; schnitzel, steak and another dish that I have forgotten.

Service

The service was rather eccentric. When we sat down we were almost instantaneously served a bowl of potato and leek soup, before we had even seen the wine list. It was evident that you had to make sure that you repeated the order to ensure that the staff grasped fully what you wanted.

Rumour has it, that if they don't like you they make it very clear to you indeed.

When we were upstairs, partaking of our vodkas and coffees, we entered into a rather lengthy chat with the owner and his daughter who were sitting on the next table. Evidently we had passed "acceptability" test.

Food

The soup was good, but I found my main course of steak with egg and horseradish to be a little disappointing. The steak not being that high quality, and the potatoes underneath being a little greasy.

Eva managed to persuade them to serve her a blinis to start with. This was rather a bizarre form of blinis, as it came smothered with a variety of ingredients (poached salmon, egg and caviar) and was rather greasy.

Eva chose the schnitzel for her main course, which was rather better than her starter in terms of quality.

The meal, which included a bottle of Chardonnay 3 vodkas and 6 Irish coffees (yes, we "did it large" that night), came to 1340SEK before tip.

Overall Opinion

A romantic, eccentric restaurant; if you want to go out and get drunk in a cosy environment, then this is the place for you. However, don't expect the food to be that exciting.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dolce Vita

Restaurant

Dolce Vita
Kungsholmsgatan 16
112 27 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone (46) (8) 650 60 80

Website www.dolcevita.nu

Overview

Eva and I went to Dolce Vita on Valentine's night, for a rather pleasant and romatic Italian meal.

It is has been quite a while since we have been to the Dolce Vita. When I lived in Stockholm (1996-2000) we often went there. However, this is the first time that we have been back since 2000.

I am happy to report that it was much as I remember it.

Ambience

Dolce Vita has been in existence since 1985, and serves good quality Italian food in a bright and cheerful setting. It used to make rather a fine selection of pizzas, as well as the pasta dishes. However, pizza is now no longer on the menu.

The restaurant is bright, lively, cheerful and busy. You would be well advised to book, especially if you wish to dine there on a Friday or Saturday night.

We were warmly welcomed and promptly shown to our table.

I would also note that despite the fact that the place was full, and the tables were quite close together, we did not feel claustrophobic (the brightness of the decor helped a lot in that respect).

Menu

The menu offered a good selection of Italian dishes (except for pizza) including, steak, veal, chicken, pasta and fish dishes.

Service

The service was very good; efficient, friendly and prompt.

Food

Eva started with the Scampi Piri Piri sauteed in olive oil, paprika and garlic. These were splendid looking fellows indeed, magnificently plump. Fresh and tasty, neither too much oil or garlic had been used to overpower the taste.

I chose the spaghetti bolognese, yes I was a greedy pig! Our waiter warned me about the size of the dish, and even offered me a child's portion.

Needless to say, I chose "adult size".

The dish was as I would have wished it to be; robust, tasty, large and accompanied by a huge bowl of freshly grated Parmesan.

What more could a man ask for to start his meal with?

Eva then chose the veal escalope with Mozzarella in a white wine sauce. She was more than pleased with this dish, the sauce complemented the meat and the cheese was not too rich. The veal was tender and flavoursome, not overpowered by the sauce with added just the right amount of piquantness.

However, the quantity of the dish defeated her (hence the need to summon the doggie bag at the end).

I opted for the fillet steak in a pepper and cognac sauce. Now I have absolutely no complaints about the quality of the meat, it melted in the mouth and was a good sized decently cooked portion of good quality fillet steak. However, I feel that the sauce needed some attention:

1 The pepper element of it was not quite as strong as I would have preferred.

2 The steak was topped with a slab of goat's cheese, which was totally unnecessary and overpowered the pepper sauce along with every other ingredient on the plate.

Polite advice to the chef:

"Lose the cheese, the dish most certainly does not need it"

That being said, I finished the steak (having removed the cheese).

Our main courses came with a very generous bowl of home made saute potatoes, which were excellent and far removed from the sad greasy fries served by many establishments.

The meal, which included a bottle of Mateus Rose, came to 896SEK before tip.

Overall Opinion

A good, fun, cheerful restaurant; we are happy to recommend it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Carveries

Carveries

Myself and a couple of friends were scouring London last night, looking for a carvery in which to stuff our faces.

It seems that they are hard to find, and those that do exist shut their doors very early. One that we visited, closed at 7:00PM and another at 8:00PM

Why?

Simple, the hotels in which these once great institutions are housed want to force their customers to eat in their other more expensive restaurants. All they succeeded in doing, was losing our custom.

Bring back the traditional carvery, that's what I say.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Surrey Cricketers

The Surrey Cricketers
23 West Street
Croydon
Surrey
CR0 1DJ

Phone- 0208 288 1781

We held my father's post funeral drink and buffet in the Surrey Cricketers yesterday. I was more than pleased with the catering and ambiance.

The pub is one of the few traditional pubs that you can still find in central Croydon, the walls and ceilings are adorned with nick nacks and memorabilia.

It is "V" shaped, and has a games area in one part and a very cosy comfortable lounge area (with leather sofas and a fire) in the "V" part.

There is not a hint of "theming" as practiced by other establishments. The atmosphere of the pub is cosy and inviting.

The landlady, Debbie Brooks, prepared a magnificent buffet for the funeral party which included; sausage rolls, Cumberland sausages, ham sandwiches, smoked salmon sandwiches, prawn sandwiches, egg sandwiches, vol au vents, pork pies, scotch eggs, a variety of quiches, chicken legs, dips, cheeses and coffee.

The food was excellent; it was good quality, freshly prepared, tasty, reasonably priced and more than generous.

I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the Surrey Cricketers for a drink, or for catering.

My thanks to Debbie for looking after us so well yesterday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bird Flu

Bird Flu

Britain's consumers appear to be, very sensibly, calm in the wake of the current bird flu outbreak in the UK.

Poultry sales in Britain are holding up, despite the outbreak at a farm owned by Bernard Matthews, Europe's biggest turkey producer.

Britain's leading supermarket chains, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrison's all reported sales were bearing up well.

However, foreign consumers are not so relaxed. South Korea and Hong Kong have banned British poultry.

South Korea imported about £1.5m in poultry products from Britain last year.

Hong Kong imported 11,400 tonnes of British poultry and poultry products in the first 10 months of last year.

Ireland, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Indonesia have also banned imports of poultry or related products from the UK.

In the wake of the foot and mouth epidemic and mad cow disease of a few years ago, the countryside and farming in Britain has more than had its fair share of problems.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Advice To Chefs

Advice To Chefs

When preparing a hot starter, that contains stuffed mushrooms, it is advisable to cook the mushrooms and not present a dish containing raw mushrooms.

Advice to restaurant managers

Don't try to talk you way out of a faux pas like this, by trying to pretend that the mushrooms were cooked.

Country Mushroom Crumbles

Country Mushroom Crumbles

Some free advice to the chef, of an "English restaurant" in Pimlico, who prepared "Country Mushroom Crumbles" for me last week:

The mushrooms in the dish needed to be cooked, raw mushrooms waved under the microwave for 60 seconds do not "cut the mustard".

Some free advice to the manager of the same restaurant, who tried to make me believe that they were cooked and that I don't know about food:

You picked the wrong person to try that one on.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Organic Myth

The Organic Myth

Many middle class consumers are now favouring more expensive organic produce above more conventionally, cheaper, farmed produce; as Tesco's results show.

The consumers who buy the "organic" produce are of the belief that no pesticides are used and, as a consequence, the food is better for you.

Several myths here:
  • It is not proven that all pesticides, if used properly, are harmful.


  • Organic farmers certainly use less chemicals than their conventional counterparts. However, current standards do in fact allow the use of certain pesticides on organic farms.


  • Not all produce labelled "organic" is in fact organic, as this article states Cornucopia.
Caveat emptor!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Boozing For Britain

Boozing For Britain

Never let it be said that our beloved MP's do not back Britain, most especially the drinks industry.

Last year our MP's sated their political thirst with over £750K worth of wine for Parliament's bars and restaurants.

That works out at more than a £1K of wine per MP.

Commons bars operate without a licence, and are not restricted to opening hours imposed on outside pubs.

Well done, keep it up lads!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Outstanding

Outstanding

My compliments to the staff at Franklins, Dulwich, for their speed of service and customer care.

Eva and I dined there last Saturday, and had another superb meal (see an earlier review here Franklins). During our meal, we managed to drop various knives and forks on the floor three times.

Oops!

Within 15 seconds of the knife/fork hitting the floor, a member of staff had rushed to our table and replaced it with a clean one. They even managed to identify the correct item of cutlery, from the sound that it made when hitting the floor.

Outstanding!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Detox

New Year Detox

Did you overindulge over Christmas and New Year?

Here is a simple, and cheap, detox drink that will help you back on your gastric feet.

Ingredients

-a handful of fresh parsley
-a large chunk of fresh ginger
-one fresh clove of garlic
-one medium tomato
-mineral water

Method

Place all of the above into a highball glass, and blitz

Drink immediately, have it every day for breakfast.