Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews and Food Musings


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 musings on food with you.

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.