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.

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.