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, November 12, 2009

Saltier Than The Sea

Saltier Than The Sea

In this age of "saltism" it comes as no surprise to learn that poor old Jamie Oliver has been on the receiving end of criticism from the anti salt brigade, re Jamie Oliver's pasta sauce.

Seemingly, if the hype is to be believed, it contains more salt that 10 bags of crisps and even the sea!

Frankly this criticism is a load of BS.

Salt is perfectly harmless to those in good health, indeed it is a necessary component of our diet.

Excess salt, in a healthy person, is easily excreted via sweat and urine.

It is a fuss over nothing, whipped up by ignorant pressure groups and the media.

The ingredient that does need to be cut down on in all our foods is sugar.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Setting Sun Brighton

The Setting Sun Brighton

1 Windmill Street,
Brighton,
BN2 0GN

0872 148 6119

Eva and I regularly dine in this fine gastro pub, not only because it is a mere two minutes walk from our home, but because the food is excellent.

The Setting Sun is more of a wine bar/bistro rather than "pub" in the strictest sense of the word. It has light wood flooring, large leather sofas, bistro style wooden tables, a conservatory and a patio that affords stunning views of Brighton (if you can find seat there in the summer).

The atmosphere is often lively, yet cosy and intimate (each table has a candle).

The menu, chalked up on a blackboard, changes with the season and currently includes; soup, sausage and mash, fish and chips, burgers, chicken in a cream and mushroom sauce and pumpkin risotto etc.

The staff are friendly and very cheerful, they even manage to put up with me!

The chef is a real find, her food is excellent, and the pub will be lose a real asset if she ever leaves.

All in all an excellent place for a bistro meal, usually (with a bottle of wine) it will not set you back more than £40 for two.

Well worth visiting!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Opening a Can

Opening a Can

I have never seen anyone attempt to open a canned product using a kitchen knife before.

What were these people thinking of, and why were they even selected to appear on "The Restaurant" out of over 9,000 applicants?

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Coach House Brighton Revisited

The Coach House Brighton Revisited

Eva and I often enjoy dining in the Coach House, and were there last Friday evening.

However, although we enjoyed ourselves, it was evident that the kitchen was a little out of "sync" that evening. The saute potatoes were under cooked, my liver not rare (as requested) and the main courses took around 40 minutes to arrive after the starters had been cleared away.

That being said restaurants are run by human beings, not robots, sometimes things go wrong; the world continues to spin on its axis, and we will continue to visit the Coach House.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gordon Ramsay Loses FD

Gordon Ramsay Loses FD

Gordon Ramsay is "terminating" the appointment of his Chief Financial Officer, Nick Fletcher, at a number of his companies.

The documents for "terminating appointment" were filed at Companies House last week.

However, Fletcher is still director at five companies, three of which are overdue for filing company information.

Sadly the more "celebrity" a chef attracts, it seems the more time he/she has to devote to business matters rather than food.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Dover Castle (Brighton)

The Dover Castle (Brighton)

My compliments to the Dover Castle:

43 Southover Street
Brighton
West Sussex
BN2 2UE
Telephone: 01273 889808

Eva, myself and a friend from Sweden dined there last night and had thoroughly enjoyable time and meal.

The menu specialises in fish, sourced daily from the locality, the selection on offer is written on a blackboard and as the evening wears on the dishes that run out are crossed out. Other non fish dishes are also available.

Being a "contrarian" I had the steak and chips, which was first class; the steak was tender and succulent, and the chips, onion rings, peas and tomato all ticked the right boxes taste and portion wise.

The butternut squash soup and mezze, that we also scoffed, were likewise excellent.

The selection of beers, lagers (including Asahi) and wine is decent and the staff are very friendly, easy going and service minded (eg I appreciated being offered a smaller (and cheaper) bowl of soup as a starter).

All in all a good place to have a reasonably priced, good quality meal in a friendly atmosphere.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Actimel Advert Banned

Actimel Advert Banned

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned the Actimel TV advert that claims its yoghurt supported children's natural defences.

ASA decided that evidence provided by Danone did not uphold claims that the drinking yoghurt could help normal, healthy school-aged youngsters protect against common childhood illnesses.

The ASA concluded that the advert broke rules for being misleading, rules relating to evidence and accuracy in food advertising.

Danone are reported to be "very disappointed" at the ASA's ruling.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Fat Apology

The Fat Apology

Good news for the 500 diners at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant, who went down with food poisoning in January-February this year as a result of eating oysters contaminated with sewage.

They have now (some 7/8 months after the event, and following on from a critical report issued by health investigators) been offered a free meal.

Blumenthal has written to affected diners apologising for the "bad experience".

It is surprising that he took so long to make such an offer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Keith Floyd Dies

Keith Floyd Dies

I am sorry to read that Keith Floyd died yesterday from heart failure.

His obituary, as per the BBC, can be viewed here Keith Floyd.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Brighton Food Festival

The Brighton Food Festival

Brighton and Hove are hosting a month long Food and Drink Festival, this September.

I took the opportunity to wander through the festival market on New Road and Jubilee Road (which ran this weekend). It was lively and contained a veritable smorgasbord of stalls offering a fine array of food and drink; oysters, sausages, cheeses, bread, vegetables, Mediterranean cuisines, Thai cuisine, and cakes etc. There was even a live cooking demonstration.

However, I would like to make two observations:

- the prices charged by some stalls were over the top; eg £5 for a container of rice and chicken soon breaks the budget if there are several in the family, and £1.50 for basil in a pot (which could be bought in the nearby supermarket for 69p) was "taking the piss".

- At one point in the street the stalls, on opposite sides of the street, were placed too close together, thus causing a very slow moving traffic jam of people who were unable to pass by and could not easily access (or even view) the stalls in that area.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fat Duck Food Poisoning

Fat Duck Food Poisoning

It seems that the much publicised food poisoning outbreak that caused illness to more than 500 diners at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant, in Berkshire, was probably caused by raw shellfish contaminated with human sewage.

Inspectors from the Health Protection Agency have released a report that highlights the probable cause, and criticises the food safety standards in the kitchens.

Sick staff continued to work and handle the shellfish. Unsuitable products were also said to have been used to clean kitchen surfaces.

The HPA stated:

"Oysters were served raw; razor clams may not have been appropriately handled or cooked; tracing of shellfish to source showed evidence of contamination and there have been reports of illness in other establishments associated with oysters from the same source."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Momma Cherri's (Brighton) Closes

Momma Cherri's Closes

I am sorry to see that Momma Cherri's, once "saved" by Gordon Ramsay, has closed.

Eva and I first visited Momma Cherri's in 2003, before Ramsay.

It seems that it over expanded and moved into larger, less cosy, premises where it simply did not get the covers necessary during the week to cover operating costs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Perfect 10

The Perfect 10

Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire has topped the 2010 Good Food Guide, despite a health scare earlier this year.

The restaurant was shut for more than two weeks from 24 February after 400 diners complained of having fallen ill from norovirus was to blame.

The Fat Duck scored a perfect 10 for the second year, beating Gordon Ramsay's restaurant Chelsea.

Now the only way it can go is down!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Customer, Not The Chef, Is King

The beleaguered celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, has relearned an old maxim that the customer (not the celebrity chef) is king.

He was at one stage advised to file for bankruptcy, as profits fell from £3M to less than £400K.

He told Fox News:

"Heading out of global economic downturn has been tough but for me it has also been a breath of fresh air.

The industry was getting far too arrogant, they weren't respecting customers enough and they forgot the customers were king.

Customers just disappeared. Those that were in the restaurants weren't drinking wine. All were on tap water.

Then we had a huge downturn, Monday to Thursday. Your staff costs are the same, your running costs are the same. It was a nightmare
."

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Terraces (Brighton) Revisited

The Terraces (Brighton) Revisited

Eva and I revisited The Terraces on Saturday evening, and had a splendid meal.

My chorizo and poached egg starter was sublime, and my rack of lamb tender, succulent and unctuous.

Eva's fish, chips and mushy peas were cooked to perfection.

The service was first class, and very friendly. We were offered blankets when the wind became chilly, and were found a table inside when the elements finally defeated us without any fuss.

There was even a free firework display by the pier (not laid on by the restaurant) that topped the evening off.

I wish the new manager (who started a couple of weeks ago) all the very best.

Well worth visiting!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Nasza Revisted

Eva and I revisited Nasza (Brighton's Polish restaurant) again last week, to see how they were getting along following up on my recommendations.

I am pleased to say that the issues identified in my earlier review have been addressed:

1 The service was far better.

2 There is now a vodka list.

3 There is now a modest wine list, of wine that is drinkable.

4 Credit cards are now accepted.

Nasza is now worth visiting.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Haggis

Haggis

I see the media reports that Haggis may in fact be an English dish, having been mentioned in an English cookbook (The Hus Wife) in the 17th century, some 200 years before Burns wrote a poem to it.

I remain sceptical, and doubt that the Scots will be convinced either.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Organic Food No Better For You

Organic Food No Better For You

Despite sky high prices, and the perception by the gullible that it is better for you, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has stated that organic food is no more healthy and provides no significant nutritional benefit compared with conventionally produced food.

Needless to say, those organisations that make a nice living out of selling overpriced organic food dispute the findings.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Croydon Park Hotel

Croydon Park Hotel

Full marks to the Croydon Park Hotel for mixing the best Mojito I have had in long time, and for a most excellent lunch of roast pork carved on the trolley.

Keep it up!

Though, given that it is still July, I do consider that the animated 1 foot high Santa Claus in the entrance lobby to be a tad early!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Hanover Pub (Brighton)

The Hanover Pub (Brighton)

Eva and I tried out the Hanover pub yesterday for Sunday lunch. Sadly it was rather disappointing.

The starters (leek and potato soup and chili on nachos) were very good.

However, the roast beef took 1.5 hours to arrive from the time when we placed our order at 1PM.

Additionally, the beef was somewhat tasteless and overcooked, neither was it particularly tender.

It is unlikely we will return, as there are many other pubs in the Hanover area that serve Sunday lunch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sofia's Italian Restaurant (Brighton)

Sofia's Italian Restaurant (Brighton)

Sofia's Italian Restaurant, 24 Ship Street, Brighton, rather let themselves down last night.

They had run out of brandy, aside from this failure in restocking depriving me of my post meal quaffing it also buggered up my main course.

They failed to point out that my steak (allegedly cooked in a brandy and cream sauce) would be bereft of one of the key ingredients (ie the brandy).

Unsurprisingly the sauce was bland, the reason becoming clear only after I passed comment on it.

Why didn't someone just go out and buy another bottle?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cobblers!

Cobblers!

The Times warns that some less than honest fish and chip shops are passing off Vietnamese Cobblers (a flaky variety of Catfish) as Cod.

The Cobbler is less than half the price of Cod, so a dishonest chippie can make a very nice margin on falsely labelled fish.

You have been warned!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pre Boiled Eggs

Pre Boiled Eggs

The Times reports that a pre hard boiled egg will soon be available in Asda and Waitrose.

Each egg will cost a staggering 45p!

What a complete rip off, in the same category as bottled water!

Only a fool would waste 45p on a pre boiled egg.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Terraces

Restaurant

The Terraces Bar and Grill
Madeira Drive
Brighton
BN2 1PS

Phone: 01273 545 250

Website www.the-terraces.co.uk

Overview

Eva and I decided to treat ourselves to an alfresco lunch on the seafront last week, and chose The Terraces.

The Terraces is an art deco bar and grill that serves Mediterranean and British food.

Ambience

The Terraces is a glass fronted two storey art deco rotund bar and grill, facing the seafront.

The decoration is modern, minimalist and cheerful, with an open fire inside for the winter, and decking outside for dining and drinking alfresco in the summer months.

We dined outside facing the sea, superb weather and superb views!

Menu

The Terraces offers a selection of Mediterranean and British dishes; eg bruschetta, fishcakes, Chorizo on sweet potato, Mezze, steak, pasta and fish and chips. On Sundays they also offer traditional roasts.

Service

The service was very friendly, cheerful and efficient. Nothing was too much trouble, and the jug of Pimms prepared by the staff was by far the best (wrt generosity of fresh fruit etc) that I have had when dining out.

Food

I opted for the rib eye steak, eschewing the pepper sauce for two fried eggs instead.

The steak was a decent piece of meat (cooked medium rare), and was tender and succulent. Ideally complemented by my two eggs and fries.

Eva opted for the rope grown mussels in white wine sauce. These were superb, and were served in an amusing large earthenware pot that resembled a flower pot.

A great lunch!

The bill (including a jug of Pimms, a pint and two Irish coffees) came to around £60.

Overall Opinion

We really enjoyed the lunch and liked The Terraces very much. I guarantee that we will return.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Ramsay On The Rocks

Ramsay On The Rocks

The accounts for Gordon Ramsay Holdings, for the year to August 2008, show a fall in pre-tax profits from £3M to £383K (a fall of 87%), and a fall in turnover of £6M to £35.6M.

The loan owed to RBS has quadrupled from £2M to £8M, despite a cash injection of £5M during the year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shepherd's Revisited

Shepherd's Revisited

My compliments to Shepherd's, which I revisited a fortnight ago with a friend.

I wrote in 2003 that the beef was meant to be carved on a trolley, but that I saw no evidence of such a trolley as my beef came ready carved.

Ironically we experienced the very same situation this time around, no sign of the trolley. However, having drawn the attention of the good people of Shepherd's to my 2003 review, I was taken into the kitchen (with good humour) to see said trolley.

It really does exist!

The beef, by the way, was first class!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nasza

Restaurant

Nasza
22 St James Street
Brighton
BN2 1RF

Phone: 01273 622770

Website Under construction

Overview

Eva and I visited Nasza (pronounced Nasha), the very newly opened (less than a week) Polish restaurant on the site of what used to be the the St James restaurant, last Saturday.

Ambience

Nasza is decorated in the style of a rustic Polish bar/eatery. Diners can sit in the front (cafe style) area, at the bar or in the main part of the restaurant towards the back of the premises. Owing to a large skylight, the main area was a little drafty.

Inexplicably there was no salt on the tables, we had to request some. We also had to ask for our candle to be lit, a small issue but indicative of a lack of attention by staff.

Menu

Nasza serves a selection of traditional Polish dishes including; marinated herring, sausage platter, cabbage parcels, Polish dumplings, Polish stew, beef Goulash and pork knuckles.

Unfortunately, owing to some problems with the wine supplier, there was no wine menu and the only wine on offer was Paul Masson the over hyped Californian paint stripper.

Service

The service was friendly, if a little erratic as the staff were still finding their feet. The main course took a little while to arrive, probably due to the restaurant only being open for less than a week.

Food

I opted for the sausage platter to start with. This consisted of a generous selection of Polish sausages and charcuterie served with two slices of bread and butter. A very good starter.

I chose the Golonka for my main course. This was a slow cooked pork knuckle (similar to the German eisbein) served in a rich vegetable and beer sauce with mashed potatoes.

This was an excellent dish, hearty and tasty. The pork had been properly cooked, and the meat fell off the bone with little effort from my knife.

Eva started with the vegetable and white bean soup. This was tasty and of a decently thick consistency, an ideal comfort food.

She chose the Golabki for her main course. These were cabbage parcels stuffed with meat and rice, accompanied by mashed potatoes and a mushroom sauce.

This was a good quality dish in terms of portion size and taste. The cabbage parcels were delightful, and the sauce provided and excellent accompaniment.

We finished off with a number of chilled vodkas.

Inexplicably, despite having several vodkas available which were properly chilled, Nasza does not advertise the fact by having as vodka list. I regard this as a missed opportunity for building the brand and reputation of what could be a very decent local Polish restaurant. My advice is for Nasza to add to their variety of vodkas, and to publish a vodka menu.

Regarding the truly awful Paul Masson wine, we managed to drink a glass each then gave up as it was quite awful. I opted for a Polish beer instead. I recommend that Nasza ensure that their wine cellars are stocked with wine that is drinkable, and that they provide a wine list.

The meal, which included the undrinkable wine, came to £57 before service. Seemingly Nasza was also having teething problems with the credit card companies, and had not yet installed a system for accepting credit card payments; ie "cash only" was the policy of the restaurant. Clearly this issue needs to be addressed with urgency, as it will deter customers.

As a piece of general advice to all those wanting to open a restaurant, it is essential that issues such as this are addressed before opening (even if that means the opening has to be delayed); a bad impression created in the first few weeks is difficult to erase.

Overall Opinion

Nasza, once it has addressed the teething problems identified in this review, may well be worth visiting in the future. I wish them well, and hope they take on board my recommendations.

Opinion Now updated after another visit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nasza

I am pleased to see that the site of the Saint restaurant on St James Street Brighton has not been left empty for too long. A Polish restaurant called Nasza has now opened there (two days ago to be precise).

In the coming days we will visit it, and review it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ramsay's Rip Off

Ramsay's Rip Off

The Mail reporst that:

"Gordon Ramsay is serving customers ready-meals which are prepared in a London 'food factory' and sold with a mark-up of 586 per cent, it emerged today.

Dishes such as pork belly, coq au vin, braised pig cheeks and orange and bitter chocolate tart are prepared in bulk and then transported in plastic bags by unmarked vans to several of his restaurants across London.

The celebrity chef - who runs London’s only three Michelin-starred restaurant - uses the central kitchen, near railway arches and a council estate in Clapham, to provide food for his three gastropubs and Foxtrot Oscar, his bistro in Chelsea.
The Narrow in Limehouse, the Warrington in Maida Vale and the Devonshire in Chiswick are also supplied by the food factory
."

The article goes on to note that:

Fishcakes are sold by the central supplier for £1.92 are then priced at as much as £11.25 in the gastropubs - a mark-up of 586 per cent. Diners pay £3.50 for sausage rolls that cost 75p.

Somewhat ironic for the chef who was once quoted as saying:

"My food hell is any ready meal. It’s so easy to prepare a quick meal using fresh produce but people still resort to ready meals that all taste exactly the same."

Whilst the food may be perfectly decent and tasty, the rip off mark up is disgraceful. Diners should vote with their feet and boycott these places.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Blue Man

Restaurant

The Blue Man
11 Little East Street
Brighton
BN1 1HT

Phone: 01273 32 5529

Website www.bluemanrestaurant.co.uk

Overview

Eva and I visited The Blue Man restaurant in the Lanes area of Brighton the other week.

The Blue Man opened six years ago and was the first North African restaurant in Brighton. It operates from the premises that used to be Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack.

Ambience

The restaurant is on two floors, and is sumptuously decorated with North African and Moroccan artifacts. In the basement you can recline on inviting divans, on the ground floor more traditional, but comfortable, tables and chairs are available. The lighting is subtle, and the atmosphere romantic and inviting.

An absolutely charming establishment!

Menu

The menu offers a variety of Moroccan/North African dishes (a la carte and set) including, soup, lamb sausages, Kefta (minced lamb in filo pastry), Halloumi, lamb shank with dates, fish and a variety of Tagines.

Service

The service was very friendly, warm, welcoming and efficient.

Food

I opted for pumpkin soup to start with, which was spicy and aromatic.

I chose the house speciality, Khrouf, a lamb tagine for my main course with couscous and a side dish of Batata Coucha (Moroccan tortilla – layered dish with potato, herbs and eggs).

This was absolutely first class, the lamb melted in my mouth and was complemented by the unctuous sauce it was cooked in of cinnamon, prunes and chickpeas. The couscous was just the right size to add bulk to the meal, and the side dish of Batata Coucha was perfect.

Eva started with the Merguez sausages (spicy handmade lamb sausages with steamed fennel, spinach and harissa). These were bloody marvellous, tender and flavoursome. I guarantee that I will have these next time that we dine there!

For her main course Eva opted for the other house speciality Maaza (goat tagine served with saffron couscous). This was a real delight, the meat was tender and flavoursome. She was very happy with her choice.

We shared a desert of grilled fresh figs with hot with ice cream and ginger honey. A lovely desert, and more than enough to share between the two of us.

The meal, which included a bottle of Cruzares Blanco and a couple of liqueurs, came to £61 before service.

Overall Opinion

A delightful evening and restaurant. We heartily recommend it, and will be most assuredly returning.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Curry College

The Curry College

Britain's Indian restaurants are facing a skilled staff shortage that, according to leading restaurateurs, threatens them with "catastrophe".

Sheikh Aklaq Ahmed, programme director at the Bangladesh Caterers' Association, claims that 30,000 extra staff are needed. In the past, staff would be recruited from overseas. However, the immigration system has been strengthened and this solution for staffing is no longer cost effective.

The solution being proposed is to set up a London School of Curry, which would train local chefs.

An excellent idea, the question is where will the funding come from?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bodega D Tapa

Restaurant

Bodega D Tapa
111 Church Street
Brighton

Phone 01273 674 116

Overview

Eva, myself and a friend dined at Bodega D Tapa last night, a regular haunt of ours when we have a hankering for some good quality Tapas.

Bodega D Tapa is a small wine-cum-grocery store and Tapas bar, which seats (at a guess) about 15 people inside and another 15 or so outside in the courtyard.

Ambience

Bodega D Tapa is intimate and rustic, small wooden tables and wobbly wooden benches add to its charm.

Given the size of the place you will be hard pressed to find a table on a busy Friday or Saturday. However, an option that we use is to pop in and ask for one to be kept for us in say 30 minutes, whilst we have a drink in the Waggon and Horses next door.

Menu

The menu offers a variety of Tapas including; pate, Spanish omelette, anchovies on bread, chorizo, chorizo casserole, a selection of Iberian meats (served on a wooden paddle) and fabada.

Service

The service is always enthusiastic and friendly. One person looks after the entire operation wrt service of food and drink, in a relaxed yet professional manner.

Food

We took a large number of dishes to share, which were all delightful. My particular favourites being the omelette and the fabada.

The meal, which included two bottles of wine and brandy coffees came in at well under £40.

Overall Opinion

A splendid establishment, which we are happy to frequent on a regular basis.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

National Chip Week

National Chip Week

February 9th-15th 2009 is National Chip Week, promoted by the Potato Council.

The UK's official ambassador for National Chip Week is Keith Chegwin.

Get your chip pans out and start frying, but do not set fire to your house in the process.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Saint Restaurant Brighton

The Saint Restaurant Brighton

There appears to be some confusion over the fate of The Saint Restaurant on St James Street in Brighton. It is currently closed, and their website says that it is undergoing refurbishment with a view to reopening at the end of this month.

However, there is a sign in the window advertising the premises for lease, and there is absolutely no sign of any refurbishment taking place.

A pity, it was a pleasant place and the food was enjoyable.