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.

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.