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Posts posted by grahamR

  1. Authentic Szechuan Cuisine has landed in China Towns of Manchester, Birmingham and London. So reads the website of “Red And Hot” possibly one of the most dubiously named restaurants I’ve ever dined in.

    We arrived at 7.30, without a reservation and were given a table in them middle of the room. Our first task was being able to sit comfortably. While amputees would find no problem, as a 14 stone 5’ 10” sort of guy I couldn’t fit my legs under the table. There is a shelf about twelve inches below the table top which serves no purpose other than to force you to sit at an impossible rake or to throw modesty to the wind and fling your legs either side of the table. An option which might be tricky if you’re placed at something other than a table for two, but even then leaves you sitting like a cellist with elephantiasis of the scrotum.

    We poured over the menu. Oo-ing and ah-ing over the highly-spiced and exotic offerings. Intestine featured heavily and while we were both game to try it, we decided that in order to eat on a mid-week budget but be able to try as much as possible we would go for a set meal.

    This was an enormous mistake. The set meal featured none of the interesting stuff. While it wasn’t exactly bland, it was all pretty naff. We had a first course of deep-fried stuff with a lake of sweet chilli dipping gunk. We then had soup, which was pleasant but exactly the sort of chicken and sweetcorn soup you’d get anywhere else.

    Our final course was rather greasy fried vegetables, a beef and mushroom dish and a prawn thing. Unexceptional in every respect apart from blurring the distinction between the territories of "bland" and "boring".

    Expressing our disappointment to the manager, he appeared to offer us an extra dish: a beef house special. I did wonder if the appearance of Charles Campion at the next table had something to do with this, but when the bill arrived we’d been charged for the extra dish. Not really a problem, but not really what we thought was happening either. We’d also been charged for our drinks, which supposedly were part of the set meal.

    The spiced beef was astonishingly oily and while covered with enough chilli to launch a rocket, the flavour was surprisingly dull.

    In retrospect, we ordered badly. Almost everyone else was eating hotpot: stock-filled, electrically heated, cauldrons served with and raw (and frozen) ingredients to be cooked at the table. That looked fun. But then the air conditioning couldn’t cope with the large volumes of steam and the waiters had to keep running to open the door. And honestly I couldn’t sit at those tables for that long. As it was I limped home like a cowboy with rickets. For the first time in my life I felt sorry for Charles Campion’s thighs.

    London Red N Hot: 0207-7348796, 59 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0NE


  2. At first glance, this tweaking of supermarket junk does seem a bit grim. AWT ran a similar series bluntly setting out how to tart-up ready meals and, as already mentioned, Nigella has dripped her coquettish toe into the limpid pool of “cheating”.

    However, climbing off the high horse, anything that tempts someone to cook has to be a step in the right direction. It doesn’t really matter what they cook – if they are engaging with food beyond the level of putting a curry in a microwave it has to be A Good Thing. If someone can be lured into buying, chopping and frying an onion to sex-up their tinned mince, maybe they’ll be more tempted to do the same to make a frittata.

  3. It’s my 40th birthday on Easter Sunday. An awkward day (and not much notice) to arrange a meal. I don’t drive and I’m based in London. I would like to either go somewhere for a special meal in the capital, or have an excursion to a (grand?/good?/interesting?) hotel with a really worthwhile restaurant. Anywhere within two hours train travel would be a possibility.

    Suggestions would be much welcomed.

  4. Recently well received in The Independent (and Time Out, meh...), I chanced a visit to Haozhan last week. It’s a very pleasant experience, with the single proviso that you have to order well. The home made tofu is essential. An utter revelation, although quite hellish to manipulate off the serving dish with a pair of chopsticks. I can see why they don’t bother with tablecloths.

    The silver cod in honey and champagne was excellent. The ribs perfect.

    The dishes you’d find elsewhere in Chinatown were unspecial, but it was a room full of happy people eating and enjoying. I’m looking forward to going back.

  5. Lee’s point was correct. A term is offensive not because of its origin but because of the way it is used. Marco was using it in derogatory context. He was told that the term was offensive and decided to deflect that.

    If you suggest Lee’s motivation for bringing the point was simply point scoring – you’re probably right. They both came off as a couple of idiots. (With all due respect to actual idiots.)

    Back to the food, I’m fairly surprised at how blasé Marco is about the quality of the food they are sending out. No?

  6. I couldn’t decide if all the talk of “respect” was NLP or Cosa Nostra.

    Things are often most revealing when they break. Psychologists spend so much time studying depression, anxiety and abnormal function for exactly this reason. So it is with MPW. His handling of Lee was exemplary. Utterly measured and never anything but in control MPW totally missed the point that was being made.

    Now Lee has a mind about as sharp as a jammy dodger, so in his simple way he said a simple thing. Unfortunately as he’d just been caught out using slightly more offensive language he had neither the moral high ground nor the ability to properly make his point.

  7. Thanks for the post Janet, an excellent list. I’ve eaten Rabbit and Prune and faggots (they seem perfectly standard renditions).

    I’d be quite tempted by any of them, with perhaps some caution reserved for attempting the Rook. The fish custard reads like a fish pie sans mash (funny how a name can be off-putting –it occurred to me that if you then freeze a fish custard you’d end up with something like Heston’s sardines on toast ice cream).

    The Bath Chaps sound especially delicious.

  8. Ah, that’s what happens when you start to write something, get distracted looking for a link and then click the post button. As you quite rightly observed, I hadn’t read your post! (But only because it wasn't there when I started.) Hope you have a good break. :biggrin:

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