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Everything posted by battleofthebulge

  1. I booked to stay and dine on May 1st, the first night of our 'Offa's Lunch' hiking and eating trip. They didn't email us to confirm they had closed. When I emailed them, got a standard reply saying 'I can confirm your reservation has now been cancelled. I apologise for any inconvenience caused'. Inconvenience = a further 3 miles walking up to the Inn at Penallt, but upside is more lunch money to spend on the wine list at The Walnut Tree when we get there the next day. Hay-on-Wye the following day is looking rather sparse for good eats, but Saturday we will be staying and eating at The Stagg Inn, Kington. Sunday's march to Ludlow will be rewarded by dinner at Mr Underhill's and Monday, hopefully, lunch at La Becasse.
  2. Returning to the original topic, Casa Malevo (Connaught St, past Tony Blair's policemen) is pretty good and not as wallet-lightening as Hawksmoor or Goodman. http://casamalevo.com/menus.html Or try the cosy bar at the Duke of Wellington just off Marylebone High St. http://www.thedukew1.co.uk/ IMHO there are now a number of gastropubs or smaller restaurants which provide excellent meat and a good value wine list, where you're not paying for the group's expansion plans ... Sarah
  3. Neither of these are based on personal experience (we got married on Vancouver Island because even with the cost of shipping the rellies out there it was still a fraction of the price of the London equivalent) but reviews are good and they look nice. Brewhouse, Tunbridge Wells http://www.thebrewhousehotel.net/functions The Mill, Gordleton, New Forest http://www.themillatgordleton.co.uk/special-events.htm Sarah
  4. Thanks for the review - am now eagerly awaiting November and my birthday treat. Sounds like The Hardwick is the other must-do. Cheers Sarah
  5. Wonderful photos! So glad you went after all.
  6. Hi David, Just to let you know that everything's been quiet in W11 and surrounds the last two evenings. Please don't add to the losses caused by these eejits by not coming to London. But perhaps don't sit outside under an awning ... bloke killed by falling masonry in Battersea.
  7. Dinner here yesterday. Had most of Mr Goodfellow's dishes (crab raviolo, rabbit, honeycomb etc) - all delicious and reasonable (Chelsea) value at £38 for 3 courses. For me the stand-out was the rabbit. Not sure where they get the meat from, but it is very tasty and sweet; much more flavour than I would expect from farmed rabbit. Would have liked to have tried the cheese board, but was too full of apricot icecream. What really stood out, and will bring us back, was the friendliness of the staff. I congratulated Clement (the sommelier) on his write-up in the FT - he said he was bowled over by having Lander and Robinson in the restaurant, as she is his hero and he's read all her books. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/4423d59e-a1f5-11e0-b485-00144feabdc0.html Very pleased to have this just 20 minutes walk away. (edited to add specific link)
  8. BRIDGE OF ORCHY INN, middle of nowhere, A82, between Loch Lomond and Fort William. We love this place!! We were walking the West Highland Way some years ago: Bridge of Orchy is half way along the route on day 5. Well, it being summer, the rain streamed down all morning. We got to Bridge of Orchy (tiny train station, a pre-fab Post Office and a short line of council houses) at lunch time. Walked over the eponymous Bridge and there was the pub, beckoning at us through the teeming rain. Inside was rather like being in a parallel universe - I remember carte di musica bread with garlic and olive oil, and an excellent Sangiovese by the glass. All that, plus a fireplace and comfy chairs. The station is on the main line from Glasgow, so it's possible to hop off there, have a long lunch and then catch the late afternoon train on to Fort William. Or continue the West Highland Way across Rannoch Moor ...
  9. Marvellous, looking forward to your reviews. Sarah
  10. Yes, I had my doubts about the tripadvisor reviewers, that's why I thought I'd ask you Cheers
  11. I've reserved one of the cottages at the Walnut Tree Inn (obviously the Shaun Hill one) for my birthday weekend in November. The cottage looks wonderful - really comfy, with lots of breakfast goodies and wine on tap. However, the recent reviews for the restaurant itself on tripadvisor are mixed, both for food and service. So I thought I'd turn to trusted foodies on egullet to see if anyone from here has been in the last few months. Any advice? Sarah
  12. Was here last night with husband and in-laws. Room very grand, but I agree the three pieces of art are really rather odd - struck us as painted by numbers to match the colour scheme. The banquettes are very slightly too high and the tables very slightly too low. The wait staff uniforms are unfortunate. Stripy braces do not sit well on any woman under 5' 10" and with a cup size > B. Alas rather a lot of the waitresses are short and well endowed. The uniform also fails to flatter the male waiters - they all looked rather uncomfortable. The wine list pricing is peculiar. Someone appears to have said - let's price everything at £35, £55 and £85 no matter what our trade price is. It just looks odd to have a wide range of whites from around the world all priced at exactly £35 - gives the impression you're being ripped off for some of them (especially the Spanish). They take the wine away from you, hide it round a corner and then don't top up ... grrrrrr ..... Couldn't find anything on the starter menu which appealed (unlike da Polpo earlier in the week where I wanted to eat ALL the pizzette followed by almost all the plates). Husband was the only one to have a starter, the Cullen Skink which was served cold. Is this usual? Mains: In-laws both had the seabass with seaweed and clam sauce, which despite their initial concerns about the seaweed, was proclaimed 'delicious' and 'marvellous'. Husband has the spatchcocked chicken with garlic. He thought was that there was just enough garlic, my post-meal in-bed view was that there was too much garlic and they hadn't taken the green bits out. I had the pigeon in a pot with morels and cabbage. Very meaty pigeon but sauce was over-salted (possibly from over-reduction). Desserts. Father in law just had decaff cappuccino, which he said was very good. M-i-l had the goats cheese log, which came as a generous serving with home-made biscuits and slices of nectarine. Husband had the kendal mint choc-ice, which was fine but arrived unadorned save some icing sugar on the plate and seemed rather stingy for £7.50. I had eton mess, which they have re-created as a meringue shell filled with raspberry cream surrounded by very sweet raspberry coulis. Interesting but not very satisfying. Would have preferred more chewy meringue and more fruit flavour rather than just sugar. This season's raspberries are superb - seems a waste to drown the flavour in cream and icing sugar. Bill was £220 including the £2 cover charge, 4 drinks beforehand in the bar, a bottle of Australian Semillon and service.
  13. hi Sheff, HNY to you too. Could you be a bit more specific about where you're going to be? Dartmouth? Eastbourne? Wherever it is, for accommodation go to tripadvisor.com and look at the inns/b&Bs tab for whatever your location is. Wherever you are on the south cost there is bound to be a highly recommended b&b. Sarah
  14. Gordon has sold out. Hardens has info here. Are we surprised? Sarah
  15. Apicius in Cranbrook. Menu here Michelin star, excellent value for money and close to lots of interesting things to see. Book well in advance for weekend lunch/dinner as it's a very small room. Sarah
  16. Agree with Ian. Re-reading the HIX review, seems like DH put away 2 cocktails, half a bottle of sherry, lots (by his own admission) of some free booze handed round by Mark Hix, presumably something with mains, and PX with dessert. I think the influence of the bar running all the way along one wall, plus perhaps wafts of spirits from the bar downstairs, just makes you want to drink more. I can't remember the last time I asked for a glass of champagne to finish a meal (oops) but at HIX it just seemed the right thing to do. I agree with some of his sentiments on the W8 cooking, particularly the game consomme. I also think that asking for soemthing with foie gras in a restaurant that clearly says it's going for the mid-market, will mean you get a dish with sub-prime ingredients. There's no way Howard can make money from this location unless he keeps a very tight eye on Chef's budget. And there is no mention of booze at all in the review. So, tip to any new restaurateur who seeks a good review from a DH. Fill 'im up with free wine and give him chips and icecream Sarah
  17. Eating at Kitchen W8 (terrible name , great restaurant) reminded me what I felt was missing at HIX, but couldn't articulate. In brief, HIX is cooking surrounded by Art; Kitchen W8 is Cooking surrounded by art. If you have read this far, here is an insider's tip. They are offering BYO on Sundays in November, which I discovered thanks to @londoneating. Have not seen this info anywhere else and when you ring to confirm they do so rather grudgingly. However the waiter very graciously opened and decanted our Beyerskloof 2001 Cab Sauv/Merlot (and sampled it ...). No corkage. If you don't BYO, the bargain on the list is Billecart Salmon NV at £42, which is £3 more than it would cost you to buy it at Oddbins on the corner. Note to self - check if Oddbins is ripping you off on this one. The room is slightly different to its incarnation as '11 Abingdon Road' and then 'Bistro 11'. They've put comfy banquettes at the back of the room in rather a nice green, and matched up the chair seats. As a result, it feels a bit more upmarket than before, and is defnitely more comfortable. Ms Mascarenhas' collection of drawings continues to grace most of the walls. Very W8, just as the Fray Bentos mobiles at HIX are very Soho. So, to the food. Steve had the much debated game consomme and game hot dog to start. I think this was a dish dreamt up to use the rather peculiar mug/plate ensemble that this was served on. The hot dog was good, but the bun a little too large and a little too sweet. The consomme, by contrast, I thought was too salty, but Steve liked it. It paled in comparison to my Soup Of The Year, which is the mushroom soup at the Bar Room at MOMA. However, as West 53rd St is not a 10 minute walk away, I'm going to have to put up with W8 for the time being. My starter of pumpkin risotto with poached egg, on the other hand, was the dish that brought HIX into focus. Rather like, if you're used to buying M&S and you graduate to Gucci, you suddenly understand what good fashion is. OK, HIX wasn't bad, but I would say it was about on a par with The Harwood Arms. Except twice the price. This risotto, on the other hand, opens your eyes to what Cooking is all about. The pumpkin was just al-dente, providing harmony (sorry that's the only word I can think of that's appropriate) to the mushrooms and the egg. I can't really say exactly why it made me so happy, but my suspicion is it was all the butter. Steve and I, as you might have guessed, eat out a lot. Our holidays mostly involve eating. Our spare time often involves eating. So we try and order different things from the menu. Most of the time, we are happy with our choices. Very occasionally we swap becuase he likes what I've ordered and vice versa. Very very occasionally we order two dishes that are equally toothsome. At Kitchen W8 we swapped our mains half way through because we couldn't agree which was better, but we could agree that we both wanted to eat both of them. He ordered the rose veal and spatzle, and I had the steak with red wine reduction. Interestingly the Cab Sauv matched better with the veal than the steak: the more subtle meat brought out more variety in the fruit. For the steak, the meat itself wasn't as good as, say, the fillet served a couple of doors down at Whits, but the red wine and shallot reduction spread across it was quite amazing. Here indeed was Michelin star technique for the masses. Well, the masses who live in Kensington and can afford to pop out for a £40 a head meal. Without wine. We were too full for pudding, but I am hoping that P can find a babysitter for next Sunday and will turn up with an '86 Pomerol so we can eat some more veal and try out the sweet end of the menu. Sarah
  18. I think Marina is too busy twittering with the likes of Giles Coren to bother with us egulletfogies. For those of you who do twit, she is @circeplum and is much more amusing and much less self-obsessed (no surprise there then) than Mr Coren. Sarah
  19. Dinner here on Friday night with the two Steves, P and C. It's at the west end of Brewer Street, overlooking the hole in the ground that was the Atlantic /Titanic/Regent Palace. (Apparently they've dismantled the Atlantic, Dick's Bar and Chez Cup piece by piece and will be rebuilding them. Hurrah.) There's a solid wood door which is a bit off-putting, but once inside, with the Ivy-esque leaded windows it feels cosy and special. We liked most of the art, especially the up-side down cakes and the fish embedded in perspex. Again, taken in isolation it might sound pretentious but the room comes together as an interesting whole. The tables are too close together, so the waiters do have to squeeze round the more rotund punters such as Steve 2. And the wood chairs are not terribly comfortable. The wine list is accompanied by a beer list. Steve 1 had the HIX ale served in a pewter tankard, which was a suitably warming choice after a dash through the rain. A quick skim of the wine list (it was P's birthday, so he got to choose, for once) showed some interesting choices from Spain and Portugal, and with reasonable mark-ups. The 2005 Les Terrasses Priorat was £50, compared to £21 from BBR. P chose a magnum of 2004 Geyserville Zinfandel, as we were mostly having game. Starters: Steve 2 surprised himself by ordering the vegetarian option (squash) and surprised himself still further by declaring it 'delicious'. C had the rabbit brawn, but was rather silent on the choice. Steve 1 had anchovies with beetroot, which I thought was not terribly interesting. The anchovies were good, chunky and oily, but I hate beetroot, so that probably prejudices my view of the dish. P and I had 'heaven and earth', the black pudding with mash and onions. The pudding was wrapped in a light caul of something or another (didn't really want to ask what) and the filling was moist and very spicy. Another 'delicious' verdict, and a good match with the Zin. Mains: 2 partridges and 2 venison chops, whilst Steve 2 (who is trying again to become less rotund) had the chicken salad. I thought the partridge was rather bland, but the venison chop was the best game I've had this year. About 3-4 inches thick and served pink, the bone gave it deep flavour and the grilling added nice dark crunchy bits. Sides of spinach and frites were fine; I think chunkier chips would have worked better with a menu based mostly around game. Pudding: Steve 2 had a couple of small pieces of cheese, and looked moderately pleased. Sorry I can't remember what the cheeses were, but it isn't the sort of place you take notes. Steve 1 and I shared the chocolate mousse, which came free-standing on a plate with rather hard chocolate curls. Good, but again not outstanding. P looked rather mournfully at the mousse, having ordered the milk pudding. C was declared the winner having chosen the parkin and icecream which was marvellously rich and gooey. Bill with a range of coffees, some glasses of champagne and a glass of muscat came to about £380. I thought this was OK value for a lot of excellent food, a large amount of alcohol and efficient, if not terribly friendly, service (they struggled a bit to serve from the magnum). Only very small gripes would be the underwhelming side dishes and the hard chairs. Will go back next time the Steves are paying. Sarah
  20. Shame the food seems to be getting ever more mixed reviews. And they have now instigated a no-bookings policy for dinner, presumably on the basis that they can currently fill all the tables anyway and no-res means a faster table turn. Sounds like you still have to be at least a D-list sleb in order for Russell to notice you when you walk in. Steve 2 and I popped in on Thursday, but it was full, I couldn't get any acknowledgement from Russell, so we carried on to Champers and had a good evening with charming service and an excellent Alsatian Pinot Gris. Will be going to HIX in a few weeks; hope the food there doesn't slide downhill as rapidly after opening. Sarah
  21. Hi all, My crazy husband manages to run two marathons a year, and has got into NY again this year. We'll be landing from London on Friday, so will have a simple supper in the Village on Friday night. Saturday night I need to feed him lots of rice, but I don't want to go to any of the Mexican joints he knew when he lived on Sullivan Street about a decade ago. We're staying in Midtown but can go most places a yellow cab will take us. Can you suggest anywhere that serves stodge but is also reasonably upscale? And does wine by the glass for me? Sunday we then start the foodie Marathon in earnest before we fly back on Tuesday evening. Am wondering if four meals a day might be too much? Thanks! Sarah
  22. I should just like to point out (before the carpies set upon me) that of course I meant mackerel tartare as in raw, minced, rather than mackerel tartar as in the brown stuff that builds up on teeth. Sarah
  23. Surprised no one has yet posted a review here as they've already managed to get Bloomberg ("London's hottest new eatery"), Time Out ("charming"), Evening Standard ("a winner for sure"), an hermanos ("cosy, bustling" and apparently Fay bin in. Lots more here: My link I heard about it via a tweet from londoneating which directed me to their 'coming soon section', which lead me to their website and Russell Norman's tweets and thence to the Polpo fan page on facebook with information about the preview offer. By following @polposoho means that I now know that we shared our preview evening last Saturday with not only Martin Fry (ABC, sans gold lurex) but also Sebastian Horsley, sans crucifix. Russell's ploy, also noted by Time Out, is that anyone semi-famous gets put at the tables closest to the entrance; if your 5 minutes of fame include losing a university debate or playing for the first XV against Wilminster Boys then you get ushered to the back of the room. The room has been expensively distressed with lovely open brickwork and oldified paintwork. There's rather a lot of 'oh we're being expensively cheap, how ironic' going on. I dislike the menus printed in black ink on brown paper, which you can't read in the gloom, and I especially don't like the minimalist wine list clipped to a little clipboard, again in cheap black ink on cheap brown paper which immediately gets smudged with olive oil. However, that's all I dislike. It would have been easy to carp about the service, which was junior and inexperienced but also incredibly overworked. I hope that as the place settles in they will get the measure of what it's all about and also not have to work 100 hour weeks. It has to be said that none of this hype would have happened if the food was crap. It's not, it's great. Tom Oldryd, ex-Boca di Lupo, has created a tremendous selection of plates, and Russell has been generous in his pricing. There are many more details in other reviews but I would like to add my vote to the cuttlefish in ink. Although impossible to see in the gloom, so that eating it is a bit like fishing for liquorish sweets in a tin of black paint, it is tender and chewy at the same time and with lots of deep salty flavour. The mackerel tartar was also a great dish, incredibly fresh and zingy, but not too fishy. And the chocolate sponge dessert was a wonderfully gooey, creamy end to an excellent meal. Thanks to the preview, lots of food, a bottle of prosecco, 500ml of red and coffees for 4 people was £100. However even if we'd eaten at full rates it would still have only been £130. A great bargain for the location and the quality of cooking. We will be back just as soon as everyone else has finished discovering it. Sarah
  24. Hi Zora, We're off to Syria at the beginning of May. Great to hear you had such good food - I'm so looking forward to it! Do you have an address for Zmorod? Many thanks Sarah
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