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Everything posted by naebody

  1. I've been to Taqueria a couple of times in recent months, which seems to have sorted itself out after a shambolic opening that everyone assumed would prove fatal. Snackbar/fast food style, fairly cheap (in Westbourne Park terms), but with an interesting street food menu rather than the usual Tex-Mex. It's not going to compete with Green & Red in terms of consistency, but it still stands up well against the direct competition (ie: a burger, a curry or a Chinese). Anyone after pile of nopales and a Negro Modello could do considerably worse.
  2. Frankly, the "why don't they recognise this chippie/pie shop/greasy spoon" kind of critisism is a rod Michelin has made for its own back. Remember, the whole guide was intended for travellers to gauge whether they would be prepared to burn tire rubber for lunch (because, in the scheme of things, tires are considerably important to Michelin than food). Just look how they define the categories: I think the confusion begns with the phrase "in its category". If a pie shop really is the best option in the category of "places the hungry traveller can eat when passing through Walton-on-the-Naze", why shouldn't it be recognised? Of course. we accept that the red book doesn't work like that any more. But, given its editors presist with the "in its category" definition, can anyone venture to suggest why there are stars for three French-ish places within a few streets of each other in Soho (L'Escargot, Lindsay House and Arbies), yet it fails to find a single restaurant in Glasgow worth even a bib? * (* snide answers not appreciated.)
  3. Was at Mirabelle yesterday, as it happens. Despite serving asparagus in January, there was nothing specifically wrong with the food, and there's a certain "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr Pierre White" faded glamour about the room (providing you mentally subtract all the portly businessmen treating their Eastern European nieces to dinner). But the suggestion that it is in the same grade as somewhere like Aikens is absurd. I guess the problem with Michelin is that there is an ever-increasing number of one-star places, because they tend to follow chefs around when they switch venues. At the same time, it doesn't take away stars very often because doing so tends to trigger backlash/recrimination/suicides etc. That means you have a constant dilution of the baseline standard. Meanwhile, the next grade up remains the preserve of places that iron your napkin, floss your bum before you sit down, keep your wine in the opposite corner and bring shotglasses of snot and bile between the courses.
  4. That's usually the cue to revive one of my favourite themes ... Anyone know how the tips are divided up in the restaurants we've criticised? Does Galvin use a tronk? Does the entire Arbutus "optional" service charge go to the staff? And if so, which staff? Surely none of the places on the Mich list would use the tip pot to top up basic pay to the minimum statutory requirement? Would they? "Who gets the tip?" is an under-asked question, but a pretty damn important one nevertheless. As, in my opinion, anyone toiling for below minimum wage should be seen as providing an acceptable level of service simply by choosing not to dunk their wang in the gravy.
  5. Would it be unfair to note that the chefs at Noisette, Arbutus, L'Atellier and Bernares all had stars at former (or, in L'Atellier's case, current) establishments? When crap like Rhodes 24 can retain a star then Arbutus, as the best acceptable-value option in Soho, may as well get some recognition. But it seems absurd that Galvin -- an arguably superior version of the Arbutus concept -- lost its bib while the lacklustre and aggressively priced Galvin at Windows gets rising star status. On a more random note, I find the continuing omission of Morgan M baffling.
  6. Or, for the assistance of those who can't be arsed: In London, La Noisette, Arbutus, L'Atellier and Bernares (!) all make 1 star. Petrus gets two, as does the Vineyard in Berkshire. Chapter One is the only place in the smoke to lose its bong. Elsewhere, single stars for: Guernsey: Christophe Jersey: Atlantic Wiltshire: The Harrow Cornwall: The Abbey Durham: Seaham Hall South Ayrshire: Glenapp Castle Edinburgh City: The Kitchin Monmouthshire: The Crown at Whitebrook Dublin: Chapter One Full details here.
  7. As mentioned upthread, , I was underwhelmed by the cod in chicken skin -- thought it was a bit blurry, with the sofrito overwhelming the fish. Everything else was spot-on. Did I notice some price creep though?
  8. Undiscovered by the Good Food Guide maybe but Rayner, Coren, Norman, Maschler, Square Meal and Time Out have all found their way there. ← I meant by real people. The critics are required to investigate backroom joints with ambitious-sounding menus in the arse end of nowhere (particularly, in the case of Coren, when they're 2 minutes from the office). But when was the last time it was mentioned by a paying customer?
  9. I work there and, sad to report, the options outlined above are still pretty much the same. Think the only notable addition is Lilly's, which is handy when you're in need of an eggs benedict. Heading north towards the City, Rosemary Lane seems to be completely undiscovered. Does a pleasant and seasonal (albeit sometimes aggressively priced) menu. You've also got several reliable Indian options, including Cafe Spice Namaste and the unpromising-looking Empress (not to be confused with the Hackney pub of the same name). Finally, special mention for Frank & Stein, perhaps London's oddest sandwich shop. It is the only resident left in the now-abandoned £50 million Tobacco Dock yuppie project next to Rupert's Fortress. The sandwiches are shit, but it's still worth a visit for the odd, post-holocaust atmosphere.
  10. Oddly enough, that was my absolute favourite thing on the menu. Intense yet light bunnyness with nicely balanced hedgerow-type acompaniments. I went a la carte though, so guess I may not have had the full creative effect. Just to reiterate comments from previous posters: the front of house really is outstanding. Despite the place being heaving very late on a Friday night, all staff still managed to maintain a relaxed efficiency, and generally seemed to both know and care about the food on offer. On that subject: the amuse (a shot of chilled coffee with thick olive oil, rock salt and an astringent cream of some kind) was inspired; both the langostine starter (not the one on the website menu -- I think it involved mushroom rather than pork jowl) and the winter roots went down well with the other half, meaning I didn't get much of a taste. The gingerbread/bubblebath thingmy somehow manged to be both refreshing and meal-concludingly sturdy, with all the moreish qualities of crack cocaine. Wasn't knocked out by a cod in chicken skin creation as recommended by the waiter, with the assortment of flavours blurring to create a distraction from, rather than an addition to, what is an unavoidably dull lump of fish. Still, it's the kind of place where you don't mind the occasional misfire, because you know there's not an ounce of cynicism involved in the enterprise. Overall: yay. Perhaps even yay+. (Oh, and the website works fine on my computer, which was picked up on eBay for £50 including postage and runs an operating system launched when John Major was in power.)
  11. I've argued many times on these very pages about the absurdity of Michelin's criteria. With that in mind ... Going up: Petrus ** Chez Bruce ** St John * Trompette * Cinnamon Club * Going down: Ramsay RHR ** Rhodes 24 The Glasshouse Yauatcha Nobu Berkeley
  12. Disclaimer: don't go hungry. Momo's tapas bar is great value if you're looking for a few nibbles over a glass of house. But you're just wanting a low-grade fill of carbohydrates, you'd be better off at the kitch-dreadful Café España in Soho. Further afield, it's worth investigating the Lebanese and Middle Eastern places around Shepherds Bush. Highlights include Abu Zaad -- good value and authentic Lebanese -- and Adam's Cafe for North African. The latter may break your budget (I think the three-course set is about £15) but it's BYO, so you can blance the expenditure by bringing your own snakebites, or whatever it is you student types drink these days.
  13. Had a lacklustre gnarled chicken thing at their Knightsbridge branch the other day, and left with the distinct impression that their expansion is taking a toll on quality. Very disappointing. For "cheap", I'd suggest Little Bay, which continues to maintain quality despite not charging much more than its natural competitors in search of the student-date tenner (Bistro 1 and Wishing Well in Hammersmith spring to mind). In the "excellent value" category -- a subtle but important difference -- perhaps go for a bento box from Sakura, the uncompromisingly authentic Japanese restaurant in Hanover Street. And in the "bargain" category I'd suggest getting tapas at the bar of Moro, where you can try some of London's finest-sourced produce with a glass of wine and still get change out of your Dickens.
  14. ... which seems a fair summation of Walnuts' career over the past few years.
  15. Only by following his campaign for proper cooking by putting his name a range of ready meals. But that couldn't happen, could it?
  16. Memory jogged by this thread: foie gras. So it's meat that tastes a bit like butter. I get it. Is it really worth all that fuss? If force-fed goose liver came out tasting like sardines, I would perhaps understand.
  17. The semiofficial Chinatown thread provides a decent summary of the options and their limitations. Generally though, complaining about shoddy quality on Saturday night in Chinatown is like complaining that the drinks in Stringfellows are overpriced. It just goes with the territory. I tend to rely on the Golden/Royal Dragon. It has the benefit of being consistently average, and appears to have been on best behaviour since its run-in with the health inspectors a year ago.
  18. I can only assume you never eat at restaurants then.
  19. Double-edged sword, this one. I agree entirely with Hugh Fairly-Longname's agenda, and I'd assume the vast majority of his audience share that opinion. Meanwhile, those who don't are more than likely watching some Emmerdale actress eating kangaroo testicles on ITV1. For all his sterling work through the TV programme, the Guardian column and the books, there can't be much doubts that most of Huge Fairy-Christmastree's efforts are spent preaching to the converted. He is, I'm afraid, a bit of a salve for a very specific type of middle class who shop at Lidgate's for their bleeding hearts. On the larger issue of animal welfare and convenience foods: I'd like to stick by the rule that you shouldn't eat anything that you wouldn't be comfortable killing in the same manner with your own hand. But, when it's gone 3pm and the only thing left in the staff canteen is a BLT of questionable origin, what are the options?
  20. Overheard in a Soho bar, April 2006: Idiot one: "That snail porridge man is in the papers a lot. We should give him a series. A cooking show fronted by a boffin -- bound to be a winner." Idiot two: "Gordon Ramsay crossed with Adam Hart Davis? Like it. But doesn't he do all fiddly little plates of odd things? Viewers don't like all that stuff. They think it's pretentious. We don't want it to go all early-90s Masterchef." Idiot one: "God help. So can we Jamie him?" Idiot two: "As in, make out he's doing what he cooks at home? Could do, but then we lose the whole science angle. Plus, he's not exactly in the Ainsley league when it comes to charisma. And there's always a risk his wife's not photogenic. In fact, I'm not even sure he's married." Idiot one: "A loner, eh? Geeky science virgin. Spends all his time in his shed making inventions. We should use that ..." Idiot two: "Perhaps we should play up the boffin stuff, but give him stuff to cook that the audience at home actually eats. Sausages, eel pie, crisps and Mars bars, that kind of thing." Idiot one: "But with ... the appliance of science." Idiot two: "Yeah -- so it's like ... the perfect eel pie." Idiot one: "Brilliant. But how do we make sure the audience knows he's a chef and a scientist, not just some wierdo. Could we put him in a lab coat?" Idiot two: "Nah, the audience always needs to see those white chef outfits to know it's a proper chef. But I guess we could make his specs look like safety goggles." Idiot one: "Genius. Write that down and we're done for the day. Now, pass me my wallet, I'm off to the toilet for a celebration ..."
  21. Without touching on the ugly issue of money, it's difficult to recommend any specific area. Somewhere like Hampstead obviously has better quality options than somewhere like Finsbury Park, although (reasons the discussed in the aforementioned thread) for you may well be disappointed by the lack of choice in both. London always forces a compromise: the areas around Regent's Park offer good choice but, unless you're the Prince of Wales, you'll probably end up living in a rabbit hutch; Camden requires having to clear goths and Irish drunks off your doorstep each morning; rents in NW3 mean you'll never be able to afford to eat out; and the rare spots offering both good local choice and okay value, such as Stoke Newington and Muswell Hill, are nowhere near a Tube station. As Samuel Johnson said: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of estate agents."
  22. Surprisingly enough, we've been down this road before. Assuming you resigned after getting your megabucks City bonus, you'll probably be best served in Belsize Park or the posh side of Camden.
  23. Can't really anticipate a tasting menu of pizza, fish and chips, sausages and mash, spaghetti bolognese, roast chicken, steak and salad, black forest cake and treacle tart and ice cream. They'd have to provide a defibrillator with the petit four. Nevertheless, I'll be unsurprised if some version of these crop up soon in a London hotel dining room or a Heston-branded Waitrose ready meal pack before too long. Unsurprised, but disappointed.
  24. Watched it for the first time last night, and yes, very enjoyable stuff. But it wasn't just the cake "money shot" that left me disappointed. On the whole, it seemed a bit light on the science. I was hoping for some explanations of how things work in the kitchen and why, along the lines of Kitchen Chemistry, his book with Ted Lister. Instead, we were told in far too little detail how to make a cake that no home cook in their right mind could attempt. Entertaining to watch, but not exactly educational or informative; I'm not sure exactly what we learned by hearing repeatedly that good kirsch is better than bad kirsch because kirsch smells wonderfully of kirsch. The BBC clearly want him to be a boffin, but seem scared of the actual science stuff. So they're making him into a kind of Heath Robinson enthusiast, mixed with two parts Delia and a pinch of Harry Hill. I'll still be watching, needless to say, but as soon as any of the following happens there will be a letter of complaint to Michael Grade: (1) Heston appears in a bath filled with any kind of foodstuff; (2) Heston presents any information standing in front of a blackboard, with a wooden pointer, and a bunsen burner in shot (3) Heston 'accidentally' makes a comedy explosion and gets a face full of flour and/or soot. I suspect it is only a matter of time.
  25. ... which is an honour she's also given to Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, Rick Stein, Anton Mosimann, Marguerite Patten, Albert Roux, Prue Leith and Delia Smith.
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