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Everything posted by naebody

  1. It's worth noting that, before Monte's/Pengelly's/BjornVanRental's became London's official Cursed Restaurant Location, the title was held by 66 Baker Street. Yet Galvin seems to have done okay. Also, who would bet on success for a first floor dining room in a parking-resistant residential area that's a 20 minute walk from the Tube, with an entrance hidden in a dark side alley that's beside a pub. Yet it's done Assagi no harm. Lots of restaurants close within a year of opening, and lots of restaurants set up hermit-like in the shells of restaurants past. Just because the latter cannot attract customers, it is not rational to blame some hoodoo also affecting the former. It could be that (like Pengelly's, or Anda in Baker Street, or Lolas in its latter days), they were just crap.
  2. Do not, under any circumstances, take a taxi in the City during work hours. You'll spend all your time and money staring at the back of the driver's head. A few more suggestions, though none are better than previous recommendations (which I'd out in the following order: St John's B&W, Arkansas, then Canteen, then Ekachai noodle bar in the Arcade if you're really pushed for time). 1> Miyabi, the tiny Japanese Conran-owned place attached to the Great Eastern Hotel, is a lot better than you'd expect, and a good option for travellers in need of a quick de-stress. Not stunning by any means, but the sushi is authentic, acceptably priced and good quality (probably because they share suppliers with the posh but crushingly dull fish restaurant next door). 2> Young Bean, an unlikely Korean place in the Stalinesque concrete wilderness between Moorgate and Barbican. Avoid the random Chinese choices on the menu and you can eat well for almost no cash. 3> Sri Thong, just off Middlesex Street, is the best local option if you have a hankering for Thai. It's decent value rather than being spectacularly cheap, but I'm not sure how the stark room would work for a solo.
  3. Not a great area for options, to be honest: it's full of City boys and PR girls hammering their expense accounts on tartified school dinners. St John's B&W is indeed a good option for the lone diner, as is Canteen in the soulless new development round Spitalfields, although both are probably the opposite of ethnic. You could get a tepiyaki table at the excellent Tatsuso in Broadgate Circle. But your £30 budget would have to be ... um ... flexible (say >£100). At the other end of the scale would be the Old Spitalfields Market, where you'll find Bubba's pit barbecue at The Arkansas Cafe. Not high class dining, but damn fine eating.
  4. Also: ... and even rarer when it used to cost under £30. Still, it's amazing what can be achieved with dodgy lighting and chicken armpits these days.
  5. Tom Aikens' book is out soon, and he remains -- despite some naysaying voices on this board -- one of London's few truly top-class chefs who works the kitchen every night. Does veg, but not weekends. May break your budget though. Or Benares? Owned by Atul Kochhar (now officially known as that chap off that Queen's lunch programme). Good veg, apparently, although I was a bit underwhelmed. If sleb is really that important, you could always do Rhodes 24. It's not somewhere I'd normally recommend, and may again push your budget a bit. But it is a glam location of an evening, isn't difficult to book, the security checks at the Natwest tower add to the theatre, it does veg options to an acceptable standard for the City PR girls, and you get a good view across London (albeit occasionally blocked by some publicity-hungry spikey haired twonk).
  6. Alternatively: I've just paid £20,000 for a car and the wheels fell off. But, when they find a way to make them stay on, it might be worth a look. My reaction on reading the Masch review, which I assume will me typical, was: 1) Oh, the Painted Heron's shut down. Shame. 2) Oh, not the one on Chelsea. Good. 3) So this Franklins place has a good reputation among the commuter types. Interesting. 4) So - not quite up to speed yet. Probably won't make a special trip then, unless someone else is extremely positive. 5) Nevertheless, will bear it in mind as an option if I get my malaria jabs and venture saaarf at any point. Therefore, if anything I am now more likely to go than before I read the review. (Incidentally, for a truely unjustifiable review, see Matthew Norman in the Guardian on Saturday, who did over a place called Tatlers in Norwich. He turns up for lunch after service has finished and complains about the quiet room, but has no real criticism against the food ("well cooked", "lovely and fresh", "authentic" "succulent and delicious", "glorious", "terrific"). Yet he still gives it 3 out of 10 because the chef was keen to leave, it was raining, and he got lost during the drive from London.)
  7. To be fair, the Monster Masch did add the following caveat: "The measly one-star rating reflects the experience we had. Two men, whom I took to be the owners, were striding about with brows furrowed. I got the feeling that, with more real customers and once the kitchen is given time to get into gear, Kennington Lane Franklins could attract plaudits and awards just like its East Dulwich big brother." That looks fair enough to me. Personally, I'm not in favour of newspapers reviewing soft openings (which she has, but only positively to the best of my recollection). However, once somewhere's charging full brace on the menu, they become fair game. Can't understand why more restaurants don't use a "50% off food" type offer for at least a few weeks, given it sorts out the teething problems, buys good grace with customers and critics, and gets the location into the conciousness of cheapskate customers like myself. Incidentally, isn't Ma Cuisine another quite competent French place saarf of the cirrosis? * (* Cirrosis of the liver = river)
  8. no i'm afraid not. We are new the new kids on the block and Erica is right it is Bacchus - a new restuarant opening up in Shoreditch this month. ← As in The Bacchus, the last remaining old school boozer in Hoxton? Interesting. Feel free to start a thread on the place once you get things up and running. A bit of pre-publicity amongst us saddoes seems to have done other places no harm whatsoever.
  9. Oh do tell - you're amongst friends here. Otherwise, we'll just have so start speculating wildly *. (* I'll kick off the wild speculation by saying: Aurora?)
  10. Have a vague memory that the waiters at Tom Aikens make some theatre of opening sous vide bags at the table. (While Googling to try and confirm this, I strayed upon this pretty good article). Speaking generally, I agree with TheBaccus that this discussion needs a clearer distinction between the culinary and the financially motivated. The whole argument can be summed up by saying that sous vide, when used principally for preservation, is a bad thing because food is generally best when fresh. When it's used as a shortcut, it can be a workable but far from ideal solution in an under-resourced professional kitchen. And, when used solely as a cooking technique, it's possible to achieve results that, while perhaps not to everyone's taste, are interesting nonetheless. There's a big difference between the slow-cooked squab available at El Celler de Can Roca and a boil-in-the-bag moule mariniere at my local catastropub. While no sane person should argue against the former, it is the latter that pisses people off, and has given the procedure its bad rep.
  11. 50% butter, allegedly. Metro's aforementioned Super Marina Sister describes it as "like savoury buttercream frosting". Perhaps. But I'd argue that anywhere pitching up in London with a 10 course, jelly and foam reliant, French-worded menu is hardly bistro moderne either.
  12. The first paper review arrives from MarioPlum in the Metro (not on line yet, but will likely be here when it is). Her verdict: "adequate" haute stuff in curious retro-glam surroundings, populated by lone diners genuflecting at the Altar of Joël. Too much gloop and not enough yum. Service criticised at length. Good: the "legendary" mash. Bad: frogs legs ("tasting only of the fryer and a stagnant pond of parsley"). Underwhelming: everything else. Meal for 2, wine and water quoted at £160. ... all of which reinforces my initial thoughts when hearing about the place. I'd assumed the capital's second wave of nouvelle cuisine was on the way out, having being ridiculed by the anti-haute approach of Galvin, St John, etc. A new opening surely needs a radical USP to win back the high ground. And I fail to see anything radical about this latest link in a French TV chef's global chain.
  13. The place has just introduced an a la carte -- previously it took the set menu, all courses, no choice approach. I suspect the personal recommendations thing on the menu is to dilute the choice. It says "this is what you'd be eating if I had my way. But if you're too unrefined to recognise this, then so be it." Yup - add in a conversation about school fees and that sounds like every West London dinner party I've ever been to.
  14. I have a restraining order stopping me going near professional kitchens, but the jist I get from speaking to folk in the trade is that River Cafe, Aubergine and Le Garvoche are all pleasant places to work. And, among the Michelin-level places, the one that gets bad-mouthed most often is Lindsay House. Also, I'm told it's a big advantage if you speak French. Or Polish.
  15. When I was a kid, I'd watch pretty much anything with a bit of cursing in it. The Singing Detective, that documentary about Tourettes, most viewer phone-ins on Going Live ... all classic bike-shed telly thanks in the main to industrial language. If because of Sweary Walnuts we end up with a generation of uncouth youths who consider cooking classic French as a glamorous career choice, I'll have no reason to complain. Incidentally, I watched the current series for the first time last week: not bad. The bit about pressed belly of pork was about the most informative, and most restaurant-level complex, bit of instructional cooking I've ever seen on TV. Can't believe anyone could prefer Delia's mewling, simpering, two-and-a-quarter-flat-tablespoons-of-puritan-shame style of presentation. Having said that, I can live without the other stuff -- the spear fishing, celeb interviewing, sprog wrangling, etc -- as it looks too fake and contrived. Generally, I'd much prefer the Keith Floyd approach to these things: get someone who's genuinely enthusiastic about what they do, point a camera at them and see what happens. However, I can also understand why TV producers prefer to take a more controlled approach (particularly if they've worked with Keith Floyd).
  16. Sorry to thread-jack, but has anyone had recent experience of the sushi place in the basement of Mitsukoshi, that odd Japanese department store just off Picadilly Circus? Have memories of it being very good, and there's a two-page fawning review in no less authority than the latest Big Issue that claims its the most authentic in London. But recent word-of-mouth has been pretty awful.
  17. Yup, I'd second much of that. BLT cocktail had overtones of smokey bacon crisps, with the tomato jelly tasting like a gluten form of those Netherlands-grown santas (ie. like water). Quite liked the scallops and the quail, but the risottos may as well have been supermarket microwave jobs. Desserts do deserve commendation though, particularly the peanut butter sandwich thing and the mini baked alaska petit four. Overall, the whole place seems a bit too automated, with the kitchen relying almost entirely on construction rather than cooking. I'm sure the labour costs are comparatively low, and it'll be easy for SwearyGogs Inc. to scale it into a chain. But the factory construction line approach simply doesn't lend itself to exciting, starry, inventive eating, and at the prices charged it should be a whole lot better. I wouldn't be surprised if Atherton's simply bored of running a factory. That's definitely the impression you get from the kitchen.
  18. Angela Hartnett's recipe for fish&chips is in today's Metro, available on the floor of all good Tube carriages. Looked well worth a shot.
  19. Sadly, they're laregly dependent on how many of the kitchen staff have fallen foul of immigration that morning. Good meals, while possible, can rarely be repeated. On its day, Harbour City is worth a go (get the waiter to explain the Chinese-only specials). Golden Dynasty is owned by the grocer next door, so you have a better chance of things being fresh. The safest, least exciting choices are probably Golden Dragon/Royal Dragon, which provide the standard fare available right across the Royal China group.
  20. Indeed. But I wasn't really arguing about the standard of the menu, only the standard of the clientelle. In Ludlow, Hibiscus can boast a catchment area of about 100 miles where it is considered the ultimate "special place" venue. It couldn't have the same cachet in London, even if was running the best kitchen in town. We're far too spoiled for high end options, and far too lazy. (Note that diners are travelling to Ludlow from Manchester and Liverpool for dinner whereas, as confessed elsewhere, I can't be arsed to travel from Shepherd's Bush to Knightsbridge because it's hot.) It'll be a medium sized fish in a big pond. And, like all ambitious London venues exept RHR, it will have to rely on City/sleb money to provide daily trade. I'm simply not convinced the average bond trader/Big Brother escapee will care overly about the difference between the classical-French-with-a-modern-twist on offer at PAT, and the modern-French-with-a-classical-twist available at Hibiscus. They'll just go to the place where Nicola Horlick/Sienna Miller is most likely to be at the next table, as they always do. I wish Hibiscus every success if they do come to the smoke. I just suspect they're appreciated a lot more where they are.
  21. Yes, but does London need them? I think I'm right in saying that London already have four M2* places, along with a dozen aiming at a similar level. If Hibiscus moved to the smoke, that would mean Britain's two-stars would be spread equally, five each, between the capital and the provinces. While I'd like to have Hibiscus within Tube distance, I can probably survive knowing that my Zone 2 travel card will still reach Capital, The Square, Pied a Terre, Aikens, Greenhouse, Ledbury, Petrus, Connaught, Noisette, etc. etc. (Even if my wallet can't with any regularity.)
  22. The monster Masch was lukewarm during the soft opening, with thoughts seconded by Richard Vines (who I guess is unknown in these circles, but I can vouch for his skill as a trencherman). Consensus: food interesting but not quite there yet; inexcusably shitey room. Personally, I can't face it in this heat. Will give it a go in autumn, if it's still open.
  23. In that case, how about eating your way round the axis of evil? Hafez in Bayswater (Iranian), Baghdad in Westbourne Grove (Iraqi), Arirang in Soho (Korean), Cubana in Waterloo (Cuban), Levant in the West End (Lybian - sort of), and Abu Zaad in Shepherd's Bush (Syrian).
  24. Eikonoclast in Brighton does, and has a delivery service if you don't fancy the journey. Also, vaguely remember seeing some in one of those bloodless candles-and-lampshades places down Ledbury Road in Notting Hill.
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