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Everything posted by naebody

  1. Seconded. Had the full prestige menu there the other day, which was damn near faultless. The place seems to be firing an all cylinders at the moment. Great value at lunch too. Mirabelle, meanwhile, appears to have replaced the pre-Galvinized Windows as the favoured place for heavy-set gentlemen to take their Eastern European nieces out to dinner.
  2. So the second branch of a mid-priced restaurant we all love opens in Zone 1 and there's a collective wetting of pants. Meanwhile, the second branch of a mid-priced restaurant we all love opens in Zone 1 , to universal ambivalence. Is it just my imagination, or is this board getting a bit weird?
  3. Actually, I do -- albeit on the wrong side of the Shepherd's Bush roundabout. I would not question that there's the wealth around the SW postcodes to support the £2 gala melon. However, I also suspect that even the absurdly wealthy will be put off by the thought of 10,000 of said melons rotting in a skip outside the staff entrance. It's a character argument, not a pecuniary one.
  4. 33%, in fact. Bought in 2001 for £50 million as Pret was making its first attempt to take America and McDonalds was chucking money around in search of the next Big Mac. Now that the latter's new management has steadied the ship and is getting shot of "non-core" investments, while the former is taking another run at the States autonomously, it would not be a huge surprise to see McD's sell its holding within the next year or so.
  5. It has its naysayers, but I paid a visit to The Secret Garden a couple of weeks ago and was rather impressed.
  6. Since you raise the point, the McD's delivery system is actually quite efficient when going off-piste. I spent many weekends of my youth in the aforementioned Dundee McDonalds with a friend who didn't want gherkin, lettuce, tomato (in sauce or fruit form) or indeed anything else to disturb the synergistic perfection between burger and bun. Neither the staff nor the fellow queue members had a problem with this: it just meant he had to lurk around the till for a fraction longer while the kitchen zapped his "special". As for Innocent, I guess you could say they're guilty by association. But then, is anyone really surprised that a company selling medicine bottles of mashed-up banana for not short of £2 would indulge in another means of profiteering?
  7. Can I ask what are you basing that opinion on? If it's the old "he never writes about the restaurant" thing, it's been covered already. Personally, I thought his review skewered the main points of the argument, namely: it's a culture clash. It's a temple to the American ideal of plenty, dumped into Kensington seemingly without a moment's reflection about the British ideal of frugality. That it's trading on the same cultural bandwagon as Acorn House shows just how stupid the concept of "environmentally friendly" has become. I'll bet dollars against doughnuts, organic or otherwise, that it can't survive six months without a major revamp.
  8. Are you sure you need specialist equipment? Why not just use a decent coffee grinder? Or perhaps investigate the some of the, er, colourful models available around Camden Market?
  9. Okay - after more thought than my employer would appreciate, I've come up with the following suggestion for "The history of London restaurants in ten subjective steps". It's not quite chronological by chef, style or opening date, and the progression from zero to three stars is obviously a bit forced. There are also some glaring omissions, on the basis that they are no longer what they were. (For example, while there are much better restaurants than Clarke's, it's included because it's probably the most preserved example of that particular movement). Anyway: Sweetings The Savoy Grill The Ivy Veeraswamy Clarkes St John Racine Chez Bruce The Square Ramsay RHR
  10. Interesting idea. May I suggest getting in early to Le Café Anglais, soon to open in a shopping centre in Bayswater. Worth a go only because the chef's Rowley Leigh -- perhaps the most influential London chef still to be found manning a stove. Edit: by the way, has anyone ever constructed a family tree of restaurants? Rules branching into the Savoy Grill, Aubergine at the source of Ramsay, Sugar Club to Providores, etc. etc? Seems a pointless but entertaining project for someone with too much time on their hands.
  11. Anybody been here recently? I just tried to book a deuce and was told that the next available table would be in ... September. Has the award of two stars put this among London's unbookables? (and, more to the point, why does London have so many damn unbookables?)
  12. Just back from aParis with a vegetarian in tow, having used this thread for inspiration. The best thing to do in the mid-market places seems to be to negotiate multiple starters rather than the usual starter/main combination. (although if you don't speak French, expect considerable confusion from the waiter). Was disappointed to discover that Lena et Mimile is no longer taking the Hervé This approach, as suggested here. It's now pretty ordinary, albeit proficiently executed and with a good wine list. Anyway, Maceo is highly recommended, although I guess it's hardly a secret these days. And if you're prepared to ignore national appropriateness and forgo and the meaty set menu options, El Fogón does a seriously good vegetable paella.
  13. I've only caught bits of the current series, as Gordon's tinted lenses are getting too Omen to engender a restful night's sleep. However, does anyone else get the impression that the diners are finally wise to the gameshow bit: ie. they can decide not to pay, with none of the expected reprecussions or awkwardness. The amount of satisfied customers appears to have dropped sharply from previous series. I can see only three possible explanations for this: the quality has dropped off (why would it?); the contrived setup has negated an English reticence to gripe; or the restaurant is now attracting freeloaders.
  14. Those of a financial bent will be interested to note that Whole Foods issued a profit warning today, with its quarterly earnings down 11.2% (missing Wall St forecasts) because of "costs to open new stores and increased competition from traditional grocers" according to Bloomberg. Oh, and the US anti-trust regulator is investigating its purchase of competitor Wild Oats markets. Looks like there's not as much profit margin in a muddy £2 artichoke as we're led to believe.
  15. My mother always told me it's easier to criticise than create. Therefore, rather than picking at the inevitable subjectivity of the Restaurant's list, I've decided to create my own. I can guarantee that everywhere has been visited within the last 18 months by the entire judging panel (ie. myself) and has been ranked on an entirely objective basis (ie. how contented I was feeling after the bill came). The winners are: 1- El Poblet, Denia 2- Swiss Re's private dining rooms at the top of the Gherkin, London 3- 1728, Paris 4- Little Bay (Farringdon branch), London 5- Hung Shing Yeh beach (third cafe along heading north) on Lamma Island, Hong Kong The award ceremony will be held tonight, upstairs at the Defectors' Weld, Shepherd's Bush Green from 10pm onwards (invite only). And to all those restaurants that didn't place this time, better luck next year. Can we give it a rest now?
  16. So, after all that, they call it after a porn star ...
  17. I can't be arsed going through the list again, but perhaps someone can confirm: are there any other Chinese and Italian restaurants included that are not in China or Italy? I'm not saying that these are not good restaurants (except for Hakkasan, which I'm saying is a pretty mediocre restaurant). I'm asking: when the competition is borderless, what makes these places special or unique? (Please note: this is an attempt to squeeze a rational argument out of The List, and should be viewed entirely apart from the tizzy slapfight that relates to The List's reason for being.)
  18. Having read all the previous debates, I set out not to get wound up this year. List-making exercises such as this are always so futile and so structurally flawed that they are beyond any rational criticism -- almost. But Hakkasan? Hakkasan!?! With the top 50 getting blanket coverage in the press today, it will become the basis for a lot of opinion forming. That suggests to me that it is still worth highlighting where the lineup strays from its subjective remit into the territory of tinfoil-hat mental. Frankly, with a list as absurdly wrong as the one seen this year, it can only reflect badly on the magazine and the imported fizzy water that are attempting to gain associated fame. (Incidentally, does anyone still buy imported fizzy water? Bit of an anathema in these carbon-neutral times, I'd have thought.)
  19. Can anyone explain why Hakkasan is considered among the top-20 restaurants in the world? I concede that the room's very glam but, based on what comes out of the kitchen, it's not even in the top 20 near Tottenham Court Road. Also, Nobu is the best restaurant in London, while Japan doesn't merit a single place in the top 100? Edit: oh, and The River Cafe is only interesting because it's in Hammersmith. If it were in Tuscany it'd be anonymous. Why should that give it a ranking when the competition is international? Would A Salt & Battery in New York be considered a world-beater for accurately apeing the British chippie? Warning: this list contains nuts.
  20. The ludicrous Sketch is a suitably leftfield option. A critical mauling means that even the most well-travelled foodie usually stops short of stumping up for the Lecture Room, making it the London culinary equivalent of the dark side of the moon. Umu -- again, so expensive it makes you want to cry -- occasionally hosts kaiseki and saki parings nights. Or there's Pearl , which is a bit cheaper and carries a dedicated following, although is off the radar of most punters. It does a Saturday daytime tasting thing hosted by the head chef and sommelier that looks a good laugh.
  21. Tony Turnbull in the Times*, lists options including Rousillion (kids eat free on first and third Wednesday lunchtimes); Tamarind (kids eat free every Sunday if you order the £24 tasting menu) and Le Cercle (free for 4 to 11-year-olds every lunchtime). * All this is predicted on not liking a meal at The Bacchus. Is it just my imagination, or is it now essential that all restaurant commentators give their opinion on Hoxton Blumenthal, no matter what context?
  22. Are all nationalities so freaked out by the prospect of walking into an empty restaurant? Or is the instinct to herd a British trait? I can understand the reasoning when it's a backstreet Hong Kong chop shop with a seafood platter in the window. But surely the average British eaterie doesn't require constant custom to guarantee it won't poison the customers. And if, as this thread confirms, even good places can go quiet at the start of the week, why would we still insist on gauging places by the number of customers out front? Is that awkward atmosphere with wine waiter really so bad that it subsumes everything else? Has anywhere ever tried employing stooge customers, like the professional mourners at 17th Century funerals?
  23. I'll concede that London has no sandwich shops to compare to Manhattan's best (and fast disappearing) deli supply. I'll agree that we have no more than a couple of acceptable Mexican places, and I'll freely admit that good pizza is hard to find (just as it is, you could argue, in every city other than Napoli). We can't do cheap fast food. Never could, because when things are cheap we make do with rubbish and when things are fast we cut corners. This is not news. However, to say that you can't get good sushi or ice cream in London is mental.
  24. Honestly, there are much worse. I think you're right to be a but offish at their mark ups, but these days they have an unremarkable grab compared to some. ← Ok, I concede that my opinion was based solely on paying the wrong side of silly for a bottle of Sainsbury-sourced Goats Do Roam in the early days. And yes, I agree that there are worse.
  25. That's because they've spelled it "a p o s t r o p h e" on the title page. An amateur mistake. Sadly, I've also found their sandwiches to be amateur mistakes: pre-built, meanly filled and constantly teetering on the brink of staleness. Plus their coffee's awful, they charge a hefty 50% percent more than the norm, and the interior has a machine-tooled franchiseability that engenders zero goodwill. Airy eclairs or otherwise, I declare myself not a fan.
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