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Chaihana Joe

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    Chester, UK
  1. Nothing doing, I'm afraid. There are no seafood restaurants in Manchester or its hinterland. Liverpool has Italian Club Fish which I haven't visited (but Giles Coren has). Chester has Moules a Go Go, which is OK if you like mussels. No lobster anywhere, although it appears occasionally on seasonal menus. It would be interesting to speculate why this should be, but that doesn't help you very much.
  2. I'm a big fan of Stickywalnut and really appreciate their unpretentious down-to-earth hospitality. Seems I'm not the only one, too: on a recent Tuesday lunchtime visit the place was full - pretty much unheard of round these parts.
  3. Everyone - Isherwood and the chefs - has dropped a bollock here. The only issue is whether or not the meal in question was a freebie. If it wasn't, Isherwood's dropped bollock was a simple case of naivete. If it was, I really hope this incident goes a long way towards bring to an end the practice of blogger freebies. Food blogging seems to me to be a worthwhile and entertaining pastime, but only if the bloggers are getting the very same experience as every other punter. If they're not, it becomes pointless and vain.
  4. I, too, very much enjoyed a recent visit here. In the same way that the mothership San Carlo on the opposite corner has rolled its brand out across the country, I would hope and expect to see them add to the existing 2 Cicchetti's (Manchester and London). One thing I would add that could be taken as a good or a bad thing: intensely busy. I don't think I can remember eating in such a hectic restaurant.
  5. Australasia This is a big restaurant, built entirely underground as a part of the new Spinningfields development. The entrance is a simple glass prism standing proud of the paved area. Steps lead down to a huge, almost entirely white dining room. The whiteness is presumably intended to evoke the sun bleached Australian interior. The staircase is long and straight. The whole arrangement reminded me of those astronomical observatories so beloved of Asian emperors and scientists. In fact it is totally possible that on one day of the year, for a fleeting minute, the azimuth and elevation of the sun are such that its rays pour down the stairs and flood the place with light. Yesterday was not that day. Australasia is one of Living Ventures' latest projects. They describe the cuisine as Pacific Rim. This is only part of the story. The menu is divided into two: traditional 3-course dining from a mainly south-east Asian list and small plate dining from a menu primarily Japanese in make-up. We went small plate. Californian Rolls had themselves been rolled in tiny fish eggs each individually injected with a citrus preparation. This was interesting but caused the rolls to be awkwardly sticky. Roasted scallops were large and complemented nicely by a carrot and orange purée and seaweed. Although we were advised that dishes might arrive in random order, these both preceded the chicken and beef skewers, in what seemed like a completely unrandom and right-minded order of succession. The sambal that came with the chicken had a pleasingly bitter length, possibly from the coconut which was one of its ingredients. Steak was served rare with a rub that was a little heavy on the salt, though an oversalted rub is what I would call a 'good error'. I don't remember why we ordered edamame beans. Desserts were not 'oriental' - they may have been Australian. They were very well done and generous: an intense vanilla-y butterscotch sauce and miso ice cream were highlights. Each dish was neatly presented, generous and, for me, did a good job of translating south east Asian food into a western format. Tables were laid with cutlery on the left and chopsticks on the right. Scallops and skewers all came in threes and since these dishes are 'designed for sharing' it might be advisable to bring along a gooseberry. There's a short wine list and seven sakes. We drank Lao beer - it was OK. There is a proper bar here but very little seating for it. There are booths the whole length of one wall for footballers. The concept seems to cry out for replication elsewhere, so much so that we asked: it seems the idea has been considered and rejected. Hmm.
  6. Anybody tried Australasia yet? Menu and pics look good. Reports on Trip Advisor seem to mostly allow that the food is great but the atmos, service, etc is not so good.
  7. Because its a hotel? Prestigious restaurant draws business to hotel - hotel cross-subsidises restaurant. When times might otherwise be quiet it makes sense to keep the restaurant filled with customers and the kitchen ticking over nicely, even if it means dipping into that cross-subsidy.
  8. Such a shame that so beautiful an island has so little to offer. I would suggest the obvious: manx kippers. The Harbour Lights Cafe on the front at Peel will serve you a nice plate full and there is a smokehouse you can visit by the quays there.
  9. OK, understood. I have watched that movie this year, but the allusion passed me by. I've only been in that situation once - my neighbour was the wonderful Jonathan Meades - quite an eye opener.
  10. Man, I'm not sure I understand why you're being so coy. Why and what would we not believe?
  11. and this... http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/05/335850/Paul-Heathcote-sells-five-restaurants-to-Living-Ventures.htm (from last year, but I for one had missed it)
  12. Christina - I, too, think your offer as described on the website is very attractive. However you could really do something about the way it's presented. Aside from your regular clientele, your website is still (notwithstanding Facebook, Twitter, etc) your most effective marketing channel. You really need to make the most of it. I clicked through to your web designer's own site and I think it's telling that in the dozens of sites featured in their portfolio, yours isn't one of them. And you can see why - yours doesn't match up to any of the sites they feature. Why is this? Is it old (it does look a little stale)? Was it done on a budget? I know it's another expense you could really do without, but you should be able to get something similar but of a much higher quality for, say £500.
  13. Wow. I didn't even know that was possible.
  14. John - as the resident Brunning & Price expert, it's 3 years now since B&P cashed in their chips and sold out to TRG. Would it be fair to say that our fears at the time have not been realised and that B&P have been able to maintain their erstwhile core values? I ask because I only ever get to visit Harkers, their Chester presence, and any change there might be down to changes in management at a local level, rather than wider influences.
  15. Thanks for this, Harters. We live not so far away but this place had gone completely under the radar. Looking forward to our first visit. Do you know if it will be closed during the expansion into the nextdoor premises?
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