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Everything posted by Hallie

  1. Hi - I need help from Los Angelinos. I was thinking of buying my parents a gift for Christmas - some sort of dining out discount card or something which would entitle them to eat out and visit places for a discount. Years ago, when I used to live there, they used to get the Entertainment guide at the start of each year, which was full of deals and often would entice them to eat at restaurants they wouldn't normally have tried. I'm not sure if this still exists, or if its worth buying these days. Is there something else on the market that surpasses this but is similar? Can anyone suggest a gift along the lines that I've described? All suggestions welcome!
  2. Bob Bob Ricard or BBR, as its being called (see my post below). Just opened and offers a great tea, complete with a little toaster on your table for your crumpets and a choice of jams, jellies and a lemon curd.
  3. I'm already in love. Seriously in love with Bob Bob Ricard, partially because no one knows about it and also because I had a great and fairly inexpensive proper afternoon tea there today. Imagine the Wolseley meets Automat in terms of decor, menu and ambiance. I think its going to be a hit. Has anyone else eaten here yet?
  4. A friend from the US who I haven't seen in years will be in town during Christmas week and I said we'd take her and her husband to somewhere appropriately 'seasonal'. The Bleeding Heart is a possibility, and I've thought of Rules (which seems too obvious and too touristy) but I'm open to other suggestions, if anyone is offering...
  5. I'll be in Venice next week and am wondering if the culinary scene has improved since I was there last, 5 years ago. Have any new or excptionally worth while places opened in that time? We had a very hard time finding good places to eat last time and I'm well aware of Venice's reputation for uninspiring food. Any suggestions are welcome.
  6. Hallie

    Cefalú, Sicily

    If only I could remember the name of the place! We stayed in Cefalu for a week about 3 years ago. You won't be disappointed. It is by far one of the loveliest towns in Sicily and with a number of good places to eat. We stayed in the main Piazza (in a flat over looking it) and just below us was an Enotecca which did wonderful food. Its run by a 30-something wine enthusiast and the wines that will accompany your typically Sicillian meal, done with a modern Italian flair are the best that the reigon has to offer. If you stand in the main piazza facing the duomo, the Enotecca is on your right. It is not one of the two cafes with chairs out on the piazza but between them. You should be able to find it and I hope its as enjoyable as it was when we last ate there. Also - make sure you try a Sicilian speciality - ice cream in a brioche bun. Its to die for and much better than a cone.
  7. I've run out of inspiration so perhaps the kind folk at e-gullet can help me out. I'm meeting a few girlfriends for my birthday meal. Because of various requirements and obstacles the restaurant we'll need to end up at has to be: 1. moderately priced (one of my friends is out of work) 2. fairly centrally located (west end or southbank would work) 3. have a good vegetarian selection (which shouldn't be too difficult) optional: * interesting or different We're not a boozy crowd and would like to be able to hear each other over the din. Any thoughts?
  8. why on earth would you be excommunicated? giraffe is a storming place for brunch. great range of choices For quite a few years I've considered it to have the smartest menu in London. A great range of stuff, interesting combinations without ever tottering into the random-fusion trap. ← Of all the chains in London I have consistently found Giraffe to be outstanding in terms of menu selection, freshness of ingredients and price. They've managed (somehow) to get it right. I don't think I've ever had a bad lunch or brunch there.
  9. Why not go for something big, grand and Imperial feeling - sort of the Wolseley meets Tolstoy. The grand cafes of central and eastern Europe still hold a romanticism for most people. I think that image of 'Russia' would go over very well. A Bulgarian friend of mine who was educated in Moscow tells me that there's been a recent trend in Russia to rediscover old recipes; things that Puskin writes about in his books (such as bread baked as a crust over a bowl of soup). That all sounds rather interesting. The alternative is to embrace the kitschness of the Soviet era, make it all very trendy and celebrate the blini.
  10. My question is, with so many terrible reviews does anyone eat there? Who is in the dining room? Ukrainians? The money must be leaking out of there like radiation from an ex-Soviet sub. Hmmm. I'm with you on the 'laundrette' allusion. To be honest, I quite like Russian food when it's done well. There's more to it than caviar and vodka. What are your plans? Or if you tell me will you have put polonium in my tea?
  11. I've been on a quest for a good weekend brunch for some time. The problem is that by the time I get out of bed and travel the several miles out of the gastronomic wasteland (N10) where I live most places are serving lunch. I will probably be excommunicated from egullet for writing this but Giraffe has a pretty good brunch menu, if you don't mind a room full of screaming children throwing crayons at you while you eat your eggs on a tortilla with chorizo, black beans and salsa.
  12. Has anyone else been experiencing difficulty getting fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish in London? On Monday Ocado was quite literally cleaned out of all stock. My local M &S has had bare shelves all week and even the local Sainsbury's is empty. I appreciate that the holidays may have caused a few delays but even today I found nothing available. What's going on?
  13. What would be nice would be a simple 'cheese of the month club'. For an annual fee (or 6 month fee) a featured cheese would be sent out to subscribers. For an additional cost per month you could also have 'extras' - a featured bread or biscuit of the month to go along with the cheese or even a selection of charcuterie. To be able to start with that basic 'cheese of the month' (and nothing else) is essential in my eye. No one else provides such a service - you usually get lumbered with 3 or 4 cheeses which is great if you're having a party or eat lots of cheese but it is just too much for a small household and is also too expensive. Affordability and simplicity are key.
  14. I have no experience of their mail order services, but both Neal's yard and the Fine Cheese Company in Bath do monthly cheese selections. The one from the Fine Cheese Company looks similar to the organic vegetable box idea: see here for more details. The website says: For the Neal's yard offerings look here. Neither of these is cheap and my own feeling is that so much cheese every month is way over the top, although Neal's yard also does a quarterly selection. ← Think that's what Che is saying. A lot of them do a monthly selection. Mr O bought me the monthly Paxton and Whitfield one a couple of years ago which was fantastic but it was an awful lot of cheese. I haven't found one that does just one cheese. I guess the best path would be to phone and ask them if they can do it for you. In my experience the specialist places are so helpful especially as they are so passionate about their product. Why not give a few of them a call and ask? ← Maybe Che might consider doing a cheese of the month?
  15. I adore Blacks. It's probably Soho's most characterful and down to earth club but by God is the food dire. I went to lunch there a few months ago and was served one of the worst pieces of fish I'd ever smelled. The bread was stale and the salad consisted of wilted leaves and a knob of drippy goat's cheese. Great people watching though.
  16. Does anyone know of a mail order cheesemonger who has a type of 'cheese of the month' scheme similar to the ever-popular 'wine of the month' clubs? I've looked at a number of sites; Paxton and Whitfield, Neal's Yard, the Cheese Society and they all send a selection of cheeses, usually 4. The person I'd be buying this gift for would never get through that amount. A monthly cheese would be more than enough but I can't seem to find an outlet that offers this.
  17. "Gastropub" would be stretching it. Grand Union is a pub chain (unrelated to the excellent Grand Union in Westbourne Grove, confusingly) that does acceptable burgers etc, but not much more. Gilgamesh (absurdly lavish E&O-style Asian). ← Hmm. That's a shame. I thought it was related to the Grand Union in Westbourne Grove. My husband claimed to have had a good burger at the Grand Union in Kentish Town. I suppose it depends what you're after. As for Gilgamesh, aside from the Las Vegas theme hotel style atmosphere, I was not impressed with the food. It was over-priced and uninspiring. It was also incredibly loud. I'd probably go back for a drink, but not to eat.
  18. I'm not sure what to advise other than to drive and eat somewhere else. As someone who lives near Tufnell Park I'm not aware of anywhere good to eat. However, if you want to drive a bit further up the hill, the Bull in Highgate is fabulous. Then there's Les Associes and Florians in Crouch End. I've not been to either place but I've heard good things. Between Camden and Tufnell Park there's Cafe Mozart in Kentish Town (which is a modest but very neighbour-ish place that does lovely home made soups and generally really nice simple Austrian style food - Snitzel, etc.). Apparently a new place has opened up on Kentish Town Road called the Grand Union (gastropub) which I've also heard good things about. If you do find a good place in Tufnell Park please let me know!
  19. I have to say, I find these results quite interesting and shocking in some cases. I'm especially disturbed by the amount of sushi places that have been given one or less star ratings. The one thing you want done according to the safety guidelines is the preservation and preparation of seafood (or any food for that matter) which is going to be served raw. But having said that, its not entirely clear what a restaurant needs to do to achieve a five star rating and therefore I'm not sure what to make of these results in general. It would be great if a system was established whereby customers could actually see what a 5 star or a 1 star rating meant in real terms. By and large I'm greatly in favour of having ratings published outside establishments, as long as the system for rating the restaurant is clear, uncomplicated and restaurants have a chance of improving their rating if down graded. In all things a consumer should know what they're getting, especially if this means rats in the kitchen and broken refrigeration systems.
  20. I gather that one should gather that this means the review was positive? ← Perhaps. As it was the Standard, I had a hard time reading beyond the first paragraph.
  21. No, I mean the wait for a table. I made the mistake of going on the day that the Evening Standard ran a review and the queue was almost out the door, which I suppose is a good sign for the owner.
  22. I tried to pay them a visit on Wednesday night. The wait exceeded 45 minutes and we gave up in the end. The food looked interesting though.
  23. This is quite an exciting devlopment - I can't wait to pay them a visit! Mestizo on Hampstead Road (near Warren Street) isn't bad, but it's nice to see the lighter side of Mexican eating represented as well; grilled fish, lots of herbs and corn tortillas. Thanks for the tip off!
  24. Other than all the critics that is. Gory, mouth watering details please. How difficult is it to get a booking?
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