Jump to content

Thomas Secor

participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Thomas Secor

  1. Wanted to bring this post back to the top of the food chain for two reasons: First, Akiko have you gone yet? Where did you end up? How was it? Second, there was an article in yesterdays NY Times regarding Bath which future visitors might find of interest. I attach the link http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/10/travel/10tab.html
  2. The wife and I have tickets to Glasgow over the August Bank holiday. We are currently planning to spend the Friday evening in Glasgow and then Saturday morning take the West Highland Rail to either Fort William or Mallaig (the Fort William-Mallaig leg is supposed to be the best bit). From there we will rent a car and drive.....somewhere. Am very interested in ideas of places to go, stay and eat in this area of the West Highlands and any recommendations on what we should do (in our very brief three and a half day weekend). I have re-read the February thread on Scotland in general. Thoughts at the moment are the Old Pines (near Fort William), one of the many Wolsey Lodges B&Bs (as suggested by Mogsob and by the way Mogsob, are there any in particular you might suggest?), the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Skye (although Skye seems quite large and maybe a bit too much for such a short time period). We are particularly interested in accomodations that are less than 125 pounds or so, areas that have nice coastal views, opportunities to taste and drink single malts (recognizing that the Malt Whiskey Trail is not in the areas I have described above) and real ales, and of course eating well whereever possible. I am also interested in pub, hotel and casual dining suggestions in Glasgow (so far the Ubiquitous Chip bistro is in the lead for restaurants). In addition, if anyone thinks we should scrap the West Highland Rail and go somewhere different, I would be interested in suggestions (keeping in mind that our tickets to Glasgow are fixed and we definitely want to get out into the countryside). Sorry for the long-windedness and thanks much in advance.
  3. not directly on topic, but I think last week's Time Out referenced a delivery company that would deliver from the Borough Market food stalls. They deliver Friday evenings or Saturday mornings. Unfortunately I dont remember the name of the company (wasnt that interested because for me the primary pleasure of Borough lies in the going; although as it gets more crowded ......)
  4. Akiko, if you have become at all interested in pubs since you have gotten here (and if you havent, I dont know how much we have left to say to each other ), please get the Star on your itinerary. Its only a hop, skip and a stumble away from the Royal Crescent. Of course you are more likely to be belly up with the folks who work at the Royal Crescent than the ones who stay at the Royal Crescent, but then again, thats the point isnt it?
  5. Akiko, there are some previous posts on this where Cappers gave some very good recommendations. At the risk of an overly long post, I am pasting here an email I sent Cappers after a weekend in Bath. I have inserted some follow up comments in italics into the original email. More recs follow the cut and paste job. "Stayed in Bathford at The Eagle, which I highly recommend for a B&B. The proprietors hit that right mix between being extremely friendly and welcoming without being intrusive, and the place is large enough that although you feel you are in an intimate space, you dont feel as if you are intruding in someone's home. We plan to stay there again this weekend. Friday dinner: ate in Bathford, at a place the name of which I dont recall, but will follow up when I am there again this weekend. [never did, but the place wasnt very good anyway] Saturday lunch: after much dicking about in the Roman Baths, we tried the cafe above the cheese shop (didnt have any bread left) and ended up at a pub next door called Salamander, which had excellent Bath ales on tap and very tasty hot pots.[Have been back to this place twice since and recommend it for a nice pub lunch, more on pubs to follow below] Not an extremely glamorous lunch, but it was very good all the same, and the guys boozing it up were extremely friendly. In fact, I got caught up there for three hours or so, drining with three gentlemen, one a middle aged tour guide wearing a wig, the other a self professed cockney gangster who had spent most of his life as a "guest of the queen" and the other a musician who played backup for Badfinger in the 70's. Many pints later I waddled out for a nap before dinner. Saturday dinner: Blinis. This was our blowout, and it was excellent. A very good recommendation. I had an excellent pork belly, with seared scallops for a starter. The only improvement would have been to ask for a table near the window as that would clearly add immeasurable ambience and enjoyment. [Note: I am not sure if Blinis is still open] Sunday lunch: Once again we were stymied in our plans due to our laziness. We had planned tea at the Royal Crescent, but never ate lunch and by two I was too hungry to wait, so we went to a pub which had been recommended to us for Sunday Roast, called Rummers. It is right on the river, just south of the bridge and I believe has just come under new management. The recommendation was accurate, we had the roast beef and the roast lamb. The roast beef came, as is all too rare, perfectly pink in the middle with a very nice own made gravy, and the lamb was very tender and juicy. Overall view of Bath was obviously favorable as am going back for the weekend again. Was very impressed by the pubs (as you may have already noticed)." Additional places I have visited since and would recommend include the Moody Goose, already much discussed; and the Sign of the Angel in Lacock. The food at the Sign of the Angel was quite good, and Lacock itself is a wonderful little National Trust preserved town. There is also an excellent pub called the George which was worth a visit in its own right. Speaking of pubs, if in Bath, in addition to the Salamander (John Street) and Rummers mentioned above, I cannot recommend strongly enough the Old Green Tree and the Star. The Star in particular is extraordinarily friendly and off the beaten track so not overrun with the busloads of tourists. On the three occassions I have been there, they have done a lock in so you can carry on to your heart's content. The beer is kept very well, and from the CAMRA literature scattered about, I assume they are a CAMRA favorite. In addition to the more common Bass ale and Wadworths 6X (both kept very well) they have the more unusual Abbey Bellringer. Dont leave without trying it. The last time I was there I enthused so openly about the Bellringer that they gave me a Bellringer pint glass to take home. If you have any questions regarding any of the longwindedness above, feel free to drop me an email. And if you dont have lodging yet, I repeat my enthusiasm for the Eagle House in Bathford, yet another National Trust preserved villagewhich is about three miles outside of Bath.
  6. Not sure what mega-bucks means to you, but Passione is hands down the best for value Italian I have been to in London. Probably more of a splash out, but you can eat there, with a bottle of moderately priced wine, for 80 pounds for two. You should reserve ahead as they are almost always booked. Every place I have been to in Soho is abominable and has given me heartburn. Sardos and Paulo's (also in Fitzrovia) were both favorites of mine for a while, but their prices are pretty close to Passione's at this point and the quality of food and service is not comparable. Giardinetto's which is quite good has a current special on Toptable at the moment. But it does require you to get the set menu so that could be hit or miss. I think the pizza at Spiga on Wardour street is quite good (note: I dont view "pizza" and "italian" in the same category, as so often a place which is good at one is not good at the other; and at the risk of sounding like Peter Pumkino, in Italy, you would almost never order a pasta at a place that was known for its pizza), but, as the previous parenthetical implies, I have not been impressed with the other menu items. If you want to do an italian picnic, there is a pretty good salumeria right off of Berwick street, at the top of the market. Cant remember the name at the moment. Of course there is always the much overrated and overpriced, but still quite good, Carluccio's in Covent Garden. They have very tasty take away items.
  7. I thought I would bring this topic back up to the top of the board and see if anyone has anything to add. I will be in South Beach this weekend for four days and am fishing for recommendations. I particularly would like to hear about any good latino places. Used to eat rice and beans two or three times a week (was teaching junior high school to mostly Dominican kids up in Washington Heights, NYC), but London just doesnt have anything to offer in this area. Thanks.
  8. Dont miss Il Ritrovo while you are in Florence. Mogsob recommended it on a previous thread and we visited when we were in Florence a few weeks ago. By far the best meal I had while in Florence. The bistec fiorentina was heavenly, at about 3 inches thick. The waitress brought out one for my wife and I to share (we saw the piece of meat uncooked first, as is customary) and my wife thought it was only for her. She looked absolutely stunned. I was also very impressed by the pastas and the tiramisu. In fact, my wife said it is the best she has had, and as she is italian and her ex was an italian restauranteur, this was quite a compliment. I strongly recommend Plotkin's book for this and any other trip to Italy. There is also a guide to food (including vineyards, olive growers, etc) specifically in Tuscany. I will see if I can track it down.
  9. I second the many recommendations that you go for a kebab, whether traditionally english or not, it is probably the most typical "street" food in London presently. Perhaps even surpassing the curry house. Burgers: the best Ive had are: Sophies Steakhouse (on the Kings Road, or Fulham Road, can never remember) which is not a downmarket place; Arkansas BBQ in Spitalfields market, which you might like, you can sit outside and watch people wander through the market while you get Bubba's take on life; the burgers at Borough Market, which is similar to Spitalfields for people watching but a bit more of a young professionals with first baby over-earner crowd; and the ground floor of Smiths of Smithfields, which is a semi-trendy bar restaurant across from the Smithfield meat market (note: they only do burgers on the weekend for some god only knows reason. I learned this today when I asked for one at lunch. The waitress had the audacity to suggest a chicken burger instead. I politely informed her that a chicken burger had nothing in common with a burger other than the shape and the name. I ended up with a portion of the roast chicken and chips and a double side order of bacon. God the Brits can do bacon). For pies in a typical setting, you might check out the Newman Arms on Rathbone Place in Fitzrovia. They have a pie room upstairs which does pretty good pies. They are one of the few independent, landlord-on-premises pubs in this area. They also serve Bass on tap. Breakfasts: Check out the Fox and Anchor pub over by Smithfields. Fish and Chips: Fryers Delight on Theobalds Road has been the best ive tried so far, and certainly fits the bill for greasy and a dive. Always a pack of taxis outside with their drivers munching away. Im glad Ive never gotten into the taxi of a driver who had just visited though, that fish fried in beef lard scent can get rancid pretty quickly. "Ethnic": you should definitely check out Al Dar II on the Kings Road and the Edgeware Road generally. You're gonna get Lebanese food to knock your socks off. There is also an area north of the Portobello Road Market that has some good Moroccan places. And Kingsland Road for Vietnamese. All in all, however, I have to say that in my experience, London is not the place for dives/street food/greasy spoons. I have always loved these types of places, but in London it has generally meant bad food. And not interestingly bad food, just bad food. The same to a large extent with divey pubs/bars. Usually just shitty lagers, one real ale thats gone off and a slew of alcohpops (although there are obviously a ton of very special historic pubs and working class pubs) London has a lot of strengths but this is not one of them. I think your best bet is to stick to "ethnic" restaurants. London is awash with very good and low-rent vietnamese, thai, indian, pakistani, malaysian, turkish and arguably chinese restaurants with a few peruvian and North African places thrown in.
  10. ah, ha, Gants Hill must be in Queens. And you must be referring to the Number 7 subway line out to Flushing, not the Central line. Sorry, maybe my joking doesnt make sense to non-New Yorkers, but your description sounds so much like the Queens that I knew in my teenage days (or at least my impression of Queens in those days, a place I only visited at the behest of the Sarah Finklebaums of the world). Particularly the last line. Of course, now Queens is known as the true melting pot of the U.S., but it wasnt always so.
  11. Ive been to the Sutton Arms twice for lunch and both times it was pretty close to dead empty. I would have to concur with your guest's perception. In addition the times I have been there for lunch, the food was markedly inferior to what I got at evening time.
  12. Adam, I think your critique is a bit unfair. I was expecting to read an article that trashed the place for being elitist and catering to those who only patronize it because of its exclusivity. Instead, Fort considers the food in some depth, both in independently and in consideration of any potential contribution to english cuisine. He also provides it the accolades of saying that only Ramsay can rival it. I do not much care for scales, but I also think its possible to read the "rating" in a different fashion. He is not saying that Sketch receives a zero, and is therefore lesser than all places that received a higher mark on that scale. Rather, he says that Sketch is unique and therefore cannot be measured on the same scale, or within the same paradigm, as other restaurants. That is how I read it, and that can be a high compliment (similar to saying there is no point in giving Bulli a Zagats rating, because his food is not comparable to the food of other chefs). Matthew Fort than joins his praise with a warning regarding price, because irrespective of what dinner in the top places in the world cost, this place is by far the most expensive in England, and costs significantly more than the English population are used to. In addition, most PR people I have spoken to, think the high prices were a well devised gimmick to generate publicity, and I therefore think it is incumbent upon a reviewer to review the price as well. Critics should review the aspect of the restaurant which the restaurant owners themselves are touting, whether thats pork belly or price.
  13. The one time I went to Nobu in London I had a very similar experience and we were a party of six. One woman had her entire meal brought to her at once (four courses) while the rest of us were not served for another 20-30 minutes. I havent been back since.
  14. I dont know much of anything about corn syrup, but I know the following: I never used it in the States; I definitely wouldnt put it on my pancakes (unless its the stuff in the Aunt Jemima bottles, in which case I have been unwillingly exposed on a number of occassions); It is a key ingredient in sticky toffee pudding (or maybe for the sauce, cant remember which, since I never did end up making the sticky toffee pudding as planned); That Lyle's stuff is everywhere. Are you from the U.S.? Did you use it there? maybe its a regional thing. In the northeast, we stick to the maple, generally. Good old vermont maple syrup.
  15. Al Dhar II on the King's Road. Excellent takeaway style lebanese food. There is sufficient seating in the back and, for what its worth to you, they serve beer and wine (unlike many similar venues). The fresh juices are particularly good. If you are really looking to keep things cheap, order the sandwiches with a few appetizers and stay away from the platters. Most everyone else does anyway.
  16. Cant be sure on the spelling but that is how it was spelled to the best of my recollection. I had never heard of it, nor had my wife (who is half italian and has spent much time in Northern Italy). I think we will have to assume it means nasty spinach. The funny thing is, when I was in Sorrento, I had a similar experience where I ordered brocolli and the waiter brought me spinach. When I pointed out that I had ordered brocolli and not the spinach, he insisted that what was inf front of me was brocolli. We had a pretty heated argument about it. I was sure he thought that Americans just didnt know the difference between brocolli and spinach. I wonder if brocolli is the word for spinach around Naples.
  17. Sopie's Steakhouse (see my comments to the Lucky Seven thread) and Bubba's burgers. They knock the socks off of anything else Ive had in England (but they still dont hold a candle to the burgers served at lunchtime at Peter Lugar's, God I miss those).
  18. JJS and Kikujiro, can you give us a sense of what you consider the perfect dough and crust? I am just wondering whether we have different opinions or whether my experience was really just a one-off. Also, I repeat my question of whether anybody has any idea what is meant by "Fraierelli" brocolli. I am curious in particular as to whether "Frairelli" simply means "nasty and canned spinach-like". Speaking of crusts, the new Jeffrey Steingarten book has a hysterical bit on his pizza adventures, accompanied by a heat detector. Very funny.
  19. I was at Armadillo a few weeks ago and had a very good meal (and when you factor in the fact that it included two appetizers, two mains, a bottle of wine, two caiparinhas, two Ron Zacapas, a coffee and chocolates for just over 70 pounds, it was a great meal). You're right about it being a bit drafty and that continues to be the case, but the food is not only very good, but of a genre that is very difficult to find in London. My wife had black bean soup with chorizo and I had grilled quail with Mole sauce. We both had roast suckling pig for mains (sorry cant remember exactly how it was done up). The service continues to be extraordinarily friendly if not strictly professional in the stiff Michelin sense. I am a big fan of Armadillo. I think it is the sort of place London sorely lacks, it is a very good, very reasonable neighborhood restaurant. It doesnt have tons of bells and whistles and is at times a little rough around the edges (e.g. the draftiness), but it is essentially a single-man operation (I would say mom-and pop, but the demographics dont fit) without huge backing and multi-million dollar investment, and that is exactly why it remains reasonable and friendly. Armadillo is the kind of place where the chef comes out of the kitchen to make your drinks and remember's your face even though you havent been there in six months (both true with respect to our visits). I used to like Sardo's for similar reasons, but the prices there have increased about 25-30% over the last two years. Now I feel like they're just taking the piss. Another huge plus for Armadillo (at least for anyone having to travel there), is that seemingly unlike Pizza Metro, there is a great before or after dinner watering hole nearby, the Dove, which has a very good selection of beers from around the world, and a decent wine selection.
  20. So in America, its just hot pizza? whats all the other pizza? Actually, the real beef I have with Pizza Express is that the pies are relatively small and the prices high, particularly compared to an actual restaurant (although not a great one) such as Spiga. In addition, the salads are abominable. Peter, my combination of foodstuffs may be questioned, but the antipasto looked unappetizing, my wife wanted pizza, I wanted pasta, and the pizzas appeared to only come in huge portions (I was later corrected on this point), hence we split a pasta as a starter and had the pizza as our main. And Im glad we did, otherwise I wouldnt have had the pasta. Overall I cant say that I am much stuck on what I am supposed to eat with what. I eat what sounds good to me, hell, I bet the pizza would have been better with the pasta on top of it.
  21. It was a fantastic kick, but the seats were way up in the stratosphere. Did I mention that Chelsea fans are some of the scariest looking dudes I have ever seen congregated in one place? It wasnt just the tattoos, the earrings, the bald heads, the non-smiling faces, the yellowed and potentially sharpened teeth. Nor was it the fact that young children were being weaned on a diet of words colourfully and graphically descriptive of the orafice from whence they escaped their mother's womb (I am tempted to string them out here, but am never too clear on the board's policy). It was the fact that the three men behind me were so visibly agitated that they were literally spitting and frothing at the mouth, veins bulging from their foreheads as their eyes protruded farther and farther from their sockets. Ahhh, thats football. I had a great time. Somehow I have a feeling that most of the Chelsea fans dont live in Chelsea.
  22. I was taken and had an excellent host. Perhaps someone you know (before the board goes crazy, I am not making any type of insinuations about the lovely SamanathaF).
  23. Matthew, maybe they were off yesterday, because interestingly enough, my wife and I decided to go yesterday evening for our virginal Pizza Metro visit and we were pretty disappointed by the pizza as well. We ordered a pizza described as sausage with "fraierelli" brocolli (which I hoped in my heart of hearts was going to be brocolli rabe, but was not; has anybody ever seen brocolli rabe in London? does anybody know what Fraierelli brocollis meant to be?). It was a white pizza, so perhaps not a good representation, but the sausage turned out to be chunks of relatively flavourless and dry pork, the pizza was very greasy, the crust was very doughy and soft, the promised brocolli tasted like canned spinach, and the toppings were very sparse. The fact that the pizza was served on what appeared to be a lunch tray certainly did us no favours in trying to keep the damn thing from cooling off too quickly. The pizzas I have had at Spiga and Strada have been infinitely better (not so with Pizza Express which is an abomination, what the hell is an American Hot? We dont have those in America. Perhaps by America they mean somewhere in Bolivia?) However, I am willing to concede that it might have been a bad night, and am thinking about returning. If for no other reason, and as Peter Pumkino has implied many times, the pasta was excellent. We had Linguine Gamberoni and Spaghetti Puttanesca and both were done perfectly or damn near close. Pasta was al dente, the sauces appeared to make use of fresh ingredients and were very well balanced. For the price, they were the best pastas I have had in London. Another sour note however is the surrounding area. Nothing but high street chains, at least when it came to drinking and most eating, however, there did appear to be several cute shops on Battersea Rise. I thought it would be nice to grab a pint before dinner but couldnt find any pubs other than O'Neills and a similar fruit machined and de-bittered pub, called Northcote's. Any thoughts on decent places in the surrounding area for either before or after dinner drinks? Proper old boozers in particular would be appreciated.
  24. Had the best burger in London to date this past Saturday. Hate to admit it, because I dont like the staff, the clientele, the lack of bitters, etc, but it was at Sophie's Steakhouse. In fact, it was the only good burger I have had in London to date (at least from a restaurant, Bubbas' burgers are pretty damn fine over at Spitalfields). I dropped in on the way to the Chelsea/Tottenham game. Made me feel like a champion when I later saw all the other spectators buying that godawfulness from the burger vans. The burger at Sophie's was appropriately thick, slightly too small from a diameter perspective, had just enough fat to leave puddles of juice around the plate, but not so greasy that the bun was flapping all over the place. The description of the burger made it appear heavily spiced, which is mild heresy, with unspecified herbs, garlic and some other stuff, which initially made me nervous. However, the end result was a very tasty burger that was mildly flavoured but not overwhelmed by the additional ingredients. It came medium rare as requested. I find that burgers are one of the few meats that I do not prefer rare, as that generally results in a burger that is simply raw in the middle and often cold, on the other hand, there is nothing worse one can do to a fine burger than cook it until there is no pink left, which generally means that you have lost the fatty juice along with its flavour. The chips that came with the burger were perfectly satisfactory but clearly a sideshow to the main attraction. The downside? The burger cost a whopping ten pounds and Sophie's does not take reservations. Moreover it is located on the hell that is Fulham Road (although Fulham Road is certainly a lesser hell than its sibling, King's Road, whose only redeeming quality is Al Dhar II). Still, I would recommend it enthusiastically. Did I mention the English bacon and the emmenthal cheese. That was a damn fine burger.
  25. Simon, where did you find the Bulleit. I used to pick it up at Oddbins but they told me they arent stocking it anymore. They used to have really good deals on it. Have you found the Hancocks anywhere by the bottle (or just byt the cocktai-ful). My father in law brings me a bottle everytime he comes out from the States but I have never seen it here.
  • Create New...