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Posts posted by Winot

  1. I did a search on Leeds but couldn't find any recent advice on quiet reasonably high-end dining in the City centre. Went to Guellers on a similar trip two years ago -- has anyone tried the replacement 3 York Place? What about 42 The Calls?

    Many thanks.

  2. Just got back from a long w/e at the Fringe (disappointing standard this year though Dave Gorman was cracking).

    Although the missus had booked Martin Wishart by e-mail a month or so back we found out Saturday morning that they weren't open for lunch. Mightlily pissed off though they were very apologetic. So to make up for that we took Jay's advice and opted for Off The Wall which is above Victoria Wine on the High St opposite the Crowne Plaza.

    A lovely airy room as Jay says though would be much improved if the heavy duty artex was taken down and the fake tudor windows replaced don't you think? (unless that's what passes for style in Rayner Towers). We were surprised to secure a 1.30 booking at about 12pm and even more surprised when the only other customer was leaving just as we arrived.

    Started with a beatifully cooked piece of seabass slightly overwhelmed by an intense lobster sauce. Mrs Winot had nicely done asparagus with mussels and again a vaguely pointless sauce (tarragon I think). Mains were duck supreme for me which was a large portion perfectly cooked resting on a potato rosti with roasted carrots and green beans. Mrs W had peat smoked haddock which was intensely smokey and pronounced very nice indeed. To finish I had cheese and oatcakes -- actually oatcake and some bread -- which was a bit disappointing as it was served too cold and two of the four cheeses were very strong blues and one was a bland scottish brie. However the coconut parfait was deemed sublime and wolfed down before I could get a look-in.

    The bill with two coffees and a bottle of 1996 Gewurztraminer grand Cru (£31) was £73 for two before service, which I thought was good value. Not so much "Off The Wall" as "straight down the line". 7/10.

    The next day we went for a boozy lunch (well breakfast actually - this is the fringe) with three friends at La Garrigue, a languedoc inspired place on the road curving round to Market st from St Mary's St (the tables in the front room have a great view overlooking Calton Hill). I don't know why no one's mentioned this on this thread as it was a real find.

    The menu is a bit complicated, encompassing alc, a prix fixe with no choice and a more expensive set menu with about 5/6 choices per course. To make things even more complicated you can mix and match between the menus.

    To start I had four beautifully cooked & tasty sardine fillets which were served with a nicely judged spicy chick pea salad and various drizzled sauces "modern european" style which added to the experience rather than detracting from it as with Off the Wall. Others had a deconstructed duck rillete which was moist and meaty. Can't remember what else was on offer I'm afraid but these were an excellent start.

    My main course was a beef and pasta casserole -- not really a summer choice but I was keen to try it as apparently it's a languedoc speciality that I've never seen in 5 years holidaying there. Again it was quite deconstructed -- not really soupy/stewy but more like a daube without much gravy and with pasta mixed in. Great comfort food and much improved with the judicious addition of some mustard on the beef. Others had a nicely roasted rabbit leg with roasted veg and steak with a roast shallot sauce. The steek was tender and tasty but they did overcook it a bit which is a bit sloppy.

    No puds as we were rushing off to a show but the bill came to £29 each including three bottles from the very good value list (a viognier at only £14 and a couple of reds from Domaine D'Auphiliac) plus only 10% service charge (added by them) which was well deserved as (a) we were a tad noisy and (b) we were a bit short of time yet they managed to whisk us in and out without our feeling rushed.

    All in all a great lunch which just had the edge on OTW. This place deserves our support, eGulleters.


  3. This is becoming as bete noire of mine. Over the last few weeks in London I have been served a succession of red wines at 25C or so. I've taken to asking for them to be stuck in an ice bucket to get them down to 15-20C.

  4. More recently, a friend told me that on Bush's inauguration night a Texan came into his restuarant with 2 blonde babes on his arms. "Get me the best damned bottle of pinot noir you have". The waiter returns with a bottle of Romanee Conti and pulls the cork. Needless to say when the check came, the guy happened to notice the $4,000 bottle of wine. Neither he nor my friend were amused. That waiter doesn't work there anymore.

    I can see why most of these stories are a bit off, but this guy seemed to deserve everything he got.

  5. Rebatos is good for front of house tapas but they don't take bookings. You can book the restaurant at the back but it's not recommended.

    Bar Estrela good fun as mentioned; good for large groups.

    Brixton doesn't have anything great as Jon says but you could try:

    Pangea - pizza and pasta on Atlantic Rd - good fun but noisy.

    Bah Humbug in St Matthew's Church crypt OK food, good for large groups.

    Neon - also P&P, Jay liked it but I've never been impressed.

    Clapham has Thyme which is a high-end place with Club Gascon like tapas portions; very accomplished cooking but to my mind hugely overpriced (£50pp plus).

    Tooting has loads of fantastic South Indian restaurants (eg Kastoori) that could fit you in no problem and would come in at £25 a head tops.

    Finally, ,if you want somewhere more high end how about Stepping Stone in Battersea? I've alwys been impressed by this place - modedrn European, great service, good value.

    Hope that helps.


  6. Well we're back, and had a grreat time. Wish they'd left the basement of the Judisches Museum empty though.

    Eats included:

    Hasir -- great spicy lamb kebab on the first night in the original restaurant on Oranienstrasse.

    Eintopf (sausage and lentil version and beef and potatoes version) in a trendy place off Auguststrasse. Filling/compfort food but nothing special.

    Evening meal on Saturday at Gugelhof (where Schroeder took Clinton). Excellent courgette soup with pumpkin pesto; choucroute with their famous blood sausage and cheese with an 1989 Gewurztraminer. Good competent regional stuff; very friendly service; good wine list.

    Absinthe sour cocktails in a post-apocalyptic Cuban bar with sand on the floor. Neither big nor clever.

    Breakfast on sunday at the Freischwimmer. Average all-you-can-eat buffet but cool location.

    Kaffee und kuchen at the Fernsehturm. Average food but what a view! What fantastic design!

    Thanks for all the rec,


  7. Many thanks to all -- sounds like there are lots of good options.

    Shall give the Checkpoint Charlie museum a go if we have the time -- also looking forward to returning to the Liebeskind Jewish Museum (went there when it was empty and will be interested to see what's it's like now full).


  8. Shame you had an average experience Scott. I've been disappointed at St J's also, particularly on busy evenings when the service can be strained.

    And yet... there's still something about it that can make for a great experience that is more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps it's just the (pretentious?) lack of formality or the fact its just plain different to the run of the London mill -- I put it in the same camp as Alistair Little (Frith St) as a restaurant I'd be happy to visit time and again.

  9. Not that I want to promote the use of tobacco, but studies exist that purport to show that cigarette smokers are more productive employees than non smokers. If productivity is a major issue, should you test for nicotine in the urine and fire those who come out negative?

    If productivity's a major issue then eGullet has a worse effect on me than any illegal drug. Go away all of you and let me get some work done.

  10. even if they do institute drug-testing regimes, although I find the idea repugnant.


    Could you say why you find it repugnant? I find it a purely common sense response to a growing problem

    I would be interested to hear the other side


    My two-pennyworth:

    Drug testing regimes would show up the user who confined their use to their own time, and didn't let it affect their work (for instance, I believe I'm right in saying that cannabis can be detected in the hair some weeks after intake).

    I take drugs occaisonally (perhaps 6 times a year) and don't let it affect my work. Working in a traditional profession as I do, I would be very unhappy about my colleagues knowing about this. We're talking about people who still believe those US "reefer madness" films of the 50s.

    However, if it's affecting your work on a regular basis, then it's a problem that needs to be addressed.


  11. Peckham on a Saturday night...only when you're eating at Holly.

    A small pleasant room and smaller garden just off the high street. Well spaced comfortable tables.

    A short hand written menu:

    Chicken terrine with red and yellow pepper sauce

    Organic gravad lax

    White asparagus with hollandaise sauce


    Brill (came with some sort of short green gnocchi-like pasta)

    Osso Bucho

    Vegetarian stew with shitake mushrooms


    Pine nut tart

    Mint and lemon sorbet


    The terrine was hearty, rough and strongly meaty. Good stuff. The sauce too acidic, didn't really add much. Tried some gravad lax; very good. Starters all about a fiver.

    Then had the veal -- again quite hearty, good flavour and nice and tender but served with a wintery veg stew which seemed inappropriate on a summer evening (£15). Didn't try the other options but the brill was deemed perfectly cooked but came in a small portion (and was almost £15). Veg stew looked uninteresting but was only eight quid.

    Puds were all about £4. I had the pine nut tart which had nice pine nuts but soggy tart. The sorbet was astonishing however -- chef had crammed in an amazing amount of mint. There was another pud that I forget and maybe some cheese.

    Wine list fairly short and good value. We started with an uninteresting white rioja -- a bad choice. Then lots of bottles of Somerset Hill pinot noir (1999 or 2000) from SW Australia at £24.50 -- excellent cherry fruits and smoked meat bouquet, long finish and surprisingly un-tannic. Available from BBR for £10.95 so not a bad mark up.

    Service was pleasant and informal and they coped well with our rowdiness.

    Holly prides itself on its sourcing, particularly of organic produce, and the cooking is solidly competent. I came away feeling it needed some va va voom however -- particularly in its menu choices. If you're going to restrict choice to 3 starters and 3 mains you'd better make sure they are stand out dishes which shout "eat me". So it's "steady work and progress but could do better" on Holly's report card.


  12. If I can join this nostalgia fest...

    We had two sittings, the first informal and the secong formal with high table, Latin grace and gowns. Terrible food made bearable by being able to order pints of beer from the buttery. The worst was navarin of lamb, rechristened navarin of dog. How witty we were.

    The worst meals were in vacation times, when the unlucky few still around were served such delights as (bad) pie with rice, potatoes and bread. An early attempt at food combining?

    Formal dinners were somewhat better but the style of food was lost in a 70s time warp (e.g. baked alsaka, and not in an ironic way). All irrelevant really as the huge quantity of alcohol meant most of the food ended up resurfacing not long after.

    Intellectual creme de la creme, us.

  13. Winot, did you stay in the Park Hyatt Mendoza when you were there?

    We didn't make it to the Mendoza region (which is a long way from both BA and Salta/Cafayate). There are some great hotels in BA though, and the peso collapse makes a tremendous difference to pricees generally.

  14. Just got back frrom two weeks in Argentina which included a trrip to the Cafayate wine region (190km south of Salta).

    Torrontes was our real find and we drank quite a lot of it (even though the food is all steak) cos the weather was quite hot. The descriptions are all spot on -- Oz Clarke likens it to a muscat (grapey yet dry) which seems about right.

    The best we tried was Michel Torino's top cuvee "Don David". Michel Etchart also good. We visiteed Etchart's vineyard and came away with a bottle of his top red "Arnaldo B Etchart" but haven't tasted it yet.

    The reds from the region were decent cab sauv/malbec mixes but nothing to challenge the old world.

  15. I PM'd Simon and Tony Don Finchioni for a few more details about what to have and what not to, tonight, but they don't seem to be around ( or more likely they are ignoring me!!). Any suggestions gratefully received.

    The "starters" are worth concentrating on (although they tend to bring everything together), esp. kebabs, masala fish, tandoori chicken and lamb.

    Major on breads rather than rice (the plain nan is the best I've ever had).

    Specials can be interesting although tend to sell out early. The kahari ghosht is good. Ask about vegetarian dishes -- the best usually aren't listed on the menu.

    The mango lassi is sublime.

    Hope this helps,


  16. Off to Argentina on Friday for two weeks. Mainly Buenos Aires I guess - we'll see how it goes. Will probably pop across to Colonia for a couple of days.

    So any recs? Any price level. I've noted Sucre (thanks Jonathan).

    Thanks for your help.

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