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Posts posted by Winot

  1. Decided on Tentazione in the end, ,and very nice it was too.

    Reserved for 1.30pm but needn't have bothered -- there was just one other table full the whole time we were there. In fact I'm surprised they opened (Butlers Wharf Chophouse didn't).

    Tentazione is on Mill Street which is one of those artificial wharf areas just eastof Shad Thames. Hasn't yet bedded down and all a bit sterile IMO. The room is quite darkly decorated with naff moody paintings and an odd suspended ceiling in dark red. The tables are large however, nicecly spaced with comfortable chairs.

    Excellent service throughout from a waiter who knew his stuff. He started by telling us the chef had some fresh porcini and he would cook them however we wanted which I thought charming. We passsed on the mushrooms but then they turned up anyway as an appetiser lightly sauteed with rocket and truffle oil.

    The menu was one of those where you want to order everything. You can have a 5 courser (can't remember the price) but we weren't hungry enough. To start I had tiny pasta shells with spicy octopus and cepes (actually I think they were the same mushrooms as before) shaped into a stack with a lovely sauce (more chickeny than fishy but worked nicely). Her indoors had fried anchovies in batter with a peanut sauce which soundedd a bit too fusiony for me but apparently worked well.

    Mains were sea bass fillets for me with a red pepper coulis which went brilliantly with the fish, roasted shallots (lovely) and skinned cherry tomatoes (rather odd addition- didn't really work). There must have been some kind of carbs with it but I can't rememberr what they were. She had a marinated pork fillet with black ravioli filled with prawns and some veg (green beans?) -- this was the standout dish of the meal -- tender flavousome pork with lots of differernt flavours on the plate all of which you could taste but which worked together as well. Wish I'd chosen it but always imagine that fish at lunchtime will be more satisfying than meat, don't know why.

    We were pretty full by now but finished by sharing a fantastic cheese plate with about 7 cheeses (all italian - sorry no details), balsamic vinegar reduction, chiilis, dried fruit and a weird solid mustard fruit jelly which actually worked really well -- a bit like a fruitier crystallised ginger.

    To drink I started with an OK prosecco then we shared a bottle of Italian white recommended by the waiter -- I think it was called Turbana Greco. Anyway it was pretty good value at £24 -- good length and acidity with aromatic/floral overtones but not too sweet, went well with all the dishes. Surpringly the espresso was only OK.

    Set us up nicely for a walk thorugh old Wapping out to Westferry then the DLR back for Stephen malkmus who was great.

    Good cooking and pretty good value at fifty pounds per person including service.

  2. And to add insult, as mentioned, we just received our credit card statement and were charged three times. We called to point this out, and the person who took down our details in order to send a cheque...got our address wrong...


    When this has happened to me in the past I've just called the credit card co and told them not to pay. You have to fill out a declaration and then they check with the restaurant -- if it can't produce the evidence (ie slips) then you don't pay.


  3. cheap champagne is as bad as cheap beer.

    i remember the first time i had frexienet.  thankfully, i've managed to avoid it since.

    Pedant alert -- Freixenet is a cava (Spanish sparkling wine). Champagne is always French.

  4. Talk about a blast from the past! Ilford County High School for Girls, Gants Hill. That was half a century ago and I don't know if it's still there. I spent seven years at that school and have a vague memory of circling the roundabout on my bicycle. A Vietnamese restaurant? Incredible.

    You didn't know Sarah Finklebaum by any chance? :wink:

  5. I'm 95% sure - in the US, the credit line is programmed to print even if a service charge is included.  I would think you'd need a pretty advanced POS system to get it not to print.

    Even if it is, the serving staff can always cross out the tip box and write the total in by hand. This has happened in a few places (too few).

    I'm always tempted to write a negative amount in open tip boxes but have never had the balls.

  6. Good suggestions all. I take Gavin's point about the length of the walk -- don't want to start too far out though -- that's bandit country. I suspect in any event that the length of walk will be inversely proportional to the amount of liquid consumed.

    I am now thinking about two further options -- starting around Regent's Park (Odette's?) and walking the canal all the way down to Limehouse then back to the South Bank maybe taking a bus part of the way -- too far d'you think? Or perhaps exploring Wapping before heading back to the gig -- I've just bought a book of London walks and there's a good one that goes out to Docklands.

    Perhaps we need two meals -- brunch and late lunch. Clearly more research needed.

  7. Good Friday is my birthday and is shaping up well with tickets to see Stephen Malkmus (ex-Pavement) and Graham Coxon at the Royal Festival Hall.

    The RFH is hardly a rock 'n' roll venue however and they tend to start things on time, which in this case means 7.30pm. A bit early for an evening meal. So I figured that a nice lunch might be in order followed by a walk along the river to the gig.

    I thought first about Putney Bridge, but it doesn't look as if the river bank between there and RFH is particularly accessible. So how about going east? Thoughts I've had are:


    Wapping Power Station

    Blue Print Cafe

    Pont de la Tour (I know, it's Conran, but I thought the view would be good)

    Butlers Wharf

    Any other thoughts? Is there anything decent in Greenwich? I want to keep it to about £40 a head if possible. I also realise some of these might be closed for Easter.

    All suggestions gratefully received.


  8. I agree with Akiko; although when I went last Easter I said this:

    Baltic -- superb spiced monkfish starter, decent chicken paprika with sour cream and chive mash, average pinot noir.  Very stylish interior and staff/punters far too beautiful.  We stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs in our cycle gear.  Service still a bit uncertain.  £50 for two.

    I've been back since and reckon the mains were up there with the starters. Interesting to compare it to Potemkin on Clerkenwell Rd (went there last Friday) -- the latter more tradional (homely and comforting) I'd have said, and not as screamingly designed.

  9. The food is terrible at Ronnie Scotts. Really terrible. The only excuse is that they're not really trying. Think school dinners in the early 1980s just after they stopped having to be nutritionally balanced.

    The atmosphere however is top.

    Edit for constructive comment -- what about Jazz Cafe in Camden? Time Out guide has Eating & Entertainment section.

  10. What are the forum's opinions about the plethora of cheap Indian restaurants on Brick Lane?  For sheer value for money I've always enjoyed the meals I've had there...  But is there one which is particularly better than all the rest?

    Sweet and Spicy (towards the south end) is the only one I'd really recommend. It's Pakistani rather than Bangladeshi and quite cafe-like in style but the food's pretty authentic tasting.

    However New tayyub is just 10 mins away as I'm sure Tony will point out.

    The rest seem to be increasingly serving anglicised pap for pissed up city boys, and the touts are extremely irritating.


  11. If I can throw in my twopennyworth, here's my review from last year just after it got its Michelin star. We really enjoyed it.


    The first time we went to Club Gascon (about 3 years ago) was a bit underwhelming -- we ordered badly (despite taking the advice of the waiter) and were overcome by the richness (of the food and the clientele).

    Our return last Friday was much more successful. We all went for the tasting menu, which is 5 courses for GBP 30 and an additional GBP 20 if you want a matched glass of wine with each course. We all did.

    I'm afraid I haven't yet acquired the habit of taking notes, so my recollection of the detail is a bit hazy, but I'll see what I can do:

    Pre-restaurant: two pints of Harvest ale at the Bishop's Finger, West Smithfield. An unusual winter ale from Shepherd Neame in that it's hoppy rather than malty and therefore not sweet and cloying as some winter ales can be. A fine toasty start to the evening.

    Amuse bouche: "lentil creme" - a rich lentil soup served with a cappucino head in a tall thin shot glass. Rich and nutty (chestnut taste?) - suggestion later that it may have Spanish roots.

    Aperitif: A glass of banyuls - first time I've had it - was expecting something closer to pedro ximenez but more like Rivesaltes (another Pyrennes sweetie). Like a light port.

    Course 1: A fricassee of mussels, scallops and parma ham. Wonderfully fresh with smoky overtones. Got the tastebuds tingling.

    Wine 1: A non-sparkling Limoux. Good match - didn't overwhelm the food. Can't remember much more - guess the Harvest must have kicked in about then.

    Course 2: A almost molten foie gras wrapped in a layer of cold pommes puree of staggering intensity. Between this poultice and the pate was interposed a crunchy smattering of pepper and cinnamon. Lots of other things there too on the edge of the tastebuds. Some veg -- perhaps an artichoke? -- but that's missing the point. A memorable dish.

    Wine 2: A montbazillac (sp.?). Good but not enough depth to carry the foie gras. Probably needed a sauternes, but then for GBP 4 a glass...

    Course 3: A dip here. Two generous hunks of poached plaice with a complex sauce (completely forgotten what it was) which was tasty but didn't do much to enliven the fish. I'm not a fan of subtle white fish at the best of times (my tastebuds need more oomph) and this lived down to my expectations.

    Wine 3: A great frizzante viognier (not Condrieu) which made up for the fish.

    Course 4: Back on form - magret of goose with caramelised apples and the best beetroot ever served on a slab of slate. And a chive on top. There's your veg then. Good job we all went for medium rare, judging correctly that would be French medium rare -- any rarer and it would have been flying round the room.

    Wine 4: Oh dear. A nice smooth red. The food was a bit distracting to be honest. Maybe a Bergerac?

    Course 5: Into the home straight now with a light-as-you-like cupcake with embedded marinated cherries.

    Wine 5: A 1920 cherry brandy served in the same shot glasses as the amuse bouches (hope they washed them thoroughly).

    And then coffee, a wise decision not to order a bottle of Cahors, and a cab to a secret Russian bar in Shoreditch for a nightcap. And so to bed.

  12. 1997 Chateau de St. Cosme Gigondas Cuvee Classique


    How long d'you reckon before this peaks? I have a case from which I've tried one bottle and I agree with your assessment, but don't know enough to know how long to leave it.



  13. What a great winter drink! Had one last night in a pub - about half and half but they put ice in it. Bleugh. Not sure what the "correct" proportions are but I like them with no more than the same amount of ginger wine as whisky, and sometimes about 1:2 wine:whisky.

  14. As mentioned on the Eating Alone thread, I checked out La Trouvaille last week to see if it really was going downhill as recently suggested.

    I started with one of the worst G&Ts (£3.55) I've ever had, bearing out Simon's observation that French bar staff don't know how to mix drinks. I should have gone for a glass of house champagne (£6.50) but G&T is my default aperatif and I wasn't thinking.

    Starter was carp mousse with spinach and lobster mayonaisse (£8.55). The mousse was a good portion in an earthenware pot. It was a little bland but that may be the carp mousse gig -- I like strong flavours and probably mis-ordered. The spinach was formed into a thick disc on the side and was suffused with the mayo which had a good strong taste and the whole thing was well matched.

    Main was pigeon stuffed with foie gras cooked in a cocotte (large lidded dish) with celery (£17.50). This was a great dish with the bird and liver flavours mingling gamily in a rich gravy. There was loads of celery which wasn't overcooked. Parts of the bird meat could have been cooked a bit longer for my taste but this was a minor criticism. A satisfying winter warmer.

    Finally I went for quince tarte Tatin (£5.95) which was served pastry up in an individual cast iron pan with a sweetened goats cheese sauce. Excellent flavour combo and the quince was perfectly cooked but the pastry could have been thinner. It was served with a west country cider (£2.75) which was a good match but a little flat for my taste (I think it was its natural state).

    Service was charming and efficient and they were unfazed by my eating alone. Also, I can't help thinking that they've decided their USP is that they're Freeench -- positioned by the door I was in a position to observe the evening's meetings and greetings (all in French) and after repeated exposure it became a bit hammy. Interestingly most of the English clientele attempted to reply in French, only switching to English when it became too much. I was left with the impression that La T. has positioned itself as the Linguaphone™ of the London restaurant scene.

    More seriously, although I flopped contently onto the street feeling that I'd enjoyed some good French regional cooking, I thought it was pretty overpriced even for London. With coffee (£2.50), half a bottle of macon fuisse (£13.50) and 12.5% service the bill came to £60.75. This is probably double what you'd pay in regional France. So La Trouvaille seems to be back on form, but poor value, even throwing in the French lesson.

  15. Funnily enough we did Simon's thing in reverse -- early tea at Sutton Arms (yes great chicken livers) followed by a Barbican film.

    Ours was Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete with a live score by Philip Glass (and the man himself on keyboards). It's part of the Glass on Film season wich runs till Saturday; they're doing Dracula, Powayquatsi and Koyaaniquatsi (sp?sp?).

    I love Glass especially as a film score and there's always something special about a live accompaniment. I remember a particularly good Pandora's Box at the Everyman a few years back.

    The Cocteau was incredibly camp I thought -- loads of sumptuous costume, imagery and overacting. Belle dines at 7pm every evening observed by Beast, but I couldn;'t see what she was eating. Her father drinks a particularly potent glass of red wine at the start. No other food scenes to speak of.

  16. Interesting idea. I must admit to being in the chocolate or cheese camp too. Often the sweet/savoury choice depends on what I want to drink with it, sad alcy that I am. I'll try your method next time I eat out.

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