Bram Bogart at Vigo Gallery

September 20, 2017

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It feels a long time since I wrote about something other than food on here. Not because I’ve been culturally droughted of late, I’ve just been writing other things. I’m also preparing a fairly chunky piece recommending membership of the London Library in the semi-flippant style of my Southwark Jury Service post.

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An old-fashioned desk in the London Library. I think someone stole my laptop?! Just kidding.

So this is a quick post to recommend the Bram Bogart show at Dering Street’s Vigo Gallery. This isn’t the first time that I’ve written about Vigo; due to a family connection it’s a gallery whose fortunes I follow more closely than most. However, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t flag up things that they do that I think a wider public might enjoy. As I’ve said before the private galleries of London are an intellectual resource that is underused by those not in the art world but who have an interest in culture.

And the Belgian artist Bram Bogart is a case in point. Bogart developed as an artist after World War Two and was part of the move of Arte Povera (which reminds me I should get to the Estorick sometime) towards simplicity of colour and radical interventions on the plane of the canvas. While some, like Fontana, went in for slashing the canvas in order to break the surface Bogart treats the canvas as a basis for sculptural creations, pushing the paint out towards the viewer in a more extreme version of, say, Van Gogh’s heavy impasto.

The works collected in the two rooms at Vigo come from a later stage in Bogart’s career when he had moved away from the minimalist colours of AP and embraced vibrant colours, mixing paint with glue to achieve billowing effects on the canvas. If you visit the show, and I hope you will, you’ll be met with a riot of colour that would elevate even the lowest spirits crushed by a combination of a rotten global outlook, the cruel chill of September in London and the very hell that is trying to walk on Oxford or Regent Street.

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Bram Bogart, ‘Zonzucht’

You can see the sculptural aspect to his work in the above photo but as ever I advise you to see these works in the flesh if you can. Taking photographs of paintings really is the most redundant thing in the world. If you want a record of something write about it, or pull a more professional image down from the net for your personal use. Unless you want to illustrate a hurriedly written blogpost of course! But do go to the Vigo if you can, they have an excellent booklet to accompany the show which talks far more articulately about Bogart’s work than I can!

#Art #London

Resto 54 Mildred’s, Dalston

September 18, 2017

A bit off my usual track to meet an old family friend in Dalston. Mildred’s is in the new(-ish) development round the back of the Overground in what some (not me) might consider a rather soulless building. The room is bright and cheerful and we were given a slightly awkward round table in the corner to sit at. While it wasn’t ideal for three from a seating point of view its smallness did mean that conversation was easy enough.

Mildred’s is veggie-vegan but there’s a great variety of food, enough that a chap of a carnivorous nature can be easily satisfied. To start I had gyoza with chilli sauce. The menu didn’t explain what was inside them and I couldn’t tell specifically from the taste but they were delicious. Five in a portion is pretty generous too. For main a Sri Lankan curry was the curry of the year so far. Coconut, crunchy brown rice and a punchy sambal sauce in a ramekin on the side to spice it to your preference. I whacked in the whole lot and enjoyed. Chunks of butternut squash and beans made it nice and filling.

House white at £21 a bottle was delicious (Hoopoe if  my memory is correct) and the service throughout was attentive without being intrusive. I’m sure there are more ‘authentic’ (whatever that means) vegan places around the area but I’d thoroughly recommend Mildred’s to veggie and non-veggie friends alike. The fact that they were pretty busy on a Sunday night shows that I’m not alone in my opinion.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 53 La Timbale, Paris

September 9, 2017

Time to leave Paris and head back to reality in London but not before a quick bite with the old boy near G du N. I’d intended to go to Tra-la-li Tra-la-la up the road but it was still shut at 4 o’clock. Fortunately La Timbale provided an excellent fall back option.

The hip vibe of the young waiting staff and excellently selected choons (80s synth, Fela Kuti, hip hop, French pop) is offset by a more old school head of front of house and chef. Free wi-fi was a plus and I settled in to wait for my dining companion with a cold glass of Stella. On his arrival we opted for a mixed planche. This was a generous amount of meat ‘n’ cheese with cornichons, salad and bread. A bit of flair on presentation meant that slices of Emmenthal were presented as pickle filled cheese cones (James’s phrase). It was all very good and just what was wanted. We managed a swift one in Supercoin before the quick trip back under the Channel. Big up to the guy in Supercoin who let me secure some quality train beers.

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Supercoin, presided over by an avuncular Jacque Chirac, is a good place.

8/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 52 Pizza Nellie, Paris

September 7, 2017

I wasn’t hungry but the boy was so pizza seemed a good compromise. The one across the road was shut and I think Nellie hadn’t yet opened either but they had the door open and didn’t throw us out when we went through it. Hence we dined alone initially but were soon joined by a smattering of locals and not locals.

The menu is your regular pizza/pasta. I went for a La Reine as James had already snaffled the Napoli. We had a salad alongside. The pizza was good, plenty of topping and crispy enough. Despite my lack of hunger I devoured it in its entirety. The salad was a good helping with thankfully not too much dressing. Alongside we had a pichet of cheap red after being presented with a complimentary aperitif of what tasted like Ribena but probably wasn’t.

By this time pizzas were flying out of the door and it felt a shame to leave but one of us had an appointment with friends and I had an appointment with a good walk. The staff were very friendly and persuaded us to take a parting coffee. For around 20€ a head this was pretty good value for Paris. It’s worth going to Nellie’s if you’re in the area and in the mood for simple pleasures.

7/10

#food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 51, Vallée du Kashmir, Paris

September 6, 2017

We wanted something cheap and cheerful before seeing Dunkirk (or Dunkerque as they have it round here) in the Gaumont up the road. I was drawn into the Valley by remembrance of curries past, specifically of eating in an Indian by the Jardin des Plants after a freezing day’s walking with my then small children and the manager bringing us our own table-side calor gas stove. I was so cold and grateful I nearly cried. That is what I call customer service; the food wasn’t bad either.

We didn’t need a heater in the V du K but I would advise sunglasses. They have enough lights inside to land a jumbo jet. Flashing lights that would have Huw Stephens giving a stern avertissement for those with epilepsy. Lights in the ceiling. A TV churning out cheesy Indian pop videos. Lighted walls. Hell, I suspect they have lights on their lights.

I can just imagine their discussions with their accountant when they’re asking him why they’re not turning a profit:

‘But guys, in a businesses of your size you really shouldn’t be spending €20,000 a month on electricity. Are you sure someone hasn’t hooked up your supply to an industrial turbine?’

‘It’s the lights. We like lights.’

‘The lights? Yeah, I noticed those … And I’m blind. You need to do something about that.

‘We worship the lights.’

‘Bof, it’s your money.’

They like lights. They worship lights.

There was only one other guy in there but it was early by French standards. I remembered that things come in a curious order in French Indians but I couldn’t remember exactly how. We went for standards (as usual when testing a new place) with samosas and onion bhajia up front then a chicken jalfrezi for me for main and a Himalayan lamb for him. One popadom was placed on a side plate so we ate it while waiting for the beer (I didn’t know they did kingfisher in bottles so small but it was good and cold). We wondered why there were no chutneys but the mystery was solved as they arrived with the starters. As did the nan. Hmm.

The samosas were excellent, plenty of veg inside, and spicy. Onion bhaji in France is an onion ring, which is not to the British taste is it? I wanted sweatyoily balls of gut destroying deliciousness. These seemed insipid and trop civilisés. We were waiting for him to bring the mains but eventually realised that we were expected to eat our nan first. We chutnied the nan, the chutneys were good if nothing special while the bread lacked the crispness and ghee enriched luxury of its British cousin.

Then for the curries. My jalfrezi was curry but it wasn’t as ferocious as I wanted it to be. Oh my Standard, oh how I missed you. I’ll never betray you again. I couldn’t even see evidence of chili. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I took a swig of Kingfisher and mopped up the last of the juices with RICE. Not nan because we’d eaten that. Everything was out of whack. Though the service was exemplary it didn’t make up for the wrongness of the food.

Perhaps my Valley of Kashmir induced hankering for Britain was responsible for my weeping through Dunkirk. Or it might have been Hans Zimmer’s astute, just this side of cichéd use of Elgar on the soundtrack. Or it might have been a not particularly good actor reading Churchill’s speech on a steam train (you can’t ruin rhetoric like that, it’s inobliterable). Or Nolan’s direction. Anyway I did that and I don’t mind, it’s good to have a good cry every now and then isn’t it?

Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can. Sorry Jay, you can’t; and I’ll never go for a curry in Paris again.

5/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 50 Bistro l’Envie, Paris

September 5, 2017

It’s always a good idea to try your nearest café wherever you are. So we met for dinner at Bistro l’Envie, warming up with a Ricard. There’s a few tables on the pavement (recommended for people watching) but we chose to sit inside to eat. There was a smattering of locals and ourselves.

The room is sparse but all the better for that. Tastefully done and encouragingly normal. On the food side things are uncomplicated but well executed. We shared charcuterie to start and in less capable stomachs that could have been the meal. But we pressed on and my volaille was crispy skinned good thing. Mash, not so keen but that wasn’t the main event. A red Ventoux on the side did no harm to the conversation and I was content, very content.

So content I went back for breakfast.

8/10

#food #paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 49 Brauhaus Georg Braeu, Mitte

September 5, 2017

Having briefly gone off piste to the east we returned for the last evening of our stay in Berlin to pig paradise. We wanted trad German and Shaun knew where to get it. Georg Braeu is right next to the Spree in the heart of Berlin and we feared the worst. This was like eating fish and chips in Leicester Square, not a thing I would willingly do. But I was wrong.

True, the clientèle was mostly made up of tourists (including ourselves) and five of us slotted into a booth opposite a Chinese family. The food, however, was excellent. Football sized knuckles brought back memories of Death by Pig in Bonn back in 2014 so I went for a goulash. This was richly favoured and generously meated. A couple of cannonball sized dumplings for stodge and a slick of sauerkraut completed a Teutonic trio that will live long in the memory (and a fair while in the stomach).

I was ready to be excited by the beer as we ordered a metre of it in a dozen 0,2 measures. However, rather than a kaleidoscope of ale this turned out to be 6 dark beers and 6 lagers. But it tasted good. The waiter asked us why we were in Berlin. To play and watch football we said. He looked nonplussed that we’d travel all this way to do either when both were friendlies. But he wasn’t witness to the greatest second half ever played by a bunch of still drunk people since the last time we did that. Or to the 9-9 thriller at Union which seemed the soccer equivalent of a WWE bout.

Would I recommend the Georg Braeu? Yes, but make sure you’re really hungry and don’t bother with the metre of beer. It looks good in a photo but seems an awful lot of washing up when you could deliver that beer in a couple of jugs.

8/10

#food #berlin

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

 

Resto 48 Salt and Pepper, Ostkreuze

September 4, 2017


Having played one football match and watched another (the first finishing 2-6, the second 9-9) our team was looking for something other than pig to eat for a change. We found it in the shape of Salt and Pepper, an Indian restaurant which rather curiously allows you to order from the menu of the Mexican down the road. I have to say that alarm bells were ringing at that prospect but while the food was unspectacular it wasn’t awful.

The highlight came from a pungently spicy green dip among the three on offer with the popadoms. The other two were suffering from blandular fever. My main of mutton curry had good flaky bits of meat in an unspectacular sauce and a generous helping of rice. Naan wasn’t as luxurious as you’d normally encounter in the U.K. but maybe that was to fit in with the local taste.

Given that we were about 10 at table the service was straightforward and friendly with good beer (well, it’s Germany isn’t it?). Not being listed on the menu an enquiry was made as to whether Irish coffee was available. They didn’t know what it was but they said they’d endeavour to satisfy the demand. Presumably after a quick scan of Google a nausea-inducing glass of whipped cream, coffee and whiskey (what a waste) was provided which though not to my taste appeared to meet with the approval of my fellow diners.

S’n’P may not be the greatest Indian restaurant in the world (or even Ostkreuze) but it did the job for a hungry football team on a Saturday night.

6/10

P.s Cheers to Gavin for the picture, I forgot to take one.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 47 The Keeper’s House, Piccadilly

August 28, 2017

Having lunched at Caravan, I was rather improbably dining in The Keeper’s House later the same evening. Sometimes the most banal days turn epic. Hence my memory of the meal is sketchy, especially given a couple of days of August Bank Holiday (one of which drinking Gamma Ray in the hottest car park in London) occurring since we ate.

The room is down the warren of corridors off the main body of Burlington House. But it’s worth the trip. As you’d expect there’s a selection of artworks on the walls to occupy the eye if you’ve had enough of looking at your fellow diners. There was a smattering of these but it wasn’t difficult to get a table on a Friday night.

The food is solid high-end stuff. Pea soup was a decent warm up, then a bit of fish for main (I don’t remember the brand of fish … hake? No. Umm, possibly salmon) was good too. The new potatoes on the side were perfectly cooked (not always the case) and the best thing I’d eaten all day. The only disappointment was an underwhelming pistachio ice cream.

There’s stiff competition round these parts for this kind of food at this kind of price (plus £25 for most mains) but I kind of liked it’s dungeon-y vibe and could be tempted back for a post-show scoff. Matisse is definitely worth the trip, even if (like me) you feel a bit Matissed out from a holiday in Paris.

7/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

 

Resto 46 Caravan, Kings Cross

August 27, 2017

For once it was actually too hot to eat comfortably outside in London so we were looking for a shady place for lunch in King’s Cross. Caravan’s terrace was rammed but there was plenty of room inside where we squeezed in between a lone office worker and a group of mums and tots. It’s that kind of place.

So if you’re looking for tranquility Caravan is not the place to come. The music is loud, the ceiling is cavernous and the chatter rattles of the stripped brick walls. Which is a long-winded way to say that there was a good atmosphere.

You can share small plates or go for mains but in the end we both plumped for pizza with a shared rocket salad. When I ordered boquerones the server asked me if I knew what they were. I did but I couldn’t remember. I knew I liked them. When I saw them I remembered that they were slivery anchovies from scoffing them elsewhere. The pizza had a good crispy base but not in Paesano’s class. (I think Paesano might have ruined every pizza I ever eat by totally outclassing the field. )The salad was good but with a little bit too much oil in the dressing for my taste. A pint of Camden Pale was a good thing.

So I’d put Vagabond above Dishoom but below Grain Store on this strip. At around twenty quid a head it’s mid-range and a useful place to go if you want a bit wider menu than you’d get in Pizza Express.  But only if you’re in the area.

7/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap


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