Archive for November, 2017

Resto 66 Tasting Sicily – Enzo’s Kitchen, Piccadilly

November 19, 2017

The TV looks small from here but wait till you’re eyeball to eyeball with it.

We’d been to the excellent little free exhibition on Axeli Gallen-Kallela at the National (as well as the also excellent Monochrome in the Sainsbury Wing). Wishing to avoid the crowds, and not finding the new incarnation of the NG’s café-restaurant on the Charing Cross side to my liking, we headed back to Panton Street to give Enzo’s a go. We got the last table for two.

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Gallen-Kallela at the NG, celebrating Finland’s 100th year of independence. Not to be taken for granted in these times.

My wife was fortunate in having her back to the giant screen at the end of the room, whereas I was forced to be mesmerised by this monster throughout the evening. Interspersed with mile high technicolour shots of the Sicilian landscape and yummy looking ingredients were slightly disconcerting screenshots from The Godfather, that charming tale of murderous drug dealers. I was hoping that they’d mitigate these with some Montalbano but the management don’t seem to have caught up with his show. At least, in the week of his death, they hadn’t gone the whole hog and included Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina among their rogues gallery.

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Toto Riina. Not as charming as his photograph would have you believe.

Anyway, that was the downside. If we’d booked I’m sure I could have got a seat where I wasn’t blasted with cliché the whole evening and I would have been perfectly happy as the food and wine was very good. The room itself is bright, with cheerful paintings dotted around the walls that would provide more than enough visual splendour without any electronic input. I liked the table too – plenty of room with a pleasant pattern on the tiled surface. Just the thing to make you feel warm on a grey November evening.

I believe this restaurant is part of a group specialising in products from Sicily and so the mixed antipasto seemed a good way to start. At £9 a head this was a generous size (especially compared to Dalla Terra) and really was a meal in itself. There was a good variety of meat, cheese and veg – with the veg being the star. Juicy olives and smoky aubergines went alongside a sweet pickled pumpkin that was something I’d not had before and would definitely get on board with again. And slithery mushrooms were also something I wanted more of.

For main a handmade pasta with pig’s cheek was too salty for my liking, but it was a hearty portion of food and I was to play football the following day so I stuffed it down. The wine list highlights Sicilian products and we went for a mid-range number made from Carricante grapes which went down a treat. The service was excellent and at around forty quid a head, inclusive of a more expensive bottle than usual this is a good option in this area if you want something more interesting and authentic than Bella Italia or similar. If it wasn’t for the tv this would have been an 8.

7/10

#food #London

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

Resto 65 Yori, Piccadilly

November 17, 2017

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Panton Street is the go-to place (see Kanada-Ya) for a quick, cheap lunch in this part of town and with winter in my bones I felt like something warming. Korean food usually does the job and at Yori they had a tempting offer of £7.99 for a set lunch.

You can choose from any number of grills, pots and stirs so I went for a pork bibimbap, hoping for a bit of heat. I got it – succulently fatty chunks of park in a pleasingly spicy broth and plenty of veg hit the spot. Once I’d sticked the lumps I chucked in the rice and finished the whole thing, broth and all, tempted finally to stick my face in it and lick the bowl clean. They throw in a few pickles as part of the package so that was my five a day taken care of. If you’ve a big appetite it might be a bit of a small portion but it was enough food to keep me going till dinner time.

Service was swift and friendly. A plus is that the tables are a good size (not always the case when you’re going to a budget place) so that you don’t feel cheek to jowl with your neighbours. For about 12 quid for food and beer Yori offers good value if you don’t want to spend too much but feel like going somewhere superior to a chain place for lunch.

8/10

#food #London

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

Resto 64 Orsini, Brompton Road

November 13, 2017

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Coming out of the V&A on a Saturday, having seen the excellent exhibition on opera we were not keen to get into the bunfight of trying to find a quiet table in South Ken. So we started to wander towards Knightsbridge. Since the demise of Racine (much missed) I haven’t been back to eat in this area of London, partly because it’s too close to the horror that is Knightsbridge.

We drifted past Orsini at first but were then bounced back westwards by the sight of hordes of Vernasty-wearers sucking down gelato outside a gaudy bit of cafftattery. Such things could only get worse the closer we got to Harrods so we turned back to see if we could get a table in more civilised climes.

We were lucky. We’d secured the last table as there were two large parties imminently arriving. Orsini’s room is simply decorated (a rarity in these parts) but that shouldn’t lead one to think that the food is any less well-crafted than at more opulent places around about.

A soup to start was a good idea as it was a pretty chilly evening. Hearty vegetable soup with a nice chunk of toasted bread alongside was just the job. I followed that with a squid ink tagliolini alla vongolè – plenty of clams and the most perfect home-made pasta swimming in a richly flavoured sauce. It was at this point that I considered going through the whole card to see what the chef could do with meat and fish but having not run a marathon that day i thought it might be a bit self-indulgent. So we had some ice cream to share (pistachio and hazelnut, both good) and an espresso to round things off. The wine, a Fiano from Puglia, was excellent and decent enough value at around 25 quid.

The service was excellent; when the groups arrived I’d feared that our less significant orders might be lost in the melée but not a bit of it. Orsini’s food is not complicated but it is executed with elegance using delicious ingredients. Next time I’ll book and make a full evening of it.

9/10

#food #London

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

Resto 63 Shah Tandoori, Euston

November 12, 2017

To the Shah Tandoori for an end of season cricket dinner. Drummond Street is the go to place for me for curries so I’m surprised that i haven’t mentioned Shah before – especially as we came here last year! It could be that in the excitement of lager-fuelled cricket bants the memory of the occasion slipped my mind.

This year’s do wasn’t as bacchanalian, which meant that I could appreciate the food more. In this veggie-dominated strip it turns out that Shah is much superior on the food front to its meaty rival across the road, Taste of India.

You can take Kingfisher or Cobra on the beer front. Our order of five poppadoms was generously doubled by the management, which was handy as I was starving. I went off my usual order with a Sheek Kebab up front, followed by a king prawn rezella. The Kebab was excellent, spicy and juicy, while the rezella gave me the heat that I needed and a good helping of prawns. A perfectly prepped chapati was on hand to soak up the juice and everything v good in the stomach department. I’ll be back next year, hopefully after contributing more than this year’s couple of dozen runs with the bat.

8/10

#food #London

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

Resto 62 La Terrasse des Archives, Paris

November 8, 2017

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The final meal of a quick short stay in Paris is usually a relaxed lunch before getting the train. This wasn’t exactly what we got in La Terrasse des Archives. It sits beside a Nairn noticed fountain in a prime location in the Marais and so looked exactly what we were looking for. We squeezed into a corner table as the lunchtime crowd of loafers and locals started to swell.

The menu, not too long, is standard bistrot food with a few specials marked up on the board. My starter of pea gazpacho (I was still slightly stodged out from Strada) was refreshing and hit the spot. We splashed out on a Chablis, which was kept nicely chilled in an ice bucket.

Then the Labrador arrived. Not sure if he belonged to the restaurant but he certainly acted like he owned it. He was active yet not intrusive, occasionally popping out to the terrasse to see what was going on out there and other times just roaming around in an amiably woofish way.

My main of seared tuna confirmed that I was on a supermodel lunch as it arrived with a lot of courgettes but no spuds. So I nicked some of James’s (very good) chips, of which he had plenty. The chablis was slipping down pretty well but the waiter seemed to be in a hurry for us to get on with things. My plate was whipped away before James had finished his main and we were pressed for a decision on coffee or dessert.

Our attention was distracted by the appearance of a large ginger cat beside our table who stared enigmatically through the door. It seemed that La Terrasse had a fairly well-established menagerie. All power to their elbow I say but I reckon this would disturb some people.

Two coffees arrived in an instant and our wine was removed before we could protest that there was at least a glass left in the bottle. In a less benevolent mood I would have kicked up a stink but as it was I laid the money on the table and we left. The coffee was good, as was the food and the beasts, but I wouldn’t go back.

5/10

#food #Paris

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

Resto 61 Strada Café, Paris

November 8, 2017

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Waiting for the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature to open I needed coffee and I knew where to get it. Strada Café is an old friend but I’ve never dined there. Not having eaten anything since the Phil Collins Anguish I was quite peckish.

I asked for toast, jam and a noisette and was informed that I should get the set breakfast for €10.50. Quite pricy you might say but this is the hipstier end of the Marais and that’s the way things roll around here. The portion was generous – 4 slices of excellent grilled bread with some figgy jam and a stodge bonus of a dinky croissant. The juice was freshly squeezed and a powerful hangover suppressant. The coffee, as always here, was as good as it gets.

The room is pleasant and the clientèle upscale locals and well-heeled visitors. I felt a lot better when I came out than I did when I went in, and that’s worth a few euros premium on the average Parisian caff. I can’t remember the music so it obviously wasn’t too traumatic or loud.

Oh, and the Sophie Calle exhibition at the MdlCeN is a must-see if you’re in Paris. Witty, sometimes profound and occasionally creepy. Just like the museum itself.

#food #Paris

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

Resto 60 Sans Souci, Paris

November 7, 2017


Pre-gig I was a hungry chap having marched to MOMA@FLV and back. Pigalle is a new area of Paris to me so we chose a place at random.

Could we eat? Yes, but the guy said we’d have to wait till the chef arrived at 19h so we supped a beer while waiting. Good beer and not too pricy. The room was filling up and the atmosphere was perfect save for one detail.

They were playing the very dregs of phil Collins on the jukebox. Yes, they started with Another day in Paradise and followed that with yet more turgid crap, including the crime against humanity that is Phil’s take on the Motown classic You Can’t Hurry Love. Fortunately, by the time our food had arrived the tunes had skipped on to the Bee Gees. Never had I thought that I would use the phrase Thank God they’ve put the Bee Gees on. Marginal gain. Nausea mitigated.

I had a cheeseburger. It was excellent, reminding me of how a MacDo should taste when you’ve played 2 hours of football, been out all night and just want filthy food for lunch. Superb chips (ok, frites) with that and a charming feller serving us with a whole Californian surfer look going on. 

You have to do some Voltaire-ish (oh, Voltaire, will you reopen?!) shenanigans to get in and out of the table but that’s more of a pleasure than a chore when you’re on holiday.

If it wasn’t for Phil this would have been an 8.

7/10

#food #paris

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


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