Archive for December, 2017

Resto 74 Il Pescatore, Southend-on-Sea

December 24, 2017

Should you find yourself in possession of a stinking cold while on a train to Southend in mid-December I don’t recommend taking a copy of Sartre’s Nausea as your sole source of entertainment. However, any bleakness induced by the the crapulous Gallic miserabilist was blasted away by the bracing gust of tangy air blowing in off the majestic Thames Estuary as we made our way to a family rendezvous at Il Pescatore.

Of all the restos of my acquaintance in Southend (and I’ve known a few) Il P reigns supreme. From the street, were it not for the legend ‘Italian Restaurant’ printed not one but twice on the frontage, it might be mistaken for a moderately successful insurance office. Inside it is a womb of fuzzy Sicilian nostalgia. Its check floored, kitsch-fish clutterbound walls create an indeterminate mid-twentieth century vibe that is becoming more and more difficult to find in the retro-wank chainstore faux-ethnic filled high streets of Britain.

A warm welcome is a good way to start and we were given a roomy table for three in a nice corner from where I could see the clientèle arrive in a steady stream over lunch. It seemed rude not to take the Christmas set menu at £21 a head for three courses and coffee so we did that. Prawn cocktail up front was everything I expected, which is not to say it was a taste sensation. But it did take me back to the days when I thought Paul Mariner was a God amongst Men.

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Mariner, to use the terminology of the time, sticks it to the Jocks.

Being full of rheum and halfway into a Christmas week binge I went for fish again for main. This WAS high quality eats. Perfectly cooked bream (grilled golden brown, flaking off the bone) with silver serviced veg. House white (Pinot Grigio, clean tasting, good quality) helped that down and we eyed desserts.

Could I really eat more after consuming my own weight in cauliflower cheese? I could give it a go. Affugato is what Irish coffee thinks it sees when it looks in the mirror. A double espresso after that and we were done.

But The Fisherman isn’t just about the food. You come here for the ambience and the service. The ambience is provided by the people of Southend, who know a good thing when they see it. And the service is the reason why they come back, the professionals at Il P are as good as any I’ve met this year.

To cap off an excellent lunch I went to the loo to make sure that Baggio and the boys from the World Cup were still in place. They were. All is good.

8/10

#food #Southend #Italian

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

Resto 73 The Agricultural Hotel, Penrith

December 11, 2017
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The Beacon, Penrith. The world’s stumpiest obelisk.

With time to kill before getting the train back to London I had a few hours to spare in Penrith. Apparently due to the terror threat to the people of the Lakes the train station isn’t doing baggage storage (me neither) so I humped my weekend bag up to the Beacon to earn my pub lunch, thankful that I’d let Sharon and Trav look after the trumpet in the boot of their car.

Lunch was taken in the Agricultural Hotel, picked because it wasn’t showing football. You can go table service or bar meal in the AH and I picked the latter. A pint of Jennings’ Best was the perfect accompaniment to a chicken curry and with a table next to the open fire I’d hit the sweet spot of unpretentious rural dining.

Fellow diners were all locals, mostly opting for Sunday roasts (they looked good, the roasts weren’t bad either (arf)) with a Christmas party in the Saloon. Service was cheerful, it’s easy to see how they’ve built a regular clientèle.

The curry could have been spicier but there was plenty of it with rice, a naan bread (I knew I was back on home territory when they asked if I wanted chips too, thereby achieving the holy trinity of stodge) and mango chutney as sides. A pint of the broodingly dark and powerful Sneck Lifter (a Timothy Dalton of a pint) rounded things off nicely and I was ready for the trip south.

8/10

#Food #LakeDistrict

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

Resto 72 The Fish Inn

December 10, 2017

After a stroll around the glorious Buttermere we worked up an appetite such as us city dwellers rarely possess. The Fish Inn has a very homely look that tempted us in for good pub food.

If there’s a better place to be on a dry December day than Buttermere I’ve yet to find it.

They have local beer, I can recommend the Loweswater (?) Gold, and a selection of classics on the lunch menu (12-2, useful to know). I went for chill con carne. A generous bowl of chilli with lashings of rice on the side. To my delight the chilli had some serious heat to it but also a deep meaty flavour that was very satisfying. There was an old skool salad on the side and I demolished the lot.

The room is unpretentious with local artworks and photographs. In December it was busy enough with fellow walkers and a smattering of locals, I suspect it may be more like Pic Circus in the summer. But with a friendly barman and good service I’m sure they can cope with that.

8/10

#Food #LakeDistrict

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


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