Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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

Resto 71 Brasserie de la Gare, Brussels

November 28, 2017

After a disappointing experience at the Dom it was good to be back in Belgium where there’s usually a more cheery, wonk-eyed welcome. With an hour between trains we went for a quick snack at the Brasserie de la Gare. This was a croque. Billed as a double it was, to be fair, two separate croques but on reduced sized bread that would add up to a single croque in most places. Next to it was a bunch of salad (good).

There’s a good selection of beer, as you’d expect in Brussels, and I took something Trappist that worked admirably with the salty cheese-ham-bread. We had the room to ourselves so I don’t know what it would be like when busy but with a cheerful manager, clean bogs (not always the case in a station bar) and sport on the telly the B de la G is a good option if you’re waiting for a connection in Brussels.

7/10

#food #Belgium #Brussels

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

Resto 70 Dom im Stapelhaus, Köln

November 27, 2017

This post contains justifiable swearing.

Difficult in retrospect to believe but after the Moisssonnier lunch I still had room for a substantial meal in the evening and this time I wanted sauasage. The Dom was selected principally because it was the first place where we found a free table. This may have been due to the fact that our waiter was the rudest individual we encountered during our three day stay in Cologne. 

We ordered a round of Kölsch and looked at the menu. At our inability to select our meal within a nanosecond the waiter stomped off to get our beer. This didn’t bode well. I wanted sausage and I wanted chips; it seemed almost criminal that I’d had neither yet on a trip through Northern Europe. When our tantrummed friend reappeared that is what I ordered. Oh, and more Kölsch. He had a sour look that I couldn’t exactly read but knew wasn’t good. 

The food arrived: sausage, salad and potato salad. I glanced up at the waiter. His shit-eating grin reinforced my suspicion that he’d got the order wrong on purpose (mine wasn’t the only mistake at our table) but I declined to make a fuss and ate my plate clean like a good boy. Perhaps they’d had a rough night of football fans the night before, it’s the only excuse I can make for such outright wankstainery to a customer.

The food was par for a Brauhaus, i.e. simple and filling. We left immediately on finishing to seek friendlier climes.

4/10

#food #cologne #germany

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

Resto 69 Le Moissonnier, Köln

November 26, 2017

The foodie highlight of the week, and one that we’d already booked in advance as a treat, was Le Moissonnier. It was a good job that we booked as the restaurant was completely full soon after we arrived at half twelve. The room, however, is peaceful with solid local business types as fellow diners and thus a discreet distance between tables to avoid anyone overhearing gossip of deals and trade secrets. Dotted around the walls are old French posters and ads and the whole place has the feel of a classic French bistrot à la Vagenende.

As you might guess Le M specialises in French cuisine and has done so for years. Run by a family it feels as though each of the staff have absolute mastery of their role in the business, which makes for a very relaxing customer experience. We kicked off with a sparkling wine from Alsace as an aperitif while perusing the not too extensive menu and munching on high quality bread.

There’s a tasting menu of a fistful of courses but we went à la carte. To start I had perch with pike mousse and a lot of other detail that I can’t go into here. The cooking is classic yet elaborate. My perch had been deconstructed then reassembled into a fishy masterpiece complete with its original tail for decoration. The pike mousse was fluffy and tasty and arrived in its own jar, and then alongside that some vegetables in their own dish. With three crocks per person per course it was a good job that there was plenty of room on the table!

Some thought this level of sophistication was a bit too much but I don’t often go to such high end places so I was happy to indulge. The price of the food was  slightly eye-popping (€50-60 for mains), excellent wine was available at a more modest rate. We took a dry Muscat from Corsica at €40 that was utterly delicious. This was used to wash down ris de veau, which came with mushrooms, plenty of sauce and lots of other nice little touches such as a thin sliver of foie gras on its own cheesy fluff.

By now we were into hour two of lunch but in no mood to call it a day. A dessert of chocolate ‘pizza’ (of course it was a lot more than that) was good but a slight mis-step for someone who isn’t a chocolate fan. Thankfully I had a Gerwurtzträminer to sip while I cursed myself for going against my instinct. I should have gone for the sorbet. A rum for digestif (they specialise in it here) was nearly but not quite a bridge too far but I was happy enough with that and a perfect little coffee to round off. All I was lacking was a cigar for the walk home.

This was an excellent experience but not one that my credit card could handle too many times in a season. However, to have come into a womb of sophisticated Frenchness after having spent an evening watching the most turgid Europa League match since the last one in a noisy brauhaus was a most welcome thing. And this on the back of an excellent morning in Cologne’s fine art museum where they had an extraordinary exhibition of Tintoretto. After that it was back to sausageland, the latex girls, Kölsch and a man with a very annoying drill in a terrible hotel bar.

9/10

#Köln #food #Germany

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

Resto 68 Em Kölsche Boor, Köln

November 26, 2017

With some time in hand before the match was to begin we didn’t bother going far to grab some typical local food. Em Kölsche Boor is a typical brauhaus with long tables and a very meaty menu. We sat down with some tiny beers and perused the menu.

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Em Kölsche Boor. Or is it? 

Really, it was hardly necessary. If you’ve been to Germany you know what to expect so I went for a chicken schnitzel with potato salad. The schnitzel was a monster, the size of a hubcap which was a good thing as I’d only had the air buns and a tiny sandwich all day. Two days on memories of the room, service etc are vague but I think the service was good (unlike Dom im Stapelhaus, more of which anon).

#food #Köln #Germany

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

Resto 67 La Table du Midi, Brussels

November 25, 2017

En route to Cologne we had a pause for lunch in Brussels. We didn’t want to wander too far so La T du M was ideal. While Bazza the Gooner made friends with the locals we took a look at the menu.

A cheese sandwich at 3 euros seemed unfeasibly cheap but I ordered it nevertheless. It wasn’t a gourmet experience but it was good in a nostalgic, take me to my childhood kind of way. Aerated crispy white bread, a lather of mayo, minuscule cheese and iceberg lettuce. It was so 70s I half expected Boney M to come on the jukebox.

A couple of fresh Jupilers washed it down nicely and with prompt service we were done in plenty of time to make the Thalys. Thank god I’d laid in a bap as the food on the train was mystifyingly tiny.

7/10

#food #Brussels

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

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


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