Posts Tagged ‘Snooker’

Resto 7 Bistrot de la Porte Dorée, Paris

March 1, 2018

After a morning in the rather wonderful Museum of Immigration in Porte Dorée (worth visiting for both building and contents) we were famished. I’d scouted out Le Swann as the place to go in PD but that was shut so Bistrot de la Porte Dorée was our fall back option. And what an option.

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To walk through the door was to enter a world that you’d find it very hard to find in the hipster fleshpots of the Marais or République. I suspected it would turn out to be an excellent lunch when the maitre d’ turned round sporting a burgundy shirt matched with a diagonally striped grey silk tie of which Doug Mountjoy in his pomp (c. 1978) would have been proud.

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Doug Mountjoy. Welsh legend.

We were shown to a table beneath a kitsch version of a Dutch still life of fruits de mer and various other foods. Dotted around the room were portraits of legends of French chanson and film (Jonny Hallyday’s look was particularly fierce, he seemed to be giving me the gimlet the whole meal through) and the odd transatlantic icon, such as Bob Marley smoking a joint, thrown in for good measure.

A set menu was on offer, €32 for two courses and €41 for three, wine included. Bargain, especially as an apéritif of something pink and fizzy was part of the deal. The food was classic French stuff, making no concession to the past 40 years of culinary fashion and none the worse for that. With the apéro we munched on toast and pâté de maison and considered.

I went for a starter of beef cheek, always a favourite. A generous amount of cheek paired with a lentil salad and carrots. All good, apart from the carrots which were overly salted for my taste. A full-bodied 2009 Gaillac helped that down admirably and proved to be a more than adequate match for a main of rabbit and pasta. Did we want dessert? Yes, but we also wanted to be able to walk the half an hour to the Château de Vincennes so we just had a coffee instead.

So the food was good but the real joy of the room was the people watching. Our waiter, not a young man, had a plaited rat-tail beard of the kind found on superannuated trustafarians yet to reintegrate back into civvy street. Across the way a party of eight or so retirees consumed their lunches while arguing vociferously about politics. And to our left a lone lady of a certain age with improbably jet black hair demolished a bottle of rosé in single combat.

A bill of €70 was a bargain and the reason why I’ll never go back to the Bistrot de la Porte Dorée is that some memories are too good to disturb with fresh layers of experience. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, you should.

9/10

#food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

Review #107 Hanoi Phø*, Green Lanes

December 13, 2016

After another afternoon on the baize we were two hungry chaps in search of some non-kebabisch sustenance on Green Lanes. What luck then that another Vietnamese has opened on the high street. This Hanoi Phø is a more upsacale beast than its canteeny namesake across the road with comfy chairs and big linened tables. It being Sunday teatime it wasn’t especially busy but we didn’t care.

I was struck by the music. Elton John crooning Your Song wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. This was followed by a further smattering of syrupy ballads and then a John Williams megamix (the guitarist rather than the Star Wars guy).

The food on the other hand was authentic Vietnamese. We started off with some nem – crunchy crisp prawn filled shells with a bold flavoured dip. So good I wish I’d ordered a whole plateful for myself. A main of phø had a rich stock and good lumps of real chicken as well as the usual accoutrements. I was rather jealous of the sizzling goat across the way and will have that next time. A couple of Saigon beers went down very well and this was another bargain dinner, coming in at less than a score each. Definitely on a good run of eating in December.

8/10

*Okay, so this is getting confusing now. I went to Hanoi Phø on Green Lanes for review #43 but at that point it wasn’t listed on GoogleMap so I just used their other branch in Mare Street. Now there’s another Hanoi Phø on Green Lanes but that one isn’t listed on GoogleMap so I’ve had to use the first Green Lanes Hanoi Phø’s location which has in the meantime been listed. Confused? Well, the #43 review is next door to The Salisbury, while the one I’m concerned with now is further towards Finsbury Park, next to Hot Nuts. That’s not the first branch of Hot Nuts, which is nearer to the railway bridge, but rather the second branch of Hot Nuts which is closer to the snooker club. All clear?

#Food #London #Harringay

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

Review #2 – Devran, Harringay

January 6, 2016
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Devran Restaurant – Hopper goes East

So, you’ve just finished an hour in north London’s noisiest snooker club and you’re famished.* What to do? While the eating scene on Green Lanes is getting more and more diverse sometimes only a kebab will do. Devran was recommended to me by my mate Muza as being the best Turkish restaurant on Green Lanes so I was happy to give it a go and see if it could surpass my usual haunt of Petek in Stroud Green.

We went in the early evening on a Tuesday so I didn’t get that authentic Harringay Friday night atmosphere of having to queue for a table and then barely be able to hear myself speak over the chatter of hungry diners and pumped up to 11 Turkish pop music. Which is a good thing. The Turkish pop was still there (but at a tolerable volume), the obligatory scatter of TVs were slightly diverting and a smattering of customers made for a convivial rather than a raucous ambience. On the walls Devran’s frescoes of scenes from Istanbul are less kitsch than some (I’m thinking especially of Rakkas’ grotesquely unerotic nudes) but still deliver a satisfying level of tack.

The menu has the full range of hot and cold mezze with mains from the grill. We dove straight into mains, rightly anticipating that we would get bread and salad while they were being prepared. The salad was fresh and the bread warm with a selection of humus and condiments on the side. The chicken shish was perfectly cooked with a good grilled spicy pepper and pilav. With an Efes beer to wash it down and prompt, friendly service this was the perfect way to celebrate a thrashing on the baize. And at under fifteen quid a head too. I’ve got about another thirty restaurants on Green Lanes to try before I can establish whether Muza was right but if there’s anywhere better than Devran I’ll be very surprised.

9/10

*What would Joe Davis have made of a snooker club where you had 8 televisions pumping out daytime MTV and a couple of Polish guys playing ping pong off the baulk rail?!

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

 

On snoooker

April 22, 2015

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Update 28th April 2016

Apparently someone else has found the fat flavour of snooker too strong to resist at Time Out! About time too … the club goes from strength to strength with fresh baize on the tables and the fairground punchbag only intermittently slapped to disconcerting effect.

I noticed rather late that the snooker is upon us. In fact it was hearing Barry Hearn on Fighting Talk that first brought my attention to it. And while Barry tried his best to draw attention to the characters in the modern game the vibe was most definitely that Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be. Take out Ronnie and what have you got? Actually, some spectacularly skilled snooker players who, given the nature of their trade, are ever unlikely to have the physique or skin tone of Christian Ronaldo. And now that most of them are off the sauce they’re a lot less ‘colourful’ than the cue-men of yore.

Some youngsters, or people who only remember the good stuff, might think watching the baize on the box was great in the old days? Really?!? Imagine watching Steve Davies playing Cliff Thorburn. On a Sunday. In the 80s. For four hours. In a small northern (ex-)mining town. When the pubs were shut all afternoon. And there was only Bonanza and Songs of Praise on the other side. Because there were only two other sides.

Who’s hot for the time machine now?

Of course then and now the alternative to bemoaning the state of pro snooker is to go out there and do it yourself. There’s a table near you – you just have to find it. And the barriers to entry are so low! £6 an hour in our local hall (for a twelve foot table – how many games of pool could you get through in an hour for a pound a pop in your local pub?) and the cues they provide, while not perfect, are free. Chalk too. Clean bogs, smoking ban in force nowadays – that was lightly unnerving at first. You can get a drink if you want (bottle of Stella £2.50) and they make a cheese toastie straight out of Ali’s Caff in Albert Square.

So why is it that only me and Travis Jr were in there last week with a smattering of Polish guys? When Wimbledon starts you can’t move for the inept middle classes showing off their latest tennis gear. The Crucible revs up and it’s the skunk eye from sporting north Londoners. Perhaps it’s too sunny outside to enter the dark womb of Ridleys? Perhaps you’re deterred by the shabby exterior? Fear not, inside you have the anonymity of one of the last bastions of working class masculine hegemony. Like the bookie, like the strip club, like the shabby municipal golf course, the snooker hall is the place where nobody wants to know your name. Because they’re escaping too.

And if I haven’t given you reason enough yet, imagine stumbling across this portrait of Jimmy White.

Jimmy White. Geezer.

Jimmy White. Geezer.

He has the wistful, haunted look of Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington (currently displayed in a fine exhibition at the NPG). Only Jimmy never saw a Waterloo. I think the photographer (uncredited) anticipates the tragedy of that.

And by popular demand (well, one person asked if I had another – I can bring you Doug Mountjoy next time around if you like) here’s Ray Reardon. Well, what the low-lit/spotlighted atmosphere of the Green Lanes Snooker Club would allow me to capture of him.

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