Lost posts of 2013: Part 1.
There are lots of places I visit but don’t get round to writing about. Sometimes I can’t make up my mind what I think; sometimes I can’t remember what I’ve eaten; sometimes the day job gets in the way. That happens A LOT. But there are a few places from 2013 which, whilst not worthy of a full-blown post, or where the moment may have passed, are still worth a mention.
Here we go:
Pardis, London W2. It’s a Persian restaurant in the Connaught Village area of the Hyde Park Estate. Decent mezze and a BYOB policy which I like. Bad points: minimum spend. Won’t give you tap water. I went without and went thirsty. But decent sizes. Make sure you sit upstairs, near the great bread oven.
Outlaw’s Seafood and Grill
I’d foolishly relied on C to book Outlaw’s in Cornwall. When we got there we realised he’s booked the more casual of the two and had to make a second booking for the fine dining option. Tragedy. This was great food though. The hotel in which it sits needs a makeover though and I find it depressing. And the décor clinical and a little bit sad, in winter when half empty. Service great and food inventive. Particularly notable: crab and celeriac salad
Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall
Very different in feel, this was a fish extravaganza. I didn’t like the room, which I felt to be drab and the lighting was harsh and unforgiving. The service however was warm and welcoming and there were a number of famous TV chefs in the room which added to my eating enjoyment. A little. The food was excellent and I urge you to try it.
Next up back to London for a little Mexican interlude at Taqueria. I’ve been here a few times. The food is carefully prepared and interesting, but the service can be a little bit erratic. It’s not the quietest of restaurants but when you fancy those great flavours and beautiful soft tortillas, this is the place to be.
NEXT UP : An enormous meal at Apero. and feelings of guilt have been with me for some time because I meant to review it properly and I met the chef through the wonder of Twitter and he was very kind and looked after us very well. I remember generosity, massive plates too big for the table, interesting food and good value. I am planning to go back and try again.
I rarely get asked to PR jamborees. I’m not really on the circuit and I also don’t like the pressure of having to write a review to order – not that I haven’t done it. I generally won’t though, if I’m paid for and I don’t have something entirely positive to say. This was a PR event for the relaunch of Smiths of Smithfield, somewhere I used to go to many years ago. I do applaud what they are trying to do, with the emphasis on rare breeds but for me it didn’t quite work. The butchery demonstration was really interesting though and I got to meet some food people who I’ve kept in touch with, so that was good. And it wasn’t poor, it was that I didn’t love it. And I won’t post a less-than-glowing paid for review Oh well.
Verru, Marylebone. Sadly deceased.
I had a soft spot for this quirky little restaurant tucked away off Marylebone High St, my old stamping-ground. It was Swedish-French and does interesting and well cooked food. RIP.
Can’t imagine why I haven’t blogged it seeing as I’ve been there 5 times now. Read into that what you will. Usually I get carried away by the quality of the food and often it’s a business meeting/lunch and I lose the will. But the food is delicate, interesting and inventive. I love the wine flight and they have a great selection of wines to match the food. I’ve never had a bad meal here. Worth a visit. I prefer it to the more famous Benares. By a long chalk. I always make the mistake of thinking that I’m not going to get enough and over order. I always finish it.
Riding House Café
I love the decor here. Parquet floors, post industrial. I have been a few times for breakfast but on the last few occasions have been slightly disappointed. The service is fine but the food is not quite. My scrambled eggs (see below) – lukewarm. The coffee is good, though personally I caffeine-up across the road, at Kaffeine – one of my top coffee shops.
I have indeed blogged this: one of my business standbys. But this was a memorable dessert for 2. Apricot frangipane with honey ice-cream. Superb.
Moving down the M40 corridor brings us to one of my local Chinese standbys, Sojo. Always reliable and fantastic value for the quality of the food. Not glamorous but the food makes up for it. Stand out dishes: Szechuan spicy Gan Shao prawns topped with soy minced pork and diced water chestnut sauce and the Szechuan spicy beef and aubergine.
For beautifully prepared dim sum and unusual Chinese dishes I was very impressed by A Wong. the plates are massive even though the food is not which makes it hard to eat and share food on the rather small tables. Well worth a visit though.
Tukdin flavours of Malaysia
You’d walk past this if you didn’t know. And there’s no alcohol but this serves fabulous Malaysian food and cheap as chips. A welcome oasis in the restaurant desert around Paddington. Dinner for a tenner. A regular for me.
And staying in the area,the upmarket bit of it on the Hyde Park Estate is Cocomaya. Great for croissants and eye-wateringly priced cakes. Full of yummy mummys and people who seem not to have to go to work. I avoid it as often as I can, in the interests of my waistline and the coffee is better across the road at the resolutely untrendy but lovely Markus.
A rare jaunt outside London took us to The Beckford Arms. We stayed in the grounds and very stunning it was too. The food was fine here and the setting magnificent. A great weekend escape. It would have been even more enjoyable had C not forgotten something and had to drive back home to pick it up. But it meant I got a night on my own. I highly recommend the converted lodges in the grounds of the ruined Fonthill Abbey
I really enjoyed my meal here – Sichuan cooking done really well. Great flavours and enormous portions. Stand out were the Thin sliced pork rolls in a spicy garlicky sauce. Alone, worth the journey.
Lots of people love it here, with its outside seating area and great location in the heart of the west end. I am never blown away by the food, but it’s reasonable value and buzzy and has lots of admirers.
It will break my friend Paul’s heart as this is his favourite restaurant but I had a really poor meal here last year. The vitello tonnato was undistinguished, the air conditioning didn’t work and the pasta with chilli had to be sent back as it was so hot that it was inevitable. They could not have been more apologetic but it put me off another try. And the portions were small.
So that takes us up to September. Enough to be digesting for now I believe.