Archive for the 'HH Restaurant Guide' Category
Following the identification of the world’s worst lasagne (in Monreale, Sicily), I declare that the finest liver and bacon and champagne to be found this century is in the 15th Century King’s Head at the top of the market square in Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK. For just £12, the dish is elegantly presented, generously portioned and arrayed with nutritious and colourful vegetables. It is served piping hot with minimum of fuss against the warmth of a roaring log stove. The pub is old and beamed, but the ceilings high and space airey. In my brief time there, it was full-ish but not crowded and the noise levels good and among them was ayoung lady with the highest white high heels I have ever seen. The staff were fast, efficient and remembered orders. The best liver and bacon I had previously was some 15 years ago at the wonderful Foreign Correspondents Club in Ice House Street in Hong Kong. In fact, after such disappointing culinary experiences in Italy and Belgium recently, I wonder if it’s possible to get a decent meal between the white cliffs of Dover and the Chain Bridge of Budapest. If so where?
Given the status quo of crises in economy, food security, the Korean peninsular, and others, I revive an oddball restaurant review because after many years I have had the privilege of ordering the worst Lasagne in the world. An earlier one came to light in Alliance, Nebraska in 2007 when making a film on the American Dream with the magnificent Ian Cartright. This was ketchup laced with beef sauce spread like Marmite on slabs of corn pasta. Another cropped up last September in a typically ‘family-run’ Tuscan restaurant in Brussels. I suspect now this was a synthetic horsemeat paste. Finally, this week, in the shadow of Monreale Cathedral in Sicily came a microwaved stew of stale pasta and God knows what. Luckily, that gave more time for the cathedral itself — an unbelievable blend of Islamic, Byzantine and Norman architecture with direct links to Canterbury and Ely cathedrals in Britain. Any advocate of multi-culturalism should pay a visit — but bring your own food.
The terrace of La Maison Hotel in Kotido, in north-east Uganda, is the finest dining place for miles around. You will be looked after by Esher who serves a choice of beef or chicken, which can be stewed or fried, and served with rice and potatoes. Drinks include a choice of partially chilled Nile or Tusker beer. It might be wise to provide your own supplements such as fruit, instant cup noodles or something like Lancashire Hot Pot in a ‘Meal Ready-to-Eat.’ The atmosphere is relaxed and secure — La Maison is in its own compound with an armed guard. The television runs Premier League or BBC Knowledge, while outside dogs bark and cockerels crow regardless of the time of day. This venue is thoroughly recommended for anyone passing by Kotido.
Before heading to New York, we dined at the Ognisko Polish Club at 55 Exhibition Road, London. I had never been before — although the club itself is a product of our Second World War alliance with Poland and stood as something of a b astion of Polish freedom during the Cold War. Its elegant high-ceilinged surrounds reflect that history. Punctuated by vodka shots we shared dishes between nine among which were Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Sevruga Caviar and Cream; Griddled Scallops and Lambs; Knuckle of Pork Bavarian Style (totally delicious and too much for one); Grilled Venison Loin with Red Currant and Juniper Berry Sauce; and for our vegetarian guest Penne Pasta with Aubergine, Feta and Pine Nuts.
Two superb, but totally different restaurants in Glasgow. The first I stumbled upon because the Blythswood Square Hotel room was not ready when I arrived.
So lunch at Two Fat Ladies at 118A Blythswood Street, swift, efficient service, the tables slightly too small for my liking, and an introduction into Cullen Skink – a delicious mix between a fish soup and stew, created apparently in the town of Cullen.
And dinner, hosted by the urbane and witty Andrew Kelly of the Aye Write book festival, at the boisterously elegant Osterio Piero at 111 West Regent Street. The Anti-Pasta was light, imaginative and plentiful and my steak was one of the finest I can remember on this side of the Atlantic. I am not sure what wine Andrew ordered, but a good time was had by many for many hours and no headache in the morning — except for one couple who had to slip off early.
To serve between two and four people, have ready:-
A cup of Thai Sweet rice; a large cup of water, just under twice as much; two ripe mangos already cut up; a tablespoon of brown sugar; a can of coconut milk (not a cheap one) a small spoon of salt; two teaspoonful of coconut flavouring; one teaspoon of vanilla; two teaspoons of arrowroot powder dissolved in two tablespoons of water.
To prepare the rice :-
Soak the rice in 1 cup water for minimum of half an hour and maximum of four hours.
Add another ¾ cup of water plus ¼ can of coconut milk, ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir all into the rice.
Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid.
Put in medium-low heat. Leave a gap for steam to escape under the saucepan lid. Simmer for in 20 minutes, or until the coconut-water has been absorbed by the rice.
Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on tight.
Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
To prepare the sauce:-
Warm (do not boil) the rest of the can of coconut milk over medium-low heat for five minutes. Add three tablespoons of sugar, stirring to dissolve.
Taste the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired, remembering that the sweetness will dissolve when added to the rice.
Add scoops of rice directly to the sauce pot and stir over low heat, gently breaking apart large lumps, but leaving smaller lumps/chunks).
Add the mango pieces and gently stir until everything is warmed through.
Divide up equally and make sure everyone has plenty of mango and sauce.
Unusual for London, an elegant and spacious BYO restaurant with superb Thai and Malaysian food that does not charge corkage. It’s only just opened and deserves big support. A multi-dish dinner for two, squid, chicken, tofu, beef — all freshly cooked — costs less than £30 and would be double that if you had to pay for drinks. They helpfully direct guests to a small wine shop around the corner from where I chose a £9.99 bottle of New Zealand Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
It’s called The Number One Cafe Restuarant, 1 Dalgarno Gardens, London, W10 5LL 44 (0) 20 968 0558.
Tiny Provesende village with its opulent, but compact church and ancient stake for burning people to death lies in mountains high above the Douro River and boasts Papas Zaida family restaurant where we lunched on pork, clams and salad. Our amusing and knowledgeable hosts were Paul Symington, whose family vineyards bring us Graham’s, Dow and Warre’s port; Miles Edlmann his viticulturist and Antonio Silvana, the caseiro or farm manager. We shared a bottle of highly-acclaimed Chryseia 2003 from the Douro — which incidentally is the oldest demarcated wine growing region in the world — 1756.
On an Oporto sloping cobbled street in northern Portugal, opposite the Boys Or Us gay bar lies the deliciously laid-back Atelier cafe, with its minimilist decor, saxophone beer pumps and bottles of Moet and Dom lying chilled on ice on the bar. The urbanely droll owner Miguel Rodrigues-Pereira assures me it is ‘straight-friendly’ a place where people of all ages and sexual persuasion can go to relax, kiss and cuddle and show affections that are usually kept out of sight in this conservative, Catholic society. For lunch, I had fiejoada a transmontana — a stew with beans, pork, sausage, bacon and cabbage washed down with fine coffee. Totally excellent
In a sleek and cavernous basement in the heart of Chelsea, lies a fun Japanese restaurant, where the chefs cook steaks, fish and vegetable in front of you while juggling spatulas and pepper pots, and occassionally dropping them to keep things interesting. The Asahi is chilled and expensive. The food excellent, fresh and inexpensive. Surf, turf, sushi and the rest for only £22 a head and youy can get in and out easily within an hour — or stay for three if its suits.
Benihana, 77 King’s Road, London, SW3 4NX www.benihana.co.uk