Saturday, May 31, 2014

If Carlsberg Did Food Platters.. It Would Probably Be The Best

For those who know me I love to watch football and usually when I'm at a loose end on a Saturday afternoon I tend to wander into the Empire Casino as they have a Carlsberg bar, which shows sports endlessly all day and everyday. You could easily sit there for 24 hours watching different sports as they take place around the globe, but of course you'd need a bottomless purse of money to keep drinking here. It's not cheap and if you order from the table they automatically add a service charge (both drinks and food).

For the first time in a while I ordered food and had the Carlsberg platter, which included BBQ pork ribs, BBQ chicken wings, mini haddock goujons, tartare sauce, Boston BBQ baked beans and skinny fries, all for £16. However after the service charge it topped the total to £18, much to my dismay. 

The Carlsberg platter was better than I expected, it was surprisingly good. Usually in pubs when I order a platter there is usually at least one thing I'm displeased with, like the food was greasy or the chicken is overcooked. However today I loved each and every part of the platter,  I couldn't get enough of the sweet marinade on the pork ribs and chicken wings to the point where I had no shame in eating with my hands and getting my fingers in a BBQ sauce mess. 

The baked beans had chopped pieces of bacon and I loved how the basket of fries was presented. I left the Carlsberg bar with a full belly and a big smile, probably smeared with BBQ sauce. 

The Carlsberg platter

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Papa Charlie - Greenwich

Don't be fooled by the outside of Papa Charlie Mediterranean restaurant. Although it looks modern and impressive this is as far as it goes, we had the worst dining experience here.

Although the waitress told us they were short staffed, the service was painfully slow. They should have closed off part of the restaurant and reduced the number of tables, rather than running themselves thin on the ground and trying to serve everyone. What ever happened to quality over quantity?
Set menu - two courses for £10.95
It took thirty-five minutes from when we ordered our starters to it being served and not only was it late but they missed out an order. Half way through eating our starters my friend cancelled her forgotten borek as 1. it was taking too long and 2. from looking at my borek the filo pastry was raw inside and was barely filled with spinach and feta. It was like biting into a crispy pocket of soggy paper. My friend mentioned this to the manager who huffed heavily at her and stormed off. A few minutes later he passed again and served my friend her cancelled borek and told us it was for free, even though it was already included in the set meal we ordered. 

Borek with a leaf of spinach and no feta
 Thirty minutes after our starters the main was dished up, I had the sea bass served with chips and salad. The seabass was seasoned well and the chips and salad was ok. My friends chose the vegetable moussaka, which sat in a pool of oil in the serving pot. I tried a spoonful of it and it was mushy and flavourless, the texture was like eating a caramel crème.

Seabass with chips and salad
Moussaka dripping with oil
When the bill came it was an absolute joke. When the manager said my friend's borek was free, they took 3p off the bill! We disputed this and he then reduced it by £7, but to add salt to the wound we had to pay the 10% service charge, which they did not deserve and ended up paying the same as what we would have done without the 10% extra. 

We were all frustrated that on top of the terrible table service and awful food, we had to pay for a meal we did not enjoy and barely touched. So disappointing. 

Our bill with 3p reduced
Papa Charlie on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thai Cottage Restaurant - Soho

I really liked this family owned restaurant, which sits just off Wardour Street in London Soho. The owner was so friendly and welcoming and made a lot of banter with us. I couldn't believe it when she told us that the restaurant had been open for twenty-two years. The place isn't big and is in direct competition with a lot of other restaurants around the area, resulting in my surprised reaction. The decor looks outdated and a bit run down but it does serve honest, traditional Thai food in decently sized portions. 

To start I chose king prawns wrapped in a pastry that was deep fried and served with sweet chilli sauce. I would have enjoyed this more if the pastry hadn't been overcooked, you can see from my photo how brown it was. 

My main was the massaman curry, which was delicious! Probably the best dish I've eaten in a restaurant this year, I will be dreaming of it tonight. The curry base was creamy and had a pea-nutty taste to it, I couldn't help but drown my rice in it. The owner recommended chicken over beef in the curry and I'm so glad she did, the meat was tender and meat slipped off the bone like silk on skin. I was so impressed.

Prices here are very reasonable and the owner noticed how we had food leftover and kindly packed it in boxes for us to take away. She reminded me of my mum as she always encourages my friends to take food home whenever they are at my house and doesn't like to see it go to waste.

I have high praises for Thai Cottage and would recommend it if you're looking for a casual place to eat for a low price.

Massaman curry with boiled rice

Thai Cottage on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 15, 2014

DimT - London Bridge

This was my second time at DimT and at the exact same branch at London Bridge so I knew what to expect from the food and service.

Last time I tried to curried udon, but today I went for the sweet coconut Japanese rice noodles with lemon grass, tofu, roasted coconut, peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, red onion and green beans in a spicy Thai sauce. I'm not convinced that this dish was either Japanese or Thai, it was more like a super westernised bowl of creamy noodles.

The first few mouthfuls was pleasant as I could taste the coconut topping, but there on after the flavour was gone. The tofu was chewy and tough and I honestly think they used the same soup base as what's in the curried udon. This dish didn't leave a great impression with me. 

My dessert on the other hand was yummy. I tried the home made chocolate ice cream and my friend chose the iced berries with white chocolate. The iced berries dessert looked a lot better than it tasted, the fruit was bitter and I don't think its served with white chocolate, more like condensed milk.  
Despite the food, it was my friends who made this meal experience enjoyable at DimT, as we managed to catch up after a long time. I'm definitely done with this chain and hopefully won't be coming back so soon.

Sweet coconut noodles with lifeless coriander

Iced berries with "white chocolate"
Home made ice cream

Dim T on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

Zizzi - London Bridge

I've not been to Zizzi's in about 7 years and it looks so much better than what I remembered. I loved the hanging chilli, the open kitchen with the large clay oven, it had a rustic Italian feel to it. 

I chose the Rustica Trentino Fresca, which had buffalo mozzarella, grana padano, tomato and rocket. The pizza looks better than it tastes, it was bland and very dry. The tomato sauce or puree base had no flavour, when the chef spread it on the base it looked watered down and lacked consistency. For a new pizza on Zizzi's Signature Dishe menu it lacked pizzazz to actually make me think "Ooo, I've never had anything like this before". I suppose this is to be expected from a pizza chain, just plain ordinary food. 

Rustica Trentino Fresca

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Revolutions - Bourbon Bad Boy

I really dislike it when restaurants mess up your reservation and don't fully compensate you in return. This was what exactly happened at Revolutions.

We were a group of twelve girls on a hen night and after taking part in cocktail making at Revolutions we were seated in booths, ready to be served what we believed to be a three course buffet meal. The waitress came out with the Revolution Platter, which had fried chicken strips, beans, corn chips, fries, potato wedges, onion rings and coleslaw, and I thought "Yeah, this is what we needed for starters". Once we finished the platter we patiently waited for the next course, only after twenty minutes passing the waitress was no where to be seen. 

Our organiser spoke to the waitress and told her that we had all paid for a three course buffet meal, not just a platter and we expected more food. This was all new to the waitress, she checked our reservation and saw what we had ordered. After speaking to her manager, they said we could all pick any meal from the menu and would give us two pitchers of cocktails, which I didn't agree with. We should have been offered dessert on top, as the value of two pitchers would no where near equate to the same as what we had paid for. I thought it was a cheap way out and they probably thought they could take advantage of girls on a hen do. Terrible customer service on their behalf.

Anyway from the mains I chose the Bourbon Bad Boy, which was double beef burger basted with bourbon chipotle sauce, bacon, cheese, tomato and onion rings served with skinny fries dusted with cajun spice. I love the idea of chips in a mug, makes it feel so homely. Unfortunately that was the only positive from the meal as the burger was not great. The beef was so dry and made chewing and swallowing it so hard. There was really no flavour or substance to it, just your typical bar food where they can reduce the quality of food upon the assumption that everyone will be intoxicated and will want something to soak up the alcohol. 

Bourbon Bad Boy

Giraffe - Brighton

Falafel "Deluxe burger" with grilled pepper, hummus, beetroot, rocket, halloumi, tzatziki and harissa at Giraffe. 

I tend to keep blog posts on food chains short and simple, as typically the food is ordinary and average. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brasserie Joel at Park Plaza Hotel

My work colleagues introduced me to Brasserie Joel at Park Plaza for lunch. My first impression was that it would be quite pricey but they have a two course set lunch menu for £11.95, which isn't bad for a hotel. I loved the decor in the restaurant, there was a beautiful olive tree, which was the centrepiece of the room. 

We arrived at 12pm and there was no one but us, I assumed everyone was out enjoying the sunshine. From the menu I chose the gilthead bream fillet, this was well seasoned and had a lovely crispy outer skin. When I pulled the fish apart the flakes were soft and melted in my mouth. Rather than a savoury dish I went for sweet and couldn't resist the chestnut macaroon with pistachio sorbet(wasn't mango). This was incredible, the macaroon had a creamy filling and cut in half like a hot knife through butter. The pistachio sorbet complimented it perfectly, I left no trace of the dessert on my plate.

Loved this wall wine rack
Gilthead bream fillet
Chestnut macaroon with pistachio ice cream

Beirut Express - Edgware Road

It's hard to pick a restaurant to eat down Edgware Road as there are so many like for like. One that always catches my eye is Beirut Express, which sits on the corner of Kendall Street and Edgware Road with its bright orange and blue sign. Beirut Express is one of the many eateries owned by the Maroush chain, I can only claim to have eaten at Maroush Gardens, which is more expensive and classier. If you're looking for something quick or more casual then Beirut Express is the one.

The restaurant is always busy when I walk past, but then I realised it only seats around thirty people. I loosely use the word restaurant, I personally think of it as a large take away.

I came here with friends after work and ordered the farrouj meshwi, which is charcoal-grilled boneless baby chicken served with garlic sauce. The portion was huge, I was struggling to eat it all even though I badly wanted to. The chicken was really good, it was juicy and I love the charred flavour. To wash down my meal I had the grapefruit juice, which is made fresh behind the counter, I noticed people buying these and taking it away.

I enjoyed the meal and the food was delicious. I think the service could have been better, as we repeatedly tried to get the waiters attention, but all they wanted to do was congregate around the till and talk. I was also surprised that it was cash only. 

My massive baby chicken with garlic sauce on the side

Beirut Express on Urbanspoon