Sunday, 14 December 2008

Restaurant Blogging

I'm procrastinating as I should work (it's Sunday) but a mate said since I ate out so much I should really write reviews... well, tbh I should just write to remind me where to eat next time. Will do a round up and then try to blog going forwards. I already take bad pictures on my camera (well you're sitting on your own so being a freak isn't so weird...) Edit this as and when I can go through my receipts and remember where I was and what I ate...

Brighton
Hotel: Jury's Inn: Nearest to the station, clean, basic, no biscuits on the nightstand, gym or free wi-fi. God-awful food. Will explain.

Unlike some of my more refined colleagues, I didn't mind Jury's Inn. I don't mind you have to go to pick up room service from downstairs. And I don't mind the minimal tv channels because channel 5 is a luxury for me (I live in a valley). The hotel is blissfully less than a minute's walk to the station. It's also about ten minutes walk to the Lanes where most the restaurants are. So on occasion if it's rainy, I am lazy enough to stay put and eat in the restaurant.

I ate three meals there I think. Pasta - plain, with a odd sprawl of spikey lettuce to garnish. Apple pie. With mango coulis. Steak pie with the world's flattest pastry (supposedly puff). Rhubarb and raspberry tart. With mango coulis. Cold. It really did get quite bleak. The Beef lasagna in the bar was of findus standard, which I didn't mind. But the garlic bread it came with was burnt. And didn't taste garlicky. Bleak. In fairness, most the time if I do get room service or hotel restaurant food I go for three courses because the main is rarely up to scratch. But it was pretty bad food attempting to be a bit fancy. Lovely staff though.

Englishes: Seafood
Lovely little restaurant which was pretty much completely empty when I dined there. Odd banquette seating (is that a word?) Think plush benches which have you facing other benches. If I wasn't there alone I'd be staring at another couple pinned to the wall by their table.

Regardless, I had some oysters because I was near the beach, there's the excuse anyway, however I don't think I'm any more inamoured with the slippery b@stards. Unlike the last time they were well shelled. However you still had to claw the muscle off the shell and this time they were freezing cold to the point of no flavour. Hmm. Is that meant to be the appeal? Just as a well they're not an aphrodisiac - there's not much around in Brighton. Mains was a rather gorgeous fish pie. Or rather a seafood pie. It came in this deep noodle bowl, topped with mash with red leicester. Definitely a nice touch. Given that I'm not a fan of fish pie - which is usually from M&S in my case, and given I'm not a major cooked fish fan, the fact I fell in foodie lust for this pie says something. Creamy sauce, peas, good chunks of fish, prawns... it was just yummy. I literally scrapped the bowl clean and licked my chops. *sigh* Good memories. Dessert however, was a bust. It had a fairly boring selection. Chocolate mousse and Raspberry Mille Feuille stood out. Trying to be experimental I went for the Raspberry. What a disappointment. It was chiller cabinet cold. It was pale white with a kind of raw pastry taste. Like layers of filo pinned together with water. Squiggle of raspberry sauce. If I'd not been on expenses I would have been disappointed. Go again? For the pie, the pie.... if only for the pie. Otherwise, just give it a miss!

Piccolos: Italian
Another questionable establishment which was packed to the gills the day I went. The risotto was not risotto. It was fried rice. With less oil. You know how risotto should have the wave to it and a slightly soupy texture? No soup. Fried rice. It was a good rice dish. Just not risotto. Dessert was Tiramisu and it was a round wedge. I'm guessing Brakes Brothers or Icelands, but it definitely wasn't home made. Oh poor mama! Go again? Not really. No. Consider it a stranger in the night.

Bristol
Hotel: Thistle: Nearest hotel to the shopping complex. Are we sensing a theme here? It was a nice hotel. Cosy. Had a gym I never got to use but shops weren't bad.

What can I say about the food? Well never go to one where the review in the lift talks about rubbery scallops. I mean, you put the NICE reviews up, not the middling ones... as it was we had to "wait in the bar" for a table when there were plenty empty. Food wise it wasn't hideous. I remember it being fairly decent actually, if only I can remember exactly what I had! I do remember a mushroom cappacino thing to start with though. Slightly frothy mushroom soup served in an expresso cup. Hey I liked it. But then I always like surprise food you haven't ordered. Worth going to again, but not the best best.

Bordeaux Quay: Absolutely gorgeous restaurant. Beautiful bread. Didn't charge for water. Think I ate duck. This really is a poor review isn't it? Worth going to again. Particularly if it's with someone you actually carry a conversation with.

Sheffield

Hotel: Best Western

Ate at the best Italian restaurant I've been to for a long time. Can't remember the starter but it was good. The main however was a dreamy cream sauce pancake dish (crispolini?) with chicken and I can't wait till I have cause to go again. Great value for money and I only wish I had room for dessert.

Aberdeen

Hotel: Carmelite
When in Aberdeen you should be prepared for two things. One, their hotels are extortionate. i.e. London prices. It was £135 a night for mine. Two, the quality sucks. Admittedly it was town centre, but even London would not give you a room that was sub-Travel lodge standards for that price. The lounge and restaurant was impeccably designed, and so were the suites so I hear... but the room that I got? Let's see, there was bird poop on the window, a little board nailed to the window so people at street level couldn't look up whilst you used the toilet, the toilet had this fantastic contraption that made lots of churning noises to make sure the water circulated away. It was just... caravan class. The furniture was circa 80s yellow MFI, the wi-fi dubious and oh, the tv went out at one point. But you know what? It's not the worse hotel in town! Actually it's one of the good ones apparently. Colleague went to the Copthorne, of which I am a fan of the one in Newcastle, having blown my budget on tea and cakes with a friend and grabbing a cheap dinner in town instead. That one again has a b&b room and a price tag of a fair heft.

To the food. Breakfast at Carmelite is a bit of a funny affair. Buffet spells pancakes, pastries, cornflakes etc. It's generally very sugary. One of the days I did spot mould on the american pancakes and discretely shoved it aside. I tended to stick to toast and cornflakes when I'm on expenses anyway but I was there that long I tried most things. Porridge was blah. On the days I did try the cooked, it's a funny affair. It came stacked on two crumpets like mini towers for a start.

Dinner. Ah. What can I say? I craved haggis. I have a love of haggis. Try not to quote me. Ever. It turned out that it seems to be more of a Edinburgh thing, because although you could get haggis in the shops, restaurant haggis is a rarity. Carmelite was the only place that had it, although I spotted chicken stuffed with haggis elsewhere. The haggis was lovely, but it only came in starter form. One of the days I did ask for it as a main. They said "oh I'd have to ask the chef", chef said fine, they came out with a starter sized main. Bright they ain't. Tasted my way through an assortment of starters and steaks etc. Memorable one includes scallops with blackpudding salsa. I'm not a blackpudding fan - it's okay. But the salsa is vile. Neither did I expect for the price, to get three scallops plopped on the little black mess. At least they were the beautiful fat chinese style scallops, but had I paid, I'd be starving and in tears. Dessert wasn't amazing either. Ultimately, if I wasn't eating there that frequently (it rained a lot when I was in Aberdeen) I may have liked it as it did have a nice decor and well-presented food. But a two week job where I probably ate there four nights? No thanks.

Prime Cuts: Meat
Had mushroom and ricotta pasta the first time (well I was trying to conserve my expense budget for the dessert) and it was lovely. Can't say I was elegant enough to taste the truffle oil but it was nice and well cooked - pretty good considering it was a veggie dish in a restaurant named after slicing meat. The dessert (oh the dessert) was baked alaska. It was actually the reason I chose the restaurant in the first place. It was the first time I'd eaten baked alaska and I'm not sure how I feel. They cheated. Well that's my opinion. They did the meringue and blow torch routine. I have no idea why but it feels like cheating in my opinion. Was yummy and well worth someone else's money though.

The next time I went I had beef (when in Aberdeen...) and it was lovely. It was meat. I don't know. I think the one to beat is Black and Blue at the moment, with regards to steak that is. Although I think that might be because they had garlic butter to go with the beast there. Had the chocolate parfait to finish and it was very nice. Just nothing to write home about. I'd go again, it's a first date kind of restaurant, comes with cutlery, glasses, linen and enough room to embarrass yourself in private.

Jasmine: Chinese/Thai/Everything vaguely oriental...
Haa... how to describe this. It was Chinese. I ordered a fried rice and mussaman curry. I love mussaman curry. It's peanutty with potatoes, coconut and onions and just enough spice to be interesting but not to scorch. Jasmine did a good curry. It had no peanuts in. And it had pineapple in it. Got to love the bizarre. Had a toffee banana to finish. Hefty portion, cantonese restaurant style. Go again? If I was in the mood why not? It was what it said on the tin...

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