Situated in a lovely part of Amsterdam with a village feel that reminds me of certain parts of New York and London (but with more canals and lower rise buildings), Fred had telephoned ahead to strong-arm them into giving us a good table (on account of it being my birthday). They delivered on that front, with the best table in the house in the corner of the window. But did the food and wine follow suit?
In a very twee part of London, where, in more controversial political times Tone used to live, lies a pub. I wonder if this was a New Labour den at some point.
Keeping my lefty tendencies to one side, (I dress to the left), I booked through Opentable and consumed a pre-match meal. The glorious Man City made their first Wembley visit since 1999. I made my first visit to Islington since Morgan M‘s in 2008.
The Drapers Arms has a decent array of beers, a pretty and well priced wine list, and a menu that people of my age can read without glasses, which is all too rare. A bottle of 2009 Brouilly was excellent value at £31, and once given 10 minutes in an ice bucket was very drinkable. After only 10 minutes it was turned from flabby Bazooka Joe bubblegum to tight candy foam teeth and who wouldn’t prefer the teeth? But, why serve Beaujolais at 25 degrees in the first place?
Anthony Flinn is a bit of a food legend in Leeds. His impressive CV includes a two year stint under Ferran Adrià at the world’s “best” restaurant, El Bulli. Flinn’s own flagship restaurant, Anthony’s, is perpetually tipped for a Michelin star. His latest project, Piazza, opened in late 2008, is situated in one of the most impressive, historically beautiful buildings in the North of England – Leeds Corn Exchange. Anthony’s footprint includes an impressive 125 seater brasserie, a patisserie, bakery, chocolatier and delicatessen. Wine, however, is another science.
My opening exchange with the waitress: Gevrey Chambertin Domaine Heresztyn 2005 please – what temperature would you serve that? “About two above room”. Ouch, no WART awards here. Please can I have an ice bucket? “Yes sir, no problem.” Things are starting to improve already. After all, the wine list looks well thought out, and superbly priced, and the menu looks bistro chic.
An attempt to impress the mother in law almost ended in failure. Having tried to book places under the direction of Marco Pierre White and Richard Corrigan (and others) only to be told there was no room at the inn, we were suspicious that the Westbury could easily accommodate us at 8pm on a Saturday evening. We shouldn’t have worried. Wilde has the atmosphere of a posh but modern grill with the service of a well dressed regiment of polite bombardiers from nations far and wide and including an occasional Irish accent. The food is as good as I’ve eaten in Dublin and, yes, I have tried Eddie Rocket’s.
With superstars like Robert de Niro sponsoring Tribeca as an upcoming area (and selflessly trousering a good portion of the profits of Tribeca Grill), despite the proliferation of convenient subway stops, there was only one way to arrive. I asked our Taxi Driver why he was tanking down these Mean Streets like a Raging Bull. He said that given the Heat, and whilst he was not the King of Comedy, he was a Goodfella and, put simply, The Mission was to Meet the Parents, and not least, The Godfather (Part II) before the Midnight Run. Before I had time to Analyze This, it was Showtime – the waitresses were Flawless and it was time to Meet the Fockers.
Browsing through the comprehensive wine list, I was delighted, and more than a little relieved, to find a section marked Under $75, full of interesting wines. What is this New York obsession with pricing wine like its skyscraper condos – way out of the reach of the average man?
I was going to review this place next year when I could have titled the post, 4030 2010. But on the 40th floor bar of 30 St Mary’s Axe the view could not wait and, verily, it must be one of the most stunning in the whole of London.
Marketing null points! The sign makes it look like a Hungry Hippo All-U-Can-Eat Sunday lunch with foam balls and cheap beer. But step inside and nothing could be further from the truth. Fine seafood, fine wine list, fine (but relaxed) service and with just enough quirkiness and kitsch to make you smile.
If West Yorskhire is within striking distance and you think you might enjoy looking out over the River Aire at a regatta of swans following a canal barge of revelling diners (I waved to them – birds and blokes alike) then Brasserie 44 is a place you might want to try.
Brasserie 44 shares a converted Victorian grain store with infamous hotel, 42, The Calls, one of the early entrants on this refurbished homage to modern city living. The Calls has turned the industrial past into the post-modern future – lofty living, dining and drinking quarter of Leeds city centre.
There is no shortage of choice in West Yorkshire when it comes to Italian restaurants. But they are known to change hands occasionally.
I recently wrote up a posthumous review of Marco’s Ristorante in Hightown, Liversedge and a correspondent advised that this place has morphed into Don Luigi’s, run by Marco’s former head waiter, Fabrizio. Having eaten there recently, I was delighted to agree with MG that several improvements have been made. The cooking, decor and even wine list are all superior.