Archive for December, 2007

Pacific Thai, the struggling sibling

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Manchester is one of, if not the, best cities in the world.  So you will not be surprised to hear that I find Manchester’s Chinatown to be even better than London’s.  I admit that I have never been to San Francisco where Chinatown has its own website so must be impressive.  But for now, let me tell you that if you fancy Chinese food, Manchester is a better place to eat it than Peking.  At the risk of supercalifragilisticity, let’s drill down a little further.  Pacific is one of the best Chinese restos in Manchester Chinatown.

Neon Promise - Eastern Failure

So it was natural to want to check out the second floor (which is the Thai menu) and presumably just as good as the Chinese on the floor below?  Er, no….


Charmes-Chambertin 1996 Grand Cru, Domaine Armand Rousseau

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

This could well be one of the most expensive bottles of wine I have drunk.  I bought half a dozen Rousseaux from the Wine Society for nearly £300 which compared to my average bottle price of £5 to £10, was a breathtaking purchase decision.

Charmes-Chambertin……with a pomelo (for some reason)


Ivy Gestapo hound me out

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

I went to The Ivy for lunch yesterday and whilst the food and service was impeccable, we were hounded off our table.

Arriving 11:55 for our 12:0pm table we had to queue outside whilst the staff were briefed. Eventually by 12:10 we were seated and ordered as quickly as allowed. We ate as quickly as one could reasonably be expected to eat without incurring indigestion.

At 1:20pm the Ivy Gestapo kindly permitted us to order a “quick” dessert or coffee, and leave.  The Obergruppenführer waiter tried to look suitably embarassed but failed miserably.  We were then encouraged, cajoled, and finally pressed to make our exit.

It’s a shame really when this sort of place leaves a slight tinge on an otherwise superb experience.  But I don’t want to be rude to my hosts so I won’t complain any further.

The oysters were legendary.  The Ivy Hamburger perfectly rare.  The Grüner Veltliner extremely competent, and the coffee (macchiato of course) not bad, despite the rush.

Château Sainte Croix des Egrons 2005

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

As one aperture in my life opens, another closes.  Having recently discovered a long lost Godmother, today I learnt that my Godfather (unrelated) has passed away.

Egrons in an old pair of shoes……for some reason


Fortnum & Mason wins “least rip off” prize

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

My last (and first) visit to Fortnum & Mason 1707 Wine Bar was such a success, the very next time I was in London I revisited.

This time my flight comprised three Pinot Noirs and I also added a plate of charcuterie to nibble on.  At £13 an American would starve on this dish, but the quality soared.  The meat was, interestingly, not Italian, the most notable of a good bunch being Gloucester Old Spot Prosciutto which stood up to any Italian prosciutto I have ever tasted.

The Pinot Noirs were all worthy of drinking, for the record:

Fortnum & Mason Bourgogne Rouge Drouhin 2004 – soft and supple, the most subtle of the three with redcurrants and a creamy finish.

Merricks Creek Pinot Noir Victoria 2004 – a powerful strawberry flavour wine, jammy and louder than Ian Paisley in full rhetorical flow.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Waipara 2004 – the most interesting of the bunch.  Cherries and some mineral.  A bit like the French one but with a bit of kiwi intensity and sharpness.

I couldn’t resist trying one more wine and was pleased to see the Fortnum & Mason Pomerol Clos Rene 2003 served in a Riedel Bordeaux glass from the Vinum range. Black fruits prevailed in contrast to the red fruited Pinots.  A bit of cooked cabbage, quite tannic with a long finish.  Quite a serious wine as you might expect

I tolerated some rude treatment from the staff because of the excellent pricing policy, £10 corkage being added to the shop price no matter the value of the wine.  Clearly the place to go if you fancy a 1961 Latour.

So I award F & M my top prize for least rip-off wine drinking prices in London wine bars or restaurants.

I also enjoy trying the flights of three wines linked by grape and comparing the different treatments.  But next time I think up an award, I really must construct a snappier name.

Finally, you don’t have to drink wine, coffee and tea is available.  It is also very quiet, so I use it for meetings when I am in Piccadilly/Mayfair.  I used to frequent The Wolseley for this purpose but it is nowadays too busy.  Oh well, my secret is out.  I’ll have to find somewhere new, now.  Ciao.