Archive for the ‘Austria and Germany’ Category

Fortnum & Mason Ruster Ausbruch 2004

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Fortnum and Mason is my secret preferred meeting place in London because its 1707 basement wine bar is discreet, well located, and staffed by knowledgeable people who serve wine in the correct Riedel glasses.

Rusty old bush


Sam – put your Leeds Chop House out of its misery

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

In the restaurant world, turning a great local eaterie into a “concept” that can be rolled out across the world is a great danger.  New branches often lack the authenticity, the passion of the owners, the attention to detail and the personal service.  I have just discovered a text book example of failure at Sam’s Chop House in Leeds.

Sam’s Chop House in Manchester is one of my favourite places to eat in the whole world.  After 130 years of success, of which, before you ask, I have only contributed to 20 or so, why the owners felt the time was right to dilute their brand is a complete mystery.  Sams’ in Leeds is as far away an experience from the Manchester parent, as a wet weekend in Cleethorpes compares to a Caribbean cruise.

Er, this one was established 2007 actually…


New Year Veltliner

Monday, December 31st, 2007

As 2008 races towards us faster than an over-indulgent party reveller to the big white telephone, it’s time to take stock of the year just gone.  My 2007 new year resolution was to lose a stone in 3 months.  For non-British readers that is 14 pounds, or 6.35029318 kilos.

I’ve always been a slow starter but I can be a determined sod, and I finally made my target on 23 December 2007 after watching a weight chart that was broadly directly proportional to the Dow Jones and FTSE indices.  I am still surprised I actually made it at all, but a bigger surprise this year was the discovery of a new wine.  Not because it was a discovery to anyone but me, simply that I was the last person on earth to encounter it.  The wine is known by many as Gru Vee and I thought I’d close this year on a decent, inexpensive example of the genre.

Bread and wine…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.

Fortnum & Mason flights of fancy

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

The wine bar in the lower ground floor of F & M Foodhall on Piccadilly is so cool, and I’m not talking about the ambient temperature.  Staffed by a range of nationalities with a variety of experiences in wine.  Our Polish waiter, Artur Zarzycki “vaz early on hiz vine joornee” but seemed to know plenty despite his claimed one year of experience.  And he almost knew how to operate a camera!

Average camera-work but great wine (for some reason)

Queuing outside F & M on a Sunday at midday (the bloody shop opened late by about 2 minutes 30 seconds), because we had an hour to kill before our reservation at St Alban (more anon).  So, as all the restaurants and cafes in F & M were being refurbished, we dashed down to the wine bar “1707” where, for £23.90 (inc. service) we got to try a fantastic range of wines.  Who says the posh shops are expensive?


Grüner Veltliner from Tesco

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Now I don’t want to be accused of bias.  I buy wine from all over the place, but to be honest Tesco is normally bottom of my list despite it being the location of choice for most of our grocery shopping.

So in the interests of giving it a fair hearing, I recently purchased a couple of sample bottles, the first of which I will review here.

£6.99 for a Grüner Veltliner seems a good deal.  Tesco’s offering was “Singing” Grüner Veltliner from Laurenz und Sophie.


I’m Saar Confused…

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I am working my way, manfully, through a case of Wine Society branded wines.  Not all this evening I might add but nonetheless at a steady pace.

After all, it’s necessary to find some solace when Steve McClaren is manager of your national football team.

This wine is a Saar Reisling Von Kesselstat 2004 and to be frank I am as confused about it as the Wine Society is.


How do you Solve a Problem Like Veltliner?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

I haven’t managed to get a ticket to see Connie in the hottest show in town just yet.  Connie Fisher’s prize for winning a BBC talent contest was the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic at the London Palladium.

But I thought I would get in the mood anyway by trying an Austrian wine whose reputation seems to be growing faster than The Sound of Music revenues.

My Grüner Veltliner came from the Wine Society’s “Exhibition” Range.