Red Lion, Evenley

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

A letter arrived.  Not an email.  Not a text message.  Not even a telegram or a greeting card.  A letter, hand written, addressed to me, and delivered to the office.

Of course, I remember the days before this eloquent and pulchritudinous form of communication was rudely re-branded snail mail. Nowadays, I have to admit that I cannot recollect the last time I received a hand written letter.  This particular letter resulted in an uncommon sequence of events that lead me to Tingewick, a pretty country village in Buckinghamshire.

Tingewick, close to the intersection of the three counties of Bucks, Northants, and Oxon, is an architectural melting pot.  16th century thatched cottages huddle awkwardly next to 1940’s council houses like new kids meeting at school.  Grand mansions look down on their tiny peers who appear to doff their tiled roofs in deference.  Residents include a well known rock guitarist, a lottery winner, and my estranged Godmother.

Architecturally diverse - Tingewick


Café Brummels, Evian, France

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Funky.  The French don’t do funky well.  So Café Le Brummels must be owned by a Belgian then.  Did you spot the Belgian beer influences in the photo?

Brummies?  No Brummels, this is Evian, not Rougeley.


Koha Koha Koha Koha Koha Kameleon

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Just time for a quick review of a very funky little Albanian owned place in London’s West end.  Hidden behind Wyndham’s Theatre on an alley opposite famous fish resto, J Sheekey, it is a wine focussed place with a short but interesting and not over expensive wine list.  It also has a decent looking bistro menu.  We stopped for a quick glass on the way to buy show tickets.

Kool.  Koha also has a funky basement bar.


Lazy day trip to Marbella

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Taking a bus from Banús, Paul managed to work out that we needed to get off after 11 stops.  “This looks very like the centre of Marbella!” I shouted as we passed the 5th bus stop.  Paul made us stay on board and was awarded the title of “knob of the holiday” when we finally alighted in the slums, some 2.5 kms past the centre.

On reflection though, I always say if you want to experience the true culture of a place, go into the back streets where the locals live.  We found Bar Parquesol on the Avenida Navel Una first – very “local”.  The owner of the tabac/newsagent across the street was cheerily drinking his profits at the bar.  Overheard voices were unsurprisingly Spanish and I imagined the word mañana being the most common in use.  We had a couple of beers then decided to move on to the more touristy part of the port.

Back street Marbella - are we safe here?


Salduba “Pub”, Banús

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

More on Puerto Banús, and this was an afternoon sojourn to the Salduba Pub, right on the Port entrance.

The house wines we tried were a 2006 Rosé – BACH Vina Extrisima.  Quite pleasant if basic.  Timid flavours of strawberries and ice cream.

Jeff and Paul kiss and make up after a tiff…for some reason

The next was a red wine:  BACH Crianza 2002.  Bloody awful. with strong flavours of napalm, vinegar and strawberries.

Both were house wines but the rest of the list was uninspirational.  Go to the Salduba by all means, but I’d stick to beer.

Salduba Pub, Muelle de la Ribera, 29660.  Puerto Banús (Málaga).  T: +34 952 811 092

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?


Santa Clause comes early…in the evening

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Me and my Chairman finished a meeting in the City and decided to go for a quick beer………which turned into erm, two bottles of wine.

The reason being that we stumbled upon Clause on Lovat Lane off Eastcheap EC3.

This bar must think it is Christmas every day.  Between 5pm and 7pm they have a happy happy happy hour where all wines (except house) are half price!  So we “invested” in an Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc, Chile 2005 at £17.50 (or rather £8.75).  It would have been rude not to have ordered some nibbles to go with it, so we didn’t.

Then after a second bottle we ordered the bill and, including service, it was less than 20 quid – what in London?  In the City?  At a posh bar?  “Yaw ‘avin a larf” my chirpy cab driver said to me on the way back to Kings Cross.

Oh the wine?  Er yes, it was full of rich fruits and –  oh who cares – it was very very very drinkable and at that price I suggest you get down to Clause the very next time that the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the, well er, 17 to be precise . . . . .

Clause.  1 Lovat Lane, off Eastcheap, London EC3R 8DT.  +44 (0) 207 283 6191.

Ian Simpson’s Pitch and Putt Pad

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Just popped out to the local…..sort of.

Monday night is not the best night out ever in Manchester.  Even Cloud 23 is half shut and cordoned off.  Worse still, the bit cordoned off is the bit where you can do a jig and a reel on a glass “porthole” looking straight down 23 floors to Deansgate…if you dare (and I did, but only after a cocktail).


Cork and Bottle – West End Winner

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Would you pay in advance for a crap meal?

No - I wouldn’t either.  However, the wine bar on review here gets away with it because the meal is actually not crap but mainly because the wine list is fantastic.

I had been to the Cork & Bottle on Cranbourn St, near Leicester Square many many times and enjoyed every occasion…well maybe except for the first time I visited, where I couldn’t work out the MO for getting served!

So, since I had started my blog, and I happened to be in London, I thought I would revisit and see how the wine list compared to the last time I was there.  It hadn’t changed at all – excellent!  (although it’s due a change soon to be fair…. come on Don!)


Three Acres with the Movers and Shakers

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

I am reminded of the old joke where a farmer’s son asks his dad how much land he will get for his inheritance. The dad kicks his son in the nuts and says “well there’s a couple of achers to start with”.

To get a Friday night reservation at the Three Acres, required several month’s notice. Was it going to be worth the wait or would I be kicked in the nuts?

The Three Acres to which I refer, is a gastro-pub that nestles beneath Emley Moor transmitter in Shelley, 5 miles south of Huddersfield, West Yorks.  Its reputation reaches much wider than the transmitter’s signals, however.