Wilde at the Westbury, Dublin

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Posh hotel outside - "Wilde" inside

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.


La Pizza Fresca, East 20th Street, New York

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Al fresco, Pizza Fresca

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?


WART Campaign update

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

A bit of renewed interest (and support) in my campaign to get wines served at the right temperature but I fear I am fighting a losing battle.

I dined at Fino last week, an upmarket tapas place on Charlotte Street, London.  I ordered a bottle of Crianza and asked what temperature it would be served at.  The Spanish waiter handed me a bottle from the shelf behind that was about 25°C.  I volunteered that the people of La Rioja would never serve it so warm and was met with a resigned shrug.  “The customers complain if we serve it at the recommended temperature”.

Similar conversations I have had in numerous restaurants across the country always fall into two categories.  The first is the Fino example where the waiter points to the ignorance of the British public.  The second is where the waiter is one of the ignorami.  On more than one occasion I have been told that I cannot have an ice bucket for my red wine.

We Brits have it so drilled into our psyche that red wine should be tropical and white wine arctic that I wonder if we will ever change.

You might ask who the hell I am to determine what temperature a wine should be served at and people should drink to personal taste.  I totally agree with that, but it is not me who makes the suggestion, it is the person who made the wine and by listening to them, I have much improved my enjoyment of wine.  Furthermore, almost everyone I have forced to try a red in the teens rather than twenties has considered it a revelation.  It is a shame to spend so much money on wine and not get maximum enjoyment out of it.  But live and let live eh?

So if you run a restaurant, I understand that you have to play to your customer base.  Just please don’t look at me like I’m a pig at an H1N1 conference if I ask for an ice bucket when you serve me a red from your wine oven.

Irouleguy Arranoa 2006 and a curry

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

I am always looking for awkward wine/food matches like boiled eggs, beans on toast, and chicken massalla.  I’ve just hit the jackpot with the latter having grabbed this Tannat based wine on a rare visit to Nicolas.

Curry partner extraordinaire...Arranoa


Fung Shing, London Chinatown

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I’ve heard many reports of London Chinatown’s demise.  Shame when Manchester’s equivalent is thriving so well.  I found myself in The Big Smoke on business with nothing better to do than check out the rumours, so I selected a random place on Lisle Street just behind Leicester Square.

Fung Shing Hell - or not as it happens


Fitzroy Dolls, Hotel Russell, London

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Hotel restaurants always give me a slight sinking feeling. Reminders of 1980s boil in the bag meals; they always smell of stale cooking, probably because breakfast buffets are when they get 90% of their traffic.

The Hotel Russell probably counts early risers 99% of its clientele.  It’s easier to get a table at The Ivy than a breakfast table here.  Dinner, however, was predictably quiet.  A few lonely foreign travellers and one table of two couples from Yorkshire who were asking for more gravy – gravy shortages are punishable by death north of Watford Gap.

Grand old Dame


La Réserve de Quasimodo, Ile de la Cité, Paris

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

La Réserve de Quasimodo is self subtitled: Le plus vieux bistrot en l’ile de la cité.  Seven centuries of history.  Did Asterix the Gaul possibly eat here?

Got a hunch this might be a good place


Café de Luna, Clichy, Paris

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Is that a haircut or a hat?

Cafe de Luna, on boulevard de Clichy is a bustling bistro that caught my eye on a cheeky weekend visit.  We were staying round the corner in the ninth and needed a reasonably priced dinner.  That is a challenge at the moment for Brits in Paris due to the parity of Euro/Sterling.

I started with Bourgogne escargots in garlic and mopped up every last morceau!  Eating snails is always a bit like chewing on rolled up condoms but it is the sauce that makes the strange texture so appealing.


Chez Clément, Place St André des Arts, Paris

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Chez Clément has many branches in Paris and one in Nantes.  Is this the French version of Chez Gerard? Je pense que oui!

Freudian Slip?


Brasserie 44, Leeds

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

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.

Classy yet industrial