Good Lord, what a year it’s been! A year later, a year older and we have learned a huge amount about blogging, eating and having amazing friends. We’ve written about so many different things that looking back on the 90 odd posts we’ve shared with you it’s too hard to mention them all so we thought we would give you another chance to check out a couple of our favourites that you might have missed the first time.
I’ve been walking past the Bang Bang Vietnamese Canteen on Warren Street for some time, meaning to head in; the constant stream of people scuttling in and out, not to mention the endless hunger-inducing posts on their Twitter account has had me pining for a visit for sometime.
Armed with the promise of delicious steamed Bao, I coerced a bunch of colleagues and headed on down Friday lunchtime to give it a whirl.
The term fine dining, means different things to different people. To some it conjures up the very epitome of elegance and sophistication. To others, it’s an over-priced waste of time and money. For a man of such wide and indiscriminate culinary desires as I, I fall somewhere between the two; I will gladly pay top dollar for a plate of grub, so long as it represents value, similarly there is nothing wrong with a dirty great fry-up for a couple of quid in the right situation. But when it comes to fine dining, what is value? Is it paying 5 pounds for a burger? What about dropping £100 per person on lunch, or maybe even more? The answer, in my totally non-professional and ultimately irrelevant opinion is that they all are – but in very different ways.
So after Gent and I had had several disappointing attempts to find value in any of the restaurants who had been seemingly tipped* to represent the best that Milton Keynes had to offer, we decided that everyone else was wrong and we had probably known better all along. Perhaps one day we’ll revisit the scenes of some of our biggest regrets in the area, but reviewing a place just because we know it’s over-priced yet depressingly under-whelming doesn’t seem very sporting does it?
Now, avid readers will know that we at TMAT have gone through a lot of pubs this summer and we hope to visit a lot more in the coming years. We’ve already seen some good, some really good and some must try harder but if it’s pubs your interested in, then the Mac Daddy of them all, the El Presidente, the Top Dog is the Hand and Flowers. There are a few pubs who have got themselves a Michelin Star, but only The Hand and Flowers has got 2. So it must having something special, it might take you a year to get a table but a three course lunch will only set you back 20 quid.
No, I’m not joking.
The Embankment sits, as the name suggests, on the bank of the river Ouse in Bedford. The family P stopped in a week ago and found ourselves wondering what could be better than strolling along the river on a gloriously sunny day, pausing only to enjoy a drink at a pub overlooking some of the nicer parts of Bedford*? How lucky then when the aforementioned pub is selling lobster in garlic butter! Mmmmmm, how could we go wrong? We all know that everything’s better with butter.
Stratford Road, Wolverton is hardly a go-to of high-end gastronomic delight; Dixy Chicken, Silver Sea Chinese, Al Kebab Hut but to name a few. Oh, and a rather run down (but admittedly good) hand car wash and a petrol station. Not then a likely location then for a new (and credible) authentic family-run pizzeria.
I like pubs. Pubs are great because they show exactly where Britain’s contribution to world gastronomy came from. The French may have invented the cafe, the Italians are rightly proud of their Osteria’s and the Germans can hold their heads high with a good Beirgarten, but my heart is down the pub and I feel that hauling these pockets of British social cohesion back into relevance one pint of social beverage at a time is the best way to remind ourselves why it would be a terrible thing if they were to disappear.
Having then set the scene for this review, Duns Tew is about as English a village as you might ever hope to visit. Mrs P and I drove along the high street amusing ourselves with stories of an alternative universe where we could afford to move there. Before long though, we pulled into the White Horse and it was everything I had hoped, the place looked fantastic – and full. Very full.
I love a good burger. In fact, it’s a great time to be a
fan of the American fast food icon carnivore, with entrants like Byron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Five Guys, Smashburger and London-centric establishments such as MEATLiquor and Patty & Bun roaring onto the fast-food-come-gourmet scene. There is now no-end of high-end restaurants to indulge in a gourmet burger, especially in London, and frankly I’m rather happy about this.
So when the good people of Honest Burger announced a new opening on Tottenham Court Road, just a stones-throw from my office in Central London, you can imagine my delight and excitement. I assure you it was akin to a puppy at Christmas.
For me, dim sum is a gift from the gods; a delightful little parcel of savoury or sweet goodness. Serious mouthwatering stuff. It’s like honey to the bee (I promise no further Billie Piper references for the remainder of this review).
A bunch of colleagues and I headed down Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia last week for a spot of lunch between meetings and casually strolled into Dim t; naturally I was rather looking forward to ordering the signature dish.
It’s no secret that I’m not really a fan of chain restaurants. The process of duplicating the atmosphere and creating consistency in not just the quality of the food but also the experience of eating it, is one that can suck the very soul out of a place. But many others disagree and even I must concede that some chains are better than others (I’ve not been shy in polishing off a healthy portion of Nando’s in my time). But is what makes a ‘good’ chain restaurant the same as a ‘good’ independent? This was the question that burned in our minds as Suburban Gent and I enjoyed some Mano-a-Mano time when we found ourselves sitting in the puesdo-mexican surroundings of Chimichanga.
We’re all friends here so I feel that we’ve reached the point in our relationship that we can be brutally, frighteningly honest with each other. There are really only two types of people who eat at Michelin starred restaurants other than professional chefs: those who have more money than sense and those who want to impress someone else. And with no sense of shame I’ll admit that for my recent visit to Paris House, I fell very firmly into the latter category. It was my fifth Wedding Anniversary and by God I had quite a few Husband points to make up this year.
I should start this review with a caveat that says I’m going to be quite tough on Paris House. I’ll pick up on a couple of things that other places would probably got away with, but these guys have got a Michelin star and for the prices they are charging, you (and they) should expect perfection.
Quesadilla. Guacamole. Mojito. Churro. Salsa. Burrito. Jalapeño. Daiquiri. Chimichanga. Enchilada. Margarita…
No, I’m not listing the names of my friend’s children. I’m listing my favourite food and drink from the Latin American region which just so happens to be my favourite cuisine.
I love the freshness, the vibrancy of colour and street-food nature of Latin American cooking and entertainment, add a little bit of rum into the mix and you’ve got yourself a cracking party. So you can imagine my excitement when the good people at Revolución de Cuba Milton Keynes invited me down to sample their new shiny menu and launch of their 2-4-1 offer on Burritos.
I was secretly as giddy as a school girl on lemonade, although being the cool-as-cucumber type of guy that I am, I refused to let this on.