Friday, 18 May 2012

Restaurant Review: Trangallan

A quick trip to Andalucia and a couple of visits to the tiny village of Setenil de las Valles reminded me how good the simple, unpretentious tapas of this region is.  Little fried squid, cured manchego stored in good olive oil, slices of jamon with fried quails eggs and all a Euro each.  So what to do upon my return dine out on some modern Spanish in Newington Green's Trangallan, price per tapita £7-11...hmmm.

This is slightly unfair.  This isn't rural Andalucia where unemployment is some of the worst in Europe after the collapse of the construction industry in the region and where agriculture is dominant (the tourist industry on the coast is mainly dominated by outsiders).  Secondly these weren't really Tapas, they were -shudder- small plates, London's newest not very new fad.  So not new is this craze in fact that the Pitcher and Piano now does what they call grazing plates.  This is progress from the begining of the trend in Bocca de Lupo and Polpo in the same way that going from the Parthenon to the Elephant and Castle shopping centre is progress in architecture.  However, before I give the impression that I didn't like Trangallan I will clarify.  The food was very good, very very good in fact and it was a pleasant little place, although with a slightly self concious air of being a trendy neighbourhood secret.

Best Food and Drink Shops: The Sampler

I tell almost everyone about the Sampler.  Winner of 'The Best Small Shop in Britain' from the Telegraph it is hardly a secret, but I think it is a shame for anyone who likes wine not to know about it.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Restaurant Review: The Albion

Winner of the 2009 Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Roast award Albion comes with a formidable reputation and a lot to live up to.  Having failed to have Sunday lunch at a reasonable hour I was particularly hoping for a good feed as I dragged my weakened body through (what must be some of the nicest) streets of London.  Hurdle number one, would such a popular place even have space, even at 9pm on a Sunday?  Answer; only just, but yes they did and the armchair I ended up in was massive in a sort of mediaval king with a serious evil ruler complex kind of way.  A good start that continued.  Service was good and efficient and the surroundings were comfortable and well presented in a very gentrified plush, countrified gastropub way.  Then my food arrived and I was ready to see if Albion had kept up with the pace or if it was 'totes noughties'.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Restaurant Review: Yipin

Any regular readers of the blog will probably have noticed the slew of Sichuanese restaurants that I have reviewed around London and my love of Chinese food in general.  Well then, imagine my excitement when walking home along Liverpool Road I wandered past Yipin.  It doesn't look like much from the outside, but on looking at the menu in the window I was happy to find Sichuan classics like pock marked old woman's bean-curd, boiled fish slices and hot and numbing beef.  On closer investigation of the menu online, however, I found that though the Sichuanese is reputedly good, Yipin actually specialises in Hunanese food, a cuisine still heavy on the chilli, but without the numbing peppers and a bit more fond of a dash of sugar.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

New Siam, Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka

Apparently explaining you're entering a country despite only transitting for a few hours between flights, to go and eat in the cheaper, more interesting restaurant in the arrivals part of the airport is not a good enough explanation for some passport officials. The fact that English wasn't the man's first language (though he was very good at it) didn't help. I'm pretty sure he had understood what  Ihad  said, then decided that it was too ridiculous to be right  leading him to conclude that he  must have made a mistake. After one or two more attempts I decided to just say I was going to walk to get some fresh air; that seemed to do the trick.

El Charoles, El Escorial

I've never been given a screwdriver at the end of a meal before. This one was pretty good. It had a Philips head screwdriver of two different sizes  that were easily interchangeable and one of whatever the other kind of screwdriver is called. I have no idea what it's called but its pretty useful. Thinking about it I don't actually know which one is a Philips head at all and which is the other kind whose name I don't know. Before I get too bogged down in this I'll get back to the point, which is that it is a pretty weird present after you've just eaten a big piece of beef. This was the second surprise of the afternoon. The first was at the restaurant was any good at all give it was planted firmly on the tourist trail. Having said that, things here are are markedly less touristy than in Segovia where an incredible piece of suckling pig made me remark something quite similar. Pig didn't feature in lunch this time, however.  Here the name of the game was steak.