Wednesday, August 31, 2005

food for thought

remembering well damonline's anti-gastro pub rant a few months ago, i thought it might be interesting to read this guardian article about the predominance of ready-made, boil in the bag ingredients in use in restaurants...

In a moment of unbelievable jamminess, I landed a job as a restaurant reviewer this summer (see gloating passim), and I have been considering some of the meals I ate in a new light after reading this. Laura, Queen of Trains, reminds me of one meal at a very successful bar/restaurant, run by a phenomenally successful restaurant group. A 2-course meal, which cost about £70, offered us the following:

- an antipasti plate
- tuna carpaccio
- venison in red onion marmalade
- some other bollocks i now can't remember

The antipasti plate must have cost about £7, and for that we had some very nice bits of meat and olives (also, pesto dressing full of pinenuts, to which L is allergic). The tuna carpaccio had been molested by pepper, totally overwhelming it; and to continue the metaphor, the venison had been indecently assaulted by the red onion marmalade.

it's the last of these ingredients which gives me cause for concern - the stuff was so salty that i had to scrape it off the meat in order for it to be edible. i certainly gulped down wine as i ate it, and left a reasonable amount. i mean, that's salty - this is me, someone who likes to use two oxo cubes and drowns food in gravy you could stand a spoon in.

can it be true? was it just some ready made mix? perhaps i'll never know, but i can tell you something - i wouldn't spend my own money on going back there.

another recurring theme of my restaurant reviews was just how many defiantly mediocre places there were out there. eating out, especially in london, is pretty damn expensive and should i stump up £30 upwards for a single meal, i want it to be good - friendly service, nice atmosphere, clean linen and tableware, and interesting, thoughtful food.

gastropubs, it has to be said, are a particularly bad offender. i am a huge cheerleader for them - the gastro revolution means that pubs have really opened up to women and families, and are no longer smoky, axminster-carpeted dens where you stick to the floor. for this i am grateful. but really, so many of them serve utterly predictable menus (possibly, i now realise, because they are all shopping at the same ready meal supplier). is it too much to ask to be a bit bolder than thai fishcakes and sausage and mash. and no, finding the most ludicrous novelty sausage filling (rabbit's ear, hemp and cumin, and the like) does not count.

also, is it just me that reads the word 'shiite' as 'shite' consistently? certainly makes iraq's daily round of pain, rebellion and explosion more fun! this morning, for example, i read on the wire a hell of a lot of stories about "STAMPEDE AT SHITE BRIDGE".

ps - a personal appeal. laura, if you're reading this: don't browse anymore train websites. you'll go blind.


Anonymous Laura said...

I think the 'jus' mentioned in said Guardian article probably explains Zinc pretty well.

Thank you for mentioning me - much appreciated!

8/31/2005 5:41 pm  
Blogger hangthedj said...

You are turning into Catherine Tate. One of her jokes on her lame show is about 'shit-take mushrooms' and then they fall over themselves laughing cos it has the word shit in it. Oh the hilarity..
Should I have said 'allegedly' lame show? Wouldn't want to insert a libel on this fine website.

9/01/2005 1:28 pm  
Blogger galatea said...

Shit-take mushrooms? Ho ho ho.

The sad thing is, I would probably laugh at that. I have the sense of humour of a 14-year-old boy.

And yes, the 'jus' was terrible, wasn't it? And I was cautioned for having been so mean about it. I may update the post to reflect that..

9/01/2005 2:04 pm  

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