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Thai Restaurant The Pepper Tree 19 Clapham Common Southside, London SW4 7AB
Jun 24th, 2009 by Olivier

Thai Restaurant The Pepper Tree
19 Clapham Common Southside
London SW4 7AB
Tel 020 7622 1758

The Pepper Tree

The Pepper Tree

The Pepper Tree

Located close to Clapham Common tube station, the Pepper Tree is quite a popular Thai restaurant by judging the queues outside of it. Inside, it is like a canteen with long tables and benches you share with other people. A little like at Wagamama. Not much privacy, and it is very noisy. There must be some kind of bad acoustic in the room. Anyway, we had to yell to have a conversation.

We ordered the Chicken Satay (Chunks of barbecued chicken on a skewer with peanut dip– £3.15) and the Dim Sum filled with minced pork, prawn and water chestnuts with soy and ginger sauce (£2.95) as starters. The main courses were the Red Chicken Curry (a creamy Thai curry cooked with coconut milk, bamboo shoots and sweet basil – £4.80) and a Pepper Tree Curry (a vegetable curry with Thai aubergines, krachai, fresh chillies, lime leaves and sweet basil – £4.50). We also ordered two portions of steamed rice (£1.80 each) that could be useful in case of seriously hot curry, and two great Singaporean Tiger beers (£2.90 each). Talking about the curry and how hot they can be, the red chicken curry was rated as medium hot while the pepper tree curry was rated hot.

The Chicken Satay with peanut dip was very good. The chicken was nicely barbequed with a crispy outer, but still nice and moist inside and the peanut satay sauce was an excellent accompaniment – not too heavy, nor sweet as is sometimes the case with peanut sauces. The three chicken skewers were quite a generous portion. The Dim Sum were quite good with nice flavours. I quite like Thai cuisine and its abundant distinctive aromas.

The Thai red curry was excellent – one of the best I’ve had. It was lightly spicy, and very nice and creamy – just the way I like it :-) The chicken in this curry was very tender, and had been well marinated in the coconut milk. The dish had many subtle flavours, which were well balanced. I’d certainly order this again. The pepper tree curry was seriously hot! I am into hot food but that one was hot to the point it was difficult to eat. I managed to eat all of it but I suffered. Even two hours after lunch my stomach was still burning. That said, the waiter did warn about it and now I know at the Pepper Tree that hot really means hot! Just as well we had the rice!

They had interesting desserts like yellow beancake (home-made Thai beancake served warm with vanilla ice cream – £2.95) or sliced bananas in warm coconut milk (£2.50) but we did not try them because it was becoming too noisy. It was nice to go out to the Common just in front of the restaurant for enjoying some peace.

Tiger (Singapore) beer

Tiger (Singapore) beer

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Dim Sum

Dim Sum

Overview of the two starters

Overview of the two starters

Red Chicken Curry

Red Chicken Curry

Pepper Tree Curry

Pepper Tree Curry

Overview of the two main courses

Overview of the two main courses

Details of my plate with a mix of the two main courses

Details of my plate with a mix of the two main courses

Cost and conclusion: for about £25 (service charge not included) it is a great place for a quick lunch. The food is good and well priced. The service was fine too. Despite the rush, everything came in time and they were attentive. No need to yell to get the bill 😉 Recommended if you are looking for a quick meal in the area!

The Pepper Tree on Urbanspoon

Japanese restaurant Tokyo Diner 2 Newport Place, London WC2H 7JJ
Jun 23rd, 2009 by Olivier

Japanese restaurant Tokyo Diner
2 Newport Place
London WC2H 7JJ

Tokyo Diner

Tokyo Diner

Tokyo Diner

Tokyo Diner is probably the largest Japanese restaurant located in Chinatown. At first it looks small but there are rooms downstairs and upstairs. I used to go often there, especially from 2005 to 2007, then I had 3 not so good experiences and decided to go to Zipangu next door. I still go to Zipangu now named Akasiro but I wanted to check how Tokyo Diner was doing.
We ordered 2 Asahi beers (£3.80 – that is a very good price) and 2 Kara Fry Bento boxes (£31.80). I used to take the Kara Fry Bento box in the past so it was a good way to use it as a benchmark. I was quite disappointed and it is sad to see this place going down. In the past the pieces of chicken were so large that I could have trouble eating it all. They were also freshly cooked with a nice crispy skin. Now they were not really warm with a chewy texture (even the skin) which makes me wonder how long ago were they cooked… The salmon sashimi used to be 3 larges slices. Now it was ridiculously small, like the size of a single slice in the past divided into 3 pieces. Worse, they were room temperature instead of being on the cold side. The only thing that did not change size was the rice but it was dry, and was long grain rice which really isn’t suited to Japanese cuisine. The pickles and the aubergine agé bitashi were good while the su-no-mono was not. The beer was not very cold too. They used to do so much better.

On the upside: the service is friendly and I like they give you the bill when they serve your meal so after eating you do not have to wait and can go directly to the counter to pay. Also, they give you green tea for free and refill it too. If you like green tea, you do not have to order any drink. They have a no tipping policy, like in Japan, which is nice.

Asahi beer and green tea

Asahi beer and green tea

Kara Fry bento

Kara Fry bento

Details of the bento box

Details of the bento box

Pickles and aubergine agé bitashi

Pickles and aubergine agé bitashi

Cost and conclusion: it was £35.60. The Kara Fry bento is way overpriced at £15.90 for what you get now. It is the price for two pizzas and two drinks at Franco Manca (in Brixton), it is currently the price for a two course set menu at Bellevue Rendez-vous (in Wandsworth Common) where the quality of food is high. It is also a lot more than the other Japanese restaurant Akasiro next door. It is now the 4th consecutive time I have had a bad experience at Tokyo Diner in the last 2 years. I have also friends who have noticed the same problem and we did not eat together. Also, they do claim they are open 365 days a year from 12 till 12 but we got refused at 11pm one night. There were still people eating and it was far from being full.

Tokyo Diner on Urbanspoon

Gourmet Burger Kitchen 44 Northcote Road, Battersea SW11 1NZ London
Jun 22nd, 2009 by Olivier

Gourmet Burger Kitchen
44 Northcote Road, Battersea
SW11 1NZ London
Telephone (020) 7228 3309

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Gourmet Burger Chicken in Battersea

Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Battersea

Have you ever tried a Kiwiburger? It is a burger with beef, cheese, salad, egg but also some beetroot. It originated in New Zealand hence the name. The idea for Gourmet Burger Kitchen originated in New Zealand and this can be seen by the presence on the menu of not only the kiwiburger but also from several wines and beers coming from there. It happened I was wearing a flashy green fluo t-shirt with New Zealand on it so I fitted in well in the restaurant 😉

The restaurant is quite simple inside, a little crammed but there is a terrace so you can eat outside if you wish. Our table was next to the counter so it was getting a little busy with all the people ordering their food especially since they also do take away.

We ordered a Kiwiburger made of 100% Aberdeen-Angus Scotch beef, beetroot, egg, pineapple, cheese, salad, mayonnaise & relish (£7.95) and a Habanero made of 100% Aberdeen-Angus Scotch beef, hot and spicy sauce, mozzarella cheese, salad & mayonnaise (£7.65) plus two NZ brewed beers, a Steinlager (£3.30) and a Mac’s Gold (£3.30). We also added two portions of fries (£2.75 each).

The burgers were excellent! They were also massive, so only for very hungry people (or could alternatively be shared). The burger bun was nice and fresh, and lightly grilled so it was crispy on the outside whilst remaining nice and fresh inside. All the burgers are cooked to ‘medium’ (unless you ask for something different) – medium was perfect. In addition to the meat, the kiwiburger has cheese, egg, beetroot and pineapple, plus the usual salad and tomato. That means about 3-4 full rings of pineapple and at least half a beetroot – so really not a small meal. It had a little too much tomato for my taste, but that is easy to expel. The only complaint/comment here is that there is no way in the world to eat this thing other than dissecting it with knife and fork. It is a seriously large burger – about 20 cm in height.

The Habanero burger was very good too and the spicy sauce was a little sweet and surprisingly spicy (hot). I like that! Apparently it is a novelty on their menu. The fries were good. They were still crispy while being quite large. Do not order two portions unless you are very very hungry! We managed to finish one only. The mustard provided with the fries was incredibly hot, be moderate with it 😉

The macs gold beer is a pleasant lager and the Steinlager was fine too if you are into bitter beer – both were served properly cold as they were designed to be, not the semi-cold (too warm) bottles you get too frequently in London pubs.

Not very large inside

Not very large inside

2 NZ brewed beers! Mac’s Gold & Steinlager

2 NZ brewed beers! Mac’s Gold & Steinlager

Kiwiburger

Kiwiburger

Habanero burger

Habanero burger

Details of the Habanero burger

Details of the Habanero burger

Overview of the table

Overview of the table

Details of the massive Kiwiburger

Details of the massive Kiwiburger

Done! Nap time required now...

Done! Nap time required now...

Cost and conclusion: it was £27.70 in all. It is possible to have offers like two for one etc if you do some search online. We did not know at that time since we tried it just because the burgers looked good while visiting the area. It is not exactly the refined food but the quality was there and it was good. What else to ask for burgers? The service was very good too. Definitely recommended!

Gourmet Burger Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Landhaus Bacher A-3512 Mautern, Wachau, Südtirolerplatz 2, Austria
Jun 20th, 2009 by Olivier

Restaurant Landhaus Bacher
A-3512 Mautern, Wachau Südtirolerplatz 2
Austria
www.landhaus-bacher.at

Laudhaus Bacher

Outside Vienna, in Wachau area

Outside Vienna, in Wachau area

 In the beautiful Wachau wine area full of small medieval towns the best restaurant is Landhaus Bacher in Mautern. It is a “Geniesser-hotel” which can be translated as a  place for the Epicureans. Their awards are quite impressive. Lisl Wagner-Bacher is one of the best chefs in Austria and she was the first woman there to be awarded the Gault Millau “Chef of the Year” in 1983. The restaurant has also been rated 2 stars by the Michelin guide and 3 toques by the Gault Millau guide with a rating of 18 out of 20! It is possible to take part in gastronomy courses with her and they even have guest rooms in their nice countryside house.

Nice setting and lots of space between tables

Nice setting and lots of space between tables

We were three people in all and we decided to have the lunch in the restaurant’s garden. It was very pleasant, with a peaceful atmosphere. The service was discreet and efficient, always ready to help you. I had the langostinos (gebratene Langostinos mit gerösteten Artischocken im leicht gebundenen Paellasud) as a starter and a braised shoulder of Limousin lamb (Rücken und geschmorte Schulter vom Limousin Lamm mit Bohnen-Tomatensugo und Erdäpfel-Schalottenschnitte as main course. My friends took a consommé (Consommé vom Kavaliersspitz mit Fleischstrudel, Suppengemüse und Liebstöckl) and trout fillet (Waldviertler Saibling mit mariniertem Spargel, Zitronenconfit und Kressesalat) as starters and milk veal (Das Beste vom Tiroler Milchkalb mit gratiniertem Erdäpfel-Pilzcrêpe) and also the lamb as main courses. The wine was a superb local white wine Grüner Vetliner produced by the nearby NIKOLAI HOF. The dessert was a mousse of strawberry and lemon and at the end we had some griottes/sherries with cream. We all found the food delicious with everything cooked to perfection. The langoustinos were delicate and tasty, the braised lamb really good. The dessert was up to the rest, not too sweet etc, just perfect! Lovely presentation of each meal (see photos below). It is hard to review a perfect lunch.

Langostinos with roasted artichokes and paella

Langostinos with roasted artichokes and paella

Detailled view of the langostinos

Detailled view of the langostinos

Trout with marinated asparagus

Trout with marinated asparagus

Detailled view of the trout

Detailled view of the trout

Overview of the trout with marinated asparagus, lemon confit and watercress salad

Overview of the trout with marinated asparagus, lemon confit and watercress salad

Consommé of Kavalier Spitz with meat strudel

Consommé of Kavalier Spitz with meat strudel

Detailed view

Detailed view

1989 The best of Tyrolean milk veal with potatoes gratinées and Pilzcrêpe

1989 The best of Tyrolean milk veal with potatoes gratinées and Pilzcrêpe

Detailed view

Detailed view

Braised shoulder of Limousin lamb

Braised shoulder of Limousin lamb

Detailed view

Detailed view

Strawberry and lemon mouse

Strawberry and lemon mouse

Detailed view

Detailed view

Nice way of ending the lunch!

Nice way of ending the lunch!

Conclusion and cost: I was invited, but the cost can be estimated at about 70-80 euros per person including wine. The meals were excellent and the local white wine wonderfully fruity. Landhaus Bacher with its creative cuisine is truly the fine dining paradise for gourmets!

Greek restaurant Orpheus Spiegelgasse 10 Vienna 1010, Austria
Jun 19th, 2009 by Olivier

Greek restaurant Orpheus
Spiegelgasse 10
1010 Vienna, Austria 
Tel +43 1 5123888

Orpheus

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Vienna is well known for its Opera Ball, and culinary talking, for its Wiener Schnitzel but I went to a Greek restaurant with specialties from Crete! I did not choose it but a friend of mine did for our group meeting. The restaurant chosen was Orpheus, located in the downtown near Stephansplatz. It is smartly designed in black and is quite spacious. What’s nice also is it has a huge open panoramic windows so you can dine in while having fresh air from outside. We did even better by going on their covered terrace.

Overview of the table

Overview of the table

As starters we had different kinds of mezze (olives, feta cheese etc) and it was quite filling. For main course I had a grilled octopus. It was not bad at all but a little hard. Maybe it was a little overcooked but I cannot blame them because we chatted a long time while eating the starters. The beer was fine and they have Tsikoudia which is a digestif from Crete similar to the Italian grappa.

Grilled octopus

Grilled octopus

Cost and conclusion: I did not pay the bill. The food was good, not fantastic but it was probably because of us being so slow. The service were very nice. They were attentive and not pushy at all. Recommended if you are in the area!


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