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Italian restaurant Carluccio’s Covent Garden, London
Dec 17th, 2009 by Olivier

Carluccio’s
Garrick Street, Covent Garden
London WC2E 9BH

Carluccio’s Covent Garden

I had been to Carluccios once previously. Although that was a couple of years ago, my recollection is that this restaurant did quite good pasta. On this occassion though, it was for an office Christmas lunch, so my expectations weren’t high.

From a limited menu (that we had to pre-select from) I chose a vegetarian platter as starter, Bistecca di Bue con Patate for the main course, and Pasticcio di Cioccolato as dessert.

Great vegetarian platter

Great vegetarian platter

Bistecca di Bue con Patate

Bistecca di Bue con Patate

The starter was really quite good, with very nice fresh foccacio bread and a variety of peppers, olives and mozarella. Unfortunately, the main course wasn’t so good. The steak was a very thin cut and rather fatty, overcooked and very tough. I abandoned it after just a couple of bites. It came with a sort of creamy tomato sauce that would have been better with pasta, but definitely did not improve the steak.

Pasticcio di Cioccolato

Pasticcio di Cioccolato

Dessert was a chocolate bread pudding. It was a welcome relief after the steak, but actually also not very good. It was cold and rather soggy.

Overall, it was a disppointing meal, with only the starter worth eating. Christmas set menus for office parties are notoriously poor, and this one was no exception. It doesn’t make me inclined to try this restaurant again.

Carluccio's Covent Garden on Urbanspoon

Bellevue Rendez-Vous restaurant, Wandsworth Common, London
Dec 16th, 2009 by Olivier

Bellevue Rendez-vous
218 Trinity Road, Wandsworth Common
SW17 7HP London

Bellevue Rendez-Vous

Bellevue Rendez-vous is my favourite local restaurant as I live just a few minutes walk away.  It is located in front of Wandsworth Common which is a great place if you are into “urban wildlife” photography (parakeets, many kinds of ducks, geese, coots, swans, herons and foxes in the evening) like me.

As starters we ordered the assiette de charcuterie (£6.50) and the scallops with open ravioles and mushroom sauce (£8.50).
As main courses we had the Mallard duck with artichoke mash and salsifi (£16) and a Venison fillet with pumpkin mash (was normally celeriac mash) and cep mushroom (£19). The desserts were a cooked pear with red wine (£5.50) and a chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream (£6.50). The drinks were a glass of Pinot noir (£5.50) and half a litre of Badoit water (£2).

Scallops

Scallops

The scallops were very nicely cooked, as is the usual experience at this restaurant. On this occassion, they came served in a creamy mushroom sauce that was a very nice accompaniment. A very pleasant dish that I would not hesitate to take again.

Assiette de charcuterie

Assiette de charcuterie

The assiette de charcuterie was good, with some rillette, salami, ham and the cornichons to counter balance the taste. A good way to start dinner.

The main courses

The main courses

The duck

The duck

The mallard duck was the breast and a confit thigh, served with artichoke mash was excellent. The duck was beautifully cooked, just pink in the middle as requested, nicely tender and full of flavour. The mash and the parsnip strips it was served with were an excellent accompaniment that kept the meal nice and light. I could only have wished it was larger and would certainly order this meal again. The best duck I’ve had in a restaurant in the UK for quite some time.

Venison fillet

Venison fillet

The venison fillet was a little on the small side but tender and good with an excellent sauce. The taste of the venison was not overpowering as it can happen sometimes with that type of meat.

The desserts

The desserts

Cooked pear with red wine

Cooked pear with red wine

The cooked pear was very small, with an icecream on top of it. The taste of the wine was light but I did not find it mixed well with the icecream.

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant

And it is indeed fondant (melting)

And it is indeed fondant (melting)

The chocolate fondant was up to its usual standard – with a lightly crispy outside and liquid centre. What I especially like here is that it is not too sweet, which is always a risk with chocolate. A nice end to the meal.

Cost and conclusion: it was £69.50 and they do not add automatically the service charge which is welcome, and rare in London. A good dinner, as usual should I add! The only problem I have is the menu that does not change often so as a local restaurant for me this is a little annoying but for anyone else, do not hesitate to go there! For more reviews about this restaurant, please visit the page listing restaurants in alphabetical order.

Bellevue Rendez-vous on Urbanspoon

The Anchor – Bankside, Southwark, London SE1 9EF
Dec 15th, 2009 by Olivier

The Anchor
34 Park Street, Bankside, Southwark
London SE1 9EF

The Anchor

The Anchor

The Anchor

It is a large building

It is a large building

The Anchor is a historic pub located near Shakespeare’s Globe. It was cold outside and the pub looked nice from outside so we decided to try it despite knowing it is in a very touristic area… Inside, it was still nice and large too. The restaurant is located at the second level and the room isn’t that big compared to the rest of the pub.

Inside

Inside

As starters we ordered the spicy carrot and lentil soup served with half baguette and butter (£4.25) and a chicken liver and pancetta pâté served with toast and damson and elderflower chutney (£4.45). Other starters were the potted brown shrimps served with toasted fingers of bread (£4.85), the smoked scottish salmon served with toast and sour cream (£5.65) and the prawn cocktail (prawns in marie rose sauce served with toast, on a bed of salad – £5.65).

As main courses we chose the grilled seabass fillet (with sautéed Mediterranean vegetable couscous drizzled with herb olive oil – £12.75) and the baked cod fillet (wrapped in pancetta, served with seasonal vegetables and new potatoes, finished with herb olive oil – £12.75). Some other interesting main courses were the tornedo rossini 7oz fillet steack (£16.75) or the traditional steak and kidney pudding (£11.75). We also had a pint of Stella (£3.80) and a glass of water.

The starters

The starters

Chicken liver and pancetta pâté

Chicken liver and pancetta pâté

The chicken liver and pancetta pâté was average and quite small/thin compared to many places I have been but also compared to the chutney. It looked more like a light mousse than a pâté, like if it was very processed. It tasted ok, not great but not bad either. The little slices of toast were good and served warm.

Spicy carrot and lentil soup

Spicy carrot and lentil soup

The soup was very poor – it was salty to the point it was inedible, and generally seemed like something that came out a can, had salt added, and then had been reheated 8 times. I would not have been surprised if my spoon could have stood up on its own in this muck. The bread it came with was fine – but the soup went back uneaten.

Baked cod fillet

Baked cod fillet

The baked cod fillet was a little smelly (smelling fish, not the pancetta) but fortunately it was firm… It was a little overcooked and dry on the outside. It tasted mostly blend, despite the pancetta’s help. More sauce would have been welcome and ironically it needed more salt as well. The vegetables were good.

Grilled seabass fillet

Grilled seabass fillet

The sea bass with couscous was also disappointing. The fish, whilst firm, had no seasoning at all and no flavour and had several burnt patches where it had got a bit close to the grill. It was a bit like eating cardboard (though it improved slightly after I added my own salt). The couscous also was poor – it had little flavour, except for that provided by a few bits of aubergine and rubbery mushrooms. Worse, it was swimming in a nasty olive oil that did little for the dish except make it greasy. Overall, a decided disappointment.

Before leaving the pub, we stopped by the bathroom. Finding it was easy – just follow the strong smell of urine. In the men’s bathroom, there were two cubicles and no light in them. Another client was complaining about it when I was there. I did not spend much time there since I am not good at holding my breath very long. A toilet should always be checked, it is not acceptable to have that kind of toilet in a restaurant.

Cost and conclusion: it was £38 and there is no service charge. They still charged for the soup despite the fact we did not touch it after a spoon of it. The service was ok, but the food was bad. Most of the clients there were tourists. This place is not going to improve the reputation of English food to say the least.

Anchor Pub on Urbanspoon

Qantas/BA lounge in terminal 1 – Singapore Changi Airport
Dec 11th, 2009 by Olivier

Qantas/BA lounge in terminal 1 – Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore 918141

Waiting for my Qantas flight from Singapore to London Heathrow, I went to the Qantas/BA lounge in terminal 1. With such hot and sticky weather in Singapore, my priority was first a shower before the flight, and second a light snack that would hold me over to breakfast – so I could get straight to sleep on the flight.

Snack

Snack

Happily, I had time for both. The shower facilities at Changi airport are excellent and refreshed, I had time to grab a quick snack before the boarding call. I had a couple of tuna/cucumber sandwiches and a small carrot cake. Both were freshly made, and tasted better than they looked. Perhaps not the best airline lounge food I’ve ever had, but quite reasonable for a person in a hurry and the freshness made up for the limited imagination.

Long Bar Raffles Hotel Singapore
Dec 10th, 2009 by Olivier

Long Bar Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road
Singapore 189673

Long Bar Raffles Hotel Singapore

Beautiful Raffles Hotel Singapore

Beautiful Raffles Hotel Singapore

Another interior view of Raffles Hotel

Another interior view of Raffles Hotel

Anyone visiting Singapore should make at least one visit to the historic Raffles Hotel. I’ve been here before, but was travelling with some colleagues for whom it was the first visit. Finding ourselves nearby after the end of a business meeting, we decided to make a short visit to the Long Bar. The Long Bar is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail. Actually I don’t much like them – they’re too sweet for my taste, so I had a tiger beer instead. But despite the heavily touristic nature of the drink, it is still worth trying once.

Inside the Long Bar

Inside the Long Bar

Another view

Another view

Big box of peanuts

Big box of peanuts

Another feature of the Long Bar is the tradition of serving peanuts in their shells. These have a nice flavour, quite unlike ready-roasted peanuts we’re more used to. At the Long Bar, peanut shells are just tossed onto the floor, which is a freedom difficult to get used to! Should you resist the custom though, and make a neat pile on your table, the next waiter to visit your table is just going to brush them off onto the floor in spite of you though, so you might as well just do it yourself.


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