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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

The Duck pub 110 Battersea Rise, Clapham Junction, London SW11 1EJ
Nov 4th, 2009 by Olivier

The Duck
110 Battersea Rise, Clapham
London SW11 1EJ

The Duck

The Duck

The Duck

Inside...

Inside...

TV scren for those into sports

TV scren for those into sports

We have noticed the Duck on our way to the excellent Japanese restaurant Tokiya. Actually, it is hard to miss the huge fire of their oven through the windows, especially in the evening. Inside, it is quite large and they have different rooms at different levels. It is basically decorated and it can feel even a little empty. There are tv screens for watching sports. The Duck is more a “real” pub than a gastropub. You go there for drinking mostly and food is essentially wraps (from £3.95 to £4.95), pasta, salads and pizzas (from £6.25 to £8.50 for 12″, they also have 6″ pizzas) which is fine since we were wanting to try their pizzas.

They have many different kinds of pizzas and beyond the regular Margherita or Quattro Formaggio some were more unusual, like the pizza Carne Fuego (salami, chorizo, Parma ham, pepperoni, spicy meatballs, mozzarella, fresh green chillies – £8.75), pizza Pesci ed Oliva (tuna, black olives, anchovies, red onion and mozzarella – 6.95), pizza Fajita Chicken (chicken, roasted peppers, fajita spice, red onions and mozzarella -£7.50), pizza BBQ Chicken (roasted chicken with red onion, mozzarella and BBQ sauce – £7.50), and pizza Formaggio di Capre (goats cheese, pesto, black olives, mozzarella, finished with rocket leaves – £7.25).

Their pizzas are stone baked and the dough is homemade and hand stretched as we could see from the cook making them in front of the fire. It is possible to have any of their 12″ pizzas served ‘calzone’ in a calzone way (folded) by just asking them when you place your order.

We ordered the classical pizza Romana (mozzarella, mascarpone cheese, Parma ham and red onion – £7.75) and a less classical pizza Crispy duck (with hoi sin sauce, mozzarella and finished with spring onions – £8.50) for curiosity. As drink we had a pint of Stella and a glass of grapefruit juice.

The two pizzas

The two pizzas

Pizza Romana

Pizza Romana

The pizza Romana was basic but good. Nothing spectacular but nothing wrong either too. The pasta was thin and crispy. One thing that surprised me was the pizza arrived already sliced. I guess it is more convenient for the guests watching sport. The spicy olive oil was unfortunately missing but they had garlic oil which was ok.

Sharing the pizza crispy duck  with the pizza romana

Sharing the pizza crispy duck with the pizza romana

The pizza crispy duck was a bit strange, and rather too sweet with its hoi sin sauce. Well, it was always going to be an experiment, but its not one that I’ll repeat. Even with a different topping, this pizza base was a bit hard for my liking, clearly the pizza dough had not been left to rise for many hours prior to cooking. Overall, adequate but uninspiring.

Cost and conclusion: it was about £20 something. It is ok for watching sport with friends and beer but we would not go back just for the food, especially with Tokiya a few metres away and Pizza Metro 5 minutes walk away if you are into pizza.

The Duck on Urbanspoon

The Prince Albert 85 Albert Bridge Road Battersea London
Oct 22nd, 2009 by Olivier

The Prince Albert
85 Albert Bridge Road, Battersea
London SW11 4PF

The Prince Albert

The Prince Albert

The Prince Albert

Two dogs at the door and a cow on the roof

Two dogs at the door and a cow on the roof

Nice great Dane

Nice great Dane

Great statue

Great statue

The main entrance

The main entrance

The Prince Albert is a surprising-looking pub with two big statues of dogs outside and a cow on the roof. If, like me, you like to see Meerkats at Battersea Park Zoo and feel hungry after watching them eating (the feeding time is 11am by the way) the pub is very well located right in front of Battersea Park on the Albert Bridge road side.

The counter

The counter

Another view

Another view

Inside it is spacious and there is also outside seating. It seems the pub is frequented by many parents taking their babies out at the park but we did not hear any babies screaming etc. It was fine.

We ordered chicken liver pate, apple chutney (£6.50) and onion and thyme soup with Cheddar cheese toast ($6) as starters. They were followed by a cheese burger, dill pickle and chips (£9.50) and a Kilravock pork chop, Irish black pudding and duck egg (£10). As drinks we had a lemonade (£1.60) and a pint of Stella (£3.50).

Ketchup and mayonnaise in the little cups

Ketchup and mayonnaise in the little cups

Other interesting meals were the Berkswell cheese, pickled walnuts and beetroot salad (£7.50), the smoked trout, green brean and soft boiled egg salad (£8), the Scottish mussels, cider, leeks and bacon (£9), the 28 day aged rib eye steak on the bone, parsley butter and chips (£18.50), the roast skate wing, brown shrimps and capers (£13) and the Welsh lamb rump, roast garlic and white bean stew (£12.50). I was interested by the Ploughman’s lunch but unfortunately it contained stilton cheese and I have not been converted to it yet despite living here for over 5 years now. I still remember the spoon of vegemite on a toast I ate in Sydney while visiting a friend. It was horrible but compared to stilton it was quite edible.

The two starters

The two starters

Chicken liver pate

Chicken liver pate

The chicken liver pate was quite large and thick. It came with 4 slices of toasted bread but they were still not enough to accomodate all the pate. Another slice would have been welcome. As for the pate itself, it was very rich (it was surrounded by butter-like fat on its side, if not just pure butter) but was nice and smooth. Conversely, I really did not like the apple chutney. It was like baby food and I stopped eating it after half a spoon.

Onion soup

Onion soup

The onion soup wasn’t too good either. It was made with a sort of caramelised onion that rendered the soup itself sweet (really not what you want with onion soup). The cheese was fine, but the toast it apparently was on was well and truely disintegrated within the soup, so hardly noticeable. Overall, a rather strange and not especially nice dish that I would not choose again.

The two main courses

The two main courses

Kilravock pork chop

Kilravock pork chop

The Kilravock pork chop was a little dry and bland. Full of fat too and little meat, and I am not a fat meat gourmet. It was well cooked at least but no taste at all. Maybe they forgot to add some salt? The Irish black pudding was good, not too strong as can happen with black pudding. The duck egg was perfectly cooked. Compared to hen eggs, duck eggs contain less water so the white looks more gelatinous which is the case here.

Cheese burger

Cheese burger

The cheese burger had potential – but the “medium” cooked burger was rare to the point of nearly being a tartare! I could have lived with that, but had asked for it medium expecting – as is usual in the UK – to get something well done, as I wanted my meat well cooked. It also seemed a little sad that the burger arrived rather empty looking with just the meat and cheese inside the bun, with a little squirt of mayonnaise, whilst the remaining contents were outside on the plate. The chips it came with were fine and crispy, if a little floury.

Cost and conclusion: it was £37. The food was average, nothing exceptional but it is conveniently located and has a pleasant clean surrounding. The service was friendly and it is kid friendly.

The Prince Albert on Urbanspoon

Ship Inn Mousehole, Penzance, Cornwall
Sep 14th, 2009 by Olivier

Ship Inn Bar and Restaurant
Mousehole – Penzance
Cornwall TR19 6QX

Ship Inn

Mousehole

Mousehole

Mousehole's harbour

Mousehole's harbour

The Ship Inn (in the centre)

The Ship Inn (in the centre)

The entrance

The entrance

Mousehole! I had to come here because of its funny name but actually it is a lot more than that. It is a lovely tiny fishing village really worth the trip.

The Ship Inn is a hotel and pub/restaurant superbly located right in front of the harbour. The old building in stone is quite nice and inside there is a rustic feeling with the wall in stones, the beamed ceilings and the heavy wooden tables. There are several model boats near the windows. There is a pub area and a separate restaurant area.

Inside the Ship Inn

Inside the Ship Inn

The choice in the menu is restricted compared to some gastro pubs: some sandwiches, some jacket potatoes, a rump steak, a double cheeseburger, mussels in white wine, home made fish pie, home made steak and ale pie, fish and chips and that’s about all.
We ordered the beer battered fish and chips and a home-made fish pie. As drink we had a beer and a lemonade.

The drinks

The drinks

Home-made fish pie

Home-made fish pie

The home-made fish pie was very tasty. It was mainly potato and cheese with not too much fish and seafood, but there was enough to make it worth eating and both taste and texture were very good. It came with a nice fresh salad and some crispy chunks of fresh farmhouse-style bread.

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

The beer battered fish and chips was good: well fried, and with a firm texture. The fries were not great but then I am not a fan of those thick fries. I prefer them when they are much thinner. The only thick fries I like are the ones cooked at Gourmet Burger Kitchen because they are crispy.

Cost and conclusion: It was just less than £25, not bad for decent food and for the excellent location. The Ship Inn is also a hotel so you can rest there and enjoy the view over the harbour from your bedroom.

Some other photos taken at Mousehole:

Another view of the harbour

Another view of the harbour

The Mousehole

The Mousehole

Funny!

Funny!

Camelot restaurant 4 Braddons Hill Road West Torquay TQ1 1BG
Sep 11th, 2009 by Olivier

Camelot restaurant and bar
4 Braddons Hill Road West
Torquay TQ1 1BG

Camelot restaurant

Torquay

Torquay

Torquay

Torquay

Camelot medieval restaurant

Camelot medieval restaurant

Despite living in the UK for over 5 years I have not travelled widely within it: a two week trip to the Highlands of Scotland (Inverness, Portree, Isle of Skye, and even the fairly remote North and South Uist), Glasgow and Edinburgh several times, a short trip to Cardiff and the Peak district and that’s about it. I do not count Brighton, Dover, Oxford etc which I’ve also visited as they’re near enough almost to count a little as London’s suburbs ;-)

Having lived in the French riviera, I was curious to discover the English riviera. After all, on the map it is not that far from London. Well, that was without realising how bad the road network is in the UK. The so called motorway is more like a national road in France. Pathetically, the whole UK motorway network is just a little over twice Belgium’s motorway network despite being a much larger country. It is time they invest a little more into it instead of patching unsafe roads. After driving for over 5 hours with a short stop at Stonehenge (a disappointing ripp off place not worth the stop – go to Carnac in Brittany where there are thousands of standing stones instead) we eventually arrived in Torquay.

Near the harbour in Torquay, it is FULL of junk fast food places so we had to walk back inland to find some more original places for our dinner. We found the Camelot wich is a kind of medieval style pub with a knight outside and some solid and heavy wood tables inside.

We ordered as starters the garlic and herb mushrooms (£4.95) and a deep fried brie (£5.45). As main meals we had two ‘holy grail’ with chips and vegetables (£8.95 each) which were pork belly. As drinks, we had a pint of Kronenbourg (£3.20), a lemonade (£1.20), and a still mineral water (£1.20).

The starters

The starters

Garlic and herb mushrooms

Garlic and herb mushrooms

The garlic and herb mushrooms were very well done. In a nice creamy and garlicy sauce and served with some excellent chunks of fresh bread, this was an excellent starter that gave plenty of hope for the main course to follow.

Deep fried brie

Deep fried brie

The deep fried brie was very good: crunchy outside, soft inside with a nice taste and the chutney and salad went well with it.

The main courses

The main courses

Holy grail with chips and vegetables

Holy grail with chips and vegetables

Another view of the holy grail with chips and vegetables

Another view of the holy grail with chips and vegetables

The holy grail with chips and vegetables made of pork bellies were huge. Unfortunately they were a little on the dry side with a lot of fat. The vegetables were good but the chips were not the best we have had. Still, for less than £9 it is a good deal if you are hungry.

Cost and conclusion: it was just over £33.90 and no “12.5% optional service charge” like in London. We like to have it already included in the meals, like in France and many other places. What’s wrong with London where it is becoming a tipping place like in most underdevelopped countries? Despite the not so convincing main course, the Camelot was still a good place to stop after a long drive and the starters were quite good. The prices are very reasonable. Recommended if you are in the area and want to avoid the fast food.


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