Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Princess Pub

We ended up at the Princess pub this past weekend and man were we not impressed!

It just isn't a pub! Not cozy enough, too loud, too much like a bar. There is no ugly carpet, and all the waitresses are too trendy- as are many of the clientele.

I mean can you imagine in a real British pub someone ordering a Mimosa! Sure there were some good ales and Whiskeys to choose from, but I need more from a pub. I need a little peace, I need old and young gathering together. I need those who don't drink beer to be tortured by the lack of options.

Then there was the food- please don't call the French Fries chips unless they really are going to be. My excitement was met with extreme disappointment after seeing the plate of wrongly cooked potatoes served up in front of me. The Malt vinegar a bit of a saving grace, but really needed much squidgier chips to complement. The food of course, just like the Shakespeare pub was over priced. Fish and Chips is supposed to cost a couple of quid- not ten dollars (even with this dreadful exchange rate).

Yes, so definitely unimpressed, and to add insult to injury the worst service I have had in a long time. After placing a complicated drink order I politely asked the waitress if she had 6 drinks written down. I was trying to help her. She snappily replied that yes she did and so imagine my annoyance (not to mention the person's whose drink was missing) when she came back with 5.

We will not be heading back to the Princess soon!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bamboo Lounge Revisted

Well, I would like to quickly update my previous review of Bamboo lounge- which we visited at its very beginning enticed by a fictitious coupon and then encouraged to stay by the offer of a VIP lounge and free appetizer. Of course I was happy with Bamboo lounge the first time around- (although the wine knowledge was sadly lacking) but I was certainly not enthralled. A second visit has left me much more satisfied.
Planning to meet a friend at Baja Betty's we were a little dismayed to see the wait for anything would be 20 minutes ( although we were slightly cheered up by the rumor of a 20 minute wait at Ono Sushi). The next available place to step in for a little while was the bamboo lunge- although a little hesitant at first I was pleased to see the bar was buzzing with customers- not too many customers in the style of Wine Steels but definitely enough for a nice atmosphere. Projectors and screens were showing interesting visuals, and the presence of people made me somehow more excited for us to find a really comfy spot with couches and cushions for all. Best still was the service. As my friends made their way over to the bar to order I lingered at our table chatting. Seeing the waiter heading over our way I assumed he was coming to as for the inevitable ID card, and was pleasantly surprised therefore when he came bearing glasses, and promptly poured us both some wine. The wine wasn't bad either- and certainly excellent for the price.
So, all this to say- Bamboo is definitely going up in the world, and is certainly somewhere I would be extremely happy to bring guests and friends to for a pre-dinner drink.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Veg N Out

Just visited Veg N Out and Loved it . A really great place to take my veggie wife. The only problem she had was choosing between the wealth of options- as I think I have mentioned before she has a bit of a hard time at restaurants that offer her more than two dishes- maybe this is why she become vegetarian in the first place?
Anyway the menu consists of all vegetarian and vegan options- mainly burgers, but also many sandwiches, salads and some soups. Everything is very healthily prepared using canola and olive oil only, unrefined sugar and always serving burgers in wholewheat buns. We went for the Treehugger burger and the 30th street special. With the burger there was the choice of potato wedges (which looked amazing) or a side salad. So here I am thinking the side salad will be the usual few leaves topped with a little grated carrot. Wow was I mistaken- the side salad was one of the best I have ever had- full of broccoli, sprouts, tomatoes and all sorts of good stuff, and topped with a balsamic-berry dressing. The burgers themselves were equally good- slightly too big to fit comfortably in the mouth being the only problem. All ingredients were fresh and of really great quality. My wife felt it was easily the best veggie burger she had had in San Diego.

So we will be going back over and over again to this place- especially as it is locate din our native North Park. The only slight quibble would be the service is a little slow- but then this is not fast food, it is fresh and hand prepared to order- I was happy to wait.

Monday, January 15, 2007

English Dishes

So here's a little view of some of the dishes we had whilst across the Atlantic:

Pheasant Casserole- My Grandmother-in-law's specialty she used to even pluck the pheasants that her husband shot, but I think now she has done away with that particular aspect. This still is a frighteningly labor intensive job. After roasting the pheasants she removes every single bit of meat from the bones then cooks them in a casserole of gravy, vegetables and wine. this is one the ways in which she puts her Aga to use- part of a kitchen I would never want for myself, but those who have grown up with them seem to love them.

Broad Bean and Leek Risotto- This was a great dish my wife came up with whilst abroad. She looked through about 9 different risotto recipes before throwing them all out and starting on her own. Beginning with a base of minced celery, carrots, onions and garlic she worked in the rice, wine and vegetable stock, finishing with broad beans and leeks grown in her mother's garden. (the beans had been frozen, leeks were fresh), a generous portion of fresh herbs (parsley, chives, and others) and of course some Parmesan. It was very good.

Burritos! Well we couldn't come from San Diego and not cook Mexican at least once. It is a refreshing difference for us in England for Mexican food to be considered such a treat! people are crazy about ti and view it as such a special occasion dinner. Mexican restaurants are always very nice- not like the hole in the walls we have over here. They aren't quite ready with the spice yet though!

Chicken Tikka Massala- Well this is England's Mexican I guess, whilst Indian Restaurants in San Diego are all very nice, more often than not you find a cheap take-out place in the UK. Indian is one of my favorite cuisines, so we had to spend one night cooking some up. In addition to the always favored Chicken tikka Massala my wife invented a fragrant fennel seed vegetable curry, we cooked up some sag aloo with fresh spinach from the garden and my brother in law conjured up some fresh homemade garlic naan. a truly awesome meal!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Back in the USA

Well we are back from our trip, and lots of fun we had too.

Let me see... some of the culinary highlights:

Well Christmas specialties to note which we don't have as much over here:

Mince Pies for those of you who don't know these are small cup cake sized pies full of 'mincemeat' which is basically raisins, peal, some apples I think and other stuff. I like Mr Kiplings the best although home made ones can be good too- fresh out the oven.

Christmas Pudding- a huge pudding again made of raisins and other dried fruits and things, full of copious amounts of alcohol which is then lit on fire when served. apparently these puddings can be kept for years so long as you 'water' them with alcohol, something I find really quite odd.

With Christmas Pudding you have the Brandy Butter - my favorite. Basically butter mixed with confectioners sugar and brandy. It is so good I would eat it with everything.

Christmas Cake- well this we have over here, but is viewed as quite a delicacy over there. I think they put more effort in and the puddings are always much more moist and tasty than ones I have had here. They often eat this with a strong cheddar cheese which can be surprisingly good.

Hmmm Brussel Sprouts much more prevalent (yuk!)

Trifle- as you will know from the Friends episode this is a dessert with layers of cake, cream, fruits and custard (minus the mince and onions Rachel). It's really very good and the chocolate variety even better.

Christmas Crackers- well this is not food but goes along with meals. These are little wrapped cylinders that you pull at meal times. They each contain a joke, a party hat a snap (which goes bang when you pull the cracker) and a gift. The funniest crackers we had this year had whistles in them each with a different note. One person was assigned to be the conductor and to tell people when to play their notes- the aim being to put together a Christmas tune (the reality being painful and hilarious all at the same time!)

Okay so thats me with the Christmas specialties- I will be back with more highlights tomorrow.