Category Archives: Eating Out

Restaurants, Inns and hotels worth a mention

Veeraswamy, 99 Regent Street, London

Veeraswamy Regent Street

The oldest Indian restaurant in the UK, Veeraswamy’s has been in the same location in the Nash Arch, Regent Street, since 1926.  It has recently been refurbished and is far more open-plan than I remember from my last visit back  in the ’60s. There is still a doorman, but he no longer the enormous turbaned Sikh.

We had joined up with Les & Dot Jones for an evening out on the town and as we are all Indian food fanatics had booked a table for 4 at this famous hostlery.

Having passed coats, etc. on to the concierge, we took the lift to the first floor restaurant.  Our table had been booked months ago and even then we could only get a 7.15 time slot.

The service is smooth and unobtrusive. We ordered the “non vegetarian” platter all round for starters. This consisted of a spiced lamb kebab, a beef “burger”, and chicken accompanied by a dip.  Exceptionally tasty all round.

We picked a variety of main courses, sea-bass wrapped in banana leaves, a chicken chatpatta, paneer in a fruity sauce and for me a duck Vindaloo.  It would be hard to pick a favourite as they were all so different.  The duck vindaloo was outstanding and not, as one might have expected, fiery. The sea-bass was firm and the complimentary spice brought out the favour perfectly.  Too often fish curries are mushy and the fish is lost in the sauce. It was all accompanied by a bowl of simple rice and a basket of breads.

For wine three of us had an Italian Bardolinowhilst Dot tried their ginger cooler, which she assured us was delicious, and gingery!

It is not the cheapest place to eat in town but the quality of the food and the service certainly compensates for this. The cheapest bottle of wine is £24.00 The overall bill, including service which is automatically  added at 12.5%,  for the two courses, a bottle of wine and the cooler was a little under £220. I have paid more for a less satisfying evening.

If you are an Indian cuisine fan it is a must.

Well Fed!

La Rosa Dei Venti, Santa Croce 164, Venice

Unfortunately I do not have a photo of this most Venetian of Venetian trattoria. Do not confuse it with the B & B of the same name. It located on the Fondamenta Minotto, not far from the railway station.  It is the place of choice for local workers to take their lunch. We had just been given a table when it was suddenly inundated with with a variety of customers from immaculately suited city types to shop assistants. They do not stand on ceremony and if you like to have space to yourself than make sure you are not there between 1 – 2p.m.   The tables are for two but are set together to form rows of two or three and they fill them as customers arrive. Had we know we would probably have picked the days specials, which seemed to be what everyone else did, as the waiters just read a list of their pad.  We were given menus. We shared a plate of pickled sardines with a green salad and followed it with pasta.  Josephine chose the lasagne whilst I had a spaghetti with an chilli oil dressing. Both were beyond reproach.  We washed it down with a half litre of the house red.  Great staff with adequate English and big smiles. Bill for the lot about €40.

Armadillo, North Terminal, Gatwick

If you are passing through the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport and fancy a bite you could do worse than try Armadillo. It is on the mezzanine floor with the rest of the eateries in the terminal. Those of you who know me will be aware that I am not an American food fan but we stopped in for breakfast on the way out and on the the way back from a cruise as the place looked clean and tidy and the staff were smiling. Their bacon and eggs on a toasted muffin are 5 star!  The eggs are cooked “easy over” and their bacon first rate and grilled so that the fat is just crisp. Try their Armadillo juice, mango, passion fruit and that something extra that bites into the taste buds at 7.30 in the morning.  Their tea and Americano coffee are good too.  They offer a speedy menu if you are short of time.  The staff are friendly and efficient.

Bramshill Hunt, Arborfield, Berks

The Bramshill Hunt

The last time I was in the Bramshill Hunt was illegally, as a REME Junior Leader, around 1962.  The staff certainly have not been there since then, much to young and pretty.  Apart from this I do not really remember it at all, just the sneaking through the woods to get there.

One thing that did confuse me a little were two banners outside emblazoned with “come on you Irish”. Never did get to find out what they were in aid of!

It is now part of the Green King Group and, I believe, under new management. Barry Johnson had dropped them in the orders a couple of hours before we were due to arrive so at least they were forewarned that about 30 people were going to descend on them.

In general they coped pretty well although a couple of people had to wait an inordinatley long time, probably due to the fact that they only had staff available for a normal Saturday lunch time.

Some Ploughmans!

I had picked the cheese and ham ploughmans lunch and I can say that it would have been hard to beat.

The cheese was a chunk or real cheddar and the ham actually tasted of ham. Add pickled onion, Branston pickle and a section of french stick and you have the perfect accompaniment to red wine or a gin and tonic (Josephine got the last of the red wine in the house!)

I think everybody else was suitably impressed with their choice and, at just over £10.0 for two of us it was indeed value for money.

Unfortunately it is unlikely that I will be in Arborfield any time again soon.

Old pals!

M1 Services North, Lusk

"a cafe" & Burger King

The new service stations on the Dublin Motorway are a godsend.  No longer any problems with refuelling and their prices are about average for Diesel. At the time of this post about 10% cheaper than NI.

The restaurant area is immaculately clean as are the toilets. There is a choice of three franchises, “a Cafe”, Burger King and Costa.

The Cafe was offering a 9 item breakfast at €8.95 (including a free Irish Times), or a free mug of soup with any sandwich or pannini.

There were a number of other hot dishes, lasagne being one I recognised. I settled for a baked potato with chilli con carne and whilst the chilli was not eye watering it had a certain piquancy and would probably suit the vast majority of tastes.  I accompanied it with a mug of Earl Grey.  You cannot really go wrong, you pick the tea bags you want and fill the pot with boiling water. Price €10.80.

Other facilities are a childrens play area, games arcade and showers

Costa corner

If the other stations are up to, and maintain this standard they will probably do quite well.

Neue Post Hotel, Mayrhofen

Neue Post Hotel

Our first stop at the end of the Zillertal Steam Train journey. The hotel is a typical Austrian resort hotel/restaurant catering for the international tourist trade as well as the locals and was recommended by our guide, Julian. They provide menus in both German and English, but as is usual these lose something in translation.

The Skull Room

It is a large establishment and the restaurant is divided up into a number of areas, including one adorned with a myriad of goats skulls.

The service is efficient, if a little brusque, and they are obviously used to dealing with large influxes of customers.

The beer is excellent, as it is throughout Austria and Germany and their Dunkel Weissbier is a classic.

The best menu to order from is the Tageskarte, the days specialities. They have a three course menu for around €7.50. Vicki and I chose a champagne based soup; very nice, and Gröstl, a pan fried concoction of local black pudding, onions and potato scallops which turned out to be  perfect. unfortunately Josephine and David settled for the Goulash.  Do not be tempted by this unless you are a fan of nudeln, a soft, semi tasteless semolina pasta. Unfortunately the 4 or 5 pieces of beef that came with it  were rubbery and the only saving grace was the sauce; but even that was mediocre.

Our 3rd course was a chocolate mousse to die for!

A mousse to die for

All in all I would award it about 7 out 10 overall and would be tempted to call in again if we were ever in the area.

Bastille, 182a Lisburn Road,Belfast

The only thing missing is escargot! The Bastille has a distinctly French approach to food and decor.  Our party of four had  pretty eclectic tastes and the menu certainly caters for a broad range including a seperate vegetarian section.  My starter choice was potted rabbit with onion marmalade whilst my companions went variously for frogs legs, mussles and the bouillabaisse (not the Marsailles version with fish heads etc.).

A very good Côte du Rhône (well two actually) accompanied the main courses of which the medallions of monkfish with wild mushrooms on spinach and the barbary duck were especially outstanding.

We shared two crème brûlée and a cheese board.  both were outstanding and the lattter more so for the choice of around six cheeses and not a hint of cheddar.

We wound up with port, coffee and brandy, plus one grand marnier.

Service was pleasant and efficient and with an overall price tag around £225 very good value for money.

School Dinner Night at CSC

Three little maids from school

Perfect schoolboy

Unfortunately a number of our usual group were unable to attend, being entertained at the Proms in the Park and other such events,  so it was that only eight of us were there for roll call.  Lack of numbers did not detract from our usual ability to enjoy ourselves and it was apparent on arrival, seeing the number of people who had made the effort to don costume for the occasion, that the rest were intent on doing the same. 

Dancing queen

Sam was unable to find costumes to suit Shirley and him so he bought the material and machined up skirts and knickers.  I must admit that I found the ideal fancy dress website that caters for the larger sizes, and added a wig and a pair of Primark stockings and shoes. 

In true school tradition dinner was served buffet style so we formed a neat line. Three courses available but to my mind the treacle sponge and custard was top of the bill. 

The ladies

The disco provided appropriate music and we managed a few dances before retiring to the bar for a little quiet.  Quiet is a relative term and relates to the lack of music rather than peace as in “peace and quiet. 

Kay’s Foodhall, Blanchardstown Centre

Kay's Foodhall, "Real Chefs Real Food", Blanchardstown Centre

I seem to remember that the News of the World used to have a strapline (and maybe still does); “all human life is here” and this could well go for Kay’s in the Blanchardstown centre, just off the N3 Navan Road to the west of Dublin.

Their motto above the entrance is “Real Chefs Real Food” and there was certainly a man in a chef’s hat there when I called in for breakfast at 9.50 a.m, following an early start from Belfast and a site meeting near Clonee. At this time he was being bullied by a man with a very large camera on a tripod, who I assumed was a PR photographer. Apparently Kay’s investment in the Centre is around €1 million so I suppose they can afford to do a bit of promotional photography. Maybe it is for their website which is currently “under construction”!

The long and the short of it is that they serve an excellent breakfast with fried eggs that are soft, as requested, which is a welcome change from the plastic one is served up in many places. Personally I didn’t like the look of the scrambled eggs but they were very popular with the rest of the clientèle. The bacon was good, the black pudding piquant and the sausages nicely spiced. Toast comes in two large crusty slices and the teapot holds two large cups. Butter, Jam and Marmalade are gratis.
Add to this service with a smile and a bill around €6 and you would be left looking hard for something to complain about.

They have other counters, bakery  for instance, besides the breakfast bar but at that time in the morning they were a little under utilized.  This is Ireland remember.