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Thursday, October 12, 2006






THE GUINEA GRILL: THE PIES HAVE IT

I think it is illegal for anyone in publishing not to have a Foyles story. I certainly have one which happened to me when I worked as a rep for Penguin way back when Martin Amis had his own teeth.

I was busy stock checking in the now defunct Penguin bookshop in this most famous of stores when a customer came up to the desk and asked the young man serving

“where can I find Oscar Wilde?”

To which the young man replied

“ I am sorry, he is not working today”

Such was Foyles. Every book in the world under one roof and not one of them possible to find.

I mention this because I was back in Foyles tonight for the first time in an aeon. A launch event for our FIDEL CASTRO HANDBOOK by the polarizing, George Galloway.

My, how Foyles has changed. Permanent staff, computer systems and even proper cash tills. Poor old Christina must be revolving slowly in her grave.

A great success and we sold enough books for me to imagine I had deserved a decent supper

If you are at one long established institution during the evening, it makes sense for you to predicate the rest of your night on the same. So, I headed for The Guinea Grill where they were kind enough to squeeze me in to a solo table in the otherwise packed dining room.

A Young’s pub with delusions of grandeur, The Guinea is most well known for its pies. How could I resist?

But first, to begin, a crayfish and avocado salad for £8.50. The shellfish were fresh and meaty but swamped with an industrial marie rose. The avocado slightly browning at the edges which shrieks of pre-prep. Not bad, but for the price….?

A glass of South Island NZ Sauvignon worked very well with the cat’s pissy taste cutting though the sauce.

Then to the main event, the pie. Consistently voted “ Pie of the Year” The Steak & Kidney was as good as it gets. A thick, dense, pastry was toothsome and lardy. Those are both good things by the way.

The filling, rich with gravy and thick with big chunks of beef and offal. Almost a perfect plate and worth every penny of the £12.50 they squeezed out of me.

A side order of chips was flaccid and unworthy of the name although, given my 18 miler this morning, I did scoff a lot of them. Fuel, don’t you know?

A £5.00 glass of Rioja was adequate but little more and brought the bill with some mint tea, some choccy and service to a not inconsequential £44.

That’s £44 for a couple of glasses of wine, a prawn cocktail ( by any other name ) and pie & chips.

And, they say authors get paid too much money
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