"It's not much but it's ours"

Monday, January 29, 2007


I think you will agree that we had been a picture of almost biblical absteem up to this point of our trip. Sure, a few growlingly dark beers here and a couple of glasses of addictive sekt there, but nothing to match the capacity we show on a trip to Madrid. Hell, we could probably be poster boys for Betty Ford.

Well, we had to change all that, didn’t we?

So, HP had done his obligatory research and decided that we would head the two short U-Bahn stops to Shoeneberg, another area which has left behind its roots as a district of squats for punk rockers and anarchists to become Berlin’s primary gay enclave.

Unsurprisingly, it now houses any number of restaurants and bars and proved the perfect place to spend an evening.

First, a couple of splendid cocktails in Mr Hu, a small but welcoming cocktail bar on Geltstrasse before heading to our choice for supper.

Storch (Stork, I believe) has been open over twenty years and its owner, Volker, hovers over the dining room like the most genial of dinner party hosts. Tables are communal and the food, primarily Alsatian.

As we tried our best to decipher the menu, Volker came and hunkered down and gave us a run through in English all the while watching the room in case anyone else needed his attention.

Although portions were huge, there was a real lightness of touch and we suffered none of the challenges of the night before. HP’s starter was a perfectly cooked chunk of cod on top of braised beets which easily outshone my own more workaday plate of charcuterie.

I got my own back on the main courses though. HP felt almost obliged to order the Choucroute which was as good an example as you are likely to find with excellent wurst and dense smokey pork to compliment the cabbage. This left me free to order my second stellar dish of the trip, beef cheeks braised until falling apart and served in a dark, rich reduction which showed none of the fierceness of a rush job as is so often the case. It came with some equally dark, braised shallots and some more cabbage, this time fresh mixed with a brunoise of vegetables. The whole was quite lovely and worked superbly with the bottle of Dort Pinot Noir which is Volker’s own little pet winery from whom he buys over 25% of the entire production.

Volker came to join us again before dessert and we discovered mutual past indiscretions as punk and Industrial fans in the late 70’s including an unlikely devotion for Sheffield bands of the period including Cabaret Voltaire and Clock DVA. Who were big in Berlin. Not surprising for a city which gave us D.A.F.

Puddings were fine if not up to the previous courses. A rice puddingy thing with pistachio ice cream and a crème bruleey thing without. Volker poured us a glass of a young gewurtztraminner to wash them down and then gave us a further run down of his chequered history which has included owning eight restaurants, bars and clubs in the city.

Quite a past and I am sure we only just scratched the surface even though we talked all the way through our tea, coffee and Quetch.

The bill came to less than EU100 for all of that which is excellent value for cooking that, if it were to appear in London, would have the critics tripping all over themselves to hurl compliments at it. Well worth a visit.

Back to the hotel and ready for an uneventful journey back home the next day.

So that was Berlin. My first visit to this city found me taking my time to warm up both literally and to its charms. There is no way that it can be described as a pretty city but then no city which has undergone so much in such a short amount of recent history is ever likely to win any “City in Bloom” awards. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, architecturally, it is a downright ugly city destroyed, divided and rebuilt with scant thought for the charms of its former incarnation.

Berliners too, despite their friendliness and politeness still seem to be struggling with their past. The plethora of memorials which serve as acts of atonement for their cruelty to others and to themselves seem to be ill received , in some cases, ill judged and in many cases, just ignored.

Despite that. I did find myself beginning to get the rhythm of the place, typically just as we had to leave. I am, however, certain I shall return. I mean, apart from anything else, I never did get back to have me some more of that schitzel.
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The next morning the sky was lighter but my stomach was still heavy as the supper from the night before, shall we say, refused to budge.

What we needed was a damn good walk and, of course, HP had one planned, well of course he did. HP always has these things planned to a degree that would have made Monty look like he just turned up at Normandy and asked the nearest gallic looking peasant “which way’s Berlin?”

Today’s route march was going to be about four to five hours and taking in a small yuppified area to the North East of the city called Prenz Lauer Berg. But first, a short stroll from our hotel to Potsdam Platz and then past the Memorial of The Murdered Jews slightly to the north. The Berliners wear their contrition heavily and nowhere is that more apparent that in this thoughtful if controversial monument to the Holocaust.

Sitting on a prime site little historical significance the £30 million it cost to build has been the cause of considerable discussion. No one doubts the importance of remembering the dead but many have questioned its location and the fact that it does not recognise the other marginal groups who were also slaughtered. I have my opinions, but, for once, I shall keep them to myself.

Heavy stuff and it threw a silence over us as we walked up through The Brandenberg Gate and along the Unter Dem Linden towards Prenz Lauer Berg.

This small area has become increasingly gentrified in recent years and HP had singled it out for two reasons. One a small but interesting farmers market that, like Saturday markets everywhere was rammed with middle class folk over paying for produce while pushing baby strollers into everything that got in their way.

That being said, it was worth the long walk there and we sampled some wurst & beer from a couple of the stalls. The main reason for the walk though was to find Konnopke Imbis, a true East Berlin stalwart and one which lays claim to having invented the currywurst. Mind you, so do another twenty places in town, so who knows?

Konnopke is, though, the real deal. A small van which has been feeding Berliners for 75 years and still seemingly as popular today as it has ever been with a mixed crowd of workers and young professionals wolfing down the wide variety of sausages all with, it seems, at least one beer. How could we not do like the locals? We could not and we quickly said “hello” and “goodbye” to some bratwurst and yet another curry wurst ( I told you they were addictive ) before continuing our walk.

As we headed back towards the centre of the city, we stopped off for a brief look at Gedenkstatter Berlin Mauer, a small museum over looking a preserved area of The Murder Strip. They had a guided tour but it was in German and since my ability of foreign languages stops and starts with speaking increasingly more loudly until they get the picture, we had to give that a miss. Unfortunate, as what we did understand from the exhibits was poignant and interesting.

By now, the walking was getting a little wearying. So, we headed home with only a brief stop for some more excellent hot chocolate and cake to fortify us against the lowering temperatures (do you see a theme here?) and prepare us for the final night's meal
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Sunday, January 28, 2007


Thankfully, the snow had stopped falling by the time we were ready to head out for the evening.

HP had treated himself to some new shoes during our visit to KDW. Ones with much much better grips. The upside? We could go out walking without the threat of him going arse over tit every five minutes. The downside? We could go out walking without the joy of me watching him go arse over tit every five minutes.

We decided to check out Kreuzberg, the Turkish quarter of Berlin and home to the store which apparently created the Doner Kebab. The Germans have an interesting relationship with their Turkish immigrants. Not dissimilar to that of the British with the Indians and West Indians who came into do the jobs that no one else wanted to do in the 50’s

These “guest workers” as they were called were given precious little respect and even those born in Germany were not allowed citizenship until a new law was passed in 2001 giving them that right if their parents had been resident for more than eight years. There is still great resentment apparent on both sides and many Germans still seem to echo the sentiments of that cretin Helmut kohl who announced that “Germany is not a nation of immigration”

Despite this, the area of Kreuzberg is buzzing and the length of Oranienstrasse is filled with restaurants of all nationalities not just Turkish as the region becomes an increasingly sought after district in which to live.

After a drink in a small bar called Max & Moritz, we decided that we really needed to stick to our German theme and so we hopped in a cab back to the more swanky area of Charlottenburg where we had eaten the night before. There tucked away on Mommsenstrasse was a small, determinedly old fashioned restaurant called Marjellchen.

The Time Out guide says “ there aren’t many places like this around any more” and they are right. Marjellchen has been around for over twenty years serving up food from Silesia and East Prussia to locals and visitors alike in an oak panelled dining room watched over like a hawk by the amusing owner.

Portions are not simply big, the word “huge” doesn’t even cut it. Nor even “ginormous.” They are of such scale that Homer Simpson would ask for a doggy bag and the main courses would have fed three people let alone one.

Even with an appetite of legendary proportions such as HP’s, we could scarcely finish what was put in front of us and he could not even squeeze down his normally obligatory small dish of ice cream.

The starters should have given us a clue. A smoked eel salad sounded benign enough but came with mounds of bread, a big dollop of horseradish cream alongside the strong tasting fish. My starter comprised half a dozen chicken legs, boned and stuffed before being deep fried and served in a broth. I was left in no doubt that I was not to use a spoon for the broth but it had to be mopped up with bread until every last drop was gone. Both dishes tasted pretty good but were of such size that we were already drawing beads of sweat from our efforts before we even pondered on main courses.

And what main courses. A challenge to all that is human and godly. For HP, Königsberger Klopse. A legendary German dish of cricket ball sized meatballs akin to the British Faggot ( no smirking at the back our American readers ) which came with in a thick sauce to be soaked up in the inevitable boiled potatoes.

For me, another Silesian speciality. Pork chops stuffed with prunes. What I got was a huge slab sliced off the big end of the loin stuffed with a sweet mixture of breadcrumbs and fruit served with potato dumplings and slow cooked cabbage this time the whole smothered in a slightly lurid orangey sauce of no discernable origin.

The taste of both dishes was actually quite good but I am not sure that eating a meal should be this challenging. It certainly should not be something which makes two middle aged men go “eek” in a shamefully girlish way when food is brought to the table. I am red faced to admit it did. Mind you not as red faced as I got when I finally had to capitulate and push the plate away from me with one knoedel still sitting there looking back at me contemptuously. HP fared a little better but, when they cleared our plates away with a look of horror that we had not licked them clean and offered dessert, we both began to look a bit green in the gills and asked for the bill.

The journey home in the cab was a little interesting as each bump brought forth reminders of our meal and, when we got back to the hotel, let’s just say it was a 150mgs Zantac moment. My first ever. I am not sure that is a sign of age or the sheer scale of what had gone before.

At EU100 including service and a bottle of Dornfelder which apparently is grape although it sounds like a threat, this was quite the most frightening meal I have had in a very long time.
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Did I mention it was cold? Did I say how cold it was?

Well, as we headed out for Day Two of the trip, the sky was black with snow and the whole city was covered with a dense gloom. Fitting really that we chose this morning to head off to find out more of the city’s recent history, beginning at Check Point Charlie ( and yes, you will now be singing THAT song all day, sorry)

It is strange to think that, as we walked up Friederichstrasse we were in an area that, less than twenty years ago, was No Man’s land and on a strip known by people on both sides of The Wall as The Murder Strip. Little remains of it now save for a recreation of the checkpoint and a small display of photographs charting the building of the wall and it’s final dismantlement some twenty seven years later. However it remains a moving testament to both the stupidity of those in charge and the courage of those underneath who finally decided they had enough and did something about it.

To take the chill off our bones, we dipped into a café for some more hot chocolate laden down with whipped cream which was just as well because the skies had now begin to shed their load and the snow was falling at an increasingly heavy rate.

With thoughts of anymore walking pushed rapidly to the back of our mind we decided to make use of Berlin’s excellent U Bahn subway system and head over to Wittenberg Platz the location of it’s major department store, KDW.

Second only to Harrod’s in terms of square footage, KDW is a local institution and houses all the usual departments selling most of the usual brands. That, however was not why we were here. We came because it also houses the finest food hall I have encountered in any of my travels. This too is a local institution and, on weekends, it is almost impossible to get into the place it becomes so rammed. On a Friday lunchtime it was busy enough but we had enough room to gaze in awe at the stands serving everything from fabulous fresh fish along side the widest selection of smoked fish I can recall. Fresh meats sat next to Game which sat along side a counter for sausages and ham the size of a tennis court. In the midst of all of this are the gourmet stalls which allow you the chance to try much of what is on offer.

So we did. In fact it gave us the chance to try our first example of what is now the stuff of legend to Berliners, The Currywurst. Created some thirty years ago, it is now the fast food of choice for those on the go. Imbis Stands ( fast food stalls ) pop up all over the city offering this dish to an egalitarian crowd who stand at open tables munching these down with bottles of local beer. The Currywurst is wrong, oh so wrong in so many ways. Basically, a sausage smothered in ketchup and sprinkled in curry powder. Quite rightly it is exhibit A when people offer up the opinion that Germans should not be allowed in the kitchen. But, damn me if you don’t start developing a taste for the things and even start looking forward to the next one once you have finished the last. The example at KDW is a good one and comes with either hard bread or a huge mound of sauerkraut which was excellent. With a good tall beer, it was a perfect way to take our minds off our sodden state.

The wurst thing got kinda good to us by this time so we headed to another of the gourmet stalls and sat down to another couple of local specialities. For HP, a Bullette which as the name suggests is a large round meatball which has few redeeming qualities. If they had dropped these on London rather than sending over V2’s we would all be called Schmidt by now. Me, I surrendered after one bite.

Much better, so much better were two more wurst. A leber (liver) wurst and a Blutwurst ( a boudin like blood sausage ) Again served with sauerkraut, this time run through with fatty bacon, it stood up well to the dark black beer they served with it.

By this time we were fortified enough to brave the outside again and after a short visit to the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtnis Kirche, a church all but destroyed by Brtish bombing which has been left as a memorial to the dead, we headed over by U Bahn to Alexander Platz.

With the cold chill blowing snow across its vast expanse, it is easy to imagine oneself on the set of a Cold War movie. Towering over it is the Fernsehturm, a huge communications tower built as a snub to the West by the East German government. It is certainly imposing and remains the largest structure in Western Europe. There is a side story though as the tower, when hit by sunlight at a certain time of day, casts a shadow of a cross over East Berlin which must have been a pisser for the secular officals of the communist times. The West Berliners called it “ The Pope’s Revenge”

Our plan was to stroll around here and then to through the uber trendy Hackerscher Market before heading back but, by this time the snow was getting even heavier and we just gave up, leapt in a cab and headed back to the hotel for a kip.

So a bit of a false start for the first morning, but we did manage to see Checkpoint Charlie and we did have our first Currywurst. Both testaments of man’s potential for cruelty to their fellow man.
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Friday, January 26, 2007


It is a few weeks into the year and, naturally time for DH to take a
little break from the hard grind of the daily wheel of death that is
being in London.

When it is cold and gloomy, where to go? Spain, naturally. Well, no.
For some reason, I allowed HP to persuade me to come to Berlin.
That's Berlin, where it is currently a balmy -10. Bastard.

Still, being such a brave little soldier as discussed many times
before, I am making the best of it.

Actually, it ain't that bad. Actually, it's rather good.

An early start was tough. Up at 4.30am and at Heathrow for 6.30am saw
us navigate our way through security which, is in itself quite a
Herculean task for me. What can I tell you? I am a man who likes my
toiletries. So, when they ask me if I have any gels the problem is
where to start. " I have some day cream. I have some night cream. I
have some cream that I can use for both day and night" by this time
their eyes have glazed over and they wave me through with a look that,
in less politically correct times would say " you are far too gay to
be a terrorist. Fuck off."

The flight it self was uneventful apart from the unedifying sight of
HP scooping the filling from my free sarnie into his so it did not go
to waste. Then, on arrival to our functional and absurdly cheap,
Holiday Inn ( £30 a night thank you very much ) and dumping our bags
before heading out to hit the streets.

How cold was it? So cold that there is very little possibility that
either of us will be invited to star in a gay porn film any time soon.
That's how cold it was.

The afternoon saw us pootering around a bit complaining about the
temperature before we arrived at The Reichstag which, apart from
doing the boring central governmenty things also houses a café on the
top floor.

Touristy, for certain and expensive but harmless enough for three
unfeasibly large portions of cake, some sekt and some rather good hot
chocolate with large amounts of whipped cream on top.

Enough to keep us fuelled as we followed HP's plan to walk for a
further hour or two. The sun sank and so did my enjoyment. By the
time we reached Savigny Plaza, I was ready to call it quits and head
back to the hotel.

Fortunately, this lovely little square was packed with bars many of
which proved to be very enticing. We tried two of the more old school
ones, Dicke Wirtin and Zwie Elfish which both offered local beers
which took at least ten minutes in the pouring. Enough time to
restore my enthusiasm along with my body temperature.

After a short break at the hotel, we headed out again for supper. A
couple of beers at the splendidly old school Grossen Bier Kellen were
enough to get us set up for supper before a quick cab ride to Lutter &

Apparently, in Berlin, there are quite a few places by this name, but
they have nothing to do with this, the original. Something to do with
a family fall out, I am guessing from the information I prised from
the waitress. This one is the original.

Original and, quite frankly, lovely. I am not a man for fancy dan
cooking. I don't like chefs showing me how clever they can be. I
don't want them showering me with fripperies of this and ponciness of
that. I just want stuff that tastes good. Well, this was as close
to it as you are going to get. So much so that I am trying to
persuade HP that we should eat here every evening for the rest of the

After a couple more glasses of Sekt, we chose our starters. For
HP a rosti surrounding large chunks of breathtakingly fresh pike perch
and for me a boiled beef with a salad of red onions with such
sweetness they could play Oliver at The Palladium.

The main course though was what was worth talking about. So good in
fact that I am going to place amongst the top ten things I have ever
placed in my mouth. On the plane over I was reading a proof of THE
OYSTER HOUSE SEIGE by Jay Rayner. A well written novel; that uses
food as the prism through which to view a thriller. In it, they
discuss a Wiener Holstein and, damn it made me want one. Well,
tonight, on the menu they had its cousin, a Wiener Schnitzel. No egg, no capers, no achovies and the better for it. We both ordered it. What came were two huge slabs of the most delicate veal,beaten out to a silky tenderness and covered in a crispy, buttery crumb which soaked up the zingy lemon juice I squeezed over it. I was almost speechless which, for those of you who know me,is a thing of rare beauty. So was this schnitzel. It was as good adish as I have eaten for a long time. I wanted to order another one immediatelyand I will dream about how good it was for as long as I draw breath.

I was still coming down from this high when HP pointed our desserts
and I ordered some decent if perfunctory ice cream, some tea and an
Apricot schnapps. What I really wanted was another plate of
perfection in veal form.

The bill was EU120 for two. About the same as Spain and about half
the price of the same in London.

It is cold here. Damn cold, but I would gladly walk buck naked
through the Tier Garten for another chance to eat that veal. We are
here for another few days. Who knows what else we will eat? I do know,
however I will eat another plate of that schnitzel so help me God.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Well, we have had lots of interest in snortling at the trough of our generosity.

So much so that we thought we should open it up a bit.

Early February will be the anniversary of DOS HERMANOS. In that time we will have visited about 200 restaurants ( not including those we have revisited ) and almost as many bars and pubs.

What better way to celebrate than to have a table at Hawksmoor?

So, I have spoken to Nick Strangeway and in early/mid Feb ( I am thinking NOW MONDAY 12th ) we are going to get a table for six/eight people if anyone cares to join us.

Now, and, let me make this abundantly clear. We are NOT going to fork out for all of you. That would be a waste of the good money we normally spend on gin and hookers. But, we will cover the tab of the one lucky person we choose who has posted already.

Nick has promised to get some sizable bits of cow and I am sure they will look after us

Anyone who is interested please mail

See you there
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Sunday, January 21, 2007



In the church of meat, The River Cottage Meat Book is The Bible and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the high priest.

The book is simply the finest book I have ever encountered on the subject of all things flesh and HFW’s recipes have proved themselves to be infallible time after time.

A few weeks ago, I was watching a food channel on TV and there was St Hugh up in Birmingham snorting up a large bowl of Curry Goat (and not Goat Curry as he kept on calling it to the annoyance of the locals ) Damn fine it looked too and, of course, he has a great recipe in the holy text.

So, when it was my turn to cook Sunday lunch this weekend, the idea of eating the spiced remains of something that once bleated was very appealing.

So, where to get Goat? Well, Ridley Road, of course. If anyone needed proof to support the UN’s recent acclamation of London as being the most ethnically diverse city on earth, they need only head to this melting pot in Dalston. Turkish butchers rub shoulders with Pakistani’s who sell fish to Chinese who sell spices to Vietnamese who are buying cloth from Africans who have their hair done in Caribbean salons. It is, quite frankly a fantastic place. Alive with noise and smells, all human life is here.

After a while wandering around, I chose a butcher, pointed to the largest looking of the legs of “mutton goat” in the display and watched in awe he quickly reduced it to bony chunks with the use of a buzz saw which blurred alarmingly near his fast moving fingers.

More stops saw me pick up some freshly ground Jamaican curry spice powder, plantains and yams before I took my life in my hands and fought my way on a bus back to London’s fashionable SOSHO.

Great Fun.

The recipe calls for the meat to be washed in water ( and a little vinegar ) and then marinated over night in a mix of chopped onion, garlic and scotch bonnet chillies, some fresh thyme and tomatoes and two heaped tablespoons of that fragrant spice powder. The weirdest addition to the sauce is two spoonfuls of HP Brown sauce. Apparently quite authentic. So there

After leaving over night, I used a pressure cooker to get things started before slow cooking for nearly two hours. The end result was a thick stew with huge length of flavour and with the heat coming through at the end. The meat, as it should, required a little effort without being chewy.

Yams mashed with butter and some plantains fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the curry particularly when all wrapped in a warm roti.

Another winner from The River Cottage.

Thank Hugh ( see what I did there?)
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Saturday, January 20, 2007



As I have mentioned before, I can never be accused of failing to show a lass a good time.

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged poor Dawn along the seafront of Eastbourne in a force 10 before feeding her barely adequate Fish & Chips. Tonight, it was Chelsea’s turn.

Chelsea is a hugely annoying Australian (is that just a given?) who I first encountered when she accosted Dos Hermanos when sharing bench seating during a miserably bad meal at Canteen. Despite my best efforts to shoo her away like a stray, she pops up every now and again when she wants free food.

Tonight, she muttered something about wanting to see a film but the whole concept of checking times and buying tickets seemed alien to her so we ended up just going for a quick bite.

I think she wanted Vietnamese, but, as I find much of what she says entirely incomprehensible, I didn’t pick up on that so Fish & Chips, it was.

The Fryer’s Delight is one of the best known chips shops in town and it’s location on Theobalds Rd is easy to find as there are always lines of cabs and police vans outside it being a regular fuelling point for the boys in blue and the boys in black cabs alike

We arrived a little before 7pm and managed to squeeze into another shared booth with a couple who were already nose down in a large plate of cod & chips. The small room has remained largely unchanged for as long as I have lived in London and was filled with the gurgling sound of chips frying in beef fat and the necessary lamentations of the cabbies about the state of trade. You know the stuff “ I have to work twice as hard to make the same money as I did last year” Poor loves.

We ordered quickly, two plates of haddock & chips and an supplementary battered sausage for me. Shamefully, they don’t have mushy peas for which they will, I am certain, have their own special place in Hell.

Any good? Not really. It came out too quickly which meant it was not cooked to order but had been sitting around. The fish was a bit mushy and the chips flaccid and pale. The battered sausage looked like it had seen better days too.

I have had great fish & chips here in the past, but I guess this is just indicative of the declining state of the are of fish frying in the capital these days ( Masters Superfish and The Golden Hind excepted )

Being the generous soul that I am, I picked up the £14.10 (including a nice mug of tea ) bill and then allowed Chelsea to thank me by buying a couple of rounds of cocktails at The Radisson in Holborn for £44.

That’s me all over, always giving.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007


I have to admit I was getting pretty fed up with all the press reviews of Barrafina (ooh look there’s some fresh prawns that have been fried and that’s not all, there’s some eggs that’ve been transformed into..into..a tortilla..amazing). The thought of intelligent people wetting their knickers because they’ve seen a razor clam is not very edifying. So to try and get away from this hispanophile hysteria I had a hard session down the gym (“move it lardy” etc..) then sauntered down to a new restaurant called Magdelen. Luckily I’d had the wherewithal to book so although the joint was jumping my table was guaranteed (…back of the net).

Magdalen occupies the former site of a Peruvian restaurant called Fina Estampa which if I remember correctly wasn’t wonderful and had a lot of dishes where potatoes were involved. The new place is easy on the eye in a “Thank God David Collins wasn’t involved” sort of way, although I found the lighting level to be at NYC levels i.e. makes your date look good but where’s the food. I was sans date but didn’t care because I had one of my meals of the year. I know, I know it’s only the 18th but please bear with me.

When I eat out my rule of thumb, as always, is to make a decision about the level of cooking within the first few bites of a dish. As soon as I started on my first starter of Cuttlefish with chickpea and gremolata I knew there was some seriously good cooking going on in the kitchen. The whole dish just came together really well – the meaty taste of the cuttlefish and its ink combined with the small tender chickpeas offset by the gremolata and a little chilli farewell.

Hot foie gras was a tranche of liver which had been poached then sauteed and served with pieces of pickled quince in a thickish sherry sauce. The only way the dish could have been improved IMO was by serving it on something like toasted brioche which would have soaked up some of the juice and provided a nice counterpoint. But, hey, props to the chef for keeping it simple.

I’m used to meals failing at this stage but amazingly my next dish outdid both my starters. On the menu it appears as “Thinly sliced pig’s head, pickled red cabbage and fried potatoes”. What actually happens is that the chef has cooked the pig’s head (yes, at the restaurant), removed and combined all the good bits and pressed them. The whole is then very thinly sliced and served warm with a beautifully judged pickled red cabbage. Oh and the fried potatoes are not an afterthought – I got even, crisp, small pieced of sauteed potato sprinkle with parsley. This dish was just brilliant in terms of taste, balance and execution.

I was still waiting for a tailing off in the food when it came to desserts, but Gingerbread Ice Cream and Blood Orange Jelly were again, beautifully executed.

Surely the coffee would be found wanting. Wrong again, the sourcing and execution was immaculate and the combination of Monmouth coffee with exquisite in-house truffles was spot on.

Finally, a word about the service. At all levels it was friendly and professional (special thanks to Shakira who seemed to be serving most of my half of the room but was still sharp enough to catch me taking my snaps and force a confession out of me. - now you know the awful truth).

What are you waiting for - just go !

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