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

Thursday, June 07, 2007


After about 20 minutes trying to fight our way through the hordes in Whole Foods, I turned to Petra with a pleading look and said “ please get me out of here” so, she took pity on me and led me up to the haven of peace and tranquillity that is the bar of The Milestone Hotel on Kensington Gore.

It never ceases to amaze me how many places like this London has. A new one on me, The Milestone is a charming, old school hotel with a charming, old school bar with a charming, old school tender making charming, old school drinks.

It was a welcome relief from the retail explosion outside and, if truth be told, after two days of bar show watching bright young things show off their skills and bright new creations, it was equally welcome to have the calm, cool, collected mixing of an old pro.

Petra had told me that barman, Walter mixed a mean drink and he certainly produced the goods with a decent Sazerac and his own twist on a cosmopolitan.

Petra became slightly alarmed when she found out that Walter and I shared the same taste in late 70’s music from The Fall to Cabaret Voltaire and, when the words “Throbbing gristle” were mentioned she announced, in her usual imperious way, that it was time to leave.

As ever, I had to come up with somewhere to eat and it just wasn’t going to happen in Kensington. So, we headed up to Euston to try Snazz Sichuan, the latest offering from that region of China which has been getting good crit from journo’s and punter alike.

I liked Bar Shu a lot, but the fact I have not rushed back too often since my first visit speaks to the fact that this cuisine, while fun and often challenging, does have its limitations. The main ones being that the use of the lip and bum numbing Sichuan chilli can make every dish sing from the same hymn sheet and the plates from the same style sheet of “something in a slick of fierce looking red oil”

So it was here. Not bad at all, but as the pictures show, all a bit on the rouge side of things.

Cold dishes of thin slivered belly pork with garlic and “ strange flavoured” rabbit were more a texture than a taste thing. Beef sliced with noodles came in the Hades hot broth that we have come to expect from restaurants representing the region and even a dish of aubergine managed to sit in a slick of oily chilliness.

I wanted to try a few of the dishes involving intestines and other good stuff, Petra did not. She expressed a foolish concern that she was developing a belly which, if you saw her, you would know is patently untrue.

Unconvinced by my arguments, she decided to put her stomach on show for others to see and, when she began using her fingers to make her belly button move like a mouth while talking in a brummie accent, I thought it best to get her out of there before there was a scene.

Snazz Sichuan is good value, £47 for two including tip and tea, and there, I am sure, is potential there for a less ochre meal than we experienced.

I suspect the end result of indigestion and the morning after will be the same whatever you order.

Me? I am just trying to get the image of Petra’s belly button out of my head.

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