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

Friday, November 23, 2007


We kissed again as the showers swept the Florida shore
You opened your umbrella
But we walked between the raindrops back to your door

That’s it. It’s final. I’ve decided. I’m going to try and be the first diner at all new London restaurant openings. I’m fed up of arriving at a joint only to find the Executive chef (who was featured very prominently in the PR) has departed the pass. Fed up of the staff who once the critics have gone take their foot off the gas pedal we call er…service. Fed up of missing out on little freebies and 50% discount offers. Fed up of not being able to get a table because the critics have bigged the gaff up. No more Mr Slow Coach. Things change today.

Not that you would ever be in danger of not getting a table at Podium. The night I ate there my compnions were a couple of drunk business man at the tiny bar (which also doubled as the coat check it seems), a lone businessman eating a burger and reading The Telegraph, some people who appeared to be related to the chef and er…that’s it.

The musak didn’t really help the mood segueing from some drum 'n' bass lite (very annoying) through some sub-Dan jazz noodlings (quite nice after a glass of wine) into Rock’s Greatest Hits (very strange) including Nirvana performed with much feeling by a chanteuse in a sort of lounge stylee ("Come az zou arrr as zou werrrr az I vant uuu to beee").

I don’t remember the last time I ate in a hotel restaurant. Not a hotel restaurant in the Theo Randall/Gary Rhodes/Alain Ducasse mould but the other one, the one that hosts the Association of West Midlands Actuaries Christmas Party (partners welcome), the one that Alan Partridge took his big plate to, the one where everybody is a solo diner and where staff outnumber the punters. That hotel restaurant is called Podium and I don’t really know why it exists.

The menu was priced very aggressively considering you have Galvin @ Windows located diametrically and places like TR, Wild Honey and The Wolseley a short hop away. Surprisingly, though, the food wasn’t bad. The better dishes were bookends to a small Veal Chop which was a decent lump of meat overcooked a tad with some ok chips and bearnaise.

My Pheasant Boudin was better than the one I had recently at Le Café Anglais. More delicate and more accurately cooked it was pleasantly but not overly gamey. A small Black Fig Tart on a flaky pastry base also showed signs of adeptness in the kitchen. A shame then, that a pleasant supper was spoiled by the staff trying to stiff me (and presumably other customers) by having a whopping 250ml glass as their ‘regular’ glass.

There’s no reason for me to return here but I think Hilton a missing a trick or two. They obviously have a chef who can turn out stuff that is the better than the norm so if they spruced up their menu a bit and dropped the prices a tad then they might have somewhere worth visiting. I doubt it’ll happen though - there’s too many conferences to host, delegates to up-sell wine to and Ms Hilton is very high maintenance.

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