So the secret’s out: my nom de blog is actually Walter. But you can call me Walt if you like, or fat git, or even cult features if you’re feeling generous. You see, I don’t give a damn, I’m at an age where it matters not one jot what other people think of me. What I do care about though, is what I shove down my throat and what I was pushing down my orifice tonight at Avista was pretty nasty.
The only reason I knew where The Millenium Hotel was located was because former agent Alexander Litvinenko drank a cup of radioactive tea there. I’ll avoid making any bad taste comparisons between that incident and my meal tonight but I did feel a bit queasy not long after eating my first course. Not down to decaying isotopes though, more like greasy calamari. Now this dish is a good measure of a kitchen’s intentions but the only intent I could divine from my cones of chewy, oily-tasting cephalopods was that the kitchen couldn’t really give a rat’s arse. The only good thing about them was that the ones in a dark batter (squid ink ?) were much worse.
No sooner did my stomach return to normal but the Veal Chop turned up. An example I had not so long ago at Quo Vadis was one of the best: great meat, properly butchered and cooked accurately and with fantastic flavour. Here, the kitchen had made a decent stab at grilling it, although I wasn’t asked how I wanted it cooked. More importantly, the meat was poor. My god, even the fat tasted of nothing which is some feat.
With cat-like agility I’d manage to intercept and stop the waiter dousing the chop with some of that over-reduced-marmite-liquid-masquerading-as-veal jus but in retrospect it may have actually improved the dish. I’m not sure it could have done anything to assist the sad pile of mushrooms, baby aubergines and garlic which had tragically drowned in oil. The advertised potatoes were missing from the dish but I decided it would be better to keep mum. My stomach silently concurred.
The thirty minutes I had to endure before I could get somebody to clear my table gave me time to take in the dull room with lighting set to strangely low levels. Hindsight is an exact science however, and I now realise it was to somehow obfuscate the food. Clever. The excruciating sound of Italian Pop at ear-splitting levels served to distract in a similar fashion. Cunning.
For pud…well, ever heard of an Italian restaurant that not only doesn’t make their own ice cream but doesn’t even have any ice cream on the menu ? You have now.
It was only on escaping Avista that I realised that this had previously been the site of Brian Turner’s eponymous restaurant. Suddenly it all made perfect sense. Black Pudding Spring Rolls, anyone ? Thought not.