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

Thursday, January 08, 2009


At some point in my life I morphed from a grumpy young man to a grumpy middle aged man. I’m not sure exactly when that was. Maybe when I started staying in on a Saturday Night with some nice food and a good bottle of wine secretly hoping that no one would call or maybe the constant urge to write a stiff letter to the chairman of John Lewis bemoaning their decreasing standards of service.

Prime candidate might be the other night at Boundary restaurant when my increasingly iffy eyesight caused me to mistake Venison for Veal on the menu. It made for an embarrassing moment when the chef came up to apologise and find out why I hadn’t enjoyed the dish and had sent it back. “We don’t have any Veal” he said confused. I bowed my head in shame and vowed to get some reading glasses the next day.

To be honest it wasn’t a good piece of meat: tough, gristly and lacking the gamey flavour that had been evident in a similar cut I’d eaten at The Harwood Arms. It came with an over-pungent Juniper sauce that I could smell from several feet away and which smothered a poached quince. Some Braised Endive on the side was an Exxon Valdez in miniature.

Which is a bit of a shame really as DH had enjoyed a meal at the Albion, the caff upstairs, just before Christmas. Boundary is located two floors below and offers up the sort of Franglish menu that would be familiar from any of the old Conran gaffs. And like those places it flatters to deceive.

A pleasant basement room with exposed brickwork, sympathetic lighting and a view of the kitchen that is more intimate than is probably necessary, is manned by lots of amiable staff who do their job well and without fuss; belying the fact this was their first service.

Feeling pretty positive about the place, ordering a dozen oysters seemed like the right thing to do. Half a dozen each of French and English Natives were good although the ones from the Gironde slammed those from Perfidious Albion 6-0: briny, so very briny.

An underseasoned dish of Cuisses de Grenouilles was a bit of an oil bomb and could have done with a crisper coating. I’m not sure though that this classic preparation was an improvement over the tempura-like version at Le Bouchon Breton ten minutes away.

As a replacement for my Veal, sorry Venison, my Onglet aux échalotes (although I think it was actually Bavette) was a small but decent piece of beef with exemplary chips. But then they had to go and spoil it by smothering it in a demi-glace. Ho Hum.

They need to work a bit on the Ice Cream as well. The taste wasn’t too bad but the texture was odd. I don’t think a larger scoop would hurt their bottom lines too much either. But hey, there’s a recession on. For me, Albion remains the better, cheaper bet.

Now, where's the nearest Boots ?

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Blogger Chris Pople said...

Haha "Exxon-Valdez in miniature", will have to remember that one.

Friday, January 09, 2009 11:26:00 am  

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