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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MESON DON FELIPE: NOT MAKING THE CUT TAPAS WISE



















I hate it when this happens.

I had just posted a well thought out and beautifully reasoned argument as to why all modern restaurants are but pale reflections of those that were around in the 1980’s and early 90’s and then I have to go and prove myself wrong.

I blame Sybil, my visitor from LA who has been in town for the last few days. If she had not insisted on trying London’s best fish & chip shop, Masters Superfish, we would not have been in Waterloo at all.

Mind you, in fairness, I should also point out that Masters only serve fresh fish and consequently, I should have been well aware that they were closed on a Monday. I should also have bothered to check if my second choice The Anchor & Hope was open too. They were not, which left Sybil becoming slightly tetchy as blood sugar levels dropped and me scrabbling around for somewhere to fill a gap before Tayyab in the evening.

Across the road, on The Cut stands Meson Don Felipe, arguably the oldest tapas restaurant in London and the scene of many drunken evenings in the mid-late 1980’s. I had not set in the place in nearly twenty years, but little seemed to have changed bar the odd lick of paint and, although the place was empty, some happy memories came rushing back.

If the restaurant décor had not changed neither too had the menu, with old school tapas staples of yesteryear in full effect, it was as if The Hart Brothers and The Clarke’s had never happened. That in itself is no bad thing, as I said in my post above about Rasa Sayang, if the dishes are prepared well, then old school is still the best school, unfortunately, the food at Meson Don Felipe saw my theory begin to shrivel like a salted slug as dish after listless dish was squeezed on to the high table at which we were seated.

The tomato pulp for the pan con tomate was suitably shot through with garlic, but even the Spanish with, God bless them, their inability to bake decent bread, would have done better than three slices of lightly toasted Mother’s Pride that we were asked to use as a vehicle from plate to lips.

Pulpo was served in the correct Galician manner on a wooden board with lots of paprika and olive oil, but was so tough I left most of the plate alone.

Bacalao fritters were better, with a crisp coating covering the salt cod, but the alioli served with it tasted of nothing at all. Neither too did the croquettas, which while showing signs of fresh frying, contained a mush inside that was supposedly chicken, but unrecognisable as anything which once pecked or gave out a “cluck”.

Cheese fiend Sybil left most of the manchego alone, which tells you all you need to know and only a dish of spicy chorizo was deemed by her to be worthy of anything but a “meh” Even then, she was muted in her praise, as she so rightly put it “it’s hard to fuck up a sausage”

If Meson Don Felipe had one grace to save an otherwise dispiriting first meal in London for my guest it was the excellent wine list which brings together a great collection of sherries and well priced wines from all over Spain, including our own choice of delicious Jumilla for £14.50.

Unfortunately, that was not enough to make our final bill of £44 anything other than a hugely depressing event and enough to prove that all theories, even when they are mine, are there to be shot down

Bugger.

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8 Comments:

Blogger phild said...

I was tempted to comment before. I think that in the olden days we had little to judge these places against so we though them great. Now we travel, have more cash and have lots of help/education to search out good food. As a result we now compare against a more exacting standards.

I also think memory enhances the good and diminishes the bad. How many bad gigs do you remember versus the OK /good ones. How many tepid/hot dates are embedded in the memory, but the rejections are now banished.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 10:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Harold said...

I've been to Don Felipe recently and it was actually quite good but I do sympathise with you taking an American out to eat in London. I recently had that "pleasure", quite literally everything she tasted was 'bland' 'ok' or 'not as good as home'. She also had some perverted idea that you can't get spicy food in London? I think everything they eat over there is sugared and as for being a cheese fiend, trust me they have no idea what real cheese is let alone that it is actually hard, doesn't come in an aerosol can and is not kraft single orange... I mean how can you not like manchego?

Thursday, February 19, 2009 1:03:00 am  
Anonymous Dan said...

On the subject of tapas, have you tried El Parador just North of Euston Station (of all place)? Really rather good trad tapas

Dan

Thursday, February 19, 2009 9:41:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

I did try it back in January, but for some reason didn't write it up,

Cheers

S

Thursday, February 19, 2009 9:46:00 am  
Blogger sybil said...

Hey harold,

How could i not like manchego? Easy. When it's too hard as opposed to somewhat firm, and when it tastes stale with all the flavor aired out instead of tasting that buttery goodness. But what do I know, I'm just an American with no concept of cheese or food.

Cheers.

Friday, February 20, 2009 2:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Agirlhastoeat said...

It's disappointing to hear that you didn't have a good meal at Meson Don Felipe. I shall not go away away after reading what you've written. But to be honest, whilst I've always thought it was ok, up until the last time I went, I've never understood why it was so popular.

Sunday, February 22, 2009 10:54:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there...
I was wondering...
Have you ever been to Spain?
I mean ...to more than one place? Possibly away from any Brit spots where they may serve "full English breakfast"....
Pushing it... maybe in a few of the regional areas, which food still have not been lucky enough to taste in the London restaurant scene maybe because most people seem to believe that the essence of Spanish cuisine is a paella and a sangria.
Just wondering as you seem to know so much about how unable to bake bread all Spanish are...
Not having tried the food at the restaurant you describe I cannot comment on its quality, but your manners are most inpolite and show clearly a lack of gastronomic knowledge which you try to make up for with some "tong and cheek" that your public obviously seem to share...
I have a question: How do you manage for your page to appear when one tries to find some useful information about anything?

Sunday, May 03, 2009 2:38:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Almost as impolite as making a comment on the website before bothering to perform the simple search for the word "Spain" to find out how many cities we have visited.

As for the second question, we get lots of hits from people like you. It works wonders

Sunday, May 03, 2009 3:08:00 pm  

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