Thursday, February 4

Food: All Star Lanes, Brick Lane Click for more info

To be frank I'm not sure it's even fair to include this place in my listings. The only reason one would ever eat here would be to follow up on a spot of bowling (which was bad for its own reasons), so maybe expectations should have been set low. But just for completion we paid almost £20 a head for really shoddy food. The service was okay, but one can't really eat that.

One to avoid then, even if you wanted to follow up on a spot of bowling.

Monday, February 1

Book: Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson Click for more info

I'm really not sure where to start with Cryptonomicon. I mean for sure it was an amazing read and has definitely made my top ten of books ever read. But to describe why I enjoyed it so much is difficult.

Cryptonomicon is ultimately a work of fiction, but that is kind of diluted by how much of the real world it borrows from. Not only do we have a mention of Turing, but he's actually quite important as a character in the story. We have a world war going on, as well as the impending dotcom bubble of the 90s brewing. For me it actually be came a little tricky navigating what was fiction and what was not, but after a while I did manage to start trusting the book.

Cryptonomicon is also mainly a thriller about technology. But that too is diluted by the immense level of characterisation built in by Stephenson - see the chapter that describes the motivation behind and physical response to having a bowl of Cap'n Crunch for breakfast.

Cyrptonomicon is also very well structured and accessible. But this is despite having multiple arcs and sub-arcs and being set in two time lines and multiple locations. The book has a level of depth which places a lot of trust and even burden on the reader, but I suspect a second reading would be extremely fulfilling.

So yes, Cyrptonomicon is a book that makes you work hard but rewards you for that effort. Recommended.

Saturday, January 9

Food: DoubleTree Restaurant, Docklands Click for more info

So here's a strange one: a restaurant hosted by a hotel that was undergoing a change in ownership, management and layout. Needless to say it wasn't the ideal place to enjoy a dinner - the food came late, the service wasn't up to par and even the toilet was actually donated by a vacant room on the second floor. Even the name doesn't appear to have been decided upon.

To be fair it's probably not fair to review the place. But the food was okay and after a discount we didn't lose much apart from time. Perhaps I'll have a better review once the place is finished.

Saturday, January 2

Food: Rodeos Burgers & Shakes Click for more info

After such a spate of actually-not-that-bad burger joints recently, I guess the run had to end at some point. And unfortunately for Rodeos it did here.

The big shame is that Rodeos isn't that bad - the food is decent and the value and service are certainly there - but that it's just not special enough. Scratch the surface and you almost have a posh fast food place.

If I was ever passing I would stop by for a bite. Seeing as how Rodeos is placed south of the river this seems unlikely. But hey if you happen to be in the vicinity you probably can't do better.

Wednesday, December 23

Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Click for more info

There's nothing like the start of a new trilogy in a franchise to make you feel old. Was it really over 16 years ago that we were introduced to the much hated Jar Jar? Apparently so. Except I seem to have better memories of the middle (or first?) three films; I found that I enjoyed and loved them as much as the classic trilogy, which probably means I'm not a real fan or something.

This personal context is important when considering the latest in the series of such a genre defining set of films. Like everyone else I was excited, force feeding the previous six films (in order of release, naturally) to the kids in the next generation in order to nurture the same anticipation we would hope to have for the seventh. Regardless of whether it fell short or not we would have enjoyed the experience I'm sure.

And yes the film was good. It had the same pace and action as the previous, and invoked some of the feelings I was looking for. However I am quickly coming to the conclusion that I don't like Abrams messing with my memories; alongside Star Trek he has this unique ability to temper and mute any deeper feelings of poignancy I was looking for. As such, some bits did jar (a few not really his fault). The cast was pretty awesome apart from a few head scratchers, and all the standard ingredients of set pieces, dialogue and hammy acting were all there.

We chose to watch the 3D version which although was able to provide a few extra thrills during the action sequences was still a personal distraction and thus made the film more effort to watch than would have been otherwise.

But overall none of the detail matters really. The film is more than Star Wars enough and provides everything you would expect to some level. Recommended.

Film: Bajirao Mastani Click for more info

Amongst most film industries, Bollywood particularly demonstrates a correlation between the type of a film and the actors in it. You pretty much know what you'll get from the cast list of each, and regardless of my personal bias a Deepika movie now implies great things. Well, apart from Chennai Express. And Happy New Year. So maybe all Deepika movies are great except for the ones that also star SRK then.

So running with the theory we have yet another film with Deepika and Ranvir. I loved the last one, and I also enjoyed this too, if only because it was more or less exactly the same. Having said that it's worth going to watch even if you're not a Deepika fanboy, just to see some of the performances within. Deepika seems to get better and better with each film, but alongside Priyanka and Ranvir (albeit never in the same number) there's a lot for those who wish to just veg out on the song and dance side of things.

So a decent jaunt then, with my only criticism being to do with the run time - the film does labour a little. Despite that it gains nothing less than a recommendation from me.

Saturday, December 19

Food: Red Iron Burgers Click for more info

Well before Stax, Loaded and even the famously disappointing Meat and Shake there was Red Iron Burgers. This was, at least for me, the place where the whole halal gourmet burger fad started - something which I feel gives it a pretty decent status in the now well saturated market of the stuff.

Its location of Uxbridge did mean that I wasn't really given much of a chance to visit Red Iron, and so it's a little ironic that I finally have; and that after already sampling most of what London has to offer. The cynical side of me couldn't believe that it could have lasted as long as it had - particularly when the newest and closest to me is also my current favourite. It almost seemed an exercise in futility to even bother.

But! It turns out that with age does indeed come experience and prestige; Red Iron turned out to be actually rather good, and that in all the places it counts. The service was great considering how busy the place was, the cost was decent (a healthy £15 per head for a burger and fries each, and shared wings and milkshakes) and most importantly of course the food was pretty amazing.

So yes, it seems that the original can be the (or at least, one of the) best. Red Iron easily gets a recommendation from me, it's just a shame it's so far... but then again, that's just another exercise in trying to figure out excuses to visit.

Tuesday, December 15

Film: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Click for more info

Considering my distaste with the decision to split the last book into two, I actually rather enjoyed this, the concluding part to the whole Hunger Games franchise. I'm a little torn actually - I can never quite forgive authors and film-makers for the labouring of this whole young adult girl-power-for-the-sake-of-it theme we've experienced for the past decade... but if Mockingjay proves it is actually possible to enjoy something for what it is and overlook the flogging of a dead horse that went into its making.

Jennifer Lawrence was good once again, and once again her supporting cast was adequate. The action scenes were rare but of a decent quality, and I might be getting old but I'm sure the ending was changed somewhat from the book (considering I enjoyed the film that was probably for the better).

All in all though my conclusion is unchanged - Mockingjay Part 2 is only worth watching if you've so far invested fully in the franchise. Anyone else should just pass this one by.

Sunday, December 13

Food: Al Kareem Click for more info

Sometimes it's the simple things in life which brings the most reward. Al Kareem offers a very simple menu, a very simple decor, very simple service and wraps it all up with simple prices. What results is a very pure experience - it's just you and the food - which makes it very easy to determine exactly how awesome it is.

And awesome it was. Puri, Chana, some... Potato dish. It really was great. And very unhealthy, but some things are worth it. Recommended (but perhaps in moderation).

Saturday, November 28

Trapped In A Room, With A Zombie Click for more info

Room escape games have been gaining popularity for a while now - a few of my friends have raved about them and their mixture of fun, teamwork and gaming, and it seemed like one of the better team activities to try.

The one we booked had even more of a twist: it was set in a laboratory whose resident mad scientist had turned into a zombie. This made the game not only about the interaction between the twelve of us who attended and the puzzles, but also with the wild card element of someone who wanted to eat our brains (okay, fine, tag us out of the game).

As such is the nature of such things, it would be less than useful for me to talk too much about the evening. It was a whole lot of fun though, both with respect to the game itself and its puzzles, but even more so as a way to spend time with friends - you know, working as a team to achieve a single goal and all that.

Of course I have nothing (yet) with which to compare this variant of room escape, but I think the zombie did add more than a bit of fun to the proceedings. I'm sure other room escapes are as enjoyable though so when it comes to recommending I'd say to pick and do any one (or two, or three!) since you're bound to have a laugh either way.

Friday, November 27

Film: Tamasha Click for more info

Okay, I'll admit it... a new film with both Ranbir and Deepika has had me excited since the first shots from set came out. And yes, that's purely because of my affinity to that film. Of course I went in with trepidation - these things inevitably disappoint after all.

But you know what? Tamasha wasn't actually that bad. Of course the first thing that hits you is how great it looks (of course that could just be a personal assessment, and Ranbir is looking a little tired) but the story is quite off beat for what is actually another broken-man-needs-fixing love story. The talent is also there, the chemistry between the two protagonists now almost inevitable. The music, despite not impressing during their air play, fits wonderfully in with the rest of the film too.

So yes, Tamasha was good and definitely recommended. Will it be as classic as YJHD? That only time can tell.

Tuesday, November 10

Film: Spectre Click for more info

And just like that, here we are with the fourth in the Daniel Craig series of Bond movies. It's astonishing to think that it all started almost a decade ago, and looking back I seemed to have enjoyed the transformation of the Bond movie to something a little more mature and darker that the usual.

And yet ironically the fourth movie seems to throw us back to the realm of the fantastical - and not always in a good way. Sure, the action is crazy and the cars lovely and the girls hot and the one liners snappy. But when you consider the level of manic of the villains, how dastardly their plans are and even the manner in which they are willing to expend harm... it all gets a little 70's and 80's at times.

That said, I don't think I minded that much since I did thoroughly enjoy the movie overall. I didn't even mind the convenient plot twists and retcons encountered; if anything I saw them as bonuses. So in conclusion, yes, a recommendation for a more hybrid throwback of a Bond movie.

Saturday, October 31

Food: Rocco's Click for more info

The hunt for a food bargain really does take you to the most unexpected of places. I never thought I'd spend a Saturday night in a small hotel in Gidea Park (!) but here I was with a bunch of friends ordering hand made pasta.

And it wasn't half bad. The food was adequate and the service friendly - this was a place with a maximum of 20 covers and it far exceeded expectations if scale was anything to go by.

And the best bit? A meal of three courses (well two and a half since we shared desserts) came to the princely sum of £8 each... which is a veritable bargain in anyone's book. That said, the preference would probably be to pay a little extra for a better overall experience, which kind of proves that the bill isn't everything.

Thursday, October 29

Food: Proper Burgers Click for more info

You know, I'm tempted to actually go ahead and create a "burger" tag - it seems like food reviews these days have become synonymous with fatty patties and hipster decoration.

But then a place like Proper Burgers comes along and, quite frankly, it makes digging through all the dross out there kind of worth it. The food was great, with my Brisket 4, a combination of patty and pulled meat, being pretty much sublime - if I have one comment it was the the 4oz patties were a little on the small side. We did overdo it with the desserts, not being able to resist ordering both the mess and the apple pie - all quite uniquely made on the premises and tasty for it. I think that demonstrated a larger sense of pride that Proper Burgers has over its contemporaries.

Service was top notch, although the place was pretty empty this Thursday evening. Price wise, we hit a expensive £16 per head although as mentioned we did go overboard with desserts. The Brisket 4 was also a special - all in all I think you could get away with a decent meal at around the £11-12 mark which isn't too bad for such good food.

If there were any downsides it was the hipster level infinity of the place (a wall of audio cassette tapes? Please). But hey, with food like this I can rise above that. Recommended.

Wednesday, October 28

Food: Chai Ki Click for more info

After having such a great time at its sister restaurant I, perhaps foolishly in hindsight, expected more of the same from the Canary Wharf location in the brand new Crossrail Place.

Instead we received all the things the lack of which I felt made Roti Chai so great. An overpriced menu? Check. A slightly hipster atmosphere and clientèle? Check. Good food that wasn't as great as it should have been? Check.

To be fair the service was great and ambience was good enough to allow our party of four to have a decent time. Quite frankly though even Dishoom was better than this place, with Roti Chai still topping both. And at £35 a head the bill was a bit of a shock, although some diners were a little frivolous with their ordering - with a little discretion I think you could expect a bill of around £25 which is still a little on the pricey side for what we got.

So not really a recommendation here - although a final qualification would be that, unlike Roti Chai, Chai Ki doesn't offer a street menu - something that could have been the missing ingredient tonight.

Tuesday, October 27

Film: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Click for more info

The first Paranormal Activity (2009!) was made with a budget of $11,000, and was instantly a cult hit as well as achiving a certain level of success at the box office. As the franchise as progressed, the budgets have increased and, perhaps unsurprisingly in a cynical world, the effectiveness of the concept has decreased.

The genius of the films is of course the implied horror - the door closing by itself, a creaking off camera, and the various witnessing of other things we weren't meant to see. But with budget comes a need to make this more explicit - instead of allowing our imaginations to run riot we're spoon fed the scares. Eventually you're left with a more regular ghost story, albeit one shot from the peculiar viewpoint of a character operated camera.

Such is the case with this, the sixth (and allegedly final) chapter in the Paranormal Activity series. That's not to say that it was a bad film; on the contrary I really enjoyed it and was caught squealing in terror more than once. It just was on the same trajectory as the previous sequels were on and so disappointed.

But still, if you're looking for a bit of a scare you can't go wrong with this and in that context it earns a recommendation anyway.

Sunday, October 25

Egypt: Faith After The Pharaohs Click for more info

The British Museum is hosting an exhibition covering the transient period of faith in Egypt; from the Pharaohs and their many gods to the lasting dominance of the Abrahamic religions.

It's a neat theme: transience itself brings with it a sense of organic change and humanity, something that is often juxtaposed with Godly concepts like religion and faith - thus bringing a possible challenge to the sensibilities of most people of faith.

Otherwise it's the usual gallery of pottery, crafts and literature. The exhibition is on the small side, so could probably be combined with a tour of one of the museum's other rooms. Otherwise it's pretty standard fare that just falls short of a recommended visit.

Thursday, October 22

Food: Band of Burgers Click for more info

Move on, nothing to see here.

Okay fine. The food was good - I mean it was most certainly not the worst burger I've tried. Otherwise BoB was pretty much another in the long list of gourmet burger joints, this time in Camden.

Which reminds me, I really need to go back to Stax.

Wednesday, October 21

Film: Back to the Future Trilogy Click for more info

I'm not really one for "my favourite" questions. Ask me what my favourite song or country visited is and I wouldn't really know. The same goes for movies: the best I can answer that question is: "I don't have an ultimate favourite movie, but I know Back to the Future is in my top ten and I'm always able to watch it when it's on".

I was pretty young when Back to the Future was released here in the UK. What's striking is that I still remember the first time I had heard of the film: it was on a BBC breakfast show, and they showed the scene where a relatively unfamiliar Marty McFly creeps into a deserted house that is full of clocks, jacks up a huge speaker system and trashes himself and the home on his first riff. Now I knew the film was about time travel, but apart from the clocks on the wall there was nothing I saw in that scene that related to time or even science fiction. And yet, somehow, I knew I had to watch it. Another memory: Shreddies were running a promo for the film and I managed to collect at least three of the adventure books on offer.

And yet I don't quite remember if I had watched Back to the Future in the cinema. Parts 2 and 3 I do remember, and that vividly, but as it stood BttF was the one that would have always been relegated to the smaller screen. Until today, of course, the future day on which Marty and Doc arrive in part 2. When I heard that cinemas up and down the country were planning on playing not just one but all three films from the trilogy I just knew I had to see them.

Of course the films themselves are pretty perfect - and I don't think that's just nostalgia talking. There's just not much that comes out of a negative assessment of the films. For a start the soundtracks are perfect, with the main theme still making me well up each time I hear it. The screenplays are amongst the tightest I know - I can't think of any scene, shot or script going to waste, which is why even the previously intimidating six-plus hours we spent in that single sitting actually flew by. I never looked at my watch once. This lack of fat in films is most certainly a generational thing, but Back to the Future did the best out of its contemporaries.

Then there were the cast and characters. Doc Emmett Brown did inspire me to both science and science fiction; I shared the love of Jennifer Parker (both of them); I was simultaneously intimidated and allured by Lorraine Bains; and of course I wanted to be Marty McFly (and yes, I bought a skateboard). I over each viewing of the movies I learned all their lessons and experienced all their feelings.

As a genre Back to the Future tends to be mislabelled as science fiction. Now I'm not a movie buff, and most certainly am not in a position to override the more obvious and well established categorisation of the films, but I really don't think the primary driver of the films is sci-fi; in fact if anything they're really bad time travel movies. What these films are really about are the plots (of which there are sub-plots) and character development (of which there are many progressions). In that context time travel merely becomes a prop on which to hang themes of survival, interpersonal relationships and escape, of which it may have been possible to transpose all to a different story, but not at the same time. It's this genius that allows us to have a third part which is almost exclusively set in the Wild West but still fits in perfectly with the rest of the series. And of course it also allowed us to have a baddass flying DeLorean. And I have to admit, watching the three films back to back as a trilogy did have an enhancing effect - there were themes and references I didn't notice before, and an increased appreciation of part 3, which was previously considered by me to be the weakest.

It's a testament that the film is still going strong. It's difficult to see which films released this year we'll still be watching and talking about in three decades' time. On a personal note I'm glad I got a chance to revisit the trilogy in the cinema and then write about my love of the series. I do still hum the theme to myself often, I do still pretend to be driving a flying DeLorean or riding a skateboard, and I still get goosebumps each time my speedo hits 88mph (on private track days of course).

And after watching the trilogy my my opinion has actually changed; the trilogy is no longer one of my favourites but the favourite. In some ways it always has been, but I achieved the explicit realisation the moment I watched Marty McFly race down Main Street in a DeLorean toward a clock tower in order to consume a lightning strike that would send him home. All with a tear in my eye. If something that invokes that reaction is not something that can be considered the favourite I can't imagine what else could.

Tuesday, October 20

Book: HorrorStor, Grady Hendrix Click for more info

I tend not to read too much horror - I think the last time I really engaged with any was way back in the Point Horror days. But I cam across this novel (in paperback of all things!) and it seemed like an easy enough read so I thought I'd give it a try to see if it could convince me to explore the genre in more depth.

I think the first word that came to mind was trashy. Horrorstor isn't a very sophisticated read. The plot is daft, the characters one dimensional, and the writing accessible (which after two years of WoT is actually quite welcome). Overall the book is quite fun, both in its story of an Ikea-a-like store going crazy as well as how the physical volume itself resembles an Ikea catalogue, and since it's such a cheap read it's hard to knock it too much.

I wouldn't go as far as recommending it however, but if you have it and a few hours at hand you could probably do worse.

Food: Enoteca Super Tuscan Click for more info

I've been clamouring for Italian for a while now, so I was looking forward to visiting Super Tuscan this evening. I did approach with caution however; the place was primarily a wine bar after all, so there was a chance that the food could lack.

But my fears turned out to be unfounded and I found the place to be pretty decent. The food was good, if a little pricey for the portions and the place itself was intimate and comforting but where Super Tuscan really shone was with the service. The attention and care we received was pretty striking and well worth the entry fee alone - and yes fine I may have left with a bit of a crush on one of the waitresses.

The bill was a little surprising at £30, although I would suspect discerning vegetarians could get away with £25 for a three course meal. Despite the cost I'd still recommend it, and not just for the pretty waitress.

Sunday, October 18

Food: Souk Bazaar Click for more info

Sister to a previous place I've written about, Souk Bazaar is still a generic Moroccan restaurant that thinks it's more than it is. Despite the years that have passed and the change in location, the review is pretty much the same - the private lounge (accidentally) provided to the seven of us did lend itself to comfort and intimacy and a decent enough vibe, while the food was (literally) not much to write about. The star of the show for me was the tagine lamb with prunes, with both the meat and fruit doing their bits to make a pretty awesome dish.

Everything else was mediocre, but we were all well fed by the alleged seven portions of the set menu we collectively ordered. The price came to £12.50 (no drinks, but we did get tea and baklava included) which although in theory was a special offer, turned out to be a fitting cost for what we got.

So yes, like it's bigger sibling it's hard to make any recommendations here.

Wednesday, October 14

Book: Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan Click for more info

In real time, I've now hit the year 2000 or so in terms of when this book was released. I've written before how much of a time machine it feels reading through a series that spans so many decades of real life; of course this is more of a side observation than anything to do with the book per se.

The book itself marked a return to the more direct storytelling theme of the earlier volumes in the series; for sure it was long and there are still characters mentioned who I'm sure I'm supposed to know but seem like strangers to me. But that's okay - I've long since made peace with the fact that I'll never really follow what's going on 100%: I suspect one would need to read through the books at lest once more before that happens.

But plot wise it really was pretty straightforward, and hence a joy, to read. It almost felt like tons of distance was being covered - characters developed, plots progressed, and by the end of the book I didn't quite want it to end.

So that's nine down now, and for the first time since beginning the books I can actually see the end coming. It's exciting and poignant stuff and I both can't wait for and am apprehensive of the end.

Tuesday, October 13

Film: Sicario Click for more info

Even after having had some time to process it, I'm still unsure about how I feel about Sicario. The good is obvious - it has a solid yet pure and simple plot, it has a pedigree of talent to boast about (which for most of us watching meant Emily Blunt), and it's shot and edited brilliantly.

But there was something missing. Maybe a certain level of depth, or characterisation? Maybe the technically simple plot had a bit too much implied, making it all more hard work than it needed to be?

Whatever the case, it was enough to tarnish an otherwise brilliant film. It still gets a recommendation, but just not the one of "film of the year" strength I was hoping to give.

Monday, October 12

Film: Singh is Bliing Click for more info

Oh man. What a horrid film. It's not often that I actually regret having spent the time to watch a movie, but Bliing not only made me feel sad and ashamed about my life and how I'm spending it but has been the film most able to push me the closest to actually leaving it half way through.

Even Amy Jackson couldn't save this one. Awful awful awful. Avoid like the plague.

Sunday, October 11

Film: Hotel Transylvania 2 Click for more info

I can't say Hotel Transylvania 2 was ever on my watch list, but how often do you get the chance to watch an animated film at 11am on a Sunday morning?

That said, there wasn't much particularly amazing about the clash of culture story that this, the sequel, expands on. There are funny bits, there are sad bits, there are heart pulling bits. Cue credits.

Still, the nephew and niece seemed to enjoy it so I guess there's that.

Tuesday, October 6

Film: The Martian Click for more info

I like to think I'm immune to the whole "if you've read the book then you'll hate the film" reflex that most people describe as having. If a film sucks I think it would always have regardless of any personal experience I've had with its plot or characters - I understand that it's impossible to represent a full volume in the relatively small number of minutes available on screen, and I'm generally happy with the distillation most novels go through.

Which is why it's easy for me to say that The Martian was a good film. It was well made, coherent, engaging and thrilling at the same time. It's a pretty easy recommendation to make. It looked and played great, and I left being totally in love with Jessica Chastain.

But it's not a patch on the book. And I guess that's what's most disappointing really - that the pure genius and talent of the book has been left to its pages and that the majority of people who have watched the film will never know it. That makes me pretty sad.

So yes, I do recommend The Martian, the film. But I super recommend The Martian, the book and I implore that you all read that too.

Saturday, October 3

Food: Restaurant 92 Click for more info

Restaurant 92 was pretty much what was expected from another on site hotel restaurant. The food was of a standard high quality (if that makes any sense at all), the vibe suited to quiet but fun conversation and all the other little things that makes a evening out decent were lined up pretty well. More detail on the food: soups and smoke salmon starters were thoroughly enjoyed, with the (halal) chicken mains hitting the spot adequately.

There was a bit of a service failure with desserts, with us having to wait an astonishing 45 mins for our three items, but were one of the highlights when they eventually came. The Eton mess in particular was gorgeous. We eventually were offered all the desserts complimentary which was a neat touch considering.

Overall, we had a pleasant enough evening; but unfortunately for Restaurant 92 being pleasant in central London doesn't quite cut it.

Saturday, September 26

Food: Director's Cut Click for more info

I feel that I've been on a pretty good roll when it comes to food recently. I can't remember the last place I went to that I was truly disappointed with, and a lot of cynicism I had with regards to what's out there has dwindled as I swallowed one pleasant surprise after another. A lot of that cynicism was directed against identikit gourmet burger places and other hipster joints, but finding places like Stax and Uptown has taught me it's worth giving them a try.

Alas by its very nature luck cannot last forever, and I was always going to find myself complaining about a lame burger place sooner or later. And unfortunately that place appears to be Director's Cut.

The place was decent enough I suppose. Service was charming if a little confused, atmosphere was lacking (we were the only ones there), and the food was adequate at best - we chose not to stay for dessert. On the positive side the bill didn't break the £10 mark (after a 10% NHS discount) which is always impressive. But the true test of a place is whether we'd see ourselves there again and in this case the "no" was pretty unanimous.

Friday, September 25

Food: Steak & Co Click for more info

Another steak restaurant and another qualification that no, I'm not actually that big a fan of steak. The exceptions have been pretty rare (bdum tish) - an Argentinian in Buenos Aires for example, or halal ostrich in Capetown - but given the choice I'll always choose the convenience of a burger over a slab of filleted meat. The point being that if I do actually like an offered steak then I must have found it special. Now it's easy to argue that the steak served today was more gimmick than substance, but I'm not sure that it was. But wait a second: I'm skipping ahead.

The novelty at Steak & Co is in the presentation of your food. It all starts when ordering - My medium rare was downgraded to a rare, while my colleagues' well dones were substituted for mediums. This was for our own good, as the steaks themselves are presented on a steak stone hot enough to cook the meat further to your exact taste. You're given butter and seasoning too, so it really does become quite the involved experience.

Now my initial reaction when presented with the concept resembled a little bit of denial - I don't cook at home so it would be almost perverse to do so while eating out. I even asked if we could do away with the hook and just get the chef to cook the steak. Luckily the look of disbelief given to me by the server convinced me to give the experience a try and I'm actually glad that I did.

Leave aside the novelty of eating meat you've prepared yourself, I do actually think cooking the meat myself added something to the taste and texture of the steak. Without even really realising it, I was experimenting with different amounts of butter, seasoning and time on the stone, meaning each bite was quite unique. Of course I'd be fooling myself if I ignored the fact that most of it was due to the preparation in the kitchen, but I do genuinely believe that the hot stone thing made a good steak great.

Along with drinks and dessert the bill came to a healthy £25 per head which isn't the cheapest meal, especially considering I had to cook it myself (that's a joke. Maybe). But overall I would recommend Steak & Co over some of the other more popular steak options out there.