Monday, January 15

Film: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Click for more info

I am not ashamed to say that, for me at least, this film was saved by Karen Gillan. Without her Jumanji would have been a bland, paint-by-numbersfest that even Dwayne Johnson wouldn't have been able to salvage. It's the kind of film that you'd enjoy most by letting it just wash over you - in fact in writing this review I've probably given it too much effort.

It wasn't a disaster and had its moments (some which didn't involve Amy Pond), but overall it's still probably one to save to watch at home with family. Tenuously recommended.

Thursday, January 11

Food: The Great Chase Click for more info

So here's something brave: a fine dining restaurant that's fully halal, down to the lack of alcohol being served - and not even having Coke on the menu due to some ethical concerns. I think any business person in the food industry would have signed the death warrant of such a place before it even opened... but it's something that will probably thrive in a city where enough Muslims have more money than sense, and care more about the social media implications of a meal than the food itself. I could turn this into a post about how Muslim businesses need to start doing more than just Islamifying what's already out there, but that's probably out of scope for this review. Either way the point probably stands that the existence of places like this is less about the businesses and more about us as a demographic.

The food was decent enough, the service less than I would have expected in a place like this. We were also disappointed when we were told the cod (the listing of which made 1/4 of the total number of mains on offer) ran out. The portions were small (as is expected in a place like this) and even though sometimes that doesn't matter (see: Ceviche) I did appreciate the extra pasta we ordered to share.

Surprisingly enough the bill wasn't too bad; £34 per head with starters and teas is nothing to complain too hard about. I can imagine the bill being even more acceptable with a more discerning customer.

I don't think this would be the last time I visit The Great Chase, and I'll even admit that I was seriously impressed by the lack of Coke on offer. Who knows, perhaps its places like these that will pave the way for more originality in the halal space? In either case I guess I shouldn't complain at having the option.

Monday, January 8

Film: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Click for more info

Within minutes of the film opening I had my head in my hands. That whole "Poe fakes a bad line when speaking with General Hux" just felt so out of place, so muddled, any hope I had for another Force Awakens was quickly dashed. I don't think I was proven wrong, what with the first half of this film having been a bit of a mess.

But then the turn happened and everything changed. For sure, it wasn't enough to save the film, but the pay off did make the wait a little more digestible. Its a bit of a shame really - the film was otherwise well produced and well acted out... and if I could be so brave I'd even suggest it could be made into a much better film with a few edits.

But as it stands The Last Jedi end up subject to the same curse as the original trilogy - it is as very much a "middle" film as The Empire Strikes Back was, but this actually gives me a bit of hope that not only will the next film be more of a triumph, but that The Last Jedi will come into its own as the film that ties the whole trilogy together.

Sunday, January 7

Food: Hakkaland Click for more info

The idea of a place offering indo-chinese cuisine will always ring alarm bells in my head: choosing "jack of many trades" as a business plan is never going to break barriers. And yet the popularity of such places is a testament to their demand, and I guess a lot of people want to have chicken corn soup with their naan kebabs.

We all stuck to Chinese today however and what can I say? The food was solid if not uninspiring, the service adequate, the decor and atmosphere of the place sufficient for us all to have had a decent time. The truth is that this place was never going to make waves... but sometimes that's precisely the point, as by keeping the food straightforward and unobstructive we were able to enjoy each other that much more.

At £20 (after a discount) it wasn't the cheapest meal to be had, but for some reason no one had any complaints after. That alone says a lot, and I can see us returning to Hakkaland again if we ever happen to be in the area.

Thursday, January 4

Food: Pizza Pilgrims Click for more info

I don't think anything consistently excites me more than pizza, but as I type this I realise that's only because of how much of a sure bet it is for me. I tend not to be too particular when it comes to food already, so it's really difficult to mess up a pizza for someone so easily pleased.

So yes this does mean it's difficult for me to properly critique the food at Pizza Pilgrims. Suffice to say it was good stuff - the, erm, size was right and the menu selection was perfectly balanced between the exotic and the standard. Although the Kingly Street restaurant we visited was a little cramped, service was great and we were left to our own devices to eat and talk at our leisure despite the waiting list of people wanting to grab a meal.

The price wasn't the cheapest but as expected - £14 for a pizza and drink, but all in all it was the experience that mattered; we left content with the food, drink and conversation we had tonight and that makes Pizza Pilgrims worth visiting alone.

Wednesday, January 3

Food: Ceviche Click for more info

So it turns out that Peruvian food has the rare quality of being small on the plate but large in the stomach. Volume wise I can't really remember eating much, but I did leave very satisfied both in terms of the quality and quantity - food was ordered for our whole party and dishes were passed around, resulting in a smashing of tastes, cuisines and even colour.

The restaurant itself was a little disappointing, although that was probably more our fault as it became clear how inadequately it could cater for our party of 10. Some items had run out, space was at a premium and it was impossible to have any kind of conversation over the noise. This is probably a place for a small fun group rather than any kind of intimacy.

Which brings us to the biggest failing of Ceviche: its price. Paying around £42 per head for not much food (no matter how satisfying) has made my first trip to Ceviche also my last, which is a shame since there really is no reason for them to have picked this particular market to price to... that said the food was ripe for Instagram so perhaps its canny on their part to cater to the extra-restaurant experience.