We meet again…

I encountered him once, I encounter him again once more for the ultimate showdown…

40 years ago, my dad went to a branch of this place on the day it first opened in High Street Kensington, London. He thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty ghastly.

LOCATION: McDonalds, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

Mcdonalds

THE PLACE: The kitchen as in all the other outlets is open plan, and looks like a factory. Behind the long counters, cheery staff wearing paper hats ask you what you want. The atmosphere was alright, but the air had an oily clamminess to it, and it reeked of oil – we could smell it even as we approached the building. The walls were painted in green and the dining area was very clean.

SERVICE: Although they looked  identical in their uniforms and hats, they were very  happy. Perhaps that’s why they call them Happy Meals. The food came in t-minus 15 seconds (not joking), which is really creepy.

WHAT I HAD:

yummy.

I had a Big Mac, which was more like a tiny Mac. It was as flat as a pancake, and did not look particularly appetising. It was as if someone had run over it. The beef was as flat as a piece of cardboard, looked like a piece of cardboard, and tasted like a piece of cardboard, if not a shoe insole (not that I know how that would taste, I’m just imagining a shoe insole tastes like that). It was a complete disappointment: the big mac on the ads was the far-off cousin of the so called “big mac” in my little box. But what made the burger ‘relatively’ tasty was the bun – which had a sweet flavour – and the (creamy?) relish. The little strands of defrosted lettuce had no taste at all and the pickle just tasted of sweet/sour vinegar with a crunchy texture. The combination of these components of the Big Mac and the cardboard texture of the beef made it just about edible (and yes, I do sound like a food snob). Overall, it was a disaster.

 

Now we get to the fries…

lovely

I can sum them up in one word: average. Although they had a fairly good taste, they left a bitter aftertaste because they were cooked in old oil. I don’t know why people brag about how McDonald’s fries are the best because even defrosted McCains sold from my local corner shop are better.

My mum had a veggie burger. She said it was tasteless. I tried it. It was tasteless. She scored it a 1/10.

CONCLUSION TO THIS VERY CRITICAL REVIEW: The thing that haunted me the most about going here was how high the callory count was for my flat, unappetising, unfilling little thing on my plate called a Big Mac. Look at the photo below on the detail on my meal:

One thing that was  very creepy was that there were no ingredients listed on my Big Mac box. I asked the staff for the ingredients and they too didn’t know or had them anywhere. I have no idea why 65M people go to McDonalds every day because the quality and taste of the food is below mediocre. And don’t start pulling out that argument that it is really cheap and most people can’t afford healthy food because YOU KNOW WHAT? a big mac costs £2.29 and you can buy a healthy, filling and tasty wrap at PretAManger for £2.50!

RATING: 2/10. “I’m lovin’ it”, more like “I’m hatin’ it”

Pinxtos in Pamplona

LOCATION: Bar Gaucho, Pamplona, Spain

THE PLACE: First of all, I did this review because I was in Spain for my holiday. I managed to order because my mum’s friends (John and Josh) were with us and they spoke Spanish. (They live in Mexico and were also on holiday). We went here because it was full of Spanish people speaking Spanish. (I know that’s a little obvious, what else would Spanish people be speaking  - Polish/Norwegian/Arabic?- but you know what I mean: it was authentic and not full of horrible tourists like myself).

Before I describe this bar, let me explain something about restaurants in Spain: most of them serve “Tapas” (or Pinxtos in Spanish). These are EXTREMELY SMALL dishes (about the size of an egg). Most of them have fish – bad luck if you don’t like fish. In Spain, they eat many of these small plates of tapas at one meal, meaning that in this review, I’m reviewing 5 dishes. I won’t go into too much detail though – each plate of tapas is simple. More often, tapas is eaten before dinner, as a pre-supper, with dinner served much later (about midnight). You queue to get to the counter. Then you pinch some tapas on display at the counter and then you go to your table. Then, the waiter counts how many dishes you have eaten and dumps all the empty dishes in a bucket (literally) and you pay the bill at the counter.

But, back to Bar Gaucho! First of all the atmosphere  was very stressful: it was packed! Crowded, as it was lunch-time. Tables and seats were scarce.  John and Josh took it in turns to eat, so that we had enough seats to go round.

SERVICE: NONE! (except for the waiter who dumps your dishes into a bucket)

WHAT I HAD: Before I begin, please note that these dishes don’t really have names. (They might have had names, thinking about it, but we didn’t know them and I wasn’t about to make John and Josh ask, although if I was being professional about this, I probably would).  First up was eel wrapped in a red pepper. (Yes, that long serpent-shaped fish that you find in rivers and looks sort of revolting but tastes like.. well, any other fish.  Go on, try some. DARE YOU!). This was one of my favourite dishes because of its unusual yet amazing taste, all fishy, with vinegar, lemon and pepper. It had an acidic flavour which I absolutely love!

I also had some egg with caviar and anchovies (sorry, no pic). I didn’t really like this. The combination was too odd for me. Served warm, all I was getting was a soft, eggy texture. The anchovies made the dish salty.

Then there was some sort of fish dumpling with sauce. It basically tasted like a cod meatball (if that exists). I don’t remember what was in the sauce (WHOOPSY DAISY!), but it made this tapas dish taste a lot better than if it was just fish-balls by itself.

I tried a creamy lasagne with fish. Yes, I know I’m repeating myself when I say this, but to me it was a strange blend… I didn’t say it was bad… in fact… it was…  excellent!

My sister Manu tried some octopus with potatoes, paprika and a drizzle of mayonnaise. She said the octopus was really fragrant with the paprika. The mayonnaise went well with the potatoes. (note: if you’ve never eaten octopus, here’s what to expect. When you look at octopus, you see the bulbous head and the tentacles; what you’re eating is just the tentacles, never the head. They taste a bit like they look, a little rubbery, but about as rubbery as mozzarella rather than, say, halloumi.)

RATING: This was an entirely new experience for me, and although a few of the tapas dishes were rather odd, and the atmosphere was quite stressful, I give Bar Gaucho a 8/10. This place was incredible and you must go here if you are going to Pamplona, but maybe get there just before the lunch-crowd if you want a seat.

With thanks to John Powell for the photos as my camera died on the return journey.

 

Camden Market

Hello hello! Welcome back! NottheKidsMenu here and today I reviewed a restaurant/cafe called MARKET situated in Camden.  I arrived in Camden hoping to review a  chinese restaurant called “Dim-Sum” (which means “dumplings” in Chinese). Then, much to my disappointment, my mum didn’t feel like Asian food :(  So I went to this place because it looked fairly original.

LOCATION: MARKET, Camden, London

THE PLACE:

MARKET had wooden school chairs, brick walls and a bar on the right side of the room.

THE SERVICE: OK. At the end of our lunch, my Dad wanted to give some constructive criticism to the waitress behind the counter, and she looked at him as if he was (excuse my French) a piece of cr*p.

WHAT I HAD: I had Onglet steak with chips and aioli. The chips were deep fried with old oil – I could tell it was old because they left a slightly bitter aftertaste. However the Onglet itself was delicious. It had a slightly smoky flavour and the texture was bouncy. It was cooked to perfection. Onglet is a very rare steak  - a lot of butcher’s don’t supply it. That’s what my dad says and he knows about these things. It’s a shame you don’t find it so much in restaurants because Onglet (which is a French word, by the way, meaning “a hanger cut of beef steak prized for its flavour”) is truly delicious. As for the aioli, it tasted like aioli, all creamy and garlic-y, and very good.

I also had some cabbage.

Now you’re probably thinking: SERIOUSLY??? CABBAGE??? HAS HE REALLY RUN OUT OF  IDEAS ON WHAT TO REVIEW???

The answer is: no.

I know this sounds RIDICULOUS and LAME, but this cabbage had the most authentic flavour ever!!! It wasn’t overcooked or undercooked and there was just the right amount of butter on it. Thank goodness it wasn’t boiled.

Yes, I know I sound like some goody two-shoes who eats all his vegetables, but I guarantee that you’ll LOVE it. And I don’t normally like it.

Later on, I didn’t have a pudding, but my dad and sister had one, so I had a mouthful of each of theirs:

My dad had some stewed plum with shortbread:

It was excellent: really juicy and not too sweet. The shortbread was not too crumbly.

My sister had a Pannacotta with an almond tuile (French word again, this is “a thin curved cookie, typically made with almonds”:

It tasted like a REALLY creamy ice cream (which is a good thing). It would’ve been nicer if it was colder because it was served at room temperature. As for the nuts, they were delicious. The tuile was nice and bendy.

All in all, a good meal – and if you want to know what my dad was complaining about, it was the chips.

RATING:  8/10

 

EAT IT UP!!!

LOCATION:Eatup, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK                                                                                                                                                                                                                       THE PLACE: It looked very nice, with big red lamps, a bike hanging from the ceiling and grey cushions with red trims. The room looked over the High Street through enormous windows and was light, airy and modern with a very high ceiling. The people who designed the interior paid a lot of attention to detail -the sugar cubes sat on the table in old treacle tins, the tea-pots came in tea-cosies knitted by the owner’s mother in law (a waiter told me, I don’t know her).

THE SERVICE: Friendly, fast, the food came quickly and one waiter answered my questions knowledgeably and could recite all the flavours of the Tea-Pigs tea without hesitation.

WHAT I HAD: I went there in October 2012 (yes, it’s taken me this long to type it up…) and the menu has changed so I cannot give you the name of the dish :(                                   But I’ll tell what the main ingredients of it were and how it tasted :)

I had… if I remember correctly some trout with green tomatoes and new potatoes. The trout tasted a lot like smoked salmon. This one needed a bit of lemon, or a hint of chilli, or just more seasoning in the dressing. I absolutely hate tomatoes, but in the interest of giving this a fair review, I tried a bit of the trout with the green tomato. It still needed more lemon. I don’t know why, but I hate tomatoes. I eat them in pizzas, tomato ketchup, sauces, and I love them, but I can’t do them raw, in salads, roasted or stuffed.

The trout came with new potatoes. I have no problem with these. They serve them at school and they are disgusting – they taste like hardened packet mash – but these were just right, not overcooked and with a little bit of butter.

I then had a Rocky Road. I couldn’t eat all of it: it was big. It was a huge slab of sweet dark chocolate with marshmallows and biscuit. The crunchy textures were great.

RATING: A 7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lebanese, Westfield-style

LOCATION: Le Comptoir Libanais, Westfield, London

THE PLACE: It feels like a canteen, it’s very modern (because its in Westfield, the shopping mall in White City, W10), and from your table you can see shoppers passing by talking loudly about going to Chanel and then Prada. (I bet they’re really on their way to Claire’s Accessories) This restaurant is a chain and I had already visited the one in South Kensington where the food was very average so I wasn’t too optimistic.

THE SERVICE: No service, it’s a canteen, but the staff behind the counters were very friendly.

WHAT I HAD: I had a Chicken Kofta Kebab. That’s my mum’s lentil soup in the background.  She eats a lot of lentils and nuts and we think she is turning into a squirrel. The picture is sideways, in case you’re wondering whether we ate it lying down or something.

The kebab was filled with mildly spiced chicken, with some pickled cucumber, tomato and wrapped tightly in flat bread. The description at the counter said that it had garlic sauce, but it didn’t even have one drop of it. So I had to go back to the counter and ask for some. With the sauce added, it really was an excellent chicken wrap. Not one ingredient was out of place and the texture wasn’t too soft so the contents didn’t all flop out like some do.

I also had a: Tabouleh which consists of parsley, parsley and parsley and tomatoes and onions and a little bit of wheat. Nothing much to say, it tastes of what it looks like – parsley – and the parsley gets stuck on your teeth.

RATING: A 6/10

Radio Gaga

LOCATION: Radio Cafe, Market Street, Oswestry, Shropshire

THE PLACE: A small cafe that’s big on style and flavours with modern art and multicoloured lamps. When we went it was on a quiet Tuesday lunchtime so it wasn’t noisy like most restaurants.

THE SERVICE: The waiter was very friendly and the food came quickly.

WHAT I HAD: I had a Chicken and Prawn Romanesco (Romanesco is an almond puree).   Excellent! When I think of chicken and prawn and almond paste with herbs, I think to myself: “What a strange combination.”  But when I actually tried it, I thought: “WOW!!!”       The texture was perfect, the prawns and the chicken were cooked just enough so as not to be tough and yet still with a bite to them; the combination of both is slightly sour – in a good way. Really worth trying. Apart from my dish, you could also try the English breakfast or the Veggie burger which my sister and my mum enjoyed.

Afterwards I had a  Strawberry tart

It wasn’t too sweet so it was really good but I thought the pastry was too hard :(

RATING: A 9/10

Paper Fishes, Wily Winkles

LOCATION: Bistro Union, Clapham SW4

THE PLACE: There were cast metal lights, a wooden floor and metal and wood stools. I noticed that the waiters were wearing suspenders. My mum says to call them braces, otherwise everyone will think I’m talking about men in stockings.  Which I’m not. Some Mums were carrying babies and the men were in their twenties and thirties (except my dad :). )

WHAT I HAD: I first of all had some Winkles With Pickled Shallots.

The winkles were very good by themselves but with the pickled shallots, they were tremendous! The mix between the sweetness of the shallots and the sourness of the winkles (they had been mildly pickled) were what made this dish so original.

I would also recommend the Salt Marsh Lamb Jersey Royals and Mint (sorry, no pic). It was a chunk of lamb with onions, mint, capers garlic and lemon. It was one of the best potato salads I’ve ever tried and was a very good mix.

Next up: Paper-Backed Seabass.

This dish was phenomenal. It looks huge and messy wrapped in paper, but is tiny and elegant when unwrapped. The fish had a lemony hint to it and the salad was very similar to the Marsh Lamb one.

I LOVED IT!!!

RATING: No problems with this bistro, so 10/10

It’s good to be back, partners!

Belle Bhel Puri

LOCATION: Roti Chai, Portland Mews London W1

THE PLACE:  The restaurant was airy and spacious. It felt a bit canteeny (in a nice way), but with individual tables so you’re not sitting next to people you don’t know.

THE SERVICE: It was very quick and very friendly. The food came very fast. When the waiter found out that I was writing a review about the restaurant he introduced me to the owner which made me feel rather important all of a sudden.

WHAT I HAD: I had a Prapri Chaat. It was creamy because of the yoghurt and fruity because of the pomegranate and chutney. The chickpeas, coriander and potato that are stuffed inside have a neutral flavour (by this I mean they taste plain and simple). This makes them the perfect balance to the spiciness. The texture is soft and crunchy.

I also had a Bhel Puri. The tamarind and tomato gave it a slight tang. The puffed rice gave it a crunchy texture. I might say it was AMAZING but it’s much better than that: it’s No1 in my best meal of the century list!!!

I also had a…

Railway lamb curry. The lamb was chewy but not tough, it was just right. This curry had a tomato base. Unfortunately, the chilli element was too strong, even for me which is why they probably put bread with it on the side.   

I also had a…

Rice pudding.                                                                                                                            Ok, you’re probably thinking to yourself: rice pudding??? What a simple dish!!! He can’t ACTUALLY be bothered to review something interesting. That nothekidsmenu guy is so lazy!

But there is a reason why I reviewed this- it’s because it is not a regular rice pudding. It looks like custard and the texture is like custard but there are also other ingredients, namely coconut, pistachio and saffron (so definitely not “regular”). I thought the dish was a little too sweet, but overall, it was brilliant.

RATING: A……………………………………………………………………..10/10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

A taste of Afganistan

LOCATION:Ariana 2, Kilburn, London

THE PLACE: I’ve been to this restaurant already before I started this blog and I LOVED the food here so don’t be surprised if I give this restaurant a good review. The reason why this restaurant is called “Ariana 2″ and not “Ariana” is because this is the second branch to the first “Ariana” established in New York in 1986. But after 09/11 (when the planes crashed into the twin towers in New York, organised by Al-Qadea, the Afghan terrorist organisation), no one went to Afghan restaurants anymore because they hated them, so they all went bust. However, Ariana “survived” because the owner was so friendly to his customers. He then opened one in London called Ariana 2.

There are Afghan pictures on the walls showing Afghanistan and a big red carpet on the floor. There is a camel tapestry on the wall.

THE SERVICE: The waitresses had eyeliner in an Afghan style ( if you’re a boy reading this, ask a girl what eyeliner is). They were very friendly and the food came surprisingly fast.

WHAT I HAD: I had some lamb samosas .

There were so many, I shared them with my family. I found them excellent but a little greasy . For those who don’t like spicy food, there are great because they are not too spicy. The samosas came with some garlic sauce with mint.

I also had a Yoghurt Drink

It looks like a milkshake with black particles. When you first try it, it tastes salty and bitter but after a few sips it tastes better and better until its soft and creamy with a delicious hint of mint. I also had a lamb tikka kebab

 

It was one long kebab with oily rice and a salad on the side. The lamb kebab is not just plain lamb, it is slightly spicy, minced then moulded into a long sausage shape . The rice makes  it taste even better.

RATING: I would rate my meal a good 9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flavour flavour flavour flavour!

LOCATION: St Ali, Clerkenwell, London Ec1

THE PLACE: It was a very big restaurant with exposed brick on the walls and a bar. There was a living wall (a wall covered in vegetation) with flowers, vines and exotic plants. We shared a wooden table made from reclaimed railway sleepers – they are the wooden bits that go between railway tracks. There were people relaxing having breakfast, a nice mixed crowd in their 30′s, a couple of babies but no children. A lady next to us showed us how to use a Kindle (those electronic books).

THE SERVICE: They were quick and very polite, especially a waitress called Kate. She was from Australia and she spoke about her brother coming over to live here. The food came quite  fast.

WHAT I HAD: I had a Dexter Hamburger with Ratte potatoes ( which are oven baked in olive oil – or at least my mum does them that way) and Comte  cheese (which is a French cheese, hard with a strong and slightly sweet taste).

The burger had lettuce and aioli and pickle with a bun ( I added a bit of ketchup). I’ve noticed that I say “flavours” all the time so I’m going to review this meal without saying that word. I’ve also noticed that I eat burgers all the time and if not, steak tartare so this will be my last red meat review for a while.  But back to the burger; the consistency was firm and not mushy like other burgers can be. The aioli was perfect for dipping the potatoes although I also asked for ketchup.

I also had a piece of  banana bread with a date and orange compote :It came with vanilla icecream and raspberries. It was very good but I found the date and orange sauce a bit bitter and it did not go well with the banana bread. But then on the whole it was very good: lots of fla( Damn! not that word!!!).

RATING: Because all the meals of my parents and sister were delicious, my mum’s sweetcorn fritters were exceptional, and we all really liked Kate, our waitress, I would give St Ali a 9.5/10.