Month: August 2009

om nom’ing in Michigan

Ann Arbor
Yay! I’m off home for a couple weeks visiting friends and family. This, however, does not mean I won’t be taking an obscene amount of pictures of the food I’m eating. You can look forward to write-ups of all my favourite restaurants in Ann Arbor including:

Pacific Rim
Eve
Jerusalem Garden
Cafe Habana
Aut Bar (Awful web site for the hottest only gay bar and restaurant in Ann Arbor, but an awesome brunch menu)

I’ll also be venturing to the brand new restaurant Grange where one of my best friends is the manager. I told her I wanted free dessert at the very least :)

Image borrowed, with love, from Visit Ann Arbor.

Amaretto – Fitzrovia

We all had a very tough week at work. Lots of pitches meant long hours in the office, so once our presentation document was finished, our boss treated us to lunch at Amaretto, a cozy little Italian restaurant off Tottenham Court Road.

I haven’t had proper Southern Italian food in a while and I almost never order pasta in a restaurant ever since I worked at Macaroni Grill. It sounded good.

We ordered some nibbles of bread and olives.  For some reason, I really like olives now. I even had olive bread. The bread was warm too. Triple bonus points for that.

amaretto olive bread

For starters we just ordered a few plates of bruschetta:

Bruschetta can sometimes go horrible wrong.  If it sits too long, you get really soggy oil bread with old tomatoes. This was none of those things – it was crisp, fresh and perfect. Wish it had a bit more basil though. Basil really makes a good bruschetta.

For my main: Homemade gnocchi in a tomato sauce with buffalo mozzarella gratin.

Wow. This was a-ma-zing.  I forgot how much I liked fatty pasta.  Crispy baked cheese on little potato dumplings. What more could you ask for? I mean, look at this gnocchi… When they say homemade, they mean homemade:

Absolutely delicious.

Love, love, love Amaretto.  I can’t believe I’ve walked by it nearly everyday for a year and never went in. Can’t wait to go back.

Amaretto on Urbanspoon

Canteen – Baker Street

I got to the gym a lot earlier than I anticipated and was surprisingly famished, so I decided to get a quick breakfast at Canteen next door.  I’ve been to Canteen a few times, but always for dinner. I always see people enjoying nice breakfasts reading the paper on Sunday mornings, why not give it a whirl?

I was going to spinning class where I’d be sweating off half my body weight, so I didn’t want anything too big or heavy. I opted for the £4 poached egg on toast.

Canteen egg on toast

The calorie-conscious American in me nearly had a heart attack when I saw how much butter they put on the toast.  It was seriously soggy, though I know part of that may have been the egg.   Another thing: one egg was cooked more than the other.  I don’t like my egg too runny, so obviously I liked one, but not so much the second.

The bread they used was lovely, but I kept dreaming about the raisin toast at One O One.

All in all, it was good, but I won’t be going out of my way to have breakfast there before the gym again.

Canteen Baker Street  on Urbanspoon

Bertorelli – Fitzrovia

Dear Bertorelli,

Awww, according to Urban Spoon down below, no one seems to like you. That’s really unfortunate because the two meals I’ve had at your Charlotte Street location have been very yummy indeed.

This first time I went with a friend from work, the second on a client meeting.  The client meeting one, obviously a bit more grand.

We started out with some of your nice bread and foccacia, a nice olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Our server suggested an absolutely lovely white (not sure what it was because my AD ordered. Tasted a bit like a Chinon Blanc).

The starter:

Whole baby squid filled with crab and saffron risotto in a tomato and basil sauce
Bertorelli

Wasn’t exactly what I expected, but very good none the less.  The risotto-ish filling was rich and delicious.  A bit heavy on the tomato, but oh well. The main thing was the squid. It’s soooo easy to mess up.  This was cooked perfectly.  Not rubbery at all.

My main:

Fennel roasted Mediterranean whole sea bass, new potatoes crushed with Gaeta olives and a lemon and mint dressing

Bertorelli

I loved this.  Well done, sir.  The skin on the sea bass was crispy. The fish itself melt-in-your-mouth.  The lemon mint dressing was very subtle.  Potatoes were just ok (needed some cracked pepper), but the fish made up for it tenfold.

My only complaint – and this has happened both times – is that your service is incredibly mind-numbingly slow.  While it’s true I was on a client meeting where we were discussing business (therefore didn’t want to rush), I think the whole meal from start to finish was over 2 hours.  My advice to your future patrons: Don’t go super hungry because you’ll end up eating your own arm before your starters arrive.

Bertorelli on Urbanspoon

Urban Spoon

As you’ll notice, I link to Urban Spoon reviews on each of my restaurant reviews.  It’s a brilliant site and has given me quite a few ideas of where I want to eat next.  Obviously they like it when bloggers get the word out about them too, so they started this incentive programme, where if you review a restaurant that no one else has reviewed, you get a voucher.

Cool beans, right?

But – and this is a big ‘but’ – the voucher is for Cinnabon.  Yep. Cinnabon:

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too snooty, but are any Londoners really going to go for the sloppy 900-calorie dessertbreakfast that only American tourists on Oxford Street probably get?

How about a voucher for a proper restaurant? Even something like Wagamama’s?  I’d be there in a second.

Now who would like a Cinnabon voucher?  I have, like, 5 to give away.

Sugar Reef – Piccadilly

This meal was long overdo, not because I particularly wanted to go to Sugar Reef, but because my dining partner, the lovely George(ina) and I had been trying to get together for a meal for about 8 months. We went out when I first moved and then life got hectic and we never made it back out.

We’re both huge fans of Top Table, and Sugar Reef was having a half-off deal all night.  It was centrally located and cheap. Done deal.

When we arrived our server asked if we wanted anything to drink before Happy Hour (50% off all drinks too) ends. Why, yes, thank you very much. We would, indeed!

I ordered a mojito, George – already drinking a cider because she had to wait for my late ass to get to the restaurant – ordered a bottle of wine for us to split later.

Starving, we tuck into the menu.  The starters:

Thai Fish Cakes
with a crisp oriental salad, garnished with fresh coriander & sweet chilli sauce

Decent, if not a little boring.  For some reason I always get fish cakes and expect them to be amazing, but I can’t remember a time when that actually happened. I was please that the sweet chili sauce had a bit of a kick to it. 5/10

Sauteed Whole Tiger Prawns
tossed in a crushed garlic & parsley butter with a dash of white wine

These were pretty boring to be honest.  Prawns were overdone a bit and the sauce lacked any personality (can I sauce have personality. Yes.) 2/10

The mains:

Prime Sirloin Steak
a no-fuss prime cut served with a side of sweet potato wedges and a petit salad

Not too bad, actually.  This was certainly not a steakhouse, but for some reason I was craving a steak.  It was cooked exactly how I asked for it (med-rare) and they didn’t make a fuss when I asked for sweet potato wedges instead of chips. Only issue is that George and I were talking so much, it took me probably an hour to eat the damn thing and it was very cold by the time I took my last bite. 6/10

Sticky Lamb Rump
with chunky sweet potato wedges, dressed with a coriander & chilli yoghurt

This was George’s main. I had a bite, but from what I can remember, I thought it was just ok.  The main consensus was that the yoghurt was too sweet and there was far too much of it.  It was hard to taste the meat.

Sugar Reef on Urbanspoon