Wednesday, 24 December 2008

york and albany

Well chronic bloggers-block has given way to pre-Christmas madness but here I am writing a few words about the strange experience that was the York and Albany. My block came out of an evening spent wondering how on earth the last century of (hard won) female emancipation had seemingly failed to touch any of the women in this restaurant. The uniform, regardless of age, was long blond hair, pancake make up, impossibly low cut obscenely short dresses and ridiculously high heels. I was so mesmerised by the stream of women tottering around that I failed to give the culinary dimension my full attention. I came away thinking, thank god my great companion, Ju, with whom I shared a most delicious treacle sponge pudding, is a woman after my own heart, for whom the height of stylishness, is a freshly cropped head of hair, a good trouser suit and a pair of black leather loafers.

Ok, so my cocktail was truly wonderful (York and Albany Champagne Cocktail) infused with lemon vodka and cinnamon. my starter of mackerel and beetroot, good but uninspired, and my main course, fish stew, was deep, hearty and thoroughly competent.

The food was on the whole rather good and is probably deserving of a 7 out of 10, but I find myself wanting to penalise the place and deduct a point for the poor service and the poor taste of our fellow female diners.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Ti's View

We were unpardonably late, but descending the long staircase to the basement dining room we were greeted with the welcoming sight of our great dining companions - Su & To seated at a round table right at the base of these stairs.
Dining out affords one the opportunity to view one's fellow species, and to marvel at it's variation. Our table gave us an excellent vantage point from which to see the almost de rigueur 4"- heels worn by most of the women present. In fact, it seemed that the dress code here was definitely 'flash-trash'; far more Hendon Broadway than the usual attire of Camden Town denizens. One of the benefits of writing a semi-anonymous blog is being able to be catty. Anyhow, our position at the base of said stairs gave us the unsettling feeling that we might at any point be the victims of a ch-avalanche.
Good strong cocktails settled our nerves, and my Vesper Martini made me feel very suave and bond-ish. As for the warm pate-mousse served in a kilner jar - this was gorgeous.
My starter of a 'mosaic' of foie gras and pork was one of the best terrines I've had, and the surround of pickled mushrooms a perfect foil. Top marks.
This was followed (at length) by red-leg partridge seved with truffle chips and some other vegetables (alright, I know I should have posted sooner, when everything was fresh in my mind) and again, the cooking was very good and delicious.
I sampled the fish stew that Ju & Su had and thought it excellent - gutsy, tasty and rustic.
Pud of chocolate parfait with hazelnut ice cream was nice but unmemorable.
The service: is JuTiSuTo ever going to find decent sevice? Far from being captious, we just want to be treated properly - is this so hard? A restaurant such as this is aiming high, with no expense spared on decor, etc, as well as serving very nice food. Why on earth can't they train the staff to do their job properly?
Enjoyable night out, high quality food ingredients, I'll have to go with 7/10.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Ju and Su shared a pu...dding !

Descending into the basement, my disappointment at being housed "beneath" gave way to joy at the sight of our dining companions; Su and To. This state of joy increased as I caught sight of an abundance of red heavy drappery and velvet banquette. Sadly our table was by the staircase which did put me in a slight draught which persisted throughout the meal. Nevertheless my apple and rhubarb champagne cocktail was a delight to behold as was the "amuse gueule" of liquid mousse of "foie ne sais pas trop quoi", although my pleasure was somewhat diminished by the long delay in the arrival of the aperitifs. I should say that butter on the table was delicious; so creamy with crystals of salt therein embedded and the water glasses seemed particularly elegant.

My starter was the deep fried lamb's tongue on a salad of lamb's lettuce; the smooth delicate texture of the meat contrasting rather fabulously with the the light, crispy exterior. Very satisfying. Sadly we had delayed ordering our wine because we all got caught up in a debate about the vilification of social workers by the tabloids. After a long delay, it turned out that that the red we'd chosen wasn't available and as a result I ended up drinking Sancerre with first course ! However, the wine was so delicious that I found I didn't mind at all. My main course, was the fish stew. A generous and tasty collection of fish and prawns in a red pepper based sauce with fennel and a hint of chilli. Most welcome. Then to crown it all, Susannah and I shared a treacle suet sponge pudding of unparalled lightness with vanilla custard. All in all, I thought the food was very good but my experience was marred by disorganised and indifferent service and ill-trained staff. Delays in the kitchen and a sense of chaos in the air are an anathema to good dining. All in all 7/10

Sunday, 7 December 2008

To's view of York & Albany

Once again the company was faultless, thought-provoking and a joy to behold. The venue certainly promised more that the previous location and though we were all a little disappointed not to be sitting upstairs the room was fine if a little drab. Lets start with cocktails: they were first-class particulaly Susanna's choice which was exotic and delicious. My Sidecar was delightful although it must be said that they took an age to come and this remained a theme for the entire evening. The menu promised much and provided us all with difficult decisions. My smoked duck salad was the least interesting of the starters I fancy and was ok but not great. The wines when they came were both good although the curse of JU-TI-SU-TO struck again when the first red we ordered was unavaalble. My main of ribeye was really good and juicy and perfectly cooked. My desert of plum tart was again perfectly ok but nothing exceptional. I thought the ambiance was a little flat and the clientele had a Chavtastic element and I would say the service was sloppy. All in all, very good food without being top class but excellent value. 7/10

The Bill

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Ti's view on Waterhouse

Well, we're off, if not to a flying start. The company of SuToJu was, as ever, a real pleasure - such good table manners all three possess! Alas, the inaugral choice of restaurant didn't quite live up to expectations. Despite the managements protestations of exemplary 'eco-credentials' and a kitchen that is 'state-of-the-art in environmental sustainability', Roux-trained Executive Chef Arthur Potts Dawson does not seem to possess the requisite eye for detail.
The setting is rather cool and charmless, like an upmarket pizzeria rather than an appropriate setting for gourmands such as us (why the ghastly jazz-lite music?). The service was delightfully friendly but distinctly amateurish - the worst type I always feel, and one that is often to be encountered in UK restaurants. As has already been stated, the waitress neither knew that one of the dishes ordered was unavailable, nor that BOTH of the wines we ordered were! (Do they have a 'biodynamic' wine list that is so very hard to source?)
OK, the food. I also chose the artichoke salad, which consisted of a small plate of green beans with some shards of uncooked artichoke heart. Now, for me, this is one of the most sublime vegetables, but it really needs cooking to bring out it's earthy flavours unless very young. At nearly £9.00 this was a rip-off, considering there was probably only half a small 'choke in there!
Next came stuffed partridge which came accompanied by the ubiquitous green beans. It was tasty enough, and well cooked. There was nothing but a pile of gnawed bones by the time I'd finished with it, so you could say I enjoyed it. The stuffing was either not there or made no impression.
I decided to plump for the ice-cream for dessert as there were two intriguing-sounding flavours on offer : mexican chili chocolate and halva. These were both very good, especially the chocolate with its cinnamon flavours and decent kick of heat.
Hits and misses all round, I'll give it a 3/10, and won't be returning.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Waterhouse is reached through crossing a strange courtyard of flats surrounded by steel balconies and fire escapes. Once inside the room is pleasant enough if somewhat soul less in its use of wood, concrete, glass and steel. Things got off to a rather ominous start as Julia caught a bellini with her hand just as it was being placed on the table and the waitress although apologetic and quick to clear up, stood over Tim (who had a fair amount of the initial spillage on his trousers) with bellini-soden menus, dripping further on to his lap, as she mopped the table around him. She failed to notice that his napkin was completely wet and he chose to let it go.

Well we kicked off with the olives, bread and oil for dipping. The oil was good, as was the bread but the olives were rather disappointing. My meal went rapidly downhill from here. My starter of artichoke heart, grean beans and bortoli beans, was surprisingly dry and unseasoned. The artichoke hearts were woody and lack lustre. The dish was sporadically lifted by the odd caper which brought the flavours together and provided a bit of much needed punch.

My main course was an utter disaster. Poached haddock (even woodier than the artichoke hearts) lay unappetisingly on a bed of soggy chard, both swimming in cold watery milk, strangely reddened by the chard stems. I ate very little of it.

The meal ended on a pleasant note of stilton, onion relish and prunes, washed down with a glass of port. I enjoyed this melee of flavours enormously and although this dish was not 'cooked' by the chef, I have to say it was cleverly put together.

Here's hoping Ju-Ti come up with something a little more inspiring!

2 out of 10.

Sunday, 5 October 2008


First let me say how delighted I am that Ju-Ti-Su-To is up and running. Now, to the first meeting - the room was ok, a little industrial and sleek although it lacked atmosphere and felt a little tired and unloved which is odd for a reataurant's that's only been open for a year or so. The Bellini was fine but not very inspired. My starter, beetroot tower, was good, sweet and salty and full of flavour. The Pino Noir was dull and the whole wine experience was shabby to say the least. My main course, duck special was fine - flavoursome and sticky but not wonderful. My pudding - the illusive Vacherine was again fine but not inspired. All in all the wole experience was ok but very run-of-the-mill. Nothing special to recomend it and the service was the same. 4/10. Roll on December 6.

The Bill

The Waterhouse

Hard chairs and piped music (and it is even louder in the toilets) made for an unpromising start though the arrival of Su-To eclipsed such negative thoughts. I was cheered up further by the prospect of mackerel on the menu. Sadly when I ordered it, I was told that they didn't have any which was disappointing and annoying. Why hadn't she said so in the first place ? I was soothed by the beetroot and ricotta/feta stack with honey dressing as I adore this vegetable and it always makes me think of my mother who was addicted to it during her pregnancy with me. Anyway, I digress. My rabbit, prune and borlotti bean casserole was most enjoyable; good deep flavour, nice textures and generous portion of meat. Sadly, the recommended Pinot Noir was a barely adequate companion. Pudding was a great disappointment; a sad and soggy "saffron poached pear" sat on a gigantic thick round of ship's biscuit. This disc of sandy inedibility was accompanied by a small glass of pear sorbet covered in a sickly apricot goo. A disaster of imagination and execution.
All in all an uncomfortable place run by people who don't really care about food for people who are not interested in what they eat.
3/10 I say !

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Supper Club

Well we are up and running! Right now I am still digesting my cardboard haddock and do not feel ready to plunge in to my post supper critique.

Culinary matters aside, it was lovely to see you (Ju-Ti) tonight and I am so pleased we will now be meeting for supper at least four times a year.

Nighty night.

Susanna XXX
I too am a new blogger and equally excited. No rules about ordering the same dish ( i refer you to the soon-to-be ratified constitution) nor any about Tim tasting your pudding (pardon the expression), although I would advise you to set up a sub-condstitution between yourself and Tim or he'll be tasting your pudding willy-nilly. Can you tell I'm excited? I'll shut up now. Til tonight, xxx

Ooh how exciting !

I have never had my own blog before so I am very excited. Looking forward to our first meal. Can two people order the same dish ? Am I obliged to give Tim a taste of my pudding ? On the other hand, isn't he obliged to let me taste his ? You see the way my mind is working. Onto the dessert menu before we have even got there.

Supper Club

This is the official blog of the Ju-ti Su-To supper Club, inaugurated on 4th October, 2008.