Sunday, 3 October 2010

Trullo, madly, deeply let-down

Maybe the simple rule in London is go for top end restaurants with wonderful service and perfectly assembled dishes with stratospheric prices or go to a trusty local place where the food will be excellent and the prices fair. Everything in between seems to disappoint and Trullo was a perfect example of this. Slap-dash service lasted all evening and from the very start I felt like we were being rushed. Our waitress was ok but inept and three times asked me if we'd chosen our wine when it was perfectly clear we were still studying the list. Our quail antipasti was ok, my beef shin pasta was very good but not remarkable and was just chucked on the plate and my liver main course was pretty good but again was plonked onto the plate without any care.

The wines were very good and we have to say the price is very good considering three bottles of wine plus desert wine but the whole experience was rushed and amateurish

I say 5/10.

Fuming in the rain !

So there we were "Up the Junction" sipping our digestifs having been turfed out of Trullo's at 9.15 pm. Our measily 2 hour slot was over ! Are their overheads really so high or is it just plain greed ? Either way, it left an unpleasant after-taste. Anyway, to return to the beginning. We started with an excellent bottle of Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante Bedin. What a joy to be reunited with our dear diners, Su and To for another gastronomical experience, or so we thought in the light of Trullo's many complimentary reviews! Sadly, we were to be very disappointed. What a mediocre meal ! My pile of deep fried squid with its sauce "rosso" was a very plain little dish. This was followed by a weary-looking grilled whole mackerel which shared a plate with a pile of beetroot quarters. Equally uninspired. The butter pastry on my pear tart was lovely but the rest of it was just too bland. Failure to care is unforgiveable and so is being made to feel that we needed to be out of there for much of the time that we were there ! 3.5/10


Oh how one yearns for the days of yore, when one could get together with friends in a restaurant and linger over a meal! Today's requirement for two sittings means that one feels rather hurried and anxious, a feeling exacerbated by waiting staff who "need that table by 9.30".

A lot has been written about Trullo's good value for money (small mark-ups on wine, ungreedy pricing) and it's exceptional 'River Cafe' style food. I'm afraid that we found it rather uninspiring.
A promising start to the evening when we shared an excellent bottle of prosecco in this unpretentious and pleasant room, served by a charming and attractive waitress, gave way to disappointment with both the food and service. We ordered a mixture of antipasti and starters, but the waitress got confused and brought us four dishes but not my pasta dish. When this finally came, it was the wrong dish and had to be changed. Our main courses all came together, but none of us were particularly smitten with them.

I had a fresh tagliatelle with chanterelles - the fungi flavour all but masked by the heavy butter and parmesan sauce. This was followed by a veal T-bone overcharred on the grill which meant it just tasted burnt, seved with a quite nice mixture of what I think was red cabbage and potatoes.
Su and I shared a cheese plate which was fine, but served unaccountedly with two quite horrible and inedible grissini - we had to ask for some bread!
The bottles of Gavi and Sicilian Donnafugata were lovely, as was the pudding wine.

I'm afraid the perennial affliction of so many restaurants sadly applies - namely poorly trained service staff (this despite the presence of a young man who was previously, and improbably, front of house at River Cafe). On our visit, the much-trumpeted 'fresh, good quality ingredients simply served' left us sincerely underwhelmed, and in one instance (the salmoriglio sauce with plaice) seriously faulty.

One gives a mark for the overall experience, and I'm sorry but it's a 4/10.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Bill

trullo disappointing

It may not be wise to blog while still digesting and under the influence, but sadly I do not think time will do Trullo any favours. In a word: disappointing.

Beautiful though our waitress was, the service was patchy, at times thoroughly incompetent, and the food decidedly mediocre. My squid and chilli salsa was ok, but disappointingly bland. My fish (plaice with wilted chard and some strange herb) positively weird and strangely perfumed with something which tasted like it should be added to bath water, not food. The cheese platter was OK, but not enough for two, and arrived without bread.

We were hustled out of our seats at 9.15, into the pouring rain and because of this I give it 4 as opposed to the 5 it probably deserves, out of 10.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Last minute blog......

Well a refresher night out in Bruno Loubet, a couple of months after Ju-Ti-Su-To's lovely evening there helped refresh my memory and confirm my initial view that this is a special place. The room is lovely and somewhat quirkyly furnished, and the staff welcoming and very attentive.

The cocktails got us off to an excellent start and we settled into our very well positioned table, with an excellent view of the both the kitchen (complete with the chef at work) and the room filled with happy diners. My asparagus was simple, fresh, subtly seasoned and perfectly cooked. I followed with a rich, dark, fulsome lamb shoulder, and completed my meal with an even richer, darker intensely choclately, chocolate tart and a well chosen (by the somelier) glass of desert wine.

Yes, we are back on track. 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Zetter's couldn't be better

Greeted in charming and friendly style by a very handsome waiter, Ti and I sit down to cocktails in comfortable armchairs upholstered in classy French textiles. The dining room is light and airy, it already seems to exude a kind of quiet confidence. Su and To arrive and pretty soon we are installed at our table where a most charming waitress is taking us through the menu; she describes the ingredients so vividly that you can almost taste them as she speaks. My "revised" Lyonnaise salad is a melange of crispily fried batons of piggy bits on a bed of leaves with a red wine vinaigrette; a very fine starter and a very superior combination of textures and flavours. However, the quail and pistachio dodine with spinach and egg yolk raviolo which follows can only be described as a paragon of excellent cuisine; every mouthful was a treat. Part of the bird breast has been removed and turned into a kind of delicious nut based stuffing which complements the rest of the meat perfectly. The raviolo provides a delicate and wafer-thin little pouch for its spinach based stuffing. Pudding is a disappointment; I plump for the yogurt mouse with passion fruit and ginger Lamington. It's the latter element which bewitches me; it's an Australian thing the Lamington and it brings back happy memories of Oz. But this Lamington just doesn't deliver; it's neither very gingery nor that light and the mousse is a bit dull. I need more intensity. Happily, Su invites me to share some of her chocolate tartlet which is pretty fantastic. It goes down a treat with the glorious Monbazillac. Throughout the meal, the open kitchen is humming quietly in the distance. This is a restaurant that knows what it's doing; mixing the classic French with the novel to excellent effect. Lovely food in a fine surroundings.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Back on track

Oh yes - a big improvement on the disappointing Fifteen!
We felt in good hands the moment we entered this corner location in Clerkenwell - a light and airy room with a large curving bar and 'home-made junk' shelving - the suave young maitre d' showing us to a comfy drinks area, where we were soon joined by the equally suave SuTo.
My cocktail which was called an El Jimador and consisted of tequila, raspberry and elderflower, and was superb, as were all the others we had.
Food was excellent - I had a gorgeous boudin blanc made from guinea fowl seved with cauliflower puree and buttery leeks; a wonderful combination. This was followed by the fish 'cassoulet' which was both beautifully put together and full of lovely ingredients (broad bean hearts and herbs) but somehow unable to fully satisfy - I agree with To. The pud on the other hand, a scrumptious parfait served with a delicious glass of Monbazillac (which would contribute to a hangover!) was a perfect finale. Roll on the next supper club meet!
I'll give it a 9 - that's an extra point for the good value of the un-greedy pricing.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

High class evening

Any anxiety about eating in a restaurant that is in a Hotel soon vanished when we met Ju-Ti in light spacious room with enough little knick-knacks to raise a smile. We were extremely well looked after by a dashing maitre d' who with the help of an equally charming waiter brought us top-class cocktails - my Bramble was long and cold and satisfying. We were led to "better" table which was well placed. THe menu offered difficult choices but I was very pleased with my subtle, light beetroot ravioli. This was followed by Bruno's take on Cassoulet - a summer version with many different types of fish - whilst this was very good I felt it lacked something but couldn't quite tell you what. We plumped for excellent Langedoc house wine that worked a treat. I finished with a simple divine Creme Brulee. The whole experience was first class although a minor quibble was that our waitress seemed rushed off her feet at times. A very happy 8.75/10

The Bill

Friday, 12 March 2010

15 to 1

The below is Susanna's sent from Toby's computer and thus says Posted by Toby at the end in error.

fifteen to one

I had high hopes of 15 but must sadly say the restaurant, the food and the service, was appalling. Of course it was lovely to spend time with my fellow diners and I particularly enjoyed getting more than a little tipsy with Julia.
I have very little to say about the uninspired food, so here is a list of my key complaints:

1) The meal was grotesquely over price for what it was.
2) We had to chase our drinks in the bar and were told to be patient as the bar was 'backed up with orders'.
3) No one came to the bar to let us know our table was ready.
4) The room downstairs was airless, over heated, and badly lit.
5) There were at least four couples with over-tired, strung out young children (please leave them at home).
6) The tasting menu was not a tasting menu at all. We had to do all that hard work choosing all four of our courses.
7) All of my courses which were supposed to be hot were on the cold side of tepid.
8) One of my courses (the duck ravioli) was inedible and sent back to the kitchen. The replacement was equally bad. There was no apology for this and it was not reflected in the (grotesquely overpriced) bill.
10) The somelier kept mixing up our wines.
11) He served a rather strong red wine with the halibut. I would have preferred a dry white.
12) The food was bland and utterly soulless - clearly cooked in a formulaic way with no flair (only my first course was good and that was very much an assembly job: prosciutto, rocket, mint, pommegranite, balsamic vinegar etc.).

I think this was far worse than my last failry awful choice. I give 15 1 out of 10.

Lamentable !

Diners should steer clear of this grossly overpriced eating house with its mean portions, mediocre food and indifferent staff. The place trades on Jamie in the menu with allegedly "incredible burrata" and "wicked" fisherman's stew but it's clear from the food that he and the kitchen have long since parted company.

The bar was cold and chaotic and we got our cocktails only after a long, draughty delay and a prompt to the waitress. It took a further prompt for us to be conveyed to our table. Excellent bread and very promising saucisson arrived but nobody came to ask us what we would like to drink. My burrata was a very mean slice of mozzarella. Tonight's menu was supposedly a tribute to the recently deceased Rose Gray; she must have turned in her grave at the sight of our floury, undercooked duck stuffed ravioli and the sulky manner in which the waitress dealt with our complaint. Cooking it further was something of an improvement but who in their right minds would marry pasta with pomegranate seeds ? My halibut on a bed of very anaemic carrot puree was ok. My ginger sponge pudding was rather dry but was helped along by a marvellous glass of Italian sweet wine.

All in all, the food just wasn't good enough - this was supposed to be their Tasting Menu - and the staff did not care a toss either . At no stage did anyone bother to ask us whether we had enjoyed our meal. Having now looked at other reviews of this restaurant it seems that we are not alone in having had such a disappointing experience. Feeling ripped off leaves a most unpleasant taste in my mouth ! Score 1/10

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Started with a delicious rhubarb martini upstairs with ju-to-su.
Descended to the restaurant proper with high hopes of some goumet grub. After all, we were having the 'tasting menu' alongside the 'wine package' which would set us back a hefty wedge of moola. I am rather of the opinion we have been 'had' by the over-inflated reputation of this no-doubt admirable charity, and feel that Mr Oliver would shun it himself. He certainly would not like to put his name to the food we had, which was distinctly un-Jamieish. In fact, not only the dishes were disappointing (and the portion sizes were sub-tapas!) but the whole establishment suffered from a lack of management and training. The service was poor, the ambience and food lacklustre. Plus, some of the young diners brought their babies(!) out to dine with them. Is this a new trend? For the record, I had smoked eel salad, oxtail gnocchi (a nice spoonful) and 'wicked' (ha ha) fisherman's stew (under-flavoured somehow), followed by chocolate tart (ok).
Poor show: 3/10

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The bill!!

Oh Jamie, Jamie

After a six month gap, finally JU-Ti-Su-To was reconvened and what a delight that is. We arrived at Fifteen and admired the building from the outside and stepped in to the disorganised chaos. An overcrowded bar, late arriving drinks and having to ask if our table was ready did not bode well. The dining room was cold (and over-heated), dated and unpreposessing. The waiting staff were curt and sloppy and when we were presented with the "tasting Menu" it turned out to be a set menu.

MY food was ok but not at all inspiring or exciting - the salami at the start may well have been the highlight. The Amuse Bouche was fine but a little lacklustre and I followed with the eel and potato salad. Now as Ti said (and he knows a thing or two) that is a great combination, and it is, but this was at best a fairly average example. The pancetta was bacon by the way. This was paired with a bone dry Austrian white - fine but not great. Next a crab risotto that was underseasoned and a lttle dull with a rather unsubtle but perfectly drinkable Viognier. Next a very average lamb dish - not great lamb and very dry with an over tannic Italian red and finally a very deliscious Panna Cotta with a good Spanish sweet wine.

Overall the food was ok but esentially dull, the wine choices were ok but not of great quality, the service was very slap-dash, even the charming sommelier kept getting things wrong, and the price was outrageous.

A generous 4/10.