Thursday, October 9, 2008

Interview with Theo Randall!

 Check out my interview with exciting Chef and winner of Italian restaurant of the year, Theo Randall at DineOnline!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Great food but grating service at The Gate


The Gate

51 Queen Caroline Street,
W6 9QL 
Tel 020 8748 6932 

As I was supposed to be attending the re-launch of a bar in Hammersmith, we decided to visit The Gate restaurant beforehand. After a bit of trouble finding it (it's down a side road by the Apollo), we came across a quaint little courtyard and church, with the restaurant on the first floor. The interior looks like it used to be part of the church, with high ceilings and white walls, and hardwood flooring. The room is longer than it is wide and it had a nice atmosphere, especially as it began to fill up.

Good bread and olive oil was offered as we mulled over the menu.

The menu was quite varied, all vegetarian and the prices were quite reasonable. I opted for the Halloumi Kibi to begin. The Veggie chose the the Artichokes. 

The starter was divine; a skewer of plump, well-cooked halloumi, with red onions, pepper and courgette, sat on a bed of fresh pomegrante, cous cous and herb salad. It was warming, light and bursting with flavour. 

The Veggie's dish was just as innovative and delightful; battered artichokes with a tasty dressing.

Unfortunately, the service was rather unfriendly which was the only thing that marred the beginning of the meal. 

For mains we both decided to go for the Rotolo (a gorgeous combination of butternut, goat's cheese and basil rolled in thyme-infused potato), which was beautifully presented on a bed of french beans and green pepper corn and mustard sauce. Initially I thought the dish was going to be rather heavy but the goat's cheese did not overwhelm the other flavours and everything was perfectly cooked and delicious. I have never seen a dish like this anywhere else and it was just another example of the exciting vegetarian food being cooked at The Gate. 

Aside from the dish we chose there was a pasta dish, an aubergine dish, another artichoke dish, a thai green curry and a mushroom dish. Something for everyone.

The desserts were something of a disappointment when compared to the high standards set by the rest of the meal. My Pressed Chocolate and Chestnut torte, was rather more of a cake, with very little chestnut and too little creme fraiche on the side.

The Veggie's sorbet was more promising, with three scoops of orange and ginger, apple and raspberry to be had. However, when it arrived the scoops were measly portions, and the flavours and colours were very muted. Not at all the vibrant offering she had been expecting!

Starters range from 5.75 to 6.25 and mains are rather more pricey at approximately 13.50.
Desserts were around the 5.50 mark. I would skip them and perhaps share another starter between two instead. 

I would definitely recommend The Gate for its unusual and superior vegetarian food, its just a shame the service lets the place down. I had to catch the eye of our waitress a few times before she came over, and we were more often than not ignored. Service was very slow and although the place was busy we noted some staff were standing around not doing anything or folding napkins instead of being attentive to the customer's needs.

Scores on the Doors: 7.5 out of 10

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tasty pizzas and marvellous mussels at Zero Degrees

Zero Degrees

29/31 Montpelier Vale
London. SE3 0TJ
020 8852 5619

After another lovely first part of the weekend in Lewisham we decided to head into Blackheath for a leisurely Sunday lunch. Our first stop was Zero Degrees a place we had wanted to visit a few weekends before but it had been too busy, as it is also a popular bar in the evenings. This time there were plently of tables and we were soon seated.

Zero Degrees is a microbrewery so you get interesting fruit beers to go with the Italian-flavoured food. It has a very modern black and chrome interior with high ceilings and shiny floors it feels very spacious and trendy. They do a lot of pizzas so that seemed the thing to try. 

I decided to go for the Caramelised Pear & Gorgonzola variety (Caramelised pears, gorgonzola cheese, taleggio cheese, walnuts & tomato sauce, topped with rocket & ranch dressing)
with added chicken. The Language Whizz went for the chinese takeaway pizza, well it was Peking Duck with all the trimmings. The Veggie had the Porcini Mushroom (Porcini mushrooms, red onions, smoked cheese, white wine & garlic sauce), whilst EMI Guy went for the fishy option selecting the Mussels Mariniere (a kilo of mussels served with fires and mayo) from a long list of Mussels dishes.

To wash the food down I choose the current fruit beer which was Mango beer, and EMI Guy went for a wheat ale. The others had soft drinks but the beers are definitely worth a try if you go.

Our pizzas arrived promptly, the service unremarkable but efficient. My pizza was as rich as I had expected so I was glad for the succulent chicken to break up the sweetness of the pears and the glut of cheese. The bases were nicely cooked but due to rather too much of some of the ingredients I couldn't eat it all. 

The Veggie enjoyed her pizza and managed to polish most of it off. Unfortunately, the Language Whizz had a similar problem to me; her hoision sauce drenched pizza was just too rich and overloaded with topping. This was a shame as with a slightly less generous hand the pizzas would have been much improved.

If I visit Zero Degrees again I will certainly try the Mussels as EMI Guy's dish looked so appeitising, although he couldn't manage that many of the fries - the star of the show was definitely the large, plump morsels of seafood. And with so many different styles to choose from, ranging from Creole to Thai Green Curry there was something for every lover of the little suckers.

I was a bit disappointed with my Mango beer as the fruit flavour was very muted. I much prefered the second I chose, the Black lager, which was a little like Guinness but had a nice coffee bean aftertaste.

We all managed to eat desserts, although they were far from memorable. My passion fruit and mango ice cream cake was rather too hard with a stale tasting base and could have been so much nicer. The Veggie's usual choice of Sorbet was probably the most sensible, although the mud cake that our two friends shared went down rather better than my feeble excuse for a pudding.

All in all, I would like to return to Zero Degrees to sample the Mussels and maybe visit in the evening to down a few more of those Black lagers!

Scores on the Doors: 7 out of 10

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