Friday, 25 January 2013


I hate white-whining (this might be surprising to you since I do it so often) but this introduction is primarily centred around one. How do you choose between trying a possibly wonderful new restaurant and going to a definitely wonderful one you've already visited it? This is particularly a problem here since there are so many to choose from and most of them look smart, presentable and like they would sell tasty food. That's why I usually opt to try somewhere new rather than stick to the familiar. The patron of City Spice told me 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't' when I rejected him in favour of Sheba because it was new territory. There, the decision was the right one as Sheba was much better. But it isn't always, as my experience at the Lemon Tree confirmed. Then there's the additional problem of how well can you really judge a place based upon one visit, particularly if you're only ordering one course as someone with my means can usually only afford to do? But then why would I choose to give somewhere else another pop at my limited means when it disappointed? There is no solution to these idle 'problems' but I thought I'd discuss it since this blog is about some places which I loved the first time and have recently visited again. These visits have made it much more tempting to just go to everywhere I've already been and eat through everything on the menu.

The first time I went, all we ordered were curry dishes. Now that I've tried the mixed grill, I don't know why. The curry is glorious but the grilled meat is really where it's at. The rubs on the chicken, tikka and tandoori, are so smoky and vibrant. The lamb is where Tayyab's really comes into its own though: the chilli heat in the moist kebab, the crust which forms from perfect grilling on the lamb chop. We ordered two mixed grills and that defeated four of us. But I'm not sorry, I wouldn't have had it any other way. We still had some karahi ghost and I'm glad we did, it was still as good as I remembered it and perfectly accompanied by fenugreek potatoes and soft, velvety pumpkin. I've now begun to think about what we didn't manage to finish and that makes me saaaad.
E Pellicci
The first time I visited here, I was hungover and not really in a state suited to eating. This time, I was fresh as a daisy and ravenous. I decided to try one of their traditional Italian dishes. Bolognese! You could taste the generations of Italian blood (and probably sweat and tears too but whatever) that had gone into flavouring this bolognese. The result was extraordinary and however much I might simmer mine, it never ends up tasting this rich. I also went for a potato croquette for no other reason than I fancied it. I thoroughly enjoyed that too.
I was also hungover for my first visit to Cafe 338. This was a pity as the generous portions are a difficulty to finish on a full, healthy appetite. It's only a five minute walk away so there has been ample opportunity to visit again. What sticks out in my mind from my inaugural visit was that I should've ordered something with salad for a chance to try the carefully constructed, complex mixtures they throw together. To rectify this, I ordered the tuna mayo jacket potato. While it wasn't as big a potato as last time, it was still sizeable but perfectly baked with a crisp jacket revealing a buttery interior. There was a mountain of tuna, well-mayo'd and with a sprinkling of fresh, watery sweetcorn. The salad excelled itself again. A little pot of salsa and a little pot of tartare were the fanciest and possibly most delicious bits. It's hard to choose just one favourite though; the radishes and cherry tomatoes and grated red cabbage and glorious coleslaw and indeed the several other slaws each had their highs. The only problem is that when I got into Cafe 338 the menu threw me into disarray yet again and actually, I rather regret not choosing the 338 breakfast. I will never be satisfied.

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