Tuesday, 15 July 2008

First sign of Roy Walker and I'm out of here....

Tony Naylor had a piece on Word of Mouth a few weeks ago about how the surroundings of a restaurant can effect the enjoyment of your dining experience. His own particular bugbear being a place that was somewhat too Tory for his liking,
"An otherwise fine place to waste a few hours - all right pub food, unhurried atmosphere, stunning views - the idea of eating in somewhere that has nailed its colours so prominently to the blue mast left this socialist with serious ideological indigestion."
A sentiment we can all agree with I'm sure. Another friend of mine detests some of the finer Belfast restaurants due to them having a "middle class, Presbyterian, Daily Mail" feel to them. Ironic, seeing as he is both middle class and Presbyterian. But I know what he means. He is happiest when eating stew in an empty pub with only a few old men and the background noise of the horse racing and their crumpling betting slips to keep him from sleeping.
wrong, wrong, wrong......

Personally I cant stand restaurants with prints by Matisse and Van Gough and that lot. Nothing wrong with the paintings per se but I prefer something original hanging on the walls. There is something cheap and obviously lacking in originality about it too. I detest black crockery, hell I'll walk out if you serve me food on anything where the main colour isn't white. We used to serve cheese on the most hideous salmon pink plates. They all ended up in the bin over a period of three months. Just kept being dropped, dunno how. [Cough cough] I wish I had been there that day when the big executive at the plate making company said, "Pastel! The world needs pastel coloured crockery!" No it fucking doesn't.

I also despair at menus that come with photos and personal "messages" from the chef. Yeah yeah you really hope "I have a lovely time and blah blah blah". I sort of take that for granted. Restaurants with signed pictures of C-list celebrities who have eaten there adorning the wall makes me recoil in horror, this includes anyone who has hosted a quiz show. I mean if you have a signed picture of Bogie eating a steak and eggs from your breakfast menu then I'm impressed. Matthew Kelly and that one off Big Brother 2 really don't count.

Menus with more than two pages, menus with spelling mistakes, menus in huge brown leather holders are all just wrong, wrong, wrong and put the fear of Gordon Ramsay in me. I can block out most other guests except for the obvious, such as guests in golf type jumpers and if there is even a hint of air kissing I'm a goner. I run away from restaurants with formerly contemporary paint jobs but that can only be described now as "dirty protest" brown. I like to eat in light airy places with little unique bits here and there, velvet rarely does that or brown of any kind.

Apart from that I'm fairly relaxed where ever I go...

But what about you? Does the sight of brown leather seats set your heart racing with anticipation? Do you long to pour over 7 page menus? Do you mind that the restaurant is full off middle aged men in golf jumpers or suits? Could you eat in a restaurant if you knew Adam Sandler was there? [Shudder] Do you recoil at the first sight of the gingham table cloths? Does any of it matter to you or is it just about the meal?

34 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Sooz said...

My dear Manuel, what a fabulous topic! It's my birthday on Thursday and I'm bein taken out by an exceptionally lucky fella- we're torn between Molly's Yard and Ginger- which do you recommend? I've never been to either but I feel the need to be spoilt rotten :D

Manuel said...

sooz: no question Ginger but I'm not sure it's open this week....eek. Molly's is not in a good place at the mo. I'm hearing some bad stuff about them. My advice i to skip molly's. I have a review that I'm in two minds weather to publish or not, it's not good, not good at all. I nearly walked out.

So if ginger is open then go for it.

If not, try No 27 near St Annes or Tedfords but they may be closed too. If you want something different try MADE IN BELFAST near Apartment i was thee for lunch during the week and it was really good. Review to follow.

I was in Mourne Seafood on Friday and it was fantastic so give them a go.......!

hope that helps.....!

Sooz said...

I love Mourne Seafood but the boy is not a big fan of things from the Sea so I don't think that'll be happening- read your review of there, took my dad for Daddy's day- he loved it! So yes, your advice is key!

Ginger is in fact closed till the 18th- gutted! Considering I work in the Apartment I tend to avoid that general area but if somewhere's worth going I'll give it a try!

I'm disappointed bout Molly's, heard such fab things about there, shame I missed it's obvious peak...

I shall let you know where we end up, Tedford's is in with a shout, as is Nick's Warehouse, and you never know, I could be your next guest review! :D

harried_dad said...

I want a kitchen team photo with personal comments:

"Hi I am Jason the trainee chef. I make all the vegetables. Feck I hate my job, but I have to do another five months on my parole otherwise I go back to prison. The only thing that keeps me sane is collecting dried dog turds and grating them into the pepper."

"G'Day, I'm Matt the executive chef from Oz. I don't really know how to cook, but all the bar jobs were gone and I couldn't face working alongside Jason, so I blagged a work history that no-one could be arsed to track down. You'd think coming from the land of the BBQ I'd know how to grill food, but I don't. I just keep burning stuff, scraping off the black bits and sending it out"

"alright, I'm Dave the head chef. Stay the f**k out of my kitchen and I won't have to cut you, right ? What's on the menu is what's on offer, don't try and change it. If I came to your place for dinner and you served me up some food, you'd be pretty f**ked off if I asked you to just do the chops a touch more, and maybe redo the sauce without garlic. So don't do it to me. The last guy who's chop was underdone ended up getting some of Jason's special seasoning. So to recap
1) any part of you that enters the kitchen is fair game to appear on the specials board
and
2) be grateful for what you get, because trust me, if you send it back it will come out worse."

Wouldn't make the food any more appealing, but at least it would be honest...

Manuel said...

sooz: best avoid tedfords then.....pretty much all seafood and a few meaty things as well. Honestly try NO 27, I need someone to do a review!!

dad: bwahahahahahaha "my names wee anto so it is like.....I bring them their dope....wahhhhh"

Sooz said...

I have been told to give my top 3 options and we'll see where we get a table; Mourne, Tedfords and No 27 it is.... He WILL find something he likes on a menu somewhere, he eats steak so we're grand! I will keep you up to date on proceedings :D

Blondefabulous said...

I look foreward to the food mostly, but when we are in a place that is, shall we say, lacking in atmosphere, it just doesn't taste right,like at every corporate, cookie cutter place here in America.

Manuel said...

sooz: please do.....keep your receipts and I'll refun.....no no I wont.....hehehehe

blondie: yeah atmosphere is so important.....and that cant be manufactured or forced...it's there or it's not....

Medbh said...

There are two restaurants here that put me off returning to because they shoved the celebrity visit down your throat with the pictures. Michael Douglas and Mike Myers. *Gag*
I also will sniff at any place with fake fucking flowers on the table.

Sooz said...

I'm not paying... refunds are not necessary my dear!!! :D

Manuel said...

medbh: ah yes the fake flowers and plants! how fucking tragic.....but michael douglas is so much more tragic....

sooz: do a review and I'll get you a badge.....

savannah said...

the food, it's always about the food, but a clean place is always nice. but seriously, simple, honest pride in not only the food, but the front of the house will bring me back every time, sugar. xoxoxo

(things are starting to look better over here, i think we'll know for sure on tuesday!)

Native Minnow said...

Pastel colored plates always remind me of dorm food. I'm going to go ahead and guess that's a feel you're not exactly shooting for when opening up a restaurant.

fatmammycat said...

Ban on Manuel! Pastel plates, black hexagonal plates, chipped glasses, grubby cutlery and paper table cloths spin my melon, no me likey.
The places I do like are efficient, comfortable, organically designed-as in bit and pieces have been added over the years, the menus are small but what is cooked is done to perfection. A big menu is a no no for me too, it means lots of frozen ingredients. I'd rather a chef did five dishes well than twenty-five mediocre ones.

paddy said...

I like short menus, long wine lists, white linen, white plates and big pepper grinders. Celebrity photos are a no unless the cuisine is old skool indian or italian and the people in the photos haven't been on telly since 87 on account of them being in gaol for kiddy fiddling or tax evasion. Then it's fun.

Conan Drumm said...

Keep it simple, surroundings and food, and keep it clean.


Mind you, I'm getting a bit uppity in the head about food being served on wooden boards.

Manuel said...

savannah: I agree....and yippee!

minnow: well one would fucking hope not.......

fmc: I know exactly what you mean.......which is nice...

paddy: you're a fucking shocker!!

conan: tell me you like it? you must? LMM got a burger on a board the other day, her fries were served in a tin cup! nice!

Conan Drumm said...

Yeah, nice... not!

Sometimes they drape a piece of greaseproof paper over the board, like they know it doesn't really wash effectively.

psychic said...

An inviting atmosphere says that the establishment cares about your dining experience. Either that, or their sister in law is an interior decorator.

Manuel said...

conan: no! that's to add to the olde worlde element of it....you're so cynical....


eek we've rumbled......

psychic: which is a help for sure!

Conan Drumm said...

Aha, so you use them do you? I'm prepared to put up with them (seasoned hard wood under a pizza is ok) but these light pale board things don't really last long. They flake.

I've done the "olde worlde" wooden crockery thing at Bunratty. 15th century hygiene is so reassuring.

Manuel said...

conan: come on now, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger......! I propose we do away with cutlery too....I fucking hate polishing cutlery......

MJ said...

I enjoy dining in any establishment that doesn't welcome children.

jen said...

Pastel plates... With you on that one :-)

Went to a restaurant where they served up a dish in a mini IKEA jar. They were trying to be amusing/novel/or something but it just looked like an unappetising specimen jar. Particularly because there was some white asparagus in there, so it looked like a giant worm. Yuk.

Long menus always ring alarm bells about frozen food. Keep it simple and straightforward every time, I say. Some places also try too hard, it's not always something definable but you can walk into a place and it's a cumulative effect that turns you off.

Manuel said...

mj: bwahahahahaha brilliant.......me too......

jennynib said...

White, please...

Plates, tablecloths, napkins...

I prefer my glassware sans Slut Pink lipstick and teaspoons should be sparkling silver in colour, not brown with crusty tea tannins.

If I told you the name of the restaurant which committed THAT howler, you just wouldn't believe me...

Manuel said...

jennynib: oooohhh spill!! go on I wont tell anyone......

problemchildbride said...

Long menus flummox me. I can't be doing with too much choice.

More than anything I like the glasses and utensils and dishes to be gleaming. I like well-pressed linen tablecloths. And the right lighting goes a long way. And no fake flowers, like Medbh said. Especially if you can't be bothered to dust them once in a while!

Manuel said...

sam: what? we have to clean the fake things too? pfft....what's the point...?

Maxi Cane said...

Any place that has more grease smudges on the menu than ink and then has the audacity to hand you a comment card at the end of a mediocre experience and get defensive at your comments before putting them in the bin and looking for a tip in the same breath.

Any place with comment cards. If they don't know what's wrong with their restaurant they shouldn't fucking have one in the first place.

Fucking builders with too much invest able tax dodging money.

Manuel said...

Maxi Cane: "Any place that has more grease smudges on the menu than ink and then has the audacity to hand you a comment card at the end of a mediocre experience and get defensive at your comments before putting them in the bin and looking for a tip in the same breath."


is that a dig? hehehehhehe

Mr. DNA said...

Huh, crockery, huh, huh.

I'm so easily amused.

Anonymous said...

Went to Deanes the other week and you'd think that a properly well off chap like Michael could affor d a few feckin' window blinds. I spent most of my main course shielding my eyes from the bright evening sun. The staff either didn't notice or couldn't be arsed to ask why I was adopting such a novel eating pose, although to be fair, the place was bunged, so we couldn't have moved if offered. So, Mr.Deane, pay a trip to that big swedish shop out by the airport and get yourself some window dressings for a few pence and keep future punters from going blind. Oh and crockery....my beef came on a piece of slate..FFS!!

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