They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but not only has Edible Reading declined to provide you with a local restaurant review, I also were otherwise engaged this weekend – on retox. Not even Get Reading managed to accidentally bump into the managing director of an establishment to co-incidentally bring you yet another unsurprisingly gushing review of the local chicken shop. And Shit Things doesn’t eat out, except for the occasional bag of pork scratching.
That said, I did eat out quite a few times this weekend and I like to bore people more than a friendly game between England and San Marino so here are some words about eating out elsewhere.
First up on Friday night was a trip to Cau, in Reading, paid for by those people who fund my crystal meth addiction in return for me sitting at a desk 37.5 hours a week and not a minute longer, looking pretty and occasionally having an argument with a customer. It was the first half of our reward for achieving our year-end cash collection target. The second half of our reward being getting sacked.
In case you don’t know, this is a proper Argentinian restaurant in the Oracle, which despite being a chain, I had very high hopes for. If they can do a roast dinner in the 8’s, then they had to know their steak. Despite it being a steak restaurant, they do other meals too though I didn’t even bother looking. If I’m not paying then I’m having the most expensive steak feasible, which was the Asado De Chorizo steak. There was a feast option at around £85 but I decided that proper surpassed any feasibility study, unless Tony Page decided to take another long and expensive look at changing the IDR to a one-way system.
We sensibly decided that a starter would be too ambitious, but had some bread with humous which I don’t care to spell correctly – I actually have some in my fridge for reason that I am unaware of and probably should delete the sentence for. It was glorious, with some herbs and possibly mushrooms mixed in. If I wasn’t already a convert to glorified mushy chick-peas, I now was.
Then after a more-than-palatable 30 minute wait, a big lump of meat arrived. The waiter advised me against rare, as due to the size of it, the centre would be uncooked, and he was right, as the centre was pretty close to uncooked on a medium rare.
The chorizo glaze was just magnificent and the steak was melt-in-your-mouth kind of fantastic. I did have a bit of a tough fatty side in places, but this was just a minor demeanour to a monstrous 500g steak. There were thick-cut chips too though I do not actually remember anything about them. Maybe it was the house Malbec – gloriously fruity such as it was, maybe they were just utterly unimportant.
A sensible person would have hoisted their imaginary white flag at this point (unfortunately my imagination was too slow to buy a Falklands flag from Ebay though I did look into it) – dessert was being paid for so dessert was being eaten. I had the cheesecake which was very nice, though again I’m struggling to remember much about it. I also tried the churros which were either poor, or everyone I’ve spoken to has talked up churros and they are not that great a dessert (or breakfast, as mi compañero Español insistes) – these were quite dry and seemingly not freshly made.
Service was exceptional throughout, very attentive and spirited – almost seemingly as excited to be there as we were.
I’ve had few better dining experiences in my life (though obviously most dining experiences are very average roast dinners) and I so highly recommend this place at a 9.2 out of 10.
Next up was a stinkingly striking contrast at the National Dining Rooms in the National Gallery.
Believe it or not, I have actually been to a couple of art galleries in my life. I tend to look at a painting for 2 seconds, decide it is nice, and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice, then look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and then wait 10 minutes for my friend to finish looking at them so we can move into the next room and repeat the process, then move into the next room and repeat the process, then move into the next room and repeat the process, then move into the next room and repeat the process. Feel like you are watching England vs San Marino yet?
I also went to the Tate Modern once and that was bewilderingly boring.
Minor hangover in place, there was no requirement to grow a beard and pretend to be cultured, so I just met my family at the restaurant. With much alcohol ahead of me, a main meal was required, though the menu was limited in that respect. I chose the fish pie.
Bad move. Those with nut allergies are generally advised on the menu which dishes have nuts included. Vegan and vegetarians are catered for as are those with gluten-intolerances. But what about those of us with pea phobias? And it isn’t just me with a pea phobia.
Yes the fish pie came packed full of peas. Not just one or two – but dozens of the bastards. I fished out the bits of haddock, and rare miniscule flakes of salmon, but sadly this was mostly inedible. I doubt I would have been impressed had it been pea-free either. Once finished, I sat there, desperate for a pea, sorry, pee, for a good 20 minutes, waiting for my opportunity to tell the waiter of my disappointment. I finally went to empty my bladder at which point they collected the plates. Oh and I should mention the green beans, which was actually exceptionally soggy cabbage – holding more water than the Mosul Dam.
Despite my moderate incandescence, I soldiered onto dessert. I had a scone which was dry and slightly over-baked, though somewhat tempered by a tiny triangle of clotted cream and a large pot of strawberry jam.
The service took longer than some of the paintings, and throughout was exceptionally slow – drinks sat waiting on the bar for collection 10+ minutes each time. I might have forgiven had the really hot waitress been serving us – thankfully my sister had the gumption to refuse the 10% service charge…and nearly even collected our drinks from the bar.
A really disappointing experience, and we should have gone to a Wetherspoons – 2.5 out of 10.
In the evening I headed north-east to The Clapton Hart. This is an Oakford Social Club kind of place but a couple of notches up on the quality – a pub for a younger but chav-free crowd, with a suspiciously permanent queue for the cubicles and hardly anyone using the urinals, disco music farting out of the small, incapable 1940’s speakers with more tables than mis-matched school teacher’s room chairs. Oh but you do get served at the bar efficiently.
I originally had no intention of eating here, but a few flakes of haddock and a crap scone was not going to get me through to the after-party to spend hours watching people drunkenly mistake ketamine for cocaine, so I ordered burger and chips. The chips were the triple-cooked kind that all hipster places do – I was expecting them stacked neatly jenga-style but instead they were slovenly piled up. Nice chips though. The burger was in what I imagine a brioche bun to be without ever having had one – the burger itself fell apart ingloriously half-way through yet was a decent homemade effort, replete with cheap vinegar-based ketchup.
Decent but you probably read about it with as much interest as I ate it. 6.5 out of 10.
Last but not least was the Human Traffic experience – Sunday Lunch with the parents after a heavy night out – albeit I had had not gone clubbing or done any ecstasy.
The location was The Three Stags close to Lambeth – a small diamond of a boozer in a suitably rough location.
It wasn’t easy to find somewhere unpretentious to book in advance on Mother’s Day – many places we tried were fully booked. If only there was a roast dinner blogger in London. Maybe there will be one day, maybe there will. I’ve only been threatening to move there for 12 years now.
For £21.00 I had the roast lamb (I’ll also need a significant pay rise if I’m to review roast dinners in London!). It was well presented – sadly with too slightly crunchy vegetables, anaemic white roast potatoes (though actually roasted), a large yet slightly dry and rubbery Yorkie (a bit like the insides of my mouth), along with a slightly odd tasting gravy.
Of which, of course there was not enough.
On the bright side, the portions were plentiful, the cauliflower cheese very good, as was the meat – both the lamb and the beef were very nice – particularly the peppered beef – another ordering misteak from me as I clearly should have had the beef.
A 6.2 out of 10.
And then it was time for a walk in the hail to go catch a train to bed.
Hopefully you made it through my first and probably only episode of RDAR On Tour.
Next weekend I am back on duty and going to lunch with two boner fide hotties – no I’m not getting a threesome before you ask – two very good friends. And hopefully if Reading’s number one weather forecaster is right, we might even get sat outside in some pleasant sunshine for the first time this year.
More importantly, Edible Reading is back too – with a review of Cosmo. I have a sneaky suspicion that he won’t find it quite as abominable as she is expecting. I haven’t been invited to join he/she for what is the local culinary occasion of 2016.
I should finish by clarifying that I have not been sacked. Yet.