scribbles tagged ‘restaurant’

at the gate

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

iPads in airport by the gateInternational flights invariably mean a couple of hours at the airport. It doesn’t take long to tire of airports, expensive shopping, expensive food, controlled air, controlled people.

Minneapolis airport had a surprise for me at gate G4. Tables with IPads, even outside the bars, everywhere people using their own or the airport’s computers. I slid up to a nearby bar and found the menu.

iPad iPad in airport bar, swipe paymentKid’s under 12? I can eat them? Cool. I found myself a large glass of red wine and paid using the swipe-card slot on the bar. The bar staff talked to me about the system. She liked it, the customers liked it, I liked it. Sounds like an all around win.

iPad in airport bar - menuI’ll go straight to the gate next time I’m at Minneapolis airport. No need to unpack my surface, no need to find a power socket or go through connecting to the airport WiFi. Just use the local iPad which even supplies flight information for the anxious passenger. That wasn’t me, I’m not the anxious passenger. I’m the one who’s snoozing after a large glass of wine….

at the gate
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plates are so passé

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 | tags: ,  |

Can't afford proper dishesI’ve noticed a trend in the restaurants, cafés and pubs who occasionally serve a meal to me. No plates. Popular alternatives are:

  • plank of wood
  • slate tile
  • basket
  • small bucket or mug (of chips or vegetables)

I’m hoping that it’s just a passing phase. I find it quite difficult to eat off a slate tile without simultaneously decorating the table.

plates are so passé
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dying breed

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Smoking ladiesTwo ladies with well-coiffed silver hair at the table next to me would leave their table, wine, handbags (under table) in-between each course. They walked out of the restaurant, across the pavement and stood in the gutter smoking cigarettes together.

A gale-force wind hampered their conversation and smoking while they huddled in the gutter. Their camaraderie seemed to make these obstacles melt into the background.

Go girls!

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touring the car parks

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

A Sunday trip to picturesque Winchester started well until I reached the small city. Apparantly every car owner in the south east was trying to find somewhere to park in the tiny city. In the course of a very slow moving hour I managed to circle more than 5 large, full, car parks. Helpful pedestrians coming out of car parks would wave frantically at me and make gestures to indicate the park was full. There is no standard gesture for car park full, there were some innovative and amusing attempts.

The Chesil RectoryBy the time we arrived at the downtown pub for Sunday lunch it was full with a long queue drinking in the bar. Walking out of the city we stumbled on this fabulous restaurant. The building was originally constructed in 1480! We felt very lucky that all the people had pushed us towards this ancient treasure – The Chesil Rectory

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do you take walk ins?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Inside open-air restaurantThis is often the first question that I’ll ask the wait-staff at the door of a restaurant* in England.  Many, probably most, English restaurants use a booking system where you phone the restaurant in advance and book a table for your party.  In my early adulthood, I came to understand that if a restaurant accepted walk-ins that meant it wasn’t good-enough to attract sufficient custom to warrant a booking system. A restaurant worth avoiding. Promoting scarcity is an established purchase persuasion technique, for example, think of how airlines will often say ‘only one seat left at this price’.

China Palace RestaurantRestaurants that accept walk-ins are becoming more common in England, reflecting the more American style of first-come, first-served, or take a ticket and wait inline. When I first moved to the US I found the fact that you had to queue to get into many good quality restaurants a somewhat irritating pactice. I never really got used to it. I find fun in the notion of booking a good meal with the company of good friends, several weeks in advance, adds to the excitement and anticipation. Being able to walk straight into a restaurant knowing you are going to be seated and fed in a reasonable time is also a very pleasing experience. Both the restaurant and the customer are being respectful of each others resource management, as customer, this is a good use of my time.

* this use of the term restaurant excludes Pubs, Cafe’s and chain eateries with a substantial US presence such as Yo! Sushi, TGI Fridays, Wagamama…
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at Colleys supper rooms

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

The service,   food and experience as provided by the supper rooms was outstanding,   the customers sat near to me were not typical of the softly spoken guests at other nearby tables and I have to say they were perhaps a little below par for such a well tailored experience.

A selection of quotes from  the most verbose  fellow at the next table,   overheard inbetween the sombre aubergine ceiling,  loud floral-print wallpaper, dizzying geometric pink diamond-design carpet,   and flamboyant floral chandeliers  In Colleys supper rooms.  

the journey was crap… …Lynne can’t come because she  has a hangover…

Tottenham have a brilliant mid-fielder from Barcelona…

tuck your nape in…

we don’t know what they are  (to the waiter about the starter list)

You’ll be alright if you keep your mouth shut,   Lynne doesn’t think I’ll be able to keep my mouth shut…

I’d never go to Moscow again,   its crazy,   its not like Spain or Greece,   its crazy,   all the words are like squares the only things I understood was Macdonalds and even that was squares. (about a trip to watch a football match)

Maitre d' awaits Sunday Dinner guests

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Loch Fyne

Sunday, November 9th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

Loch Fyne is  a chain of fish restaurants  that has a premisis  in downtown Reading on the banks of the river Kennet.   Loch Fyne restaurants  serve only line-caught fish.  



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Miah’s Garden of Gulab

Friday, October 24th, 2008 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Bangladeshi restaurant in Earley, Reading.

Dressed in white shirts and black neatly ironed trousers the Garden of Gulab staff welcomed me into their restaurant and were able to find a table for one in the crowded restaurant.   The customers looked and sounded pale skinned English,   the staff looked and sounded more Asian.  

My choice was a Balti.   I love Balti’s,   ever since I started eating them in the mid 1980s in a local Birmingham Sparkbrook restaurant on Ladypool Road.   The  Ladypool road  restaurant I used had no flatware and the staff would treat you as if you were an irritant if you had the afrontery to insult their food by asking for flatware.   I learned to eat my food properly,   with my fingers.  

It’s not easy.  

In the Garden of Gulab I ate my meal with my fingers leaving the impressive, superfluous,  traditional English flatware untouched.   In Birmingham I  was given a thick soft  damp heated flanel to clean my hands after the meal.    In the Garden of Gulab I was given an individually  plastic-wrapped disposable wet-paper-wipe.   Functionally sufficient yet lacking the touch of quality that I had learned to enjoy.   The food was excellent if  disappointingly mild compared to my Birminghan experiences.   The balti arrived in an ordinary  metal dish,   not  the sizzling  hot Balti bowl that it had been cooked in.    

Mumzie doesn’t like Indian food,   I think she’d thoroughly enjoy this place and the food.  

The waiter bought a complimentary small brandy to my table explaining it was because  I had finished my main meal quickly.    

Excellent English-i-fied version of an Indian restaurant and charming staff.  

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London Street brasserie

Monday, October 20th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

customer:   what is blue cheese souflee?

French Waiter: …..

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branding #5: chic boutique

Monday, August 11th, 2008 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

The Great Western Hotel in Reading has been re-branded to a Malmaison Hotel.  This style appears to be referred to as ‘chic boutique’.    Judging by the internal decor boutique chic  means purple velvet furnishings,   lashings of pink,   large-swirly-print dark-wallpaper and an angular-geometric floor covering all held together with elevator music and a hint of stale cigarette smoke.

According to the Malmaison-branded paper-wrappers on the Napkins:   Malmaison. Eats. Drinks. Sleeps.

This sounded uninspiringly basic

I tried the eggs  benedict,   or rather egg benedict,   just the one egg and half a muffin.    The ‘eats’ were not impressing me,   the ‘drinks’ didn’t include any real ales.    Apart from  myself the only other customers  in the bar on this Saturday afternoon were a  couple of Hotel guests from the romantic together while speaking in Dutch.   After trying the ‘sleeps’ while waiting about 15 minutes for any member of the Bar staff to actually come into the bar I   gave-up on the ambition of eating a pudding and walked into the boutique  reception area  to ask if they could arrange to bring me my bill (US = check).

It was unisnpiringly  basic

However,   all of that said, I do have it on good authority that they have a fabulous suite with an en-suite train-set that is mumzie-impressingly-good.   I may have to get a second, mumzie, opinion on this.   Certainly I can see how a train-set is in keeping with the original,   pre-boutique, Great Western Railway (GWR) branding…

Luckily,   the chic boutique rebranding hasn’t yet spread to the external original architecture that conveys something of the original standing of the GWR.


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snack decision dilemma

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

home made cakes rather than those that have been delivered from further afield are proffered by the wonderful little ‘picnic’ shop on the Butter Market.  

This is in stark contrast to its new neighbour,   Starbucks.   I choose picnic with local home made cakes and delicious salads every time.   But then directly across the Butter Market there are more choices,   Munchees or big chain of Costa Coffee?  

I felt impelled to excape  cafe corner on the  Butter Market,  go home and make myself a sandwich after this imposing decision dilemma.  

Muchees & Costa coffee opposite starbucks and Picnic

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alan’s tips

Saturday, May 10th, 2008 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Words of wisdom from my outrageously expensive and  handsome young product-dispensing hairdresser:

If you’re looking for a good winebar the best place in Reading is the Forbury Hotel restaurant bar

As usual,   I’ll be taking Alan’s tip very seriously and following up on this gem of wisdom

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quiet night

Monday, December 17th, 2007 | tags:  |

what does a girl do of an evening after work?

No  kitties at home to pamper me?  

Can you guess?  

Despite living in the Thames Valley down-stream from Tewkesbury  my evening activities  do not,  yet, involve the  dodging the local floods,   which appears to be a necessary skill in both the NW US and locally.

Perhaps I should buy some wellies now?

 Things just get water logged when I’m not around to take care of things.   I hope the kitties didn’t get too soggy without me.

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late lunch

Sunday, September 30th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

3pm wandering into an Italian style winebar with a view  across the river Shannon.   The bar was empty bar one table where the guests,   6 women in their 20’s and one man in his 40’s were finnishing their meal.   maybe they close soon,   maybe the chef has finished for a break between lunch and evening settings.

Wendy:   Are you still serving?

Waitstaff:   We’re open,   yes

Across the river behind some homes I can see an older taller building with a large tower.  

Wendy: do you know what that building is or was?

Waitstaff:   No,   I’m not from Limerick.

I should have spotted the eastern European accent.

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Teatro Zinzanni

Monday, October 2nd, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |

Teatro Zinzanni, a show called ‘dinner and dreams’.   After a poor start to the evening the performance was colourful and fun,   the food was interesting and tasty.   A very good evening. 🙂 🙂

Ratings explained

Apparantly they were expecting us the week before we turned up.   They didn’t have our reservations.   I had a confrimation number and when I subsequently checked their confirmation email had not cited the day of the performance.   I was sure I’d stated the right night when booking,   they were sure I’d stated a week before my parents arrived.

Mum looked upset,   dad looked anxious, the tent looked dark and sumptuous.

Teatro Zinzanni Bar

I asked if they could fit us in.   They waited until all the expected guests had turned up and then found 3 places for us.   It took the shine off the beginning of the evening.   That they were able to let us see the performance despite this misunderstanding was very much appreciated.   That there was room for this misunderstanding was not good.   Mum and Dad laughed through the evening of bawdy jokes and Vaudevillian sketches.  

Mum really liked the original theatre tent with bevelled glass windows.   Both parents had trouble reading the menu in the very dim candle light or hearing the waiters above the general noise of the tent.   The wine supplied with the meal was outrageously expensive and the corkage fee (if you bring your own wine) was  less, but still,  outrageous ($30).  

Nonetheless, the whole experience of the evening is worth paying for,   once.

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Codger in Diner

Saturday, November 5th, 2005 | tags: , ,  |

3 hour conversation with codger in diner over brunch and newspapers. The conversation started like this:

Codger: I’ve just got me a DVD player

Wendy: do you have any DVD’s?

Codger: they gave me two when I bought it, I’m going to buy some more

Wendy: Any particualr DVD’s you thinking of buying?

Codger: I’m not going to say.

Wendy: <?>

Codger: My friends would think that I’m the type of guy who would buy DVD’s that you can’t watch until you’ve bolted all the doors and covered all the windows.

Wendy: <don’t ask, there are famlies sat nearby>

If you’re very lucky I will share the Codgers’ views on the NY Times, using credit, voting, politicians, gas prices, California, London, traveling, portable DVD accessories and, of course, the weather.

Wendy meets-native-USians-in-their-natural-habitat

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