Round-up: the year in similes (Part 2)

It’s that time of year again: I’m off on holiday and that means no review. I plan to spend a fortnight eating completely uncritically and not saying things like “no, you have to have a different dish to me so I can try both”, because apparently that wears thin after a while. But I wouldn’t want to leave you completely empty-handed so instead you get a sequel to last year’s post about similes in which I compared toast to Miley Cyrus, cocktails to Gillian McKeith and a starter in one of Reading’s poshest restaurants to Pedigree Chum. Could I top that this year? Read on and find out. (Oh, and tune in next week for a brand new feature on one of the most neglected types of dining there is. Bet you can’t wait!)

Banquette
“The only drawback was the black banquette running round the room – it looked plush and comfy but was disturbingly like a church pew, with less give than Jimmy Carr and Gary Barlow put together.”
(RYND)

Basket
“The basket had a slightly convex bottom which meant that cutting the burger with a knife and fork (purely because the burger was really big: I’m not too prissy to pick up a burger with my bare hands) was a bit like eating on top of a Pop-O-Matic with no chance of rolling a six.”
(Oakford Social Club)

Batter
“Having said all that, the batter was just gorgeous – light, crispy and salty it broke away in fragments like shards of edible glass.”
(Mr Chips)

Brioche
“This all came with a slice of toasted brioche, served separately so it didn’t interfere with all the prettiness on the plate, like an ugly relative kept out of wedding photos.”
(Shaun Dickens At The Boathouse)

Chicken
“The accompaniments I could have taken or left – the rice was an anonymous yellow basmati with what looked like bits of frozen vegetables, the coleslaw could have been from anywhere, those strange purple pickles again – but complaining about that would be like going to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and criticising some of the extras in the crowd scenes. The chicken was the star, and I knew it.”
(Bakery House)

Dosa
“This is definitely the thing to order, I reckon, and everything about it was marvellous. The masala was a mixture of firm chunks of potato and gooey, comforting mash. The chicken was full of spices – cardamom, star anise and cinnamon all ended up on the side at the end – and again, the texture was exactly right. Add to that the part-crispy, part-spongy dosa to grab, scoop and dip and the range of sauces to mix things up with and you have something that’s part meal, part edible adventure playground.”
(Chennai Dosa)

Empanada
“I’m used to Argentinian empanadas made with thin pastry, but the Venezuelan version is also made with corn and as a result was also a little bit thick and stodgy for my tastes. But the filling was magnificent – sticky shreds of slow-cooked, savoury beef. Beautiful on the inside, iffy on the outside, like seeing a hot person wearing an unflattering outfit.”
(Arepas Caffe)

Fish
“I could happily have eaten this without the fish – plain, poached fish is a bit like Orlando Bloom, lovely to look at but ultimately not very interesting.”
(Three Tuns)

Monkfish
“Eating that dish was a bit like listening to an epic fiddly guitar solo: there’s clearly lots of skill involved, but the only person really enjoying themselves is the person playing the guitar.”
(Shaun Dickens At The Boathouse)

Pulled pork
“Instead it was fine shredded strands with clever spice and heat, Private Eye to most places’ Take A Break.”
(I Love Paella)

Spare ribs
“The first one was a grim right angle of gristle where there was almost no meat and what meat there was clung on in a manner best described as Blatteresque.”
(Bali Lounge)

Superfood salad
“Really, it was like the contents of one of those square plastic tubs you buy for lunch from M&S in an attempt to pretend to be a better person than you really are; if this was a party in a bowl, it was the kind where you started looking at your watch half an hour in because all the fun people had already left.”
(Jamie’s Italian)

Tandoor pool
“It felt like an ill-advised attempt at the Masterchef invention test, or a Bollywood remake of cauliflower cheese.”
(Miah’s Garden Of Gulab)

Tarte tatin
“The whole thing was totally out of kilter – the balsamic dressing was sweet, the roast figs were sweet, the onions were cloyingly sweet… the overall effect was like gargling neat Ribena while listening to that song by Daniel Bedingfield (you know, the one with the falsetto. Ick).”
(The Baskerville)

Round-up: the year in similes

I’m sorry, but there’s no new review this week. The thing is, I’m off on holiday and going to restaurants in another country tends to make going to restaurants in Reading rather an impossibility. And I’m sure you wouldn’t want to read reviews of What I Ate On My Holiday (besides, it’s quite nice to eat off duty once in a while and not have to make mental notes of everything. Trust me on this.) So please accept my apologies, but this is the first break from reviewing I’ve had since last Christmas and I figured a break would do me good.

That said, I didn’t want to leave you without a post this week. I wanted to put something up. I’ve already reviewed the ten best dishes of the last year, so what else could I do? Fortunately, racking my brain and re-reading the reviews from past twelve months, something occurred to me. I use a lot of similes, don’t I? I thought. This was only reinforced by reading the reviews of some of my favourite dishes: it’s true. I seem to love similes like… someone who really likes similes, like… well… similes fail me, put it that way. So why not sit back, enjoy the year in similes… ready?

Bread
“The toast was thinner, whiter and cheaper than Miley Cyrus.”
(Café Yolk)

Burrito
“The chipotle sauce didn’t come through at all, leaving me wondering if I’d asked for the wrong one or if the staff just hadn’t glugged on enough. The cheese didn’t register. But I suppose these could be viewed as fussy quibbles about what was basically a big edible pillowcase stuffed with a lot of quite good things (they also do a smaller version, presumably for lunchtime and less ambitious eaters, and a larger version – presumably for Eric Pickles).”
(Mission Burrito)

Chicken
“I didn’t finish it: there didn’t seem any point, when every mouthful was the culinary equivalent of the One Show.”
(The Bull On Bell Street)

Cocktail
“The “Bloody Caesar” – a Bloody Mary variant featuring clamato juice, lime, horseradish and sherry – was all citrus and no tomato, thinner, sharper and more joyless than Gillian McKeith.”
(Bel And The Dragon)

Feijoada
“It wasn’t going to win any beauty competitions – half the plate covered in brown mush, a quarter covered with rice and a quarter covered in greens, a beige pie chart”
(Pau Brasil)

Flatbread
“…you also have the flatbread it’s all served on – gradually soaking up that sauce and those juices, waiting until enough meat is gone that you can roll it up, like a magic carpet, and eat it without dignity, savouring all those flavours and maybe, just maybe, dripping a bit of sauce into the bottom of your polystyrene container.”
(King’s Grill)

Gooseberry jam
“The star of the show, without a doubt, was the gooseberry jam. I wasn’t expecting it to be red, but it had the tartness of gooseberry and – this was the masterstroke – a nice spike of chilli. It absolutely saved the plate in front of me (it was the Tim Howard of the food world: it could have saved almost anything). I’d probably have eaten it smeared on a mattress, that’s how good it was.”
(The Catherine Wheel)

Kachori chaat
“It was in many ways so alien to what I normally try in restaurants that I felt a little bit as if I’d just eaten the national dish of the Moon.”
(Bhel Puri House)

Lamb terrine
“I did feel apprehensive about eating it, though, because I was expecting something coarser and all those chunks (such an unattractive word), bound together with jelly felt like a Damian Hirst starter at best and Pedigree Chum for poshos at worst.”
(Cerise)

Noodles
“The only real misfire was the other side dish; fried noodles turned out to be wide, flat, almost completely undressed, clumpy noodles which transformed into rubber bands within minutes of being brought to the table.”
(Art Of Siam)

Omelette
“A good omelette is thick, seasoned, gooey in the middle, folded over and full of wonderful things. What I got instead was a thin frittata, no seasoning, cooked completely through and rolled into some kind of surreal egg spliff.”
(Cafe Yolk)

Onions
“Onions are as cheap as can be, so how could they possibly be one of the tastiest things I ate all evening? But it’s true, I promise: sizzling, continuing to cook at the table, soft and sweet, spicy and caramelised, coated in all those juices. They were incredible, and we pounced on them like yummy mummies hitting the Boden website come sale time.”
(Bhoj)

Ribs
“The meat practically jumped off the bone without needing any encouragement, leaving the bone as white and dry as the Queen’s Speech.”
(Blue’s Smokehouse)

Roast suckling pig
“The crackling – light, salty and sinful – was how I imagine Quavers would taste in heaven.”
(Bel And The Dragon)

Sea bass
“This was closer to the sort of food I was expecting at Malmaison: Jack Lemmon to the burger’s Walter Matthau, granted, but I liked it a lot.”
(Malmaison)

Of course, to use yet another simile, you might feel that reading this post is a bit like sitting down to an episode of Friends to find that you’re watching that one that pretends to be a new episode but is actually made up of loads of clips of previous episodes that you’ve already seen (you know the one I’m talking about). If so, I’m not sure I can blame you – so tune in next Friday when I’ll have a brand new review for you. Just like a restaurant reviewer.