Tramshed, Chicken & Steak, Shoreditch-London

NOTE: I am in London until the beginning of October, for Berlin Posts, please visit my Berlin, Favourites page or Places I’ve Eaten In  

We were 20 minutes late for our reservation at Tramshed on Saturday but since our reservation was for 5pm, an hour which is neither lunch nor dinner, I didn’t think to mention it when we gave our name to the hostess. That’s why I was surprised when the blond amazon woman receptionist with frizzy hair made a big fuss; flipping back and forth through stapled papers, scrolling up and down on the computer screen – like I was a George Costanza claiming to be on the guest list at a lady Gaga concert.

“Oh there you are! Your reservation was at 5.” She bristled. “You are half an hour late!”

“Well now I am.” I wanted to say because you’ve been wasting my time for 10 minutes.

“I just want to inform you that we will probably need the table back in one hour and 10 min. We might not but just so you know.”  I wanted to remind her that this is no longer February 2007 (boom) but rather June 2012 (bust) and that on behalf of her employers she should smile and thank me for my custom but I channeled my inner Yoda and simply look at her blankly.  Humor me and let me explore this inane statement for a minute. Because by trying to bully the customer, even one that is 20 minutes late, two things are guaranteed. First, the customer knowing that he will be “maybe, perhaps, possibly’ forcibly evicted when some kitchen timer behind the hostesses desk goes *ping*, doesn’t order a bottle of wine. Second, they skip any side dishes and desserts because to get through starters and a main course in an hour in unrealistic let alone side dishes and dessert.   The last thing the offended customer wants to do is pander to the bully receptionist by asking “Do you think  I have time to order dessert and give you more of my money?”

Meaning that she may have made her point but the restaurant has lost out on all their margins, since everyone knows those come from drinks, desserts and side dishes.I am sure that Mark Hix didn’t open 8 restaurants in 5 years, pen 9 books and commission a special Damien Hirst installation and use Jake and Dino Chapman “Insult to Injury” wallpaper  just so the customer could be put off their dinner within the first seconds of entering his restaurant.  Read more of this post

Chin Chin Laboratories, Ice Cream made with Liquid Nitrogen, Camden-London

NOTE: I am in London until the beginning of October, for Berlin Posts, please visit my Berlin, Favourites page or Places I’ve Eaten In 

My old DVD rental place on Haverstock Hill has closed down and an Italian ice cream shop has opened instead. Gelato Mio. In Berlin, Layla and I have a reliable one scoop daily habit that we indulge with a trip across the street to Der Eisladen.

On our first week in London, I took her to Gelato Mio, to provide some consistency to her life. A scoop for me and one for her (dispensed with a paddle because in London they are always trying to re-invent the wheel) came to just under £6.00.I find the ratios often don’t work here. Ice cream = pleasure seems like a logical equation but the real equation (at least for me) is ice cream @x price = pleasure. Once I pass a certain price threshold then I start picking away at the experience and decide it might not be worth it after all.

The balance (as with everything in life) has to be right, so you can charge more but you have to offer something superlative. Morelli’s in Harrods makes some of the smoothest most delicious ice cream I have had anywhere. I don’t give the expense a second thought, I even go down there just for ice cream sometimes. Read more of this post

Rose Carrarini’s Ginger Cake

You may have noticed from my Twitter feed that I am in London. Two unexpected developments mean that I will be here until roughly the beginning of October.

I am staying in my old flat in Belsize Park with rented furniture. It’s jarring and familiar all at once. I’ve got the big stuff, a sofa to sit on but not the small stuff. The bookshelves are empty, my kitchen counter is bare. I actively miss my kitchen aid stand mixer and my Francis Francis X1 coffee machine. Which is ironic since I often chide my hoarder husband for his addiction to stuff setting forth my own superior nomadic roots and freedom from clutter as an example. As it turns out, if I was living back in my nomad days, my camel would be laden with all manner of kitchen equipment and I would have to hook up some sort of satellite dish to its behind to permit me to get online.London meanwhile is crazy. I’ve been coming back every few months for the last couple of years but living here is a different thing altogether. First there is the expense, I am winded every time I pay for something. I bought a little pot of churros at the Maryelbone Street Fayre  yesterday and paid £4 (€5) for it. At Ginger & White, Layla spotted a mini cupcake so tiny I could have snorted it up my nostril (I have small nostrils), it set me back £2. Yet none of this matters because everywhere is full. The churros line was 20 people deep, Ginger & White is mobbed from the moment it opens to when it closes.All shopping interactions are social.  Everyone asks Layla’s name and makes some sort of comment, I stare at them sullenly having become acclimatized to the lean interactions in Berlin, necessary information only, superfluous banter cut off at the root to the point that at Lidl “Schönen Tag noch!” (Have a nice day) becomes a clipped “Schön” and even that is not flung about with any reliable frequency.  Speaking of Lidl, yesterday I went to Sainsbury’s and came home with a thumping headache at the range of goods on offer.  I had an altercation with Layla who was rooted to the spot in front of the display of Peppa Pig, My Little Pony and the like.  Why had I brought her to a toy shop if I didn’t intend for her to buy anything? She demanded from me?  Because despite the 4 aisles of toys, this is not a toy shop! I insisted. Read more of this post

Adlon Kempinski, Breakfast, Mitte

The adventurous spirit I have with regards to eating leaves the building when it comes to hotels.  I would rather stay in a Marriott with its floral prints and its thick carpet than in some designer led incarnation where it is easier to locate the bathtub than the bed (remember my experience at the Delano in Miami?).  Over the last few years I have stayed in the Adlon a couple of times.  None of the rooms had a ‘view’ (I am not sure that crowds of tourists lining up for a Starbucks coffee constitutes a view even if it is set off by the Brandenburg gate) but that in no way hampers the room layout -  quietly brilliant in their clever use of space and deliverance of comfort (for example Mühldorfer bedding also used in the 7 star Burj Al Arab).The buffet breakfast is another perk.  Table after table, stacked high and deep  with neat lines of cold cuts and cheeses.  A dozen glass carafes filled with juices.  A wall of bread.  An army of jars, lids off, sitting on a paper doily - spoons at the ready with tiny little dishes for spooning dainty quantities into stacked off to the side.  A whole human being to make you eggs, any way you like.  Triangles of watermelon, bowls of segmented grapefruits and oranges (some poor hotel school student probably got carpel tunnel doing those).  Let’s say you find nothing you fancy in that room of food, you can always order ‘a la carte’, eggs benedict say or a white tureen with two bloated weisswurst floating in a sea of finely minced chives.I start off with fruit and a mixture of yogurt and one of the four kinds of bircher muesli, move on to eggs with some cold cuts on the side before I have to concede defeat and fight the urge to get horizontal and groan.

Last Sunday, my father was visiting Berlin and  he invited us to have breakfast with him.  I packed in as much food as my compromised stomach could manage but instead of saying ‘uncle’ and going for a lie down, I left that table and went to another breakfast.  Hosted by Marguerite’s on her blue polka-dotted oilcloth tablecloth.  Luisa made apple scones from a Martha Stewart Recipe.  I spooned on Sylee’s delightful strawberry jam with strawberries she had picked the weekend before in Vierfelderhof and drank too much coffee from the French press. Read more of this post


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