Went to Granita (in Islington, Upper St.) last night. Wasn't expecting much (I didn't book it...) and it met my expectations. However, it did refresh my memory of two of my top restaurant gripes.
1) Expensive visual designers who forget about acoustics. (Tony's recent "New Tayyab" post refers). The stripping of all sound-absorbent material down to bare floors and walls produces sound-levels akin to a busy night in Tora Bora. Usually a tactic deployed by trendy eateries so customers cant hear each other complain.
2) Smart-arse chefs who compose wilfully obscure menus. I mean, what the hell is Turlu Turlu when its at home ( a- a vegetable; b- a wading bird c- the unhappy result of someone sneezing on a scrabble set) ? Mjamo, bavette, and heaven knows what else also figured. Once or twice is understandable. In an unfamiliar ethnic restaurant it's expected. But to deluge a 'modern-anonymous' menu with these terms looks to me like smugness or boredom or both. As a result, unless you happen to be dining with a conference of foodie-ethnologists you have to ask guidance about virtually every dish. Since this seemed to be the chef's ambition anyway, last night we gave it a try and did ask guidance about every dish. (best moment: waiter trying to respond to the query "Excuse me, how crushed are the potatoes ? Mildly upset or really disappointed...?")
Anyway Christmas is coming and the goose is getting nervous, so on a cheerier note I thought I'd throw in ten highpoints of my last food year.
The fig and coriander lacquered duck at the Auberge de L'ill
The service at the above (when will Synchronised Waitering gain the Olympic status it deserves...?)
Finding that rare thing - cheap but decent sushi - (Ichiriki in Strutton Ground)
A great Martini at the Halkin hotel (three more and I wouldn't have noticed how disappointing Nahm was...)
Two terrific crab dishes (in Rasa and in Fung Shing)
My first ever taste of Chateau d'Yquem
The moment our Air Egypt flight from Cairo touched down in London, thus guaranteeing that I would never have to touch Egyptian cooking again...
Chowhound visit to St John (woodcock and then eccles cake...)
Watching the sushi-chef at Kikuchi (in Hanway St.)
Cooking my way through most of "The Prawn Cocktail Years"
No doubt you have your own. Merry Christmas.