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Archive for November 5th, 2008

Would Sir/Madam… like just one more mint ?

My career as a restaurant reviewer, enjoyable but shortlived, was ultimately doomed – because I cannot take some foodery or restaurantery seriously. For years we have had chefs running amok over our television screens, writing books, appearing on Chef ‘reality’ programmes – in the case of Gordon Ramsay, demonstrating his appreciation  for the English language by swearing in a curiously ineffective manner…. BUT… it is time for Chef to get back into the kitchen below stairs, cook and keep quiet. A quick walk along the King’s Road last night revealed a remarkable lack of diners and swathes of empty tables – save for cheaper establishments serving good food at sane prices and no Maitre D’ or Chefs de Rang  polishing the bloody glasses in a supercilious (possibly)  manner.

I happened to be on Gumtree tonight researching restaurant activity for an article looking at the other side of life in the restaurant world – the world of staff, the low pay, the jobs available and the possible effect ‘Le Credit-crunch’ (as some of the more expensive restaurants in London would, inevitably, call it)…. was having on the restaurant trade.  This advert and accompanying picture caught my eye… for a ‘destination restaurant’… whatever that is…. Launceston Place.

I quote the advert in full… “We are currently recruiting for an enthusiastic and talented bartender at Launceston Place, in the heart of Kensington. Our restaurant has undergone a sophisticated and contemporary refurbishment and has re-opened as an intimate and refined destination restaurant, managed by the best in the industry.  Launceston Place’s cuisine is truly unique and is created by Head Chef Tristan Welch, formerly from 2 Michelin star restaurant Petrus. Our innovative and delicious menu features classic dishes infused with unique modern techniques, showcasing flambé at the table, smoking dishes, a fine cheese trolley and speciality chocolate trolley. Michelin service is presented with elegance and finesse, and we focus on tailoring our service to each table.”

(a) How can something be  ‘truly’ unique?  It is either unique or it is not. (b) I am not entirely sure I want food infused with ‘unique modern techniques’… whatever they are…(c) I don’t know if Launceston Place has 2 Michelin stars and I can’t be bothered to find out – but…. they get the subtle plug because Cook had two at Petrus. (d) I quite enjoyed it, at old style Italian restaurants in the days of red table cloths and Chianti bottles in wicker baskets,  when a waiter with an implausibly sized pepper grinder would cremate a bit of meat in front of me by setting fire to it in a copper pan – flambe is not what I want in a restaurant.  Christ… I can do that at home when I return pissed after a night out if I need to. (e) I have no idea what ‘smoking dishes’ are – but I approve of smoking in all forms so I’m definitely up for smoking dishes – presumably outside? (f) Michelin is hinted at again even if they do or don’t have a Michelin Star(s) yet…  with the phrase…”Michelin service is presented with elegance and finesse, and we focus on tailoring our service to each table.”

I’ve always thought it wonderfully ironic that a manufacturer of rubber tyres has managed to diversify to be the definitive source of wisdom on food… good on ’em.  The AA does not have quite the same cachet. Perhaps because they spent too much time saluting motorists in the good old days. 

F**k it.. to quote Gordon Ramsay.  I won’t ever be asked to review a restaurant again… but… that is life… I’m orf to a caff to eat some spagbol and drink a lot of house red… Sorry there is no law.. been overdoing the law a bit lately…  Ciao.

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To be fair – thoroughly enjoyed doing a few reviews for LawandMore – and the restaurants I visited were great.  A message to the Editor who set my chest hair on fire accidentally at a long lunch… “If you wan’t me to do more reviews… you know my number.  I suspect I may only be doing “Caffs” after this! We shall, no doubt, speak!”

UPDATE on Michelin Stars. I felt guilty saying that I couldn’t be bothered to check if Launceston Place had a Michelin Star(s)… so I called them on 0871 962 0636, spoke to a young lady called Julia, explained that I was doing an article for a blog on restaurants and asked how many Michelin Stars they had.  “None at the moment.. but we are hoping for one” was the straight reply. Fair enough. Sorted.  Have to be thorough in research.

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Before Mr Justice X: Solicitor-advocates.

The case for the prosecution is made by Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association.

Mr Lodder says this… “There is a huge increase in the use of higher-court advocates [solicitors who are qualified to act as defence advocates in serious trials]. …. The Bar does not say that such an advocate is bad by definition. Some are good, but there are many who are truly appalling – defence solicitors who have never before conducted a crown court trial and have very limited experience in the magistrates’ trials now appear as junior advocates to defend in murder trials.”

I noted, as did many, the subtle barb, the sharp lance of barristerial disdain, when Mr Lodder put the point.. that some CPS lawyers were less than top drawer and had left the bar “because they had never risen above a modest practice.”

Be that as it may, a phrase beloved of some members of the Bar, as they look out of the window while talking to you, but today I read in Legal Week that Michael Caplan QC (I looked him up in that Wikipedia thing) is a solicitor who took Silk in 2002, one of only a small band of solicitor QCs and is a well regarded partner at law firm Kingsley Knapley.  Caplan wades in from the Red corner to defend solicitor-advocates.  This is not surprising but he says this… ” It will be extremely sad if the recent public comments (see below) openly criticising solicitor-advocates, made on behalf of the criminal Bar, are allowed to cause hostility and divisiveness between the two sides of the profession.  There is a need for calm and reconciliation – and for all of us in the criminal justice system to work together to retain and promote its reputation around the world.”

I’m not entirely sure that I gained anything from reading this article other than the pleasing information that some of Mr Caplan’s best friends are criminal barristersbut it is not just barristers who can make barbed comments.  I particularly enjoyed this quote from the Legal Week post: ” I am sure that the criminal Bar, on mature reflection, will appreciate the importance of working together with solicitors, and to refrain from descending further into what many will see as divisive comments. It is better that we all work together from all sides to maintain respect and to seek to move forward.”

Absolutely, Mr Caplan…. good point.  The Criminal Bar, and indeed most barristers,  depend on solicitors for work… best they get on. We can’t have brothers-in-law falling out… that would not do at all.

I doubt that my observations are of any value to you… but as I am a relic from the Triassic… I have no obligation to get it right, provided…  as The Fat Bigot, a man of considerable eruditon and distinction who shares my taste for non-governmentallly approved drinking, opines….  I keep my comments within the law.



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Remember, remember… the Fifth of November.

I could hardly let Bonfire Night go by this year without some reference to Guy Fawkes and the burning of effigies.  I’ve decided on this ‘momentous’ day to write a themed post along the lines … “Bonfires, vanity and idiocy” the latter headed by none other than departing US President George ‘Dubya’ Bush.

Yahoo has a most amusing article citing 20 of the most idiotic things George Dubya Bush has said during his presidency of eight year. I have selected my Top Five from that list in reverse order:

No 5: “I’m honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein.” – May 25, 2004.”

No 4: “The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off.” – Oct. 8, 2004.”

No 3: “We don’t believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans.” – Sept. 6, 2000.”

No 2: “I was proud the other day when both Republicans and Democrats stood with me in the Rose Garden to announce their support for a clear statement of purpose: you disarm, or we will.” – Oct. 5, 2002.”

And… at No 1: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” – Aug. 5, 2004.”

Sorry… can’t resist: “One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.” – Jan. 3, 2000

And.. on the subject of bonfires…

It seems that Jonathan Ross and Russly Brand are going burnt in effigy. Members of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society in Edenbridge, Kent, thought the shamed celebrities would be the ideal choice for their annual guy so made one out of a combination of the two personalities.

There is some hope for the world. After a recent period of being governed by a numbskull – or at least one who gives that impression, the americans have elected someone who appears to have a pretty sharp brain.  He may not have any experience of government or mainstream governmental adminsistration  and be be as Gordon Brown would put it – a ‘novice’ – but as Guido Fawkes points out on his blog, it is unlikely that Gordon Brown will be referring to his famous “no time for a novice” line when being scathing about Cameron and Osborne recently, when he talks to President-elect Obama.

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And it is bonfire night…. so political activists decided to go for a walk wearing Guy fawkes masks. Our intrepid rapid reaction force of doughnut and pie eating PCSOs waded in to ‘have a word’ and give them a ticket.  These completely useless licensed vigilantes rounded up all the Guy Fawkes until a real policeman turned up. Guido Fawkes, not surprisingly has the story – the film  footage is also there… WTF are these amateur faux-cops doing guarding Downing Street and Parliament area anyway?  Surely this part of London must be of some interest to potential terrorists?

It is a bit wet for fireworks in rain soaked London… but at least Gordon Brown and David Cameron managed a few fireworks in the Commons today… At least Cameron managed to taunt Brown… “over his recent claim that with the economic crisis “this was no time for a novice”.

And continuing on the theme – covering both vanity and idiocy – this wonderful quote picked up by the latest edition of Private Eye No 1222…

“The Scottish Banks are among the the most stable financial institutions in the world.”

Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, February 2008

And finally for this post… and the connection with this and the wonderful picture by James Fraser of Alex Salmond (left) is pure coincidence… and a bit of whim..

The Fat Bigot opines:

Got a drink problem? You need a manager.

This morning I have read of yet another fine initiative to turn Britain into the health capital of the world. The government is to spend £6million on areas worst hit by alcohol related problems. It is not yet clear what is meant by this, but I presume it means areas of the country with large numbers of alcoholics or large numbers of drink-fueled crimes.

Having read his post with some care, I concur with the the wise words of m’learned friend…


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Daily Legal News and podcast

Daily Legal news and podcast up on Insitelaw

Took a few days out to deal with some business – back with a more in depth look at news from media and the law bloggers.

The plan is to expand, significantly, daily coverage from the blogs and increase the level of analysis and comment.  The coverage on Insitelaw each day (and the daily podcast) is an attempt to provide a quick reference on one page to the stories of the day in the media and in the blogs.

Have a look?

UPDATE / THANKS

Thanks to the eagle eyed reader who pointed out a typo on Insitelaw this morning… “there is a wealth of excellent material in the bogs..”  It should, of course, have read blogs.  Corrected.  Mea culpa.

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