Sunday, 24 February 2008

Planet Soccer, W1

With the bites from the Soldier Ants finally beginning to recede, it seemed appropriate to venture out to some fine eateries again. Someone had mentioned about an Association Footballing themed restaurant called Planet Soccer, and you know me, always one to venture outside my comfort zone and experience new places and lifestyles. Therefore I immediately tried to call Filly and get her to come and pick me up, but there was no reply from Little Dozey-on-the-Wold and her mobile was switched off. So once more I had to rely on public transport, or as I like to call it, my Mother's Austin Maxi. It took her a little while to get to me from Esher (her cataracts are getting a bit opaque) but she was more than happy to drive me the mile or so to Planet Soccer, and didn't complain too much during her wait outside.
Now apparently Association Football, or Soccer as it is colloquially known, is the most popular sport in England today. Now amongst my close friends and acquaintances you'd swear it was Point to Point racing or Rugger, but I am ready to be proved wrong on this. Planet Soccer has a very glitzy entrance foyer with pictures of many famous players from over the years. I stopped in front of one with a man with blonde hair, with a red shirt on, sitting on the shoulders of his sweaty team mates in what looks like the old Wembley Stadium (if one's memories of Live Aid stretch back that far!) holding aloft a small solid gold trophy. The man has the biggest broadest smile you have ever seen. Another diner walked past. I asked him who the man in the picture was. He snorted.
"Who do you think it is? Pongo-fucking-Waring?" and he stalked off. So that's what Pongo Waring looked like. I add the photo above so that you now can also amaze your friends.
The manager of the outlet is a certain Mr MacPherson, a very proud Scotsman, and he has recently updated all the decor of the restaurant, he tells me. Gone are the large signed photos of "Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves, Alan Shearer and Bobby-sodding-Charlton" apparently, and he has replaced these with a huge mural depicting, according to him, England legends such as "Carlton Palmer, Martin Chivers, Dennis Wise and, the God, Barry Venison." There are also very large photos of Chris Waddle taking a penalty, Stuart Pearce taking a penalty, Gareth Southgate taking a penalty, David Batty taking a penalty and even Darius Vassell taking a penalty. The food seemed to consist mostly of Scottish staples like "neeps and tatties", "haggis" and "deep fried Mars Bars". Mr MacPherson seemed to be in a quite advanced state of inebriation, but was keen for me to know of his plans for the future of the restaurant. This included to addition of such dishes as "Jan Tomasevski Goulash", "Tony Chicken Curry" and "Alan Meat Ball". He has also written, produced, directed and acted in a short video called "The MacTerminator" which he wants to have played on a loop tape each night to the diners in the restaurant. In it, the central character, a Scottish man called Mr MacPherson, builds a time machine and goes back to 1965 and assassinates Geoff Hurst.
The food and ambience were generally good, but Mr MacPherson's attempt to start a fight with anyone in an England shirt did make me wonder if he was perhaps the wrong chap for the job. On my way out I was inrtigued by another new picture added by Mr MacPherson. It showed an England goalkeeper with a long pony tail falling backwards into his own net, with the ball just out of his reach.
"Thatsh Ronaldinho's goal againsht England in 2002. Shtill makes me piss myshelf everytime I think about it..." slurred Mr MacPherson. "40 yards, must have been! To lob David Seamen from that far out..." he downed a glass of Scotch, then fell backwards into his restaurant through the revolving door. Time for home.
Mother dropped me off in her Maxi and then trundled off into the night at 15mph. I finally managed to reach Filly and told her of the evening I had just had. She seemed genuinely interested for the first time in a long time. I told her about all the strange photos. I even told her about seeing Seamen lobbed from 40 yards - she snorted loudly and mentioned something about that being even beyond the skill of Dave. Perhaps she knows David Seamen...?
Should you wish me to visit a sporting/food outlet that you know about, then drop me a line to and maybe we can have lunch sometime soon. Your going home in a Fortnum and Mason's Hamper! Bon appetit!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Just Deserts!

First off, many apologies for the lack of a restaurant review this week, but most of you will know why I have been tardy in this matter, won't you! No doubt you have been glued to Channel 809032 on your Sky Box and the latest installments from Sky Reality Celebrity Desperation Channel's "Celebrity Just Deserts!" starring yours truly, dumped in the middle of the Gobi Desert and left to fend for oneself! Of course it isn't just me, Lord no! The camp is packed with well known faces who's names just trip off the tongue. For instance there is dear Polly Limp, famous as Doctor Who's glamorous assistant Isobel Groovy-Chick in the 1968 adventure "Curse of the Mini-Skirt Removing Monsters"; then there is former England footballer, Stuart Psychopath; page 3 stunner Shanice Slappa; Big Brother 4 contestant Nigel Sprocklington; character actor Christopher Campleigh; stand up comedian Jim Bigot; agony aunt Deirdre Awful; ex-Hollyoaks actor Steven Trousers; pop duo The Sleazy Girls; and disgraced former Conservative MP Patrick Backhander. The whole show is hosted by well know light entertainment duo Hank and Frank. We were originally dropped into the camp in the desert by being strapped to old Scud Missiles and launched over approximately 2 miles of sand dunes. I arrived first to be greeted by Hank and Frank who in their cheerful Geordie accents shouted "AH! INCOMING TOSSER!"
The idea of the show is very simple, one must endure living in very tough surroundings in the desert with minimum food and hygiene, and you must also take part in various challenges to earn meals for the rest of the group. Such was my popularity with the British TV viewing public that every time a challenge came along I was picked to take part! I had to wrestle with an enraged desert male goat, drink 400 year old Mongolian wine made with fermented Yak saliva, eat a Yak's testicles (mind you, the Yak didn't half kick me), collect gold stars from a chest full of scorpions, ride an unbroken demented Mongolian horse, and (most difficult of all) justify my work and career infront of Hank and Frank. Every day there is a vote by the great British public and another celebrity is evicted from the camp to spend the rest of the week in luxury at the Ulan Bator Hilton. If you wanted out at any time all you had to say was the magic words to Hank and Frank, which were "I'm Honestly a Celebrity! I Know My Career is Fucked and I Know I Said I'd Do Anything For Publicity, But For the Love of God, Please Get Me Out of Here!" (which, incidentally was the original name for the series but they couldn't fit it on the spine of the accompanying DVD when it came to be released).
Such was my overwhelming popularity with the British people that I made it right through to the very end of the week, when it was down to just me and Jim Bigot. Our final task was to be buried up to our necks in sand at midday and then have soldier ants poured over our heads after they had been liberally applied with jam, honey and the ant equivalent of sex pheremone spray. Jim cracked early and almost immediately started crying that the ants were "eating my eyes!" and gave in! So I won! Giles triumphed! So overjoyed were the crew, contestants and Hank and Frank with my triumph that they began the celebrations without me, and even managed to fly off in the crew helicopter. Someone finally remembered I was still buried up to my neck in sand and covered in ferocious flesh eating ants, and the assistant location manager was flown back and dug me out 5 hours later.
At the Ulan Bator Hilton, after a press conference, I phoned England and got through to Filly. She sounded quite breathless so had obviously run upstairs to answer the phone. I told her of my triumph, of being eaten by ferocious creatures, putting huge strange things in my mouth and coming to a triumphant finale. She said that pretty much summed up her week as well. I don't think she could hear me over the satellite link.
Well, I am flying back to the UK tonight. If you have any nice restaurants for me to review, then please drop me a line to and lets have lunch soon! Bon Appetit, and pass the Savlon.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Hovel, Soho Square

John Major, back in the early 1990's, proudly proclaimed his desire to get Britain going "back to basics". I had assumed he was referring to our way of life in general, and not just an irrational desire to get Edwina Currie into bed. If Mr Major had been referring to cuisine he could have looked no further than "The Hovel" a little gem of a restaurant in sunny Soho Square.
I had phoned and left several messages down at Little Dozey-on-the-Wold seeing if Filly was free for the evening to come and pick me up, but no one had got back to me. Some hours later I was just having a moisturising session whilst listening to a bit of Chet Baker when the phone rang. It was a very teary Letitia (Filly's sister). She apologised for Filly not calling back but they had been busy cremating her mother. I made a comment about Filly always being a dreadful cook when she screamed several words of abuse down the line at me, ending with "arrogant prick". I asked her if Filly could come and pick me up when she simply hung up. So it was back to the taxi rank for Giles again this evening. Sometimes Filly can be terribly selfish.
"The Hovel" is halfway across the verdant grasslands of Soho Square and as you can see from the picture, brings a big slice of rustic degradation to the swish streets of West London. The owner and head chef is Zoltan Szquittz, a Hungarian revivalist of Medieval cuisine and a keen practitioner of Zen buddhism and panel beating. As you push the front door open, it falls off it's hinges and you are immediately assailed by the atmosphere of the place with it's heady mixture of smoke, cow dung and BO. Zoltan approaches shaking you firmly by the hand (remember to bring some wipes with you to clean your hands after this disturbing moment). His enthusiasm for Medieval food and it's preparation is only matched by his desire not to wash. After sitting at my table I requested a menu. Zoltan pointed out that as most peasants in Medieval Europe were illiterate there was no point in having a written menu - he would bring out a sample of what was available this evening. That sounded good to me, however one was a little surprised when he returned leading a large Frisian cow by it's nose ring and carrying a sleddgehammer over his shoulder. The cow twigged what was going to happen next and tried to make a run for it, wrecking most of the few tables still in one piece. Zoltan chased, swearing fluently in Hungarian and taking wild swings with the sledgehammer. He eventually connected with a wild swinging upper cut and the cow toppled sideways through the wattle and daub walls. The roof began sagging gently. Zoltan leapt on the cow and began hacking at it with a large sharp knife. My desire for beef waned remarkably quickly and I asked if Zoltan had anything else on his menu. He recommended the liver and sprout soup which was not only very nutritious but apparently good at fixing leaks in radiators. Zoltan appeared with a large cauldron of this greeny brown broth which bubbled a little like the Icelandic landscape, however on touching it I found it was stone cold. I asked Zoltan how it was heated - he said by simply "make the fire" and offered me a flint and some kindling. Zoltan demsontrated as best he could, but nothing was happening for him, so out came my trusty Zippo. On seeing me produce this and begin to strike it, the rest of the diners in "The Hovel" made a run for the door. I wasn't entirely sure why until I brought the flame up to the top of the cauldron. The explosion was huge. Apparently the process of making liver and sprout soup was to mix it all together and then leave it for a few months for the gasses to build up. I apologised to Zolan for blowing up his restaurant but he seemed ecstatic at what had occurred and began planning his next gastronomic blow out with the eight or nine starlings I'd killed when I ignited the soup.
I limped into the offices of The Clarion later that evening. The news desk were very excited. Apparently there had been an Al Qaeda suicide attack in Soho Square that evening. Good job I missed it. I asked if there had been any casualties but luckily there hadn't been any aside from a traffic warden who had been knocked out by a flying cauldron of all things.
If you have any good ideas for restaurants for me to try (preferbly within limping distance of my house) then drop me a line to and maybe we can have lunch together. Bon appetit.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Der Schmierige Löffel, Islington

It can safely be said that the Germanic contribution to World Cuisine in most people's eyes hasn't got much beyond the enormous sausage and pickled cabbage stage. However in quaint little Islington, chef Dietmar Erbrechen has been trying to put the record straight. With a combination of lederhosen, oompah music and enormous moustaches he has been attempting to shatter the German stereotypical image. His first German style eatery, The Lebensraum in Hampstead, was forcibly closed down by the authorities after he had marched into the Czech restaurant next door and demanded to take over their kitchen. His second restaurant, The Siegfried Line, went bust when people just couldn't get into it. His new venture, Der Schmierige Löffel in Islington looks like he could be on to a winner. I had heard good things about this place and was enthusiastically encouraged to go and review the said restaurant by Filly. She urged me to go out, take my time and really enjoy myself. She said she was just going to stay at my flat and pamper herself. When I asked her why she wasn't interested in an evening of huge sausages and leather shorts, and she said she was looking forward to it tremendously. I honestly don't understand women sometimes.
The first thing you notice about the restaurant as you approach the front door are the searchlights and the machine gun towers. You are greeted at the door by your host, Herr Erbrechen himself. He barks orders at you and forces you to sit at an already crowded table. The menu is exciting, but relatively brief. Your choices are mainly "Spamstückchen und Mikrospäne" with their crisp outside and succulent interior or "Kaldauneneintopfgericht mit Schläuchen und Klumpen" in a grey viscous gravy with some large suspicious looking dumplings. Every table has at least one massive sausage on it, but be careful as some of them are plastic. Drinks were wonderful, a fine medium white wine called "Blaue Nonne". Halfway through one of my dumplings while stirring my soup with the sausage the door to the kitchen crashed open and Herr Erbrechen and his wife (pictured above) thundered into the restaurant and with the sound system at deafening levels sang a sweet little German folk song called "Unten mit jeder abgesehen von Deutschland und deinem Land-Gestank, für deine Scheiße-Nahrung jetzt zahlen und abhauen". We tried to sing along with the words, but if anyone failed to you were bodily thrown out the front door by the Erbrechen's eldest son called Wolfgang. I lasted a grand total of two and a half minutes.
As I walked towards my flat I saw a large van with "Bermondsey Dave at Your Service" on the side roaring away with wheels spinning. I got inside the flat and found Filly flopped in bed. I showed her the huge plastic sausage I had managed to smuggle out of Der Schmierige Löffel. She shook her head and looked away. "One a night is enough" she mumbled, and promptly fell asleep. Bizarre. So for a wild night out, look no further than Der Schmierige Löffel - but bring a change of clothes.
If you know of a good restaurant you'd like me to look at then please drop me a line to and perhaps we can compage sausages. Bon appetit!