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Showing posts from May, 2006

Pied à Terre, London

It was back in November 2004 at Heathrow Airport. I'd just arrived back in London from a one day trip to Seoul when I picked up a voice mail message from the restaurant Pied à Terre saying my table for the following evening was cancelled due to a fire! I was much saddened by the news as I was always fond of Pied à Terre - a tucked away gem (from the limelight) cooking up inventive and aesthetically exciting dishes. Luckily, it reopened last winter and I made my much delayed visit to this exciting restaurant.

The narrowness of the site makes the restaurant cosy. The use of a dark chocolate brown / grey makes for a somewhat indulgent feel. The food was excellent (I had a scallops cerviche followed by pigeon breasts done pink). The service impeccable without being overbearing.

What was enjoyable? The food, the service, the decor of the restaurant - all the right ingredients to make a lovely gastronomic night out. Nice bread plate. Great variety of petits fours.
What was not enjoyable?

Die Fledermaus, Glyndebourne

A lovely "champagne" production of Die Fledermaus. I saw it on BBC TV last year and thought it looked stunning, so seeing it in the flesh last night was even better. Very good acting from the cast especially Sir Tom Allen. Jurowski also conducted very well - with grace and a touch of Viennese decadence.
What was enjoyable? The whole production - from start to finish - very well polished.
What was not enjoyable? No surtitles - even though it was sung and acted in English, it's not always easy to listen to the words when sung (in whatever language) so surtitles do help. If the English National Opera is doing it, I am sure Glyndebourne can accommodate too.

Bar Shu, London

After La Belle Hélène at the ENO, we found ourselves in a new Sichuanese restaurant in Soho (north of Shaftesbury Avenue so technically not China Town). The deco is authentically Chinese but a bit cramped. Lots of small wooden tables. We were shown downstairs in a small basement room. I ordered Dan Dan noodles, beef in a spicy soupy sauce and smoked chicken slices. The "heatiness" or "spicyness" was very authentic, comparable to what I have tasted in Shanghai.
What was enjoyable? Authentic Sichuanese food authenticated by mainland Chinese customers.
What was not enjoyable? Wrong kind of noise - the staff did through the crockery and cutlery about, noisy customers (may be because of the small room) and not an enthusiastic service.
A review of this restaurant can be found on

La Belle Hélène at ENO

I have never been a big fan of Offenbach - so when a friend dragged me along to see La Belle Hélène, I thought why not!
What was enjoyable? Dame Felicity Lott - as always, though I have never seen her doing a role with such a big speaking part - and it was thoroughly enjoyable. The trashy seaside stage set also worked very well with the story - kind of not taking anything too seriously.
What was not enjoyable? Hmm, lack of leg room.

Cyrano de Bergerac, Royal Opera

Cyrano de Bergerac with Plácido Domingo singing the title role at the Royal Opera was an interesting experience. It took me most of the first act to realise it is a fairly modern opera (early 20th century): Franco Alfano was influenced by many of his contemporaries. Also, I had to sever, in my head, any links between Alfano and Puccini so that I stopped anticipating those big sentimental moments.
What was enjoyable? Domingo's still ringing voice. Visually it's beautiful - pretty to look at.
What was not enjoyable? The fact that I probably won't remember any of this.

Yauatcha, London

Yauatcha - modern Chinese restaurant that does good dim sum, patisserie and tea. The latter is remarkable - as Yauatcha is one of the few places in London that does Chinese tea properly - rather than the twigs and leaf flakes you get in other places.

What was enjoyable? As always, a clean modern decor with good food. The waiter / waitresses did not hurry us today and decidedly left us alone when we had our business meeting after the dim sum dishes.

What was not enjoyable? OK - why is the bathroom so dark and virtually without mirrors???

Any top tips? Request a table on the ground floor - its bright and you can see the world outside.

Booking a table at the Fat Duck

Got some relatives coming in a couple of months time and I thought let's go to Fat Duck for lunch. Although it is no longer the world's top restaurant as it got knocked down to second place by some journalists, I am sure it is still a very good restaurant and its tasting menu will continue to be an exciting gastronomic experience. So bravely I dialled their number. After a short wait, I found myself actually speaking to a lovely lady who took my reservation with the minimum of fuss. And the best bit - there is no time limit on our lunch table!

Götterdämmerung, The Royal Opera

This was the last opera of Wagner's Ring Cycle of the current production by Keith Warner at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden. It was a pretty full house last night and the slightly earlier start of 3 PM made the whole day manageable (imagine having to dash from the office to the opera for a 4:30 start and finishing at 11:00!)

What was enjoyable? Pappano's pacing of the music - the opening prologue of the Norns was unusually slow and the pace duly picked up by the time we reached the climax of the Siegfried and Brünnhilde's duet in Act 1; Siegfried's Rhine Journey (with a slightly futuristic and digital projection that worked); John Tomlinson's Hagen (even with his wayward intonation at those particularly evil moments); Mihoko Fujimura's Waltraute had real meat in her voice.

What was not enjoyable? The beginning of the immolation scene - why was Brünnhilde stuck right at the back of the stage when her voice was dampened by the distance and the orchestra in front? …