London on a Tuesday — a Day Full of Food #Fails…

This past Tuesday, the 25th of September, was just not my day. It’s one of those days that the food gods just chose to work against you every step of the way, and a terrible way to end this long and draining trip. The 25th was my last full day before I head back across the Atlantic, and obviously I hoped for a memorable day.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. The previous evening I had enjoyed a 9-course dinner at Viajante with two good friends. I chose not to write a review because partly the point of the dinner was the good company. After my Maaemo and Yjalaji epic meals, it was hard for anywhere to compare. Although the meal at Viajante was good, I think the twin adventures in Oslo has ruined me for tasting menus for awhile…

Semi-fail in Chelsea…
I headed to lunch with one of my dearest friends at the venerable and reliable Cambio de Tercio, often listed as one of the very best Spanish restaurants outside of Spain. I have always had excellent meals here, and I did not expect anything different. I’m not going to write a review either, as it was more about the company once again. The meal was small as I had planned for more feasting in the afternoon, so we each ordered 2 tapas and ordered a patatas bravas to share. My two were the Padrón peppers and a nice trotter dish.

The food was nice, from the traditional peppers (although the same from El Pirata the other day was a bit better) to the trotters that was nicely spiced. However, I think they forgot our potatoes…an odd miss from this usually spot-on restaurant.

It was also a difficult one for me, as it was in a way a ‘goodbye’ to one of my dearest friends. She was embarking on a major change in life and moving away, and this lunch was like the end of an era. She had been a wonderful friend, a confidant for nearly 8 years, and London will never be the same again. So it was a reflective, melancholic walk back north out of Chelsea that early afternoon…

Semi-Fail in Fitzrovia…
I made my way north via an uncomfortable Northern Line ride (is there any other kind?) and found Bubbledogs &. Now there has been many good write-ups of this odd concept of hot dogs and champagne, and honestly neither of them really appealed to me. But as I know how good the people are behind this restaurant, I went in to check it out. It has been über-popular from all the good PR…

It was not very busy mid-afternoon, and I found out why — I had arrived just before their mid-afternoon break. I had thought that would commence at 4pm, but they were already shutting down by 3.30pm. So that had soured my mood a little (since they shut the bar down too). And the second thing that made the experience start badly was watching my bartender make my cocktail but about to waste and toss the egg yolk. They looked at me incredulously as I asked for the yolk and promptly ate it.

It’s a pet peeve of mine, to stop bars from wasting things like egg yoks. I remember doing this with my own bartenders at the late Elettaria, sacrificing my cardiovascular health to make a point (eating over a dozen raw yolks). I was soured by now, unfortunately. Didn’t help with a pushy wine rep talking the ear off the bartender, who was neglecting service…

The 2 hot dogs arrived, and to be very honest I was disappointed. I eat a hot dog for the sausage/wiener, not the condiments. And at this restaurant it was all about the condiments. The “José” (w/ salsa, avocado, sour cream and pickled jalapeño) didn’t have the kick I had hoped for, and instead drowned out the taste of the meat. The “Sloppie Joe” (chilli, onions and cheese) was also on the underwhelming side, and I got very little out of the meat again. And the bun was crumbling quite a bit.

Maybe I caught them out at the late side of lunch service, but these dogs just didn’t work for me. The people behind this place are awesome and I wish them all the success in the world, but it’s just not me. For me, it has to be about the meat, not the condiments I usually brush off anyway. It has the same problem as the dinner at Gillray’s Steakhouse the other night — good meat, perfect temperature, but bland-tasting base meat — it’s all about the sauces there (condiments here). Oh well…

Total-Fail in Marylebone…
After two not-so-great dining experiences in one afternoon I wandered above the road-of-hell (Oxford Street) west-ward and made for the usually solid MeatLiquor. I have had many a good burgers there and solid cocktails. I wandered in the dark, dank and trashy place that so many love, and with Charlie Daniels blaring, I was finally relaxed…

That didn’t last. I ordered my favourite, the “Full English Martini” — but they told me it’s gone off the menu (I assume they just ran out of the egg). A bad start. The negroni that replaced it wasn’t too hot. The mushroom double burger that came could barely be called a burger. It was so laden with sour-tinging sauce it killed so much of the flavour. The meat? Well, it was disintegrating so much I worry it was soy fillers. I ate as much as I can and just gave up…

I left and instead of hopping on the Tube back to the hotel, I was just so dejected I hopped into a cab back. I didn’t want to stumble into a pub and drink myself into a stupor…

Semi-Fail Finale…Semi-Good Finale…
After a few hours of rest to forget about the three misses this afternoon, I needed somewhere that has not failed me. But I didn’t want to sit anywhere and get loaded the night before flying, so decided on a safe take-away instead.

I headed to Royal China Club on Baker Street, which has never let me down (food-wise). I got there and the manager and bartender recognised me, so the merlot kept flowing as I waited for my food…one positive.

I placed my order and just to show how bad today’s luck was food-wise, they ran out of the one dish I wanted most — the razor clams with garlic chives. Instead it was made with asparagus. It was good, as was the steamed minced pork with salted egg, but it was just not the awesome dishes I have become accustomed from this place.

The only good thing was the wine…I think I drank about a bottle worth, as they just kept topping me up… So if anything, these guys took care of me when I needed it, which is why I would travel across the Atlantic to eat Chinese food.

As I finished my food in my room and near the point of passing out, I reflected on this crappy food day. So much expectation, so many underwhelming results. I didn’t want to leave London with this in my mind, so planned for a good lunch tomorrow before heading to Heathrow. Let’s hope that works better…

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4 thoughts on “London on a Tuesday — a Day Full of Food #Fails…

  1. Pingback: Review: Donostia | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: Attempting a Much-Needed Break in LA, But… | melhuang1972

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