Review: Pujol

19 January 2016

A monumental hangover in Mexico, if anything, is a cliche. But it’s real, no thanks to me toasting the late great Glenn Frey with tequilas — something I rarely, rarely drink. I woke up feeling dreadful, as the altitude of Mexico City compounds the heavy boozing from last night… And to add to all of this, I had a long, long walk alongside roads and highways choked with dense diesel fumes. I probably lost a few years off my lifespan these past 24 hours…

I skipped lunch, as I had little appetite — even after that terrible tasting menu last night at Quintonil. But tonight hopefully is much better at Pujol — which is listed as #16 in the rather useless World’s 50 Best joke list. But I’ve heard great things about this place, so I am really hoping for something to redeem this city’s cooking in my eyes.

The walk to Pujol was a bit longer, but I enjoyed the 20-minute stroll. Got there a little early, so hung out outside until they were ready to seat people. Got a nice table and chilled out with a cocktail…a late hair-of-dog treatment, but sorely needed. I chilled out and happily went with the tasting again. Let’s hope it goes much better tonight. Soon set of amuses bouches arrived, though my attention was on the 4th item (the aroma)…


First up was the pumpkin chileatole — a very nice pumpkin chilli broth. Love the flavours in this.

AB1b-pumpkin chileatole

Wow, the first amuse has already blown away last night’s dinner at Quintonil… Next up, bocol Huasteco.

AB1c-bocol Huasteco

This dough dumpling, filled with cheese, was also a nice touch. Love the cheese! Then next, a chia fritter.

AB1d-chia tostada

Mmm, I’d take these over potato any day, delicious, nicely seasoned, healthy. Then finally, what I was waiting for…

AB1e1-baby corn

This was the smoked baby corn, covered in powdered chicatana ants, coffee and costeño chile mayonnaise. They opened the container when it was presented and the most gorgeous smoky aroma came out… This was fantastic. This set of amuses bouches has blown Quintonil away in a puff of smoke, totally. I could have walked out now and proclaimed tonight better than last night.

Then the last of the amuse was brought out, the crudo of the day.

AB2-mussel crudo

This mussel was excellent, with a nice kick too. This is turning out to be one excellent meal so far! I relaxed and ordered a glass of Mexican wine and chilled out. This was so far so good, completely in another league from last night. Then the first course arrived, the tongue in stew.


We had several choices for each of the courses and I went with this, and I was beyond happy. The tongue was cooked perfectly, soft as tofu but still kept a strong consistency; no flakiness, shredding or pulverisation here. Beautiful flavours, with a nice bit of squash as a balance. This is exactly what was wrong with last night — Quintonil seemed *afraid* of flavours. This place *embraces* flavours. This is why this place is awesome. One of the best tongue in past few years, I wish it was more tho!

Chilled out a little with more wine before the second course, the suckling lamb taco.

02-suckling lamb taco

Wow, now this is a beautiful dish. The flavours worked very well too, the lamb being strong and smooth, the avocado playing a strong secondary role in both leaf and puree. Fabulous combination, working perfectly in unison. Again, I wish there was more!

I was enjoying this meal very much, as were other diners from what I can hear. With a little more wine, the third dish arrived — the rabbit.


This was gorgeous, tender but flavourful, with the kick coming from some guajillo in the pepián. Excellent, again the flavours are full-on, how I like it. At this point, if I can compare Pujol to Quintonil, it would be like comparing a beautiful Negroni to a bottle of warm Aquafina…and I’m not exaggerating.

At this point I had a little more wine as the next dish arrived, and it’s one of their special items — the so-called “mole madre, mole nuevo” for good reason…


The two moles are very different as you can see. The two are very different; one is freshly made, the other is the so-called “mole madre” of “mother mole” which is actually 865 days old and counting. The latter is intense in a way I never thought the humble mole can be. It apparently continues to evolve both with additions and aging, and it’s something I can’t really describe. We had 3 tortilla — we use one each, then we’re told to combine the moles for the third. Fantastic. Not just a gimmick, it’s something pretty awesome.

Wow. This was quite a meal already. We still have the desserts. The only thing each dish was that I wish there was more! Now that is a great sign of a much-enjoyed meal. Tonight I don’t want it to end; last night I was begging to get out… The dessert procession began in tribute to the humble sweet potato and wee touch of cheese.

05-sweet potato

A nice little nibble, helping to create the path to the sweeter items to come…


Again, the progression, we start with the avocado gelato…

06b-avocato gelato

This was excellent (much better than the acid ball from last night), with quite a nice bit of chocolate. Then a cookie with chamomile…


I’m sorry about the poor photo, but this camera has issues focusing with low light and a white, off-pattern item… This explains how so many sushi pictures come out odd… But it was nice. Then this joy…


Mmm, chocolate goodness…but wait, don’t drink it yet, cuz we get to use it as a dip for…


Churro! Yep, worked really wonderfully as a dip — and the extras you get to drink! What a choco-tastic end! What a fine meal this was!

My only issue really, pondering this while I have some mezcal (you’d think I learned my lesson…), is that I wanted more! More baby corn! More tongue! More suckling lamb! More rabbit! More mole madre! More churro! That is a sign how good this dinner was. It clearly earns high ranks on anyone’s list — far more than the utterly overrated Quintonil. I don’t want to keep pouring cold water on it, but it was such a wet towel of a night, and the staff did nothing after my burn either — which just soured me completely.

I enjoyed chatting with folks near me, as we compared restaurants in town and elsewhere. This is the “good foodie” type of convo, not the table full of drunken idiots “foodie” (or “droolie” as I call them) that goes by rankings and ratings and don’t understand the food except its PR value. So it was a completely awesome evening, I left very happy.

I walked back to the hotel, another nice 20-minute stroll, bypassing the hotel bar this time, and headed to get some rest. This was an excellent dinner in every way, and it has redeemed my image of the top places in this city. Great way to close my short Mexico City trip! Highly, highly recommended!

Calle Francisco Petrarca 254
Ciudad de México, DF, México


Review: Quintonil

18 January 2016

I was starting to feel the effects of Mexico City’s altitude, which was probably exacerbated by the good but heavy lunch at Chapulín only a few hours earlier. I forgot people here eat lunch late, and my booking for Quintonil was for 7pm, so it was a quick-ish turnaround… At least Quintonil isn’t far from my hotel, only a few minutes of strolling. I was looking very forward to this dinner, as the cooking at this place is being wowed by so many.

I got to Quintonil and enjoyed a cocktail as I looked at the menu — and decided to happily go with the full tasting menu. They didn’t do a pairing, so I ordered a half bottle of white. The altitude is wearing on me, so don’t want to push it. Plus, I was still semi-full from lunch… I chilled out, finished the cocktail and soon the amuse arrived.

AB-ceviche taco

This was a ceviche taco, though they failed to mention the fish (probably a bream). Problem is that the filling so overwhelmed the now-soggy tortilla it was nearly impossible to eat with my hand without it falling all over the place. A bit poorly planned especially if many customers are gringos. Sadly this became a feature of the night, as I was to find out…

Then after the presentation of tortillas and condiments, the tasting menu began — first with the Mexican herb salad.

01-herb salad

Sadly all I could taste was the emulsion poured onto the herbs. It was overwhelming and you don’t get the nuance of the herbs at all. Just drowned the dish out. Honestly, this was a very poor start. Oh well, that’s just the opener. Next up, the smoked marlin.

02-smoked marlin

Beautiful appearance, but it didn’t really work. Frankly tasted like a ceviche, as the base is a pool of acid. Wasn’t much of a “green sauce” as written in the menu at all, and frankly this was gonna give me an ulcer. It ate way into the fish. Too bad, another poorly executed dish. I am getting worried as the next dish arrived, another hand-eater…

03-smoked crab tostada

This was the smoked crab tostada. Problem with having such a strong tostada is that unless you season the contents well, the flavour is off-balanced. The crab was barely seasoned, and what “habanero mayonnaise” there was (as listed on the menu) I could not find it. It was bland, bland, bland. Again, terrible execution. I was really losing patience now…

Just as I thought it couldn’t go further downhill, the fourth dish really just showed how poorly executed this meal was… This next package focused on escamoles and mushrooms.

04-escamoles mushrooms

Poor execution and planning. The wrap basically leaked and fell apart, as it was made poorly — or the boiling hot liquidy content was allowed to sit for way too long. There were holes and I actually burned my hand eating this. Frankly, you can’t really enjoy chewing any dish when you immediately grab for chunks of ice in your wine bucket from the burn. And the staff did JACK SHIT about it even when I pointed it out to them. I will spare you the photo of my hand.

I have no idea how that thing tasted since it was impossible to eat and it fell apart because of BAD EXECUTION. You want people to eat these things by hand, then make the package solid enough! Ridiculous. By now I was just plain angry with this meal. Next up was, thank goodness, something you eat with a utensil…

05-cuitaloche broth

This was a cuitlacoche broth. Finally, flavour! Someone remembered to season the food, finally! This was actually BY FAR the best dish of the night so far. A broth. Yeah… Then we have the “catch of the day” that happened to be sea bass…

06-sea bass

Boring, boring, boring. The guajillo puree was more acid than spice, which did nothing for the rather flavourless fish. Again someone forgot to season this. I think my pH level has dropped by a whole point over the course of this ridiculously acidic meal, of which the white wine I just finished certainly didn’t help.

I switched to a glass of red as the final savoury course arrived, the duck.


Finally! This was excellent. Sourced well, full of flavour. SOMEONE REMEMBERED TO SEASON THE DISH! Hurrah! Honestly this was an excellent dish, though nowhere as good as the duck in places like Juniper in Tulsa or Palazzo Petrucci in Napoli. But finally, a good dish in this night that struggles for a dish to reach even mediocrity!

I was actually glad it was over, the savouries I mean. Wow, today’s Chapulín lunch totally blew this thing away. I was not looking forward to the sweets part of this menu as I was spent — mentally. A series of items I didn’t really care for…


In order from left to right, a very acidic cactus sorbet, preserved grapes with foamy things, and soursop jelly with other sweets. Frankly nothing did anything for me until the last item showed up, the local version of the petits, and it made me smile…


Churro! Now this was a nice end to a terrible night. I also asked for some mezcal as this was a stupidly trying meal, and I needed something to take the sting out of this. How the heck did this place get to #35 of the World Best list is beyond me. The execution was terrible for so many of the dishes. One of the worst tasting menus I’ve had this decade.

I left the place unhappy if not tipsy — or worse, thanks to the altitude, a few mezcal, the overly-acidic items that seriously affects my GI system’s equilibrium…and the sense of dread with the Glenn Frey news. So stupidly I parked myself at my hotel bar, toasting Glenn with tequilas, tho I certainly did not manage that until sunrise… What a crappy end to this day…

Again, one of the worst tasting menus I’ve had this decade. Not even overrated, this is just bad.

Calle Isaac Newton 55
Ciudad de México, DF, México

Review: Chapulín

18 January 2016

I made my way to Mexico City after a rather strange trek. The 2-hour layover in Atlanta sucked, because I had forgotten there’s no booze service in ATL until 1230pm on Sundays…so it was a very long wait. Then the flight to MEX had an unplanned diversion to New Orleans due to a medical emergency on the flight (someone somehow got “injured” in first class…). And, of course, my MP3 player trolled me by putting Louis Armstrong’s “C’est si bon” on while we waited on the tarmac…

Remember, MSY is Louis Armstrong International Airport…

All this to get to Mexico City — my first time here. I’ve actually not been south of the border since Reagan’s first term (!!!!) when he was running for re-election… So this was a bit out of my comfort zone, to say the least. But I had a lot planned, and hoped I don’t get too run down with the altitude and pollution here.

Arriving late, I rushed to my hotel and then straight out to meet friends for a wonderful night of catching up and good food at La Hacienda de los Morales. Excellent stuff, especially the chinicuiles. A good start. Unfortunately not a great sleep, thanks to the altitude. But nevertheless I headed out for a busy morning, zipping through the centre visiting a few places. Metro is useful, thank goodness, as it was warmer than I had throught. It was a clear, sunny day too, as you can see from this picture from the Zócalo of the Catedral Metropolitana.

I was knackered and headed back towards my hotel. In the hotel next door was a restaurant that was heavily recommended, so I dropped in for lunch. This was a place called Chapulín, and it featured its namesake — chapulínes. And indeed, that was my starter…


A nice half-portion, this was tasty. I love the texture of these tiny grasshoppers, and the rich cheese added to the overall combination of taste.


That was a nice starter. But when my main arrived I realised I forgot how big the food portions are here…

2-estofado de cabrito

This was estofado de cabrito, or goat stew. A huge portion to say the least. But to be honest it was on the bland side, especially after the solid flavour of the starter. I nursed this until I was about to explode. Plus, I have a tasting menu tonight, and it was already way past 2.30pm (late lunch starts here in Mexico)… But for some reason I decided on a dessert…

3-chocolate special

And I was rewarded by this chocolate wonder. A combination of 3 types of chocolates layered, with creams as the filling (including a coffee-flavoured cream and others). This was wonderful, one of the best desserts I’ve had in ages. But by now I was beyond full, and that’s not great with this altitude…

Thank goodness my hotel was next door. I could go and rest before my dinner tonight. But so far so good on this trip!

Presidente InterContinental Mexico Polanco
Calle Campos Elíseos 218
Ciudad de México, DF, México

PS: Then the news…Glenn Frey died… That really just crushed me, as there is a very personal reason. He suffered from horrible RA and heavy meds led to issues with his gastrointestinal system and later his immune system. My joint meds have been disastrous for my GI system too, and recently it has led to more difficult issues, so — aside from being a damn big fan of The Eagles, this just really hit me hard…

Dallas ‘Cues — Good as the Hype?

9-10 January 2016

After a rather disastrous trip to LA I decided to take an extra day in Dallas en route home. Was actually cheaper to break the flight up, and I thought why not to stop for a little. So after all the food the last few weeks I decided to make this stop one devoted to BBQ. Why not, right?

I did some research the day before and found three places to check out — three places that are topping all the BBQ “charts” in the DFW area. This is gonna challenge my stomach, but it’ll be fun at least…

After an uncomfortable flight from LA, I went straight to the much-hyped Pecan Lodge to grab some food. It was Saturday night, and I expected a long line…and it certainly was not fast. Waited for over half an hour (probably quick for a normal Saturday night as it was below freezing outside) and I got my order and headed to my hotel. I was worn out… I opened the package and the item I was really waiting for…

PL-beef rib

Oh, this place is famous for its beef ribs. I got the last one apparently… It was smoked well and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t that special. It’s as good as any other beef rib I have around the country. I’m not a sauce man so I don’t touch it; the meat was nice enough. The sides were mixed, as the mac-and-cheese was good but the greens were in some horrific base that made it tough to eat. I also got some “fried ribs” which were the special of the day…

PL-fried ribs

Oh this was a mistake. This was disgusting. The breading was just disgusting. I ended up just stripping it of the horrible breading and ate the ribs. Not bad, but it dried up in this ill-conceived idea.

Well, so many people hype this place, I think it’s a bit overhyped to be honest. Nothing special. The beef ribs were good, but I’ve had beef ribs as good many other places. Definitely not worth the wait and the high prices and listening to hipster convo while biting your lip in line… Hype wins again…

The next day I had a very busy morning running around, going way out of town before getting back late lunchtime. I stopped off at another well-regarded place that’s more old-school (but is newer) called The Slow Bone, which was conveniently near my hotel. I grabbed my order and headed back to the hotel. I opened up the tray happily…mmm… First was some juicy ribs…


These were excellent, the smoke deep and the flavours strong. No sauce needed of course. Very flavourful. Far better than last night. Then the fatty brisket…


These were also excellent, very deep smoke and tender. Some of the best brisket I’ve had in many years. Now this is how to do BBQ right! Far better than last night in every way!

Later that evening I went to get more food. I had a long day tomorrow, as I had to wake up for a conference call at 5am and my flight isn’t until 6pm, so… I headed to what most people say is the best BBQ in the Dallas area, Lockhart Smokehouse.

I got there on a cold Sunday night and there wasn’t a long line at all, which surprised me. I was going to go with the usual stuff but they had a prime rib special, so I took it. It was the last piece… I got some sides and headed back to my hotel. The prime rib, wow…

LS-prime rib

It was very good, but not as good as I hoped. Maybe I should have gone with some ribs here instead. But this was nice, the flavours deep and strong. but this being the final piece was a bit of a mess on the side and may have dried out over all that time sitting in the smoker on its own. Oh well. I also took the special jalapeño mac-and-cheese…

LS-jalapeño mac & cheese

This was fantastic, lovely flavours. But I suspect this may have been the item that made me sick as a dog all night… I barely got any sleep but that meant I didn’t need a wake-up for the conference call. Ugh…

Overall, of the 3 — often listed as the 3 best BBQ places in the Dallas area — I have to say Slow Bone was the best. Pecan Lodge is overrated, and I ordered badly at Lockhart Smokehouse. The latter I would happy go back again (even if it was the one that did my stomach in), but Pecan Lodge I’ll pass. Let the hipsters have it.

But in any case, I had a stupid long day coming up, a restless stomach, and no sleep. Oh, I can’t wait to get home…this trip needs to end, now…

Pecan Lodge
2702 Main Street

The Slow Bone
2234 Irving Boulevard

Lockhart Smokehouse
400 West Davis Street
Dallas, Texas

Review #3: Kiriko

8 January 2016

My body was not enjoying this unexpected LA trip. Considering I was in Tbilisi just 10 days ago, I’ve made a 12-hour time change. Bodies usually don’t like such things, even if done in steps… So this day was a bit slow. I had a few errands to run as I relocate back south of the Valley for my flight out tomorrow.

I decided on dinner at one of my “safe” places again — which I do when I am stressed. This time it’s Kiriko again for sushi — one of very few places I will eat sushi outside of Japan. I’ve had good meals there in the past, but it’s also very busy when the chefs are forced to waste time to make California rolls and other stupid maki rolls for idiots at tables. And tonight is Friday…

I got there at about 6.30pm and it was already somewhat busy. Again, very few — if any — were doing omakase sushi. I was the only. I can see the chefs were extremely busy already…doesn’t bode well. But I sat at what has become a usual spot for me and ordered my sake and the meal soon began.

Of course my first treat was the wasabi…real wasabi is such a joy… I love snacking at them between pieces. Yes, I eat raw wasabi. The first piece arrived, madai.


An okay piece of sea bream, nothing too special. Then the tuna pair…



The akami was very tasty, and the chu-toro wasn’t bad. Again, nothing special, especially considering my recent Japan trip. Next up, shima-aji and kampachi.


I’m not a fan of these duo pieces service, but they need to do this as they need to make those damn maki rolls and pieces for people ordering a la carte at tables. In fact, the interruptions were annoying, and got more annoying as the night went on. The striped jack was not bad, and the amberjack was nice and tasty. Next up, kue and king salmon.

04-kue-king salmon

The grouper was nothing too exciting to be honest, and I’m not a fan of salmon sushi usually but this was a nice piece. I still rather have this piece fried or seared tho… In any case, then next up was hirame and katsuo.


The flounder is the usual “opening” piece during my Tokyo trips, and it’s a simple plain thing. The bonito was actually very nice, the best piece so far. Then another interruption before a very nice amaebi.


This prawn was very tasty, love it when it’s raw like this. Taste the real sweetness. Then they asked how I’d like the head, and tempura is easiest, so…


Okay, perhaps under-done a little bit, the neck shell was a little hard to eat still. Oh well, but it was good of a set. Then next up was a trio…


I went right to left, starting with the not-bad aji (horse mackerel). Then the bland kohada (gizzard shad), blander than usual… Then a nice saba (mackerel). I went in order for a purpose, as I knew the mackerel would be best and strongest tasting. Then another “break” in food…

Usually I’d drink on the breaks, but I’m driving and jetlagged, so was doing the sake far slower than usual. Then back to some food after another annoying break. I don’t mind slow but steady incoming pieces, but this was like “eat half a dozen, digest, and I’ll be back” mode, which is so not good… But was it worth the wait, seeing what the next piece was? I cheered when it arrived…


Nodoguro, my favourite sushi fish. The black-throat perch is one of the most awesome things I’ve eaten (remembering them in Japan, especially the amazing tempura version at Hiroshima’s Tenko Honten, one of the 10 best things I ate in 2015). But this piece was small and fibrous. Sure, good oil, but this was NOT a good piece… A fluke? I was starting to sour on this meal to be honest…


Next up the humble ika. Not bad, with wee shiso between the squid and rice. Then we have our first “comparison” selection, this of uni.


Both from San Diego, but dressed differently. I always like this with wee sea salt. Both were nice. Then next was the tairagai.


This was a nice cut of the pen-shell clam, beautiful and very tasty. One of the best pieces of the night of one of my favourite bivalves. Then another wee break…before we go to kinmedai.


I’m not a big fan of the golden eye snapper, and this piece did little to change that. The fish seems very mediocre today, just not quite there. Then another bivalve, aoyagi.


I like clams, and surf clam, albeit humble, is always welcome. But this was a beautiful slice, and extremely photogenic. Tasty too. The non-fish items have been excellent tonight, in contrast…

After a wee break…another one…this place is getting busy and too many people from tables ordering boring stuff making the sushi chefs way too busy. This is why I’m souring on doing another omakase here. Just not the right feel… Perhaps better to just revisit Bar Nozawa next time back in LA… Next up is a duo of anago.


One is sea salt, one is sauce. Both were again very mediocre… I really miss the amazing anago from Sushi Masuda about a month ago in Tokyo, one of the 10 best meals of 2015… Sigh, I really shouldn’t compare this to Tokyo, as it’ll just make me sadder… Next up, iwashi.


Sardine is not something you see too often on a sushi menu, but it was done well. Perhaps way too much ginger in the slit, but was good. Then next up, tako.


I found this presentation interesting, the big slice. It was very juicy and easy to eat, and I can see people getting into this from this method of presentation. Very nice. Then at this point chef asked how I was doing, and I said I was nearly done — and just had a handful of requests to finish this meal.

So after a little bit of rest, and finishing the sake (switching to tea now), the first of the final set arrived…and I’m sure you guessed it.


Nodoguro again. Again, not great. Not as fibrous as the last one, but just not a good cut. What a shame… Then next up, katsuo.


The bonito this time was not as good as the first serving. Nowhere near that amazing, amazing thing at Harutaka in Tokyo a few weeks ago…one of the 10 best things I ate in 2015… Again, I gotta stop this comparison…

Then the humble ikura to close this night of savouries…


…and the obligatory tamago, which was actually rather awful…


Well. I was not very thrilled by this dinner as you can see. The fish was mediocre, but the non-fish items were quite good. The nodoguro was very disappointing. The crazy amount of distraction really ruined the flow to the point it was not enjoyable. And to add insult to injury, this dinner cost more than all of my recent Tokyo sushi meals…

I’m sorry, but once again one of my “safe” places has failed me. I think this may be the last time I walk in the door here. And with Il Grano, my favourite place in the world now consigned to history, I think my days eating in West Los Angeles may be near an end…

Not a great way to start 2016…not at all…

11301 Olympic Blvd
West Lost Angeles, California

Review: Monty’s Prime Steaks & Seafood

7 January 2016

I had to make a quick and unplanned trip to the LA area. I wasn’t recovered frankly from the trying holiday trip to Europe, and this really didn’t help. And the horrible El Niño downpour in the LA area did not help…

After two frustrating days, I was finally free for a little “my time” but was stuck up in the Valley, so ended up finding a place I’ve never heard of before — Monty’s Prime Steaks & Seafood. Supposedly a local institution for over 50 years, so I was keen to see how one of the old school places is doing.

I was eating on the late side so plenty of room, though the people still there were quite tipsy and happy, so some of the background chat was rather entertaining to be honest. A solid martini later my starter arrived.


Hmmm…a crab and lobster dish. Not bad, but about what you would except. Didn’t need the dip at all. I ordered a red and soon my steak arrived.


A bone-in ribeye. Not the best I’ve seen, but it wasn’t bad. Cooked pretty well, temperature was good, but it was rather bland. Old school places tend to want people to order sauce, so they make stuff bland. Too bad, I just like meat. But it was pretty good, though not too big. The onion rings were, however, awful…

corn (2)

I had ordered my side a bit late so it didn’t arrive until a few minutes after. By bad. But this jalapeño corn side was huge and excellent. Lovely bite to the corn, a perfect combination. Best dish of the night.

The service was a little wonky as there was a late rush, so I settled up and made my exit after finishing the lot. Nothing special, wee expensive, but good enough for this evening. I am still so bloody tired from the 9-hour time change from Tbilisi and now I tack on another 3 hours the wrong way…ugh…

Monty’s Prime Steaks & Seafood
5371 Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Woodland Hills, California

Review: Lobos

30 December 2015

Slept badly after that sad evening of food fails here in London. I was almost tempted to change my ticket to fly home a day early, but I decided to give London one last shot. I decided lunch was gonna be another of my “safety” places, El Pirata in Mayfair. I happily went there, hiking up from Hyde Park Corner, and…crap, it’s shut! For the holidays!

Seriously, WHY have a website if you don’t put this info on the site? They were not clear on social media either. Ugh… So taking a recommendation from someone I headed south of the river towards Borough Market — and found the place.

Lobos is a new-ish tapas joint in the busy market, but I got a counter seat — facing the foot traffic outside. I ordered a sherry and began with a plate of jamon. I chilled and cooled off then saw the plate of bellota, and my heart sank…

1-jamon - 01

This was cut pretty badly, tiny slivers adorn this plate with ridiculously inconsistent slicing. I felt disrespected, as they wanted to pass a plate of crap onto someone they assumed don’t know Spanish cuisine. The “bellota” was bland, and so many pieces were dried out (as they had failed to preserve it right). Frankly at this point I would have preferred a plate of Spam — not just saying this because I grew up in Hawai’i, but I would have.

I was just too deflated to go elsewhere, so I ended up ordering 2 dishes. And more drinks. Soon the first item came, the cazón.


Very plain the fried dogfish, actually a little soggy — like it’s sat there for a little, or they drizzled WAY too much citrus on it and waited to long before bringing it to me… Then the arroz con costra

3-arroz con costra

This was more tasty, with a medley of items under the egg and morcilla crust from chicken to chorizo. But it was simple, and was not cooked consistently under the crust. Just seemed very lax…

I usually don’t do this, but I told them about the bellota issues — and asked for another plate. As I had another sherry the new plate showed up.

4-jamon - 02

Looks much better, but the taste was still damn bland. Poor quality jamon, sadly… They comped me (unnecessarily) for the plate, but it couldn’t make it good. Sad. For all the wonderful jamon I’ve had in my life, this was really one of the blandest ones I’ve ever had…

I headed out extremely disappointed, as London has failed me once again. I’ve had enough.

I think this is my London Swan Song. Counting the hours until my flight…

14 Borough High Street
London, England