Sunday, November 06, 2011

Goodness me ...

Well, it's been some time. Had another baby. I'm done now. Thank you. Having said that, I'm not going to be any more use as a restaurant reviewer than I've been for the past three years, so it is time to say goodbye for now.

Thank you to those who shared the passion, disagreed with me, supported me, and pissed me off. It's been a blast.

GW the HRB

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Orizuru is Lost

Orizuru has been tarted up.

There is a beautiful counter of reclaimed timber, an open kitchen inviting you to peek in, a tiny sushi bar (which I missed when I arrived), and a cute (if confusing) cubby hole in which to pay one’s bill. Black ropes hang from the ceiling to demarcate a square section of the restaurant (why, I don’t know – perhaps to house non-existent couches??). Behind the counter is an intriguing piece of what I suspect to be reclaimed Japanese commercial visual merchandising – large squares of Japanese kanji alternating with squares of blackboard. Cool.

But …

Cleaning products, buckets, dirty tea-towels, a responsible service of alcohol poster, boxes piled to waist height, a dishwasher tray stacked with tumblers … Jarring against the attempt at a clean modern-Japanese design aesthetic.

And then …

My tempura was soggy. And service was sloppy … but they were understaffed.

Here’s the thing … when you take the plunge and tart up a well established eatery like Orizuru, the rest of the socks need to be pulled up too. The food needs to be spot on, the service needs to be tight, and for heaven’s sake at least some tidiness!

There was nothing wrong with the old Orizuru … the pine tables and paper screens had a 70s fishing wharf authenticity, and progress is a good thing, but loyal customers (like me) want to feel that despite the new surroundings, the place they loved hasn’t been lost.

But sadly, Orizuru is lost.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I was right the first time

Was thinking this morning about the compromises one becomes prepared to make when trying to get out and about with kids.

I've been to the Margate Pancake Train for brunch (never done that before) ... and was surprised by just how good the cofffee and the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (don't knock it til you've tried it) turned out to be. Better yet, the toddler-in-tow had a ball eating his "bekkin" on "Thomas".

But then I forgot my acidic impressions of old and ventured back to the ball, I mean Nose Bag. What was I thinking? Toys. They have toys, I thought. Well. The service was friendly and prompt. And that's the best I can say. Our food was tres, tres, average. The coffee was awful. And the toys were absolutely FILTHY! Now, I'm not a clean freak by any stretch. Build up their immune systems I say. But jeez this was shocking. To top it off, the object of my ire all those years ago gave a passive-aggressive little huff because Toddler left some finger prints behind. No running amok, no throwing things, no tantrums. Just finger prints. So much for child-friendly. Honestly.

So here's my tip for the child endowed: Take crayons, toys, portable DVD player (whatever it takes) and go to your usual haunts. Forget so called kid-friendly, head for the good gear.

Here's my other tip: Try out the Margate Pancake Train for something different. It really is worth the drive.