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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

S'Apposentu (Cagliari) - Chef Roberto Petza

The day: 5th September 2007, Dinner.
The place: Teatro Lirico (Cagliari, IT)

The venue: Ristorante S’Apposentu
Closest Airport: Cagliari (BA, Easyjet)

The food: Fine Italian/Sardinian Dining The drinks: Extensive and careful list, Italian based, very strong on Sardinian wines, wide range of prices, also by the glass.


This was the Michelin starred culinary destination during our beach-bumming holidays on the splendid Southwestern coast of Sardinia. Alas, all good things must come to an end; and this unfortunately applies to our holidays as well as to this restaurant: S’Apposentu will close in December because of financial disagreements between Chef patron Roberto Petza and his ‘hosts’ at the Teatro Lirico (a very colourful, very Italian story at once sad and farcical, too long to tell here, though…). Nevertheless Chef Petza is not going to disappear, so we think this report will be of interest to those who wish to assay his cuisine in whatever new enterprise he launches. At the time of writing, there is much speculation on whether he will abandon his native Sardinia or not. It would be a pity if he did, as Sardinia does not shine for ‘high’ cuisine as it does with natural beauty (while offering fantastic traditional cuisine - more on this story later...).
Let’s be straight: we are happy that Pezta is moving away from Teatro Lirico. We didn't find it a welcoming venue, situated as it is in an area which felt seedy and mildly threatening, and presenting the customer with a locked door necessitating the use of an interphone to communicate with the restaurant on the first floor. Appropriate maybe for a posh London club, not for a Sardinian restaurant (hospitality is a pleasant feature of this region). We arrive 15 minutes early with respect to our booked time, at 8.15pm, and the voice through the interphone informs us that the restaurant ‘is only operational at 8.30’. We are not offered to sit at the bar, but rather invited to take a walk in the dark in the unpleasant neighbourhood. We worry, as Man has done his military service sitting in an office and his self defence skills are rather poor. A rather strange and unwelcoming start, which brings us very close to calling the visit off.
But we don’t, and things improve once we finally get inside. The large room manages to be both warm-rustic and sharp-modern at the same time. Photos only on request as it is going to disappear anyway...
There is a nice and welcoming front room crew, who ask us whether we prefer a fantastic, large and intimate table in an alcove, or a much smaller ordinary table in the middle of the room. Is it only us who get these questions, or are there really people with twisted preferences?
We are offered a fine Chardonnay Solis. As we discover later, when they say ‘may we offer you…’ here they really mean ‘offer’, unlike the annoying practice in many other establishments, sorry Malga Panna to single you out on this occasion (we really liked your cuisine and so the disappointment was greater).
The bread arrives in its full glory.
Aaah, this is real Sardinian hospitality. Look at how varied, colourful and generous the offering is. A painting. What a triumph: tomato focaccia, plain focaccia, stuffed bread, grissini, plain white, carasau, seeded bread…please remember this picture when you find yourselves at a restaurants in London and are offered a single piece of bread from a tray tightly held by the waiter. The interphone sourness has vanished by now. But there is more, here’s the amuse-bouche:
It’s a Terrina of Muggine (Flathead mullet, we discover on the dictionary) with bottarga (slivers of salt preserved fish-eggs) of swordfish and onions. An explosion from the sea, balanced and intense, a perfect amuse-bouche with a range of flavours, not least the sweet-sour of the onion.
The list offers two six-course tasting menus at €60 each, one of them entirely fish based. To learn the price, Woman has to stretch her neck to Man’s menu, as here too women are not expected to pay, it seems – they get an unnervingly sexist priceless menu. As usual, we go a la carte. For primi we chose:
- Lasagne with fresh sausage sauce, San Gavino saffron and smoked ricotta (€18)
- Fish fillet, mussels and basil fregua.(€20)

On the lasagne, Woman was rather tepid, let’s say the same as the dish temperature…Too rich, the pasta was OK, but overall a rather ordinary ensemble, she opined. Man warmed up more: the herbs lightened up on the palate a satisfyingly rich dish, the pasta was very good, quite fine, and the smoky flavour from the ricotta came out wonderfully as a dominant note. The only agreement between Man and Woman was that the serving temperature should have been higher. We believe the kitchen was under pressure - more on this story later...
The fregua (or fregola, i.e. a traditional Sardinian pasta type, imagine giant cous cous ‘grains’) instead enthused both of us. The fish broth was very dense, concentrated and intense, with dill freshening it all up. The raw materials were top notch, above all we were impressed by the mussels. Note that like all self respecting ‘zuppe’ there was bread as well as fregua in the broth (this is one of the differences between zuppa and minestra – in case you wish to retain this piece of information, remember the Italian saying ‘if it’s not zuppa it’s soaked bread’!).
For secondi we had:
- Porcetto (suckling pig) cooked in three ways with red onions in wine (€25)
- Sea bass with thyme aubergine sauce, mussels and candied cherry tomatoes (€25)

The porcetto was presented very neatly, two ‘fat’ cuts (belly and shoulder) and the chops, the latter breaded in almond shavings and quickly ‘scalded’. The belly had been cooked at 60 degrees in red wine, while the shoulder at 95 degrees with ‘mirto’. We forgot where the ‘green salt’ was…perhaps in the mushrooms - definitely too salty. The reason why we know these details is not that we bring thermometers with us, but that we were so impressed by the marvellous cooking that we sent the marvellous sommelier (yes, it was that busy a night) on an expedition to the kitchen to enquire on the chef’s secrets. Individually, each of these preparations was superb, Man finding the dominant and clear charcoal flavour at the centre of this symphony especially pleasing. The ‘conceptual’ reservation we have is that overall there was no respite, even in the chops, from the richness of the fat (which of course cannot be avoided in a suckling pig) making the dish a little heavy to our taste, for all its accomplishment.
The bass was no less good a dish. The thyme flavoured aubergine was superlative, and this should not belittle the main ingredient, of supreme quality as we had now come to expect. A slight acidity from the tomatoes underlined and complemented the other flavours aptly. We should also mention the wagonload of mussels and the unadvertised crispy pecorino cheese (we think). Altogether, as usual, this dish was rather involved. While Woman munches away quite unmoved by the aesthetics, Man would like to invite you to admire the colour palette of this presentation.
A pre-dessert arrives:

It’s a watermelon sorbet with whitecurrant. Nice and fresh, ideal after those mains.
From the interesting dessert menu we choose:
- San Sperate caramelised peaches with vanilla yoghurt mousse and coffee biscuit
- Cannolo filled with chocolate cream, Guerand salt and chilli pepper, with plums and candied lemon peel

For Man the peaches were a stunner of a dessert, very balanced, beautifully simple, the intense coffee biscuit matching the mousse ideally, and the peaches as good as they come. Does the very demanding Woman agree? She remarks that it’s more a Chantilly than a mousse (to be fair the Italian description said ‘spuma’ i.e. foam), but she agrees that it is veeeery well turned out, and that the coffee biscuit is exceptional: a really fine dessert indeed, with those flavours that remain sculpted in your memory!
Less agreement on the cannolo. Man quite appreciated the satisfying classic match at the core, in a beautifully looking and ambitious dessert conceived to strike and blow over, though balance is not one of its features: a dish to throw yourself in and enjoy the unruly mix of flavours without thinking too much. Woman was rather more taken aback by the violence of the chilli on the throat and not thoroughly impressed by the chocolate. However, overall, she concedes it was a good and interesting dessert.
Despite us having no coffee, the petit four are brought to us, as a full stop to an evening of great generosity.

We just tried the chocolate covered strawberries, and they were very good.
We had a Nieddera Contini 2004 Rosso della Valle del Tirso, recommended by the Sommelier off list at 18 Euros (a really interesting and nice wine which we’d never heard of, amazing value for money). Adding water (0.75 litres) at Euro 4, the total bill came to a round 130 Euro, well inside our £100 even after adding the well-deserved tip.
The service staff was very good, although the service itself was very hit and miss, with the typical alternation between extremely long waits and lack of any wait between dishes, which is the mark of a kitchen slightly off balance. A special mention is deserved by the Sommelier, whose friendliness and devotion to the customer were equal to his competence and professionalism. There was an obvious shortage of staff in the front room, as the Sommelier himself had to double as a waiter, rushing around to pick up empty plates. In spite of the pressure, though, all waiting staff were cheerful throughout.
The cuisine of Chef Petza is built around strong, clear and memorable flavours and expresses a rather ‘aggressive’ imagination. If any of his dishes has a fault, it will always be by excess rather than by defect. Although to our own personal taste some more balance, lightness and restraint would have sometimes been welcome (and we repeat, this is just a subjective preference others may not share), no-one can doubt his technical excellence, commitment to the highest quality in materials, ability to stride creatively tradition and innovation, and deftness of presentation. There is also a sense of great generosity and hospitality. We will remember this dinner as a pleasant and remarkable experience. R.I.P. S’Apposentu, and onward to the next venture!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Burrida culture shock - can you spot the difference?

We spent our late Summer holidays in Sardinia. Before reporting on restaurants, a few thoughts on:


A traditional fish dish in the Cagliari region (more on its preparation later).

Here is what we had at when we ordered it at Trattoria Bachixeddu (in Pula, Cagliari):

And this is what we found at Trattoria 'Zio Dino' (also in Pula):

They look pretty similar, don't they? That's because this is what burrida is, how Burrida is prepared. The fish is 'Gattuccio di mare' (a type of small shark) boiled and then enlivened with a sauce made up of the fish liver and walnuts pulped together, and vinegar. Absolutely delicious (we think you can spot from the photos the better one, the one with the more satisfying sauce).

But at Theo Randall in London when you ask for what is that?

We wonder...we wonder...what did his parents tell him during his trips in Italy as a little child?

Talking about culture shocks, let's also take a look at that great standard, Pasta con le vongole (clams):

At Bachixeddu:

and its leftover - it will take you a while to count the shells :-)

and at Osteria dell'Arancio (at twice the cost):

A little sadder, a little meaner, no?


Friday, September 14, 2007

Gerbeaud House, Budapest

Gerbeaud Haz sits beautifully on a square at one end of the pedestrianised Vaci Utzca, in Vörösmarty tér. It started off in 1858 as a patisserie and confectioner; it is a real European institution. Inside it exhudes lavish imperial smartness:

and this is definitely the place to stop for a slice of Dobos Torte

The Dobos Torte is the most famous creation of Joszef Dobos, sometimes described as the Escoffier of Hungary. Observe its characteristic thin layers topped by a caramel glazed crown:

You see? There are five layers of vanilla sponge. This is exactly as it should be. Each is covered by chocolate buttercream icing. It takes a little bit of work to prepare it. You can see step by step pictures of how it can be made here (though notice there are more layers here, and the caramel top is in threads, rather than a compact slab: farther from the original, but more practical for cutting into it!)

A nice feature of Gerbeaud cafe is that, beside good patisserie, they make the best coffee (of several types) in Budapest - and we are pretty demanding on coffee (almost as much as on bread...).

There is now also an adjacent fine dining restaurant (which we have not tried) and a pub downstairs in the cellar (which we have tried). The food in the latter is what any self respecting tourist would want Hungarian cuisine to offer, extremely rich stews and soups but very satisfying, especially if you are tired and it's cold outside.

To cope with the totally unattentive and dreadfully slow service we suggest you get a couple of beers: they do make their own, though we suspect they do not use the apparatus on display in the room....


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Budapest's market

Here we come to Budapest's central market! Very high ceiling in this impressive building - pity we forgot to take a picture of the exterior, but the interior is rather grand, too:

You will find many types of fruits and vegetables, but above all a very impressive, multicoloured array of all sorts of of peppers:

of the fresh as well as the dried variety:

Meat, however, rules here:

A lot of innards (warning: from now on this post will be become ever more gruesome...), here is some tripe:

as well as a great deal of cooked and cured meats: we skip the more usual salami, but have a look at these:

Ah, and where did we see those chaps before?

maybe you'll recognise them close up (turn away now if you are of a squeamish disposition)

or after they have been cooked (can you spot the snout?):

Sorry, no fish in Budapest central market.


Monday, September 3, 2007


The day: 26th August 2007, Dinner.
The place: Hess Andras Ter 49, 1014 Budapest, Hungary (375 68 57 – both telephone and fax)

The venue: Fortuna
Closest airports: Budapest (British Airways)
The food: Fine Hungarian Dining

The drinks: Careful list of Hungarian wines, prices in line with the very elegant decor

Let's have a change for tonight, let's dine in Budapest (we are that kind of people, you know...). Where best to start than in the tourist trap district of Buda Castle? You have to be careful when choosing in this area, but we had heard good things about Fortuna, so in we go.
The interior is vast, impressive and lusciously elegant, a triumph of velvet, damasqued thick fabrics, and decorations from Medieval times onwards.

There are in fact several interconnecting rooms with different themes, with the odd armour thrown in.
And in case you wonder, no, it is not kitsch.

The mise en place on the table is impeccable and very pleasant looking.

The menu is rather on the expensive side by Budapest standards; but very reasonable by UK standards, and certainly far cheaper than any similarly attired establishment in London. There are starters including the famous Hungarian goose liver pate (here served with sparkling wine jelly) at 3,500 HUF (a little shy of £10) and Asparagus gratine with Mangalica ham, also at 3,500 HUF. Of course there are soups (more on this story later…). Mains go from the 3,000 HUF of the grilled breast of chicken with strawberry strudel and melissa sauce to the 6,500 HUF of venison. In between we find a good number of interesting dishes of beef, veal, fish, pork, duck, and game. There are also two set menus, a smaller three course one at 5300 HUF and a five course one at 11000 HUF.

The Hungarian one is not the lightest of cuisines, so we decided to structure our meal around a soup, a main and a dessert, leaving the tempting goose liver for another day, thus gaining a few days of life.

The bread:

Our order of soups included a wild duck soup, but by mistake a different one was brought instead. We decided to have it, in order not to delay and spoil the sequencing, and we only pointed out the mishap after we had finished. But at this point the extremely nice person in charge of our table, looking literally shocked by his mistake (indeed he was most professional and we are sure errors do not happen often!), 'politely but firmly' insisted that we also tried, on the house, the duck soup. We are not the ones to refuse an offer that cannot be refused (another one had been made to us just before – more on this story later…). So we ended up having three soups:

- Soup of wild duck with saffron, botrytised grape and smoked quail egg (HUF 1250, about £3.50)

- Kohlrabi (turnip) puree soup with pheasant mousse dumpling (HUF 1000)

- Asparagus cream soup with asparagus cream ravioli and ‘cheese’ (HUF 1000)

The best of these was the duck soup, truly exceptional. The grape had a sweet-tangy flavour that went along very well with the duck, the saffron providing a fresh background, and the fantastic smoked eggs adding another dimension to the dish.
The asparagus soup was the least interesting – but after all we hadn’t asked for it so we’ll pretend not to have had it.
The turnip soup, quite thin and delicate, was also good, with the thyme in it elevating the plain turnip flavour considerably. The dumplings were really intriguing, with a strange but pleasant flavour and consistency that we can only describe in words by saying that they reminded us of Ras Malai (the Indian curd sweet)!

For mains we had:

- Fillet of pike-perch Karpatian style with assorted with dill flavoured ragout of shrimps (HUF 4500, about £12)

- Loin of venison with juniper served with thyme flavoured game sauce, sour cherry ragout and potato croquette (HUF 6300, less than £20)

The pike one was a nice looking and delicate dish, interpreting in a modern way one of the few fish specialities of this land-locked country. The dill provided a decisive mark, being there in copious quantity, and the shrimp ragout was good (interesting the presence of mushrooms). But what was an aubergine doing in the dish, we wondered? The ensemble was finished off by some tangy taste, maybe lime.
The venison was a sumptuous piece (and the most expensive main on the menu), showing once again the liking of the chef for 'vertical' presentations. It was good and cooked appropriately, but we were expecting something even better in terms of intensity of flavour (a bit like the one here), given the reputation of Hungarian venison and the skill shown so far by the chef. The accompanying sauce provided an interesting caleidoscope of flavours.

For desserts we opted for:

- Crepe Fortuna with caramel sauce

- Fresh cheese mousse with white chocolate and sparkling wine sorbet.

The caramel sauce in the crepe was very rich, a tad too much, the cinnamon flavoured apple slices were crunchy, bitable, in nice contrast to the soft crepe. A parfait (vanilla) rounded off the dish.
The cheesy mousse was gratifying, definitely helped by the freshness and clear-flavouredness of the sorbet.

For wine, we had asked for an Egri Bikaver Thummerer 2003 at HUF 9500, but the waiter was so nice as to offer us the Reserve 1999 version at the same price (as usual, we had to smile very hard to obtain such an effect) . As we said, we don’t refuse offers that can’t be refused (but we always tell you, dear reader)…

This was the best Bikaver we had during our stay in Budapest, where we tried several expressions of the famous ‘bull’s blood’ wine from the Eger region. Together with water and taxes, this took our bill to 26000 HUF/ 104 Euros (prices are almost always quoted in Euros here).

The service is a real asset of Fortuna, the best we have encountered here, and even more impressive in a city in which a certain frequent carelessness and aloofness in restaurants and cafes often makes you feel an intruder rather than a welcome customer. At Fortuna, the front room staff strike the perfect balance between formality and friendliness. The cuisine, as should be evident from the description of the dishes, is ambitious, trying to weave together and recombine in an elegant way the rich flavours and ingredients of Hungarian cuisine, itself a product of several influences. This is not an easy feat and we would say that the chef is on an exciting and advanced path to progress towards the standards lucky Londoners are used to in top restaurants (albeit at far higher prices!). In one dish we found absolute excellence, others may be improved in terms of flavour and balance, we think, but they were always good and well presented. Overall, we had a very comfortable and pleasant experience at Fortuna, our best in a city where fine cuisine is still on the learning and discovery path, and where you risk some serious letdowns even in pricey estabilshments. If you want to avoid disappointment in other far more pretentious or less authentic places, we would recommend that you try Fortuna if visting Budapest. You’ll be charmed by the elegance of the environment and intrigued by the cuisine.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


The day: 24th August 2007, Dinner.
The place:
1 Seething Lane, London, EC3N 4AX (020-7977 9500)
The venue: Addendum Restaurant
The food: Modern French/Fusion
The drinks: Short but very interesting, a few samples from each of several main producing wine areas in the world. Some options by the glass. City prices.

This time we decided to venture into the City of London, often land of soulless and forgettable corporate expense account dining venues. Why? Two reasons, really. First, we wished to take advantage of a tantalising offer of 50% discount on the food bill, found online (with the City half closed in August, they must be a little desperate... and so they get people like us instead of smartly dressed business people). But bad food is expensive even at 50% of the price. We were also intrigued by the statement on their webpage:

'We've broken with tradition to create a destination restaurant and bar where the accent is on fresh ingredients, imaginative presentation, an intimate atmosphere and, most revolutionary of all, fun'

Destination restaurant?
Fresh ingredients? Imaginative presentation? In the City? We had to check this out!

Addendum is part of the Apex Hotel, in a quiet back lane
just a few minutes walking distance from the Tower of London. Heading the kitchen, Chef Darren Thomas (not actually there on the night), who replaced Tom Ilic last year: both chefs apparently have a reputation for bold dishes. When you enter, you cross the Gastro Bar (where simple food and drinks are served), as well as a wall of live jazz music. The Restaurant dining room is spacious and elegant. The stark lines are softened and warmed by the carefully chosen lighting, wooden floors, and several mirrors. There are upholstered comfortable chairs and benches, and quite a few types of well-spaced tables, including some booths for those who like doing deals in the shade.

The menu is like the wine list: short but interesting. Three sections: starters, mains and desserts, with six-seven choices in each. Starters go for around £8 and include varied offerings from sea and land: Confit Salmon, Roasted Scallop and Poached Oyster, Roasted Sweetbreads, Pan-fried Quail, Chicken terrine, Stuffed Palmhearts, Smoked Eel.... A similar variety of materials and preparations is encountered in the mains section (around £17-18): Roasted John Dory, Stuffed Plaice and Pan-friedRed snapper among the fish, Braised Lamb, Poached Pork and Spatchcock Baby Chicken as meats, as well Polenta with cep puree and truffled eggs for vegetarians. All dishes also have interesting garnishes and accompaniments.

It is looking good...And even better when we sample the nibbles on the table:

They were not described to us, but we believe they were a beignet with saffron and a puff pastry with a peppery liver pate'. Very nice flavours in both. There was also a generous portion of pistacchio nuts, as you can see, and quality butter, both salted and unsalted.

The bread arrives (choice from a tray):

Let's say acceptable (it's a French place after all, so we are in a forgiving mood as far as bread is concerned...)

Next, an amusant-bouche:

Parma prosciutto and melon, with red parsley. This was undeniably a letdown, the melon bland and the dish served too cold. The presentation was nice, however, a consolation at least for Man.

Our choice of starter is:

Smoked eel, apple & horseradish jelly, beetroot (£ 8.25)

Salad of pan fried quail, blue cheese, blackberries, treacle dressing (£ 7.75)

The smoked eel dish was splendidly assembled and colourful. On the palate it was unexpectedly fresh and amusing (we were imagining a 'rustic' eel and beetroot preparation), with a wide array of textures and flavours from the abundant garnish (overall tanginess with some sweetness), which was quite a feat to put together coherently, the jelly especially yielding a very neat flavour. Admittedly not very substantial nor hearty, with two tiny pieces of (excellent and excellently treated) eel and rather too little chewing to do... but, in the context of the menu we had, it was a good choice.

The quail was finely cooked and good. A balanced dish, graced by minuscule melting cubes of cheese and served at the right temperature. Not stirring, but pleasant.

For mains we had:

- Braised neck of lamb, poached figs, yogurt & chickpeas (£17.50)

- Pan fried Red Snapper fillet, sauté potato, chorizo & red peppers (£17.75)

The lamb was very tasty, with a little accompanying reduction (too little perhaps, but comparing very very favourably with the fat 'thing' at Theo Randall's). The cooking of the meat was almost fine, except that the two sides of the neck meat were one fattier and the other leaner: while the former was perfectly soft, the latter one came off (just) a little 'brittle' and dry. The fig could have been skipped with no loss to the dish, it was not succulent at all, and rather tasteless. The spinach, on the contrary, were wonderful. The overall impression was of a sound, not perfect but very pleasant dish.

With the snapper, we reach maybe the most interesting culinary point of the evening. This is a 'high impact dish', necessarily controversial, so much so that Man and Woman will have to split (just for this paragraph, don't worry).
There was some agreement on three problems: 1) The fish was overcooked; 2) the peppers, which could have been a real 'bridge' between snapper and chorizo, were in such little quantity as to be almost insignificant; 3) The chorizo skin was inedible, and in this type of cuisine you expect only edible stuff in the plate. Beyond that, Woman was none too impressed overall, considering the chorizo too strong and the match with the fish unhappy, and found the fish overcooking almost unbearable. Man, on the contrary, was all excited because finally here was an Iberically 'gutsy' preparation, after the fine but slightly restrained and 'cold' previous offerings. To his taste the fish\chorizo\pepper match was audacious but thrilling indeed, only marred by the above mentioned flaws.

Before desserts, a Compote of Summer berries appears:

Very agreeable, the palate is duly sweetened and ready for desserts.

Our choices of dessert:

Strawberry cheesecake ice-cream & shortbread (£ 7.50)

- Plum tart finee, buttermilk ice-cream and plum sauce
(£ 7.50)

What struck us first in the strawberry cheesecake was the lack of cheesecake (however, there not being a comma between 'cheesecake' and 'ice-cream' on the menu, they were correct!). Apart from this, the ice cream was fabulous, the accompanying thinly sliced and dried strawberries (beside 'real' ones) a joy of concentrated flavour, and the shortbread very good, though a little excessive for Woman (it was OK for Man the glutton). Notice how cutely the dish is assembled.

The ice-cream accompanying the plum was equally superb, and so was the plum sauce. The tarte itself struck Man by its lighteness and flavour.
This relatively simple dessert impressed Man for the perfect match and balance of its components. Even the very stern Woman found it palatable :).

To finish, even if we have no coffee, the petit-four are generously offered:

We only nibbled at the macaroons in the back: remarkable.

We had a bottle of stunning
PETALOS DEL BIERZO, J. Palacios, Bierzo 2004 (£30.00), a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, as we found out with some effort (more on this story later...). This, plus an 0.8 litre carafe of water at City price (£4.50), plus the food with 50% discount, plus 12.5% service, took our total to £80.21. At full price, we would have broken our £100 rule by hiting £113.34.

The service was perplexing. The Sommelier, reputedly very good, was not there (like the Chef, as we said - clearly a quiet period for them), and the front room manager who took the wine orders, while absolutely charming and cheerful and friendly, knew rather little about the wines on offer. No fault of hers, probably not her job, but is it too much to ask, in a place of this caliber and style, that when the Sommelier is away, there is somebody else in the room with some decent knowledge of the (short) wine list? (to her credit, she did her best to overcome her impasse, and she eventually succeeded in discovering what grapes were in our wine and even, by checking the back of the bottle as usual kept away from the customer, which part of Spain it came from). The other waiters were correct, French style, aloof, cheerless: they should practice in the front room teams of a couple of Italian restaurants we know...

Though not free from misses and troughs, we found that Chef Thomas' cuisine
is, at its best, capable of surprising with ideas and impressing with execution and presentation. The dishes are pleasing on the eye while backed by sound technique and kitchen organisation. The overall experience is rendered even more pleasant by the various complimentary delicacies that pamper the customer. We cannot fail to remark the contrast between this serious and rich gastronomic experience, and the one we had the previous week at Osteria dell'Arancio where, for similar dinner prices, while not eating badly, you will not come remotely near to the quality and complexity of cooking at Addendum, let alone the generous pampering.
To be fair, we are not sure we would come here regularly at full prices: but given the lunchtime offer (three courses for £27), we would recommend Addendum not only to business people who want to impress their clients with setting and food, but also to Italian and American tourists who, maybe tired and dejected by the lack of a 'tower' at the Tower of London, want to recover with a slightly original and sound gastronomic experience a few steps away in the City of London.

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