Saturday, 30 January 2010

Ladbroke Arms

54 Ladbroke Road,
London W11 3NW

020 7727 6648

We walked across Holland Park in bright sunshine, the ground was sprinkled with patches of icing sugar snow. It was 2 degrees centigrade. The Ladbroke Arms is at the park end of Ladbroke Grove near the police station. Despite the cold there were people eating outside in the sunshine on the terrace outside. There were quite a few drinkers at the bar. Inside in the small restaurant at the back things were less busy. We were put next door to a pram and a cigarette machine in a little alcove on the only table for two. From the alcove seat the view was straight down the corridor towards the kitchen and at the end the kitchen dustbins. We had booked but if you come early enough it is better to sit at the front at the tables in the pub. The best table in the restaurant is a round one for four.

I had provencal fish stew £14. She had two starters: feta cheese , pomegranate, cucumber, orange, red onion, rocket and mint £6.75 and pork and chicken liver terrine with fig and prune compote. The fish stew was dominated by red mullet, mussels and potatoes. The soup was hardly deep enough to soak the small piece of toast covered with a thin coating of rouille. It was a thick buttery soup. To me this was nowhere near as good as the one at the Brompton Bar and Grill which had much more variety and was so big you could almost drown in it. It was also the same price and eaten in much more comfortable surroundings. The terrine was pronounced "no better than what is available at Waitrose" though the compote was fresh and full of flavour. The salad had too much raw onion. We had two glasses of perfectly adequate Picpoul, reasonably priced at £3.45 for 125ml .

The service was friendly but amateur; as it turned out the tables were not all booked as the restaurant filled and we could easily have had more space. We went a couple of years ago and remembered it being much better. They've poshed up the restaurant area and crammed more tables in (too many) but the food standards appear to have declined.

Ladbroke Arms on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


33 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RR

0207 813 8010

The food was outstandingly good. Fresh, beautifully cooked, and (it often isn't) the hot food was hot. We just ate tapas. The chorizo was fresh, succulent not dry. The razor clams cooked in garlic and butter were just right and looked beautiful too. The octopus was tender. The Jerusalem artichokes were perfect, firm, not overcooked, roast in the oven. The olive oil mash was creamy ( cream and olive oil? but it was wonderful). The crisp pork belly was crisp on the outside, the meat soft and in beautiful gravy. The bread was crunchy, hot, lovely and with really good quality olive oil. Wow!

Was anything wrong with this experience? The wine was only offered in 125ml glasses; no carafes, no half bottles. I think this is a mistake in what is primarily a tapas place. The restaurant is in a basement. Its modern, smart but a bit antiseptic with quite harsh acoustics. Its expensive. The cold meats come in 100gm sizes. The chorizo iberico is £8.20. That's a lot for such a small portion! The cooking is so good it makes more sense to have those things which really demonstrate the culinary prowess of the place: the razor clams, the artichokes, the pork belly and mash.

Fino is part of the same group as the (also excellent) Barrafina, Quo Vadis etc. Unlike Barrafina which is very difficult to get into unless you are there at opening time, here you can book.

We were having lunch on the FTs lunch for £5. This halves the food bill for one. The bill was still £41.23 for two with just two 125ml glasses of white wine. In London for this quality that's a bargain but the full price of £63.40 is not cheap.

Fino on Urbanspoon


Whiteleys Shopping Centre
151 Queensway
London W2 4SB

0207 792 1977

Well I didn't intend to review nationwide chains but after the recent experience of eating in Postino and Cibo it seems fair to make the comparison. Ask may not be sophisticated eating but it was both better than either of these establishments and less expensive; in the case of Cibo much less expensive. Of course this is an 'unfair' comparison in that Cibo offers a level of decor and Postino its own one off family run theatre that a major chain can't, doesn't. But on straight food grounds I have to say I preferred it.

We had Spaghetti alla Bolognese, £7.95 and Fusilli alla Cacciattora, £8.75. The Bolognese was hot, very simple mince and tomato. Nothing special but perfectly edible. Lots of real black pepper and cheese. Not real Parmesan or Pecarino, I'm not sure what it was. The Fusilli was piquant (real chillies and fresh thyme) with real flavour. There aren't many places where you can get a Chianti flask and for 70s nostalgia we couldn't resist it: really not bad with distinctive sangiovese cherry flavours and reasonable value at £16.95.

The service couldn't have been better. We were taking somebody of a certain age and a bit lame out to dinner post the odeon cinema at Whiteleys. She needed help to get down to the ground floor and our waitress sorted asking Whiteleys security to get a wheelchair to help her to the lift and down. No fuss, just really helpful.

Ask on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


3 Russell Gardens
London W14 8EZ
020 7371 2085

Monday evening at Cibo, a cold January evening, not a mouse stirring; it was like someone had died. A handful of diners, about 8.15pm. It filled up a bit later to about a third full. I'm trying to cover all the restaurants of Kensington and to be honest I wasn't looking forward to this. I'd been before. The place itself is jollier than the dramatis personae. Big chunky maiolica pots, wacky modern art and statues, though a strange and rather redundant empty bar which divides up the space.

The website says: "With seafood as its main appeal this is undoubtedly one of the finest a la carte Italian Restaurants for eating out in West London. Due to its location near trendy Notting Hill & Holland Park its also renown [sic] for the celebrity clientele it repeatedly attracts." It wasn't (one of the finest...) and they weren't there is all I can say.

We had spaghetti all'aragosta in salsa (spaghetti with lobster in its own sauce) £18.50 and sautee ai frutti di mare (assorted seafood and shellfish cooked in wine, tomatoes and herbs) £18.50. During our meal there was a loud throbbing. Is it the heat I thought, or the engine of a Porsche outside. We worked out that it was a tumble drier spinning above. The lobster I think had died some time ago and been laid to rest in a deep freeze. The flesh was flaky, overcooked, the body sticking to the inside of the shell. It tasted as though it had been frozen, de-frozen, over cooked and re-heated in a microwave. I can't be certain this was the progression but its what it tasted like. The sauce tasted like fresh tomatoes with sea water. It was patchily hot on a cold plate. It was impressively horrible. I tasted one of the mussels in the frutti di mare which had a similarly unfresh tasteless quality to it and was cold. I remember going to Cibo a long time ago and thinking it good. Things change. Never again.

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Monday, 25 January 2010


267 Kensington High Street
London W8 6NA

020 7602 6777

Last night came out of seeing Avatar at Odeon Kensington High Street (which whatever criticisms it might have had for the Hollywood schmultz storyline is visually awesome) in need of something simple. The closest place to the cinema occupying a great site for passing trade is Postino. Postino has replaced the old Scoffs Eating House which also served Italian food but bizarrely was done as a pastiche alpine chalet and was in severe need of an overhaul.

I don't know whether the current restaurant is under the same ownership but it has certainly had a decor make over. It is now simple pine tables, modern and bare with spot lighting (rather well done and affords some intimacy despite quite a crowded space).

The welcome is almost overwhelming and multilingual. Lots of buona seras followed by good evening and mille grazies etc Nice, friendly but I felt taking the family Italian restaurant comic opera almost too far, too in your face; but if you like that sort of thing the service really was good. It just wasn't subtly unnoticeably good; but the staff and chefs in the open kitchen appeared genuinely happy with what they were doing (very often not the case!).

The menu is very long (a bad sign); eighteen different types of pasta twenty different pizzas (mostly around £7), antipasti, carne, rissoto, etc. I have a capricciosa pizza: the pizza dough is flabby, the cheese filling gooey and there are rather nasty looking little squares of ham. My fellow diner has the linguini ai frutti di mare the most expensive pasta at £10.95: rubbery seafood in canned tomato sauce, no taste of fish stock or fresh fish. We have a passable bottle of Sardinian red wine (not cheap at £24). The total bill,including 10% service which they add, comes to £46.65. For all the family theatre I'd rather go to Ask or Pizza Express.

Postino on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Square

6-10 Bruton Street
London W1J 6PU

020 7495 7100

The Square is a much heralded restaurant. It is one of eight London restaurants to hold two Michelin stars and chef Philip Howard's background is Roux Restaurants, Harvey's (Marco Pierre White) and Bibendum. I'm having lunch with my friend Malcolm Gluck the wine critic who has recently brought out a splendidly outspoken all guns blazing attack on the crooks and cheats of the wine world: The Great Wine Swindle. He has recommended the £30 lunch menu as 'outstanding value'.

I leave it to Malcolm to order the wine and am not disappointed. He orders Altesse, Roussette de Savoie Gilles Berlioz 2002. It is one of the cheapest wines on the very long wine list at £25. Made from the Altesse or Roussette grape (exclusively when labelled Altesse) these Roussette de Savoie wine are supposed to taste of violet, herbs, honey and hazelnut. This one really does: fragrant, delicious, a bargain. High acidity means these wines can take a bit of age: this one is starting to go brown, you can taste the age, but still wonderful. The wine waiter tells us it is the last bottle in the restaurant. It is a privilege to drink it. Things have got off to a good start.

The £30 for two courses menu offers one meat and one fish starter, one meat and one fish main course. I go for the meat. Terrine followed by Venison. Before we start, though, there is a little amuse bouche in a glass. It is a chervil root veloute, with chicken gelee and bacon foam. It is a perfect little concoction of contrasting flavours and textures like a little layered roman road. The squishy gelee sits in the middle, you can see it through the glass, the foam above. The first course is a perfect little picture (above top); it is actually terrine on the left, a bit of pork rillette, some spring onions and gooey fruity chutney. Its of a very high standard but not for me as sensational as the little amuse bouche. The main course I find the least satisfying. The plate is cold and the food is the wrong side of warm; the little bits of venison are beautifully rare but not as succulent and juicy with crisp outside as what I tried not long ago at The Abingdon. The three different and cold sauces (gravy, creamy, fruity) and little muddle of vegetables I don't find what Michel Roux junior would call a 'perfect flavour combination'. Its just all trying a bit too hard and just misses it for me. We have a couple of glasses of Gevrey Chambertin 2005 which at £16 a glass isn't the bargain the Altesse was but compliments my Venison. We have the cheese for an additional £5 each. This really is a bargain: enormous variety and quality and you seem to be able to just keep going until you call a halt. After I have an espresso and again the freebie is one of the best things: little tiny slices of the most delicious nougat.
Its a personal thing but I can't give this restaurant a lot of points for atmosphere. I say to Malcolm I feel its like eating in a bank. The room is tall and rectangular, the lighting is bright. There are white table cloths with a rather strange grey under cloth overhanging the tables. Unsurprisingly at this price level it is full of suited men. There are two exceptions which stand out. Two men in tea shirts, one with cap on (chefs, says Malcolm), and a solitary female diner (from a Eurpoean guide we discover, eating in solitary splendour). They provide some visual light relief. Bits of the eating experience were unquestionably very very good but overall the cathedral to food in a bank atrium atmosphere, and some aspects of the Michelin performance picture on a plate trying too hard for arresting flavour combinations doesn't totally do it for me; but of course with high reputation comes high expectation which can be difficult to satisfy.

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Thursday, 21 January 2010


Royal Festival Hall
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX
0845 686 1122

Canteen is a small chain with branches in Spitalfields, Baker Street, Canary Wharf and the one we went to last night at the back of the Royal Festival Hall. It was 9pm and we had just been to an exhibition at the National Theatre and we wanted something quick, simple. Canteen sets out to do 'Great British Food': good value good food in a simple canteen environment. There is a Wagamama like feel to the place. Big open kitchen at the back. Long communal pine tables. Some smaller tables though too, with more comfortable banquette seating. The seating at the longer shared tables is self consciously uncomfortable: hard pine seats with no back support.

We try for a banquette table but there is only one available with side by side rather than facing seats. We go for the end of a shared table where we can sit opposite. The manager is solicitous. She sees we are having a discussion about where to sit and comes over, adjudicates, sees us to where we are happy to sit opposite each other.

The menu has fish, pies, a daily roast, stews and bakes which change daily as well as a short list of 'main dishes', steak and chicken. It is simple hearty British food. We go for the daily roast which is roast duck. It comes with cabbage and roast potatoes, gravy; and it comes fast. Five minutes after sitting down it is on the table. We have ordered red wine. It is four up from the bottom of the list in price: Chateau Saint Romains, Bordeaux 2007. It is £18.50. There is a good range of low priced wines. The food has come so fast we are worried there will be a long lag before the wine arrives. There isn't. It arrives a couple of minutes after the food.

So no complaints about the service! It is speedy. I suppose being right by the Festival Hall and National Theatre they are used to diners with a performance to catch. Our duck though is dry, overcooked. The roast potatoes are flabby. It is hot and filling nonetheless. The problem I have is that for one course with a modest bottle of wine two of us still end up paying a total of £51.90. I can eat much better than this in more comfort so the simple canteen, good food, quality equation simple doesn't stack up for me here. Why pay £13.50 for overcooked duck in discomfort when you can have the Brompton fish stew at the Brompton Bar and Grill for £14.00 (see review)? The place is nevertheless very well run. We talk to one of our waiters. Like us she is impressed by the manager who we learn is called Marianne. She is bustling about walking the floor, noticing everything, not too proud to help clear tables herself. Our waiter though is not happy. Only sharing in the tip pool brings wages above the minimum to £7 per hour. The kitchen staff are unhappy because there is no air conditioning in the kitchen. I won't go back.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010


9 Hanover Street,
London W1S 1YF
020 7629 2961
Its lunch time 1.30pm and there is a queue of people waiting to be seated. The entrance on the street is narrow and so is the entrance lobby where people are waiting; then it widens out at the back. There are rather fetid old colour faded carpet tiles and a large picture of sumo wrestlers. On the right a lady is seated at a desk with paperwork, rubber stamps. She stamps our bill on the way out with PAID and the date. To me it is more like something out of soviet era Russia than Japan. She stands up and calls the diners to their tables as they become available. The place is buzzing and it is full of Japanese. On the left is a sushi bar with mainly solitary, mainly Japanese diners. Just before it on the wall are a whole series of food safety and cleanliness certificates. Its as though the state of the floor tiles prompts the establishment to give you reassurance: the place may be a tip but the food is clean!
After a wait of about ten minutes we are shown to a table; it is black, spartan but large. There are signs on white cardboard with large black type saying things like TOILETS and SEA URCHINS and the price. There is a large TV screen high up.There is something rather splendidly unreconstructed about the whole experience and we haven't eaten anything yet.

We both have the raw fish set which at £14 throws in rice, a small plate of pickled vegetables, a miso soup and a simple dessert of slice of orange and melon. It is only £2.50 more than the assorted sashimi. We also have the prawn tempura.

This is all classic simple stuff (which seems to be what they specialise in rather than complicated rolls etc). The sashimi is fresh meltingly tender, very good. The tempura is as good as I have had it anywhere: the batter light, crispy and the prawns underneath tasty, fresh. They do many noodle soups, as well as hot dishes. Its right by where I work and I will go back to sample more.

Its interesting: I have seldom looked at other reviews before writing one to avoid prejudicing my own opinion but I did in this case. It gets fantastically mixed reviews. Many talk about the rudeness of the manager and to a lesser extent the staff and the poor service. They were brusque but everything was efficient, there were no long delays, nobody was rude as far as I was concerned. Some rave about the food. Others (many fewer) say it was very poor. Its funny. This from rather limited sampling of the menu is as good as anywhere I've been in London, Nobu at much higher prices included. Not as good as Kanoyama in New York though which is the best japanese food I've ever had; and I haven't been to Japan. The decor and ambience though is more of an acquired taste but there is a message here: anywhere this busy and this full of japanese locals that can afford to be this unreconstructed must be good.

Sakura on Urbanspoon

Bloody French

149 Westbourne Grove,
London W11 2RS

020 7727 7770

Cute attention grabbing titles invite similar responses: it wasn't bloody good enough. The best bits first: bread without asking for it for no charge, no 'discretionary' service charge and a BYOB with no corkage charge Sunday through Tuesday. The bad bits: the food. The restaurant was also ominously empty, though to be fair it was early on a Monday.

We shared Terrine de Foie Gras Maison, Chutney et Brioche £9.90 as a starter. It clearly came from a can and was not therefore a Foie Gras 'Maison' made on site from the liver as in this recipe from Sofeminine. The Chutney had a strong fruity flavour, the canned terrine the right consistency. The brioche was ok. Then for me things started to go seriously downhill. I had Lamb Shank Boulgur and Vegetables £14.50. The Lamb Shank was too dry and just didn't have that melting flakiness it should have if it has been properly slow cooked. It tasted as though it had been cooked too fast and then reheated. The vegetables in a little separate blue dish (courgettes, tomatoes etc) were cold. My companion had Duck Breast, Dauphinois and Wine and Honey Sauce. We had been told it would be cooked rare. It was overcooked. It was nevertheless crispy, good. I tried a bit. She liked it.

Bloody French tries at the whole Gallic bit: menus on blackboards (the menu is £22.90 for three courses but with lots of supplements for individual more expensive courses, and what is it with these .90s...tiresome pricing), an open fire, long communal table (its attractive with big windows looking out on Westbourne Grove), but for me the food just isn't nearly good enough. The 'bloody french' themselves can do much better than this at the most ordinary Paris bistro.

Bloody French on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Brompton Bar and Grill

243 Brompton Road
London Sw3 2EP

020 7589 8005

Brompton Bar and Grill is the successor to the old Brasserie St Quentin just opposite the Brompton Oratory and Holy Trinity Brompton and handy for a post lunch visit to the V&A; only we weren't up to it. We had eaten too much.

Sunday lunch at Brompton Bar and Grill as guests. I had jerusalem artichokes, girolles and poached egg £8 and their signature dish, brompton fish stew £14. We drank Merlot Mas de La Tour 2008 Languedoc £14.50. The decor was a modern take on simple french brasserie: black leather banquettes, wooden floors, framed cartoons on the walls. Ribbed aluminium lights low over the tables. White table cloths. A long bar in a rectangular space.

The artichoke starter was fresh and full of flavour with egg cooked just right: runny yoke mixing with the little mushrooms and firm artichokes . The fish stew was memorable and enormous, quite enough on its own. The fish stock was excellent flavoured with herbs, chilli, and full of fresh fish: salmon, white fish, mussels,clams. There was a rouille on top of a slice of toast to sink and blend with the fish and stock. This fish stew was on another planet from the one experienced at Cote Kensington.

A wine list starting at £10. A memorable main course for £14. And in Knightsbridge. Bravo!

Brompton Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Bibendum Oyster Bar

Bibendum Oyster Bar
Michelin House
81 Fulham road
020 7589 1480

The Michelin building originally designed as the British headquarters of the tyre company and opened in 1911 was acquired by Sir Terence Conran and Paul Hamlyn in 1985. I love this place and it has been beautifully restored. I'm not that keen on the more formal Bibendum restaurant upstairs but I also love the Bibendum Oyster Bar which spills out into the hall of the building downstairs. Its particularly attractive in summer but can feel cold and stark with its bare tiled surfaces in winter.

I had what I have often had here: a bloody mary and a crab salad and if really indulgent (as today) some white wine: it is the perfect Saturday lunch in a beautiful setting. All of the work is done for you for the simple crab salad. The white and brown crab meat taken out of the shell but not mixed up with mayonnaise, presented just as it is in a white and brown dollop with a simple green salad and lemon. Excellent and not unreasonably priced at £12.50. You also get a good portion of fresh french bread and butter thrown in. We had the house wine which goes well with this: a simple french sauvignon blanc which you can order by the 460ml pot for £10. The bloody mary is spicy and delicious but not cheap at £9.

It was raining hard and a distinguished looking Spanish gentleman on the table next door was wiping his wet suede shoes with the table napkin.

Bibendum on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Dean Street Townhouse

69-71 Dean Street
London W1D 3SE
020 7434 1775

Just had lunch at the Dean Street Townhouse; smart restaurants now make a point of calling to "re-confirm your table" on the day of the booking. This means if they don't get through you have to call back. I find all this a bit tiresome. Its understandable why they do this but its still a bit annoying and I say so irritated by having to call back to the lady managing the booking diary at DTH. She is very charming about my complaint which is not with her but just a rant about the process and when I arrive at the restaurant she remembers and is even more charming. DTH also gets full marks for service of the meal. It is unobtrusive, faultless, very professional.

The place is self consciously old clubland. Across Dean Street from the Groucho Club in what used to be a Pitcher & Piano branch it could be a stage set for an Agatha Chrisite Poirot set in the 1930s. Captain Hastings would have felt very comfortable. There are red leather banquettes, white table cloths and the sort of polished faux silver cutlery you would have found on the Queen Mary liner. There is a long bar with beautiful copper pillars.

The menu is also old clubland in spirit only much better. I have grilled cornish sardines meltingly soft but not overcooked, perfect; my colleague grilled squid, spiced chickpeas (bit more modern brit this, other offerings include dorset crab, potted ham, prawns and avacado and oysters). To follow I have Salt beef, caraway dumplings and pickle. The beef is flaky tender, the pickle pungently delicious. The red leg partridge, braised lentils and root vegetables my colleague has is beautifully presented and he finds it just as delicious. Prices are fairly standard for high quality central London: £15.50 and £16.50 for the main courses. We have a stylish and not too expensive Spanish red wine from Navarra for £22: Artazauri Garnacha 2007 Bodegas Artazu.

The restaurant and hotel (it has 39 rooms) is owned by Richard Caring (who now owns Le Caprice, J Sheekey, Annabel's etc) who bought a majority stake in Nick Jones' Soho House Group in 2008. The restaurant has its own entrance and doesn't have the ambience of a hotel restaurant at all. This is Caring/Jones first joint venture. Perhaps particularly given this heavyweight corporate ownership DTH is an impressively original one off almost faultlessly executed.

Dean Street Townhouse on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Wild Honey

12 St George Street
London W1S 2FB
020 7493 4549

I had lunch here just before Christmas and somehow never got around to posting about it in the race to the Christmas deadline. Like its forerunner Arbutus which I have also been to for dinner, it has received much praise. Anthony Demetre and his business partner Will Smith started Arbutus in 2006 and Wild Honey followed in 2007. The main difference between the two is ambience, decor rather than food and wine. Arbutus is Soho cramped, the tables very close together whereas Wild Honey is more spacious, private, with panelled wood and separated booths. The aim of both is high quality for good value. They deliver resoundingly. I had the £18.95 three course lunch menu at Wild Honey. The main course was slow cooked beef with mash; it was simple, beautifully tender with a rich tasty stock. It is this main course that lingers in the memory two weeks later. What I remember about Arbutus several months later is the pomme dauphinoise beautifully cooked in a little mini casserole. In addition to the food the outstanding thing about both restaurants is that wine can be ordered in 250ml carafes at one third of the bottle price thus enabling sampling and changing through the meal. We had a simple Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc and an Argentine Malbec which went perfectly with the beef. I find it difficult to define but if there is any crticism of both restaurants it would be that there is an elusive lack of soul, of fun. They both take themselves a little bit too seriously. They are very good but they don't make you feel warm about them. Wild Honey particularly would be an excellent place to discuss the poor returns of a hedge fund with a client, less a place for a romantic date. In Arbutus you would feel a bit overlooked for either activity. The high price at Wild Honey was entirely down to the long conversation and armagnac and bushmills whiskey which accompanied it. It was the day before Christmas Eve.

Wild Honey on Urbanspoon


Friday, 8 January 2010

Moroccan Food

"There is a holy trinity of Tagine, Couscous and Brochette/Kebab" commented our host at the wonderful Dar Roumana a riad in Fes which I thoroughly recommend but should declare is run by a friend of a friend. The implication was that once you have got through this lot it can all get a little bit dull. I love Moroccan food but the experience of eating out in Marrakech and Fes is a mixed one.

The ingredients are wonderful. You see them all the time in the souks. Here there is real 'organic' food brought in from farms by villagers who often can't afford fertilisers to increase their yields; and whilst the butchers are not for the squeamish the meat too is marvellous.

The sadness is how many places mess it all up and it is often the smartest places that are the worst. We had a particularly bad meal at the Palais Jamai which is the grandest hotel in Fes. My starter, a traditional Moroccan soup, tasted like Knorr with chick peas and a bit of mutton floating in it. This was followed by a tagine of slow cooked lamb which had stock like sludgy Bisto and was surrounded by frozen peas. The dessert was bullet proof triangles of sticky cardboard pastry. The bill for four with a bottle of quite interesting (25% Malbec) simple Morroccan wine was 2220 Moroccan Dirhams or £178. Admittedly quite a lot of what you are paying for is the luxury surroundings (see website above) with (poor) belly dancing thrown in, but the food was lamentable.

Some of the best food we had was when we were simply eating pure ingredients, unmessed up by human ingenuitiy. We visited a village up in the hills an hour's drive from Marrakech (illustrated right) and had excellent wild honey hard, boiled eggs and bread.

In the Fes souk we tried a dozen different types of wild honey and settled on Eucalyptus. The honey was kept in big blue plastic drums and we tried all the honeys dipping in a small plastic stick. It was the honey equivalent of a wine tasting and after so many taste sensations it was difficult not to get just as confused as after sampling too many wines.