Wednesday, 24 February 2010

At The Pictures: Up In The Air

This could have easily been awful, a Garden State for grown-ups, but luckily they kept it off the well beaten path of Oscar baiting rom-coms. The script and direction are pretty snappy, and the trio of central performances are all great. It’s a cliché to go on about how George Clooney is like Carey Grant et all, but he really is the only proper Old Hollywood Movie Star we have nowadays.

Using ‘real people’ whose lives have been affected by the recession was a bit of a gimmick, but it does give the film a weighty punch – reining it in from what could have been a slightly screwball knock-about comedy.

And it’s always a pleasure seeing JK Simmons and Sam Elliot pop up in scene stealing turns.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Pizza Slice: Zero Degrees

Zero Degrees should technically be the greatest place on earth. It’s a microbrewery that serves pizza. I should be in heaven. Instead, I’m actually in a converted garage and no amount of snazzy wall hangings can banish the feeling that you’re in a warehouse. The beer is actually pretty nice, fair dos. I stuck to the Pale Ale for the night; an American style amber bitter, but I can also vouch for the Black Lager being nice. Wasn’t so fussed on the Mango beer, and I don’t know if I could drink more than a pint of the Wheat Ale.

The pizzas are all a little bit too gimmicky unfortunately. If I wanted duck wraps, I’d go to a Chinese restaurant. If I wanted a curry, I’d go to a curry house. I don’t want hoi sin duck pizza. I don’t want curry pizza. I certainly never want pear on my pizza. I ended up going for a Four Seasons, but I asked the waiter if they could mix up the ingredients instead of the pointless quartering you usually get on this kind of pizza. This is a sore point for me; I want maximised toppings per mouthful, not some conveyer belt of flavours. I made a brilliant joke about how “what with global warming and everything, the seasons are all merging together anyway”, but the waiter didn’t seem to appreciate it. Chef also seemed to have trouble with this concept, as he forgot to add the pepperoni. When I pointed this out to the waiter he promptly took the pizza away, and returned a few minutes later with the exact same pizza scattered with some pepperoni. Whether or not there’s room for pepperoni on a 4 Seasons pizza is another debate entirely.

The pizza was nice enough in the end. They’ve made them a bit smaller since the last time I visited, which is good because they were way too big before. They could do with adding some non bready non cheesy starters to the menu, though the grilled halloumi wrapped in Parma ham and sage I had was actually really nice.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Going Out For Dinner Club #1

One of my friends decided we should all make a regular effort to go out for food together every now and then, which we’ve imaginatively titled Going Out For Dinner Club. It’s weird that this really isn’t something we Brits feel culturally comfortable doing. People will happily spend £30 upwards on a boozy night, but find this a fairly high price for a nice plate of food.

Anyway, Club #1 saw us visit The Canteen on Clifton Street which specialises in veggie and vegan friendly food (and loads of gluten free/celiac options as well, fair dos). The restaurant offered a really reasonable 3 meals for about £13 deal from a nice limited menu so you know it’s all cooked from scratch (massive menus usually means microwaved ready meals). The open kitchen meant you could see the chef working away at the food as well. I ate the following:

Starter: Not Duck Roll w/ Plum Sauce – some kind of veggie take on the Chinese classic, no idea what they used but it was actually quite a convincing substitute.
Mains: Chicken and Vegetable laksa – the only meat dish on the menu (there was also a tofu alternative) and it came with an impressive amount of chicken. I’m not usually a fan of udon noodles though I didn’t mind them here, I wouldn’t have minded if the soup had a bit more of a spice kick to it but that’s just me.
Pudding: A huge slab of sticky toffee pudding. I could grumble that it came with ice cream when I’d have preferred custard, but that’s just nit picking.

My only complaint was that I had to ask 3 times for a fork to eat my mains with. Can’t really manage noodles on a spoon alone. Looking around at my friends’ meals and everything looked pretty nice, though the vegetable tagine lacked any excitement. The starter of tofu satay looked great, and that’s from someone who hates tofu.

Special mention as well for the beer list. I plumped for the Samuel Adams Boston Lager in celebration of my (almost) upcoming holiday. It’s nice seeing a restaurant pay as much attention to the beer choice as they do the wines. Not a Carling/Fosters/Stella/Carlsberg in sight!

Overall score: 7/10 – nice food though it lacked that “depth of flavour” (sorry, food ponce) which makes you really slow down and extract as much taste as you possibly can from each mouthful. Would eat again (when they change the menu over).