Posts tagged “disappointing

Il Desco, Verona – Michelin guide has this 2* venue all wrong


Il Desco is meant to be one of the best places to eat in the whole of Italy. I have to disagree 100% with that analysis. It has had 2 Michelin stars since 1997 and I just can’t see why.

Food:  Different menus of either traditional or creative Veronese, specialising in tripe.

Now, I’ve always been a bit wary of tripe – kidneys can so often taste of pee, and I used to hate finding tubes in liver as a child. Couple that with the bubbling cauldrons of the stuff that you see dotted around Asia in food markets, and you do have to be in a brave mood to try it.

I am aware though that many people think it is a great delicacy, so I thought the best place to give it a go would be a 2* Michelin restaurant in Verona.

And it was very tasty. I had sauteed calf’s brain, bull’s testicle soup, tripe sauces and goose liver on my 6 course Tradtional Veneto tasting menu.

The problem was that the portion sizes were enormous. I was presented with about 1/2 pound of brain, and over 1/2 pint of soup and I can tell you that whilst tripe is tasty, it is sooo rich that by the time I was half way through those two dishes I was feeling pretty nauseous. The testicle soup especially was a struggle because it had the texture of rhubarb compote – slightly glutenous and fibrous, and facing a huge bowlful of it was tough.

I think this is where I found Il Desco disappointing. Certain elements of the dishes were very tasty and beautifully cooked, but to me it was unbalanced and inconsistent. There wasn’t enough palette cleansing, balancing elements to all this super rich tripe, and the portions were just overwhelming. By the time I got to the meat course I was stuffed.

Wine list: Good, but very expensive wine list.

Ambience:  It’s an odd place.

You walk in the front door into a large ante-room which seems just to be a storeroom, and is dominated by a staircase going down to the cellar which is just a gaping black void.

You are ushered off to a room on the left which is the dining room, and it’s almost smaller than the lobby/storeroom you have just been in.

The dining room is sweet enough, lovely old oak ceiling and yellow ochre coloured walls, but then the rest of fixtures and fittings give the whole place a bit of a harlequin feel – too many patterns and too many colours.

Service: We had a bit of funny service experience. The waiters were fair enough, but the sommelier was a bit pushy.

Price:  The tasting menu I had was €95 and the tasting menu my other half had was €130, so couple that with wine, water, service and tip, and it was a pretty punchy bill at the end of the evening.

Location: Via Dietro San Sebastiano 7, Verona, Italy. Tel: +39 045 595 358.

All in all, I was pleased that I’d had the opportunity to try some really good tripe but didn’t think it was worth the price. I was left feeling a bit perturbed and completely bloated by the experience and wouldn’t go back.

The other night that we spent around Verona we ate at our hotel  – Villa Amista – and had the most exquisite meal. Left Il Desco in the dust on all fronts, and inexplicably doesn’t have even one Michelin star.

Lan Na Thai and Face, Bangkok – too farang by far


Disappointing juxtaposition here.  Great bar, crap restaurant.

The venue that houses Face, Lan Na Thai and Hazara it stunning.  Beautiful teak housing complex, fishponds, palms, soaring ceilings, nooks, crannies and separate buildings.  It’s well hidden behind big gates and a high white wall, so it’s a lovely feeling to discover it and leave bustling Bangkok behind.

Face Bangkok

If you haven’t been to BKK before then you really have to go and have a few drinks at Face, it is really lovely – good cocktails, great surroundings, good service etc.

I haven’t tried their Indian food (Hazara), but the Thai food (Lan Na Thai) is very disappointing and expensive for what it is.  Far too farang friendly, the heat is completely toned down and just dull, dull dull – don’t bother if you like it fiery.

Location: 29 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 38, Bangkok. Tel: 662 713 6048. Very Close to Skytrain station Thong Lo, couple of mins walk.

The Stoep, Lantau – In need of a menu and attitude overhaul


Right, so The Stoep used to be a another stalwart of the Lantau dining scene, a real gem, but over the last few years it’s gone really down hill.  They never have any specials, and they haven’t changed the menu in the 9 years I’ve been in Hong Kong.  How lazy is that?

Perhaps because of this, the service has also become incredibly slack.  It may be different at weekends when the junks come, but a restaurant on Lantau really survives on the locals turning up during the slow weeknights, and the service is pretty rubbish.

Blessed by a lovely beach-front location and an established reputation, you would think that the latest management team would be all over this opportunity, but unfortunately not.

Food: South African BBQ.  Steaks nowhere near as good as they used to be, chips, salad, kebabs, chicken – you get the picture.  They do make a lovely seed bread though…

Drinks: Decent wine list.

Ambience: Can be rammed with junk trippers and families at the weekend, so very informal, beachwear and flips styley.  During the week it’s usually dead, and would suggest asking them to put a table on the beach with candles and mozzie coils which creates a really lovely desert island vibe.

Service: Can be slow and fraught at weekends. Weeknights be prepared for your hosts to sit at a table and just call them over when you need something, best summed up as disinterested.

Price: Soho prices and the quality of the ingredients really doesn’t deserve the pricing.

Location: Lower Cheung Sha on the beach, 10 mins from Mui Wo by Taxi and 15 from Tung Chung, all the taxi drivers know it by name. Make sure your junk has a tender if you don’t want to swim as there is no jetty. Tel: 2980 2699

Open: Tues through Sunday, lunch all the way through dinner.

The Stoep is well past its sell-by date and is in desperate need of an attitude and menu overhaul. Place could be really good again, but is frankly disappointing.