This pasta’s past it

26 09 2008

I adore Italian food. My mouth was salivating at the thought of a freshly cooked proper Italian meal ahead. We had booked a table at Spaghetti House in Leicester Square and were shown into the basement which was otherwise empty – ideal for a group of deaf people as it’s much easier to lipread when it’s quiet and you’re not fighting to hear scraps of sentences against other voices. The staff didn’t bat an eyelid at a Hearing Dog accompanying us. A waitress even asked if the dog would like some water and brought a bowl. Ten out of ten for that.

But the meal? Ugh. Daniel said his minestrone soup was like water with vegetables in it. I had garlic bread, which was the worst I’ve ever had. It was just a roll cut in two, it was burnt and dry, and I could barely taste the garlic. Then I had meatballs. That was dry too. Pork meatballs with plenty of herbs, a little tomato sauce, and spaghetti. Hell, I could’ve cooked a better job myself. (Now you see why I don’t like to go out to eat?) When the puddings turned up, we agreed they looked like the best part of the meal. And my beer was £6. The waitress was pushy and kept asking us if we wanted the pudding menu, the drinks menu etc.

I was so glad to leave!

FOL’s verdict : Photobucket

Thumbs up! ASK

15 12 2007

This restaurant has a varied menu which boasts tasty Italian dishes such as pasta and pizza with toppings of your choice. This branch of ASK also offers a takeaway service.

We had trouble the moment we walked in.

– No dogs!
– He’s an assistance dog.
– No sorry, we can’t allow dogs in here.
– Can I speak to the manager please.

The manager came out and he was perfectly happy to let us come in and eat. Oh, the embarrassment, though! We were shown to a table right at the back, away from all the other customers, which suited me fine as it was a little quieter there. Things got better as the waiter asked if Smudge would like some water and brought over a bowl, and gave him a few pats on the head throughout our meal.

The selection of food wasn’t great – just pizza and pasta, without any main meat or fish dishes and a single choice of beer. We had garlic bread to start which was ok, just like those in Poppadom Express. The mains were OK but just like “best-of” range supermarket filled pasta. I know, I’m too fussy, but then I am a good cook and tend to make home-made meals rather than bring home shop-bought stuff. The wine was fine, so was the coffee.

Even thought the food wasn’t great, the service was attentive, friendly and polite, and the location facing the river is very good. The restaurant is spotless and well lit. It wasn’t too busy so it wasn’t too noisy. There is outside seating which would make it a nice spot to eat in the summer.

ASK, Spice Quay, 34 Shad Thames, Butlers Wharf, London SE1 2YE
T (020) 7403 4545
Tube: Tower Hill
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00-23:30 / Sun 12:00-23:00
Cuisine: Italian, Pizzeria
Booking not necessary

Thumbs up! Lorenzo Restaurant

8 12 2007

A group of us and two Hearing Dogs (Smudge and Harry) descended upon Lorenzo in Crystal Palace for a home cooked Italian meal. This restaurant is on the High Street and close to the tube station, so it’s easy to get to.

This restaurant looks really small from the outside but there are three floors. It looked good n busy! I was wondering how noisy this place is going to be … am I going to enjoy this night out as none of my friends in this group can sign. I can’t relax if I am struggling to lip read people against a constant din, it’s really hard work. We were shown to a large table in the corner downstairs and were promptly attended to by a polite and efficient waiter, who brought us wine. The place began to fill up with families and couples, it had a friendly bustle and the waiting staff were attentive.

The starters and main course arrived quickly, we didn’t feel we were left waiting long for each course. For a starter I had Hot Spinach Bake – a huge slab of goats cheese, lots of spinach and roasted peppers. For my main I had Tortellini Al Prosciutto – fresh pasta filled with cured ham and cheese in a creamy tomato and nutmeg sauce topped with cured ham. It looked good, tasted good, and was a decent sized portion. Everyone else was equally happy with their food.

When we wanted more wine, I looked around for a waiter and he noticed immediately, he was in fact already opening a bottle before I managed to voice my request. Blimey, that’s what I call good service! The dogs were lying quietly under the table, no one seemed to notice they were there and the staff certainly didn’t have a problem with them. One of the waiters charmed us all by bringing over bowls of water for the dogs.

As the wine flowed, the good service and friendly atmosphere combined to relax me almost into a stupor. By this time I didn’t really care about lip reading, and asked for the pudding menu – there was ice cream, and lots of it! I asked for Coppa Lorenzo which was a confection of caramelita, chocolate and vanilla ice creams topped with cream, hazelnuts and a biscuit. It didn’t disappoint but it certainly disappointed Smudge who was hoping for a taste!

At this point I was ready to fall off my chair and roll over. We were brought coffees and offered drinks on the house. Oh, my. We left very very satisfied and happy customers – we’ll definitely be back!

Lorenzo run a takeaway service although they don’t do home delivery.

Lorenzo, 73 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace, London SE19 1TX / Tel. 020 8761 7485 / email / Open Monday to Saturday 12-11 pm, Sunday 12-10.30 pm

They also have a café on Crystal Palace Parade, Café St Germain, which has a covered heated terrace for al fresco face-stuffing dining. Open 8am – 7.30pm.