The Background: Christina & Kent wanted to see True Grit. I had no idea what they were talking about. Shows you what kind of movie buff I am. They found a 7:20 pm showing at the theater on Western–affectionately known as the Ghetto Theater, even though it’s across from a Target. And a new gastropub–Owen & Engine. I feel like we’ve been calling this theater the Ghetto Theater forever, but 2700 N. Western isn’t really the ghetto anymore now is it?
Charcuterie at Owen & Engine
We started out with some charcuterie, which I believe is all made in-house. I liked the sausage there at 6 o’clock. And the salami (?) at 4 o’clock wasn’t bad either. Ah, the pickles were nice too. However…that pate (2 o’clock) was truly dreadful. The consistency, the color , the taste and the smell were all a bit off-putting. Slimy, really.
Fish & Chips
I opted for the fish and chips for my main and it was a surprisingly generous portion. Two big fat filets. The only problem? The dish was cold. We had waited a really long time for our food, and I think mine must have been sitting somewhere in the kitchen under the coolest (as in “not warm”) of heat lamps. This would have been 100% better piping hot out of the fryer. The crust on the fish was light but crispy–someone obviously knows what they’re doing–but it’s just too bad it was not hot.
Not pictured here, but Owen & Engine makes their own ketchup. We had a long debate about making your own ketchup. Heinz rocks, I say. Don’t mess with Heinz. There are other things you can spend your time and money on. Like making sure your patrons get hot food. The homemade alioli, on the other hand, that I’m okay with. It was a nice touch. There’s more latitude in making your own alioli.
The Service: Friendly but gee whiz did we wait a while for our mains. The charcuterie arrived pretty quickly though.
True Grit: Eh. Felt long and drawn out and anti-climactic. Ended too quickly and in an unsatisfying way.
The Verdict: Owen & Engine is VERY convenient to that big movie theater on Western. It’s right across the street. As such, we were a little surprised the pub wasn’t a bit busier, but I suppose they’re still new and all that. Plus Americans still have that thing against British food. I would go here again for the atmosphere but the food at this point seems just, well, nice. Not special.
Ah, and they don’t serve half pints. This bugged me. The US needs more half pints.
The Crown Park Street Stoke-by-Nayland Colchester Suffolk
Date of Last Visit: April 16th and 17th
The Victims: Dev, Connie, Mireia
The Damage: Included in our hotel bill!
The Background: We were out in Colchester for the opening of the Rose & Crown, our friend Ed's pub and my newest investment. Given the copious amounts of Penet Chardonnet we were sure to be drinking, Ed had recommended The Crown, a 10 minute taxi ride away, as a good place to stay. And boy was he right.
I stay in a lot of hotels. And this honestly has to be one of the nicest ones I've stayed in, particularly for the price The rooms were gorgeous. The staff were lovely. The bath products were nice. In short, I didn't want to leave.
And I especially didn't want to leave once I'd had the bubble & squeak for breakfast.
The mash was full of all sorts of good stuff…thick chunks of bacon and fresh bits of cabbage (which I'm not normally a fan of). Was there spinach in there too? Carrots? I'm really not sure. But it was fantastic. And that egg…you can't tell from this photo, but there were actually TWO of them. Two perfectly fried eggs, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.
I couldn't fathom eating for about another eight hours after this. And in truth, I couldn't imagine eating anything as good as this. It was like I didn't want to wipe its taste from my memory. Because this was memorable. VERY memorable. I'm already imagining my top 10 for 2010 and unless everything else I eat in 2010 is outstandingly amazing, this bubble & squeak gets a spot!
The Verdict: If you're in the area–perhaps visiting the Rose & Crown (hopefully with me!)–definitely stay the night at The Crown and have their fantastic bubble & squeak for breakfast before you leave.
The Background: It's been a really long while since I've added a new postcode. Well, here it is. N2. Exciting times, huh?
Up til the weekend before last, I'd never been to Muswell Hill before. But here's what I can now report. It's green. Very green. And suburb-y feeling.
I can also report that The Clissold Arms is a VERY long walk from East Finchley tube. And it's a very long and miserable walk in the RAIN…especially when you've forgotten your umbrella. And when your friends have a car and you don't and you spend most of the walk thinking, "Why didn't I arrange for them to pick me up at the tube?"
The Entrance: But I enter The Clissold Arms and all is right with the world again. It's a bright and airy space, and it's packed to the gills with cheerful families and tumbling tots. In fact, everyone seems to have at least one kid with them. Except for the woman who's crying her eyes out in the bathroom. (Supportive friend: "Get a grip! Pull yourself together!")
The Starter: Sweetcorn fitter with black bean salsa. This is nice and crispy and I'm happy about all the rocket because you can never have too many vegetables. Not too sure how I feel about all the sour cream though. And it kinda needs salt.
The Main: Pan-fried fillet of sea bass with courgettes, asparagus, new potatoes and sugar snap peas. I really liked this. No idea how sustainable the fish was. And no clue how they got asparagus onto my plate in October. But good nonetheless. And colorful!
The Verdict: If I had kids and if I lived in Muswell Hill, I'd probably go here pretty often. But I don't have kids and I don't live anywhere near Muswell Hill, so I'll probably never go back.
The Damage: Less than £20 for some beer and a bowl of French onion soup.
The Background: I wrote a while back about how I thought 2009 would be the year of playing games in pubs. So it was that I found myself on a Sunday afternoon at The Landseer in Holloway with my bag of tricks. I convinced Gerry and Ben to play Quiddler and despite Gerry's dislike of word games, she managed to kick all of our butts big time until I squeaked ahead in the last possible round!
The Entrance: The Landseer has a lot of big windows. On a chilly but sunny Sunday like the 18th, this really makes it the most perfect place to hang out it. Really, it was lovely.
The Service: Super congenial. Someone had definitely taken their happy pills.
The Food: I ordered French onion soup and some chips. The French onion soup was pretty bad. Gloupy in a bad way. And there were lots of little sticks in it. Like someone had thrown in the twigs from a lot of old bay leaves.The chips were nice though…nice shoe-stringy frites.
The Verdict: Go back for the windows. And the frites. Also, they have pretty much ALL the Sunday papers, which makes it a nice place to while away a few hours.
The Engineer 65 Gloucester Avenue NW1 8JH http://www.the-engineer.com
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, 16 November 2008
The Victims: Al, Rutton
The Damage: £45 each for Rutton and Me. £35 for Al.
The Background: First we were six, possibly eight. And then we were three. And one was on time. Two were late. Thank God for Time Out. And St. Peter's Organic. How restaurants put up with us, I don't know.
That being said, I am somewhat proud of Rutton in that he took THE BUS. I have never known him to take the bus. You know there must be a credit crunch going on when this former investment banker (still gainfully employed, but an investment banker no more) takes THE BUS. Hence his lateness. (That being said, he wasn't that late. Maybe 10 minutes?)
While we wait for Al, we enjoy our starters. Tortilla soup for me. Some sort of smoked salmon for him. My soup is very generous. A meal almost in itself. We also start in on our first bottle of Tempernillo.
Rutton likes his salmon so much that he debates ordering another plate, ostensibly to tell Al that we've ordered him a starter. Al arrives just in time to prevent this hoax and we move into mains.
Although I don't normally order chicken in restaurants–it's the one thing I can make for myself–today is just one of those days. It's cold out. And wet. And some roast chicken just seems like such the right thing. Mine (and Rutton's) is served with mash, spinach, and mushrooms. It's a generous portion, and it's pretty good. Is it very good pub food. I'm happy. Al is just as happy with his miso marinated pollock. Although where he puts it, I don't know.
During all this, we polish off another bottle of Tempernillo and start in on some muscat. To go along with our vanilla ice cream. And our bakewell tart.
I know I must have taken the tube home. And the bus. But I'm a little hazy on the details starting about mid-way through that 2nd bottle of Tempernillo.
The Loos: Could really use a good scrubbing.
The Verdict: I liked it here. It did the trick on a Sunday afternoon.