103 St. John’s Street
Tel: 020 7235 0323
Date of Last Visit: Monday, August 21, 2006
The Victims: Me, myself, and I
The Damage: 16.50
The Background: I flew in from Chicago at 8 a.m. this morning. I made good time back from Heathrow and was home by 9:30. I went straight to bed and slept til 12:15. It was fantastic. But then I was hungry. After putzing around for a bit–picking things up, putting things down–I decided to head over to Pho for a delicious lunch. BUT–just as I got to the corner of Clerkenwell and St. John’s, I saw Xich-Lo, which opened at some point this summer. And having just finished Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, it was time for a visit.
The Locale: It’s orange. And fancier than I expected it to be. And more, well, romantic. There were little flickering candles on every table. Some had little seashells suspended in their watery base. I felt very alone all of a sudden, and in the wrong place. I should have arranged to meet someone there. At Pho, I would have had no probs dining alone.
Strike 1: There was construction going on next door, and my original table seemed to be positioned on the other side of a jack hammer. And I already had a jet lag headache. Uggh. So I moved upstairs, where the sound was just as loud, but I didn’t get the vibrations that I did downstairs. This was annoying.
The Food: I went with the tasting menu, which started out on the right foot. A spoonful of delightfully seasoned beef. But it was topped with a prawn cracker, which I found a bit odd. I had little time to reflect; my tray arrived soon afterwards.
Strike 2: Some explanation of what I was about to eat would have been nice. I had no idea what was what. It was a large tray with a number of different bowls/dishes on it–5 things? Maybe 6 plus rice?
Back to The Food: I gobbled up the spring roll and the prawn patty (at least, that’s what I think it was–no one told me). I had skipped breakfast on the plane. These were good, but everything that’s fried is good, no? Then I ate some beef and it was bad. Maybe it was reheated or something. But it was just off. I started obsessing about getting mad cow disease from it. But then I had the soup–with lots of bean sprouts–and I was happy. I’ve been thinking about bean sprouts a lot lately because Whole Foods is supposedly opening in South Ken next year, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Whole Foods Salad Bar. Let’s hope the concept translates to the UK. And then I had the fried rice, which was served in a cute little straw basket, and it was DELICIOUS. And I was happily trying to eat it all up when I noticed that it was served in a styrofoam cup inside the straw basket. And I was NOT the first person to have eaten out of this styrofoam cup. And I was totally grossed out. Uggh. Can styrofoam be cleaned? Reused? Yuk! Strike 3!
The End: My server brought me a cute little shot of orange/pineapple juice. It was super cold and delicious.
The Verdict: I wanted to like it, but I didn’t. I should have gone to Pho. 🙁