Believe it or not, I really don’t eat out very much and I’m horrible at choosing restaurants. One bad review in amoungst the three hundred full-star reports on trip advisor will cancel a booking and send me back to my tried and tested just eat menu or to the co op for some chillies and a pack of tortillas. Because I love eating out so much, I really am rather terrified of getting it wrong because it sucks to waste a meal. Really.
It also sucks to keep hearing myself say ‘Oh, I keep meaning to go there’ then in related follow ups, being disappointed to hear of smaller venues closing down before I have had a chance to bite the bullet, take the plunge and spend my weight watchers points with them.
So no more dreaming of that interesting night out, no more fear of the unknown menu, no more missed belly aches and instagram opportunities, I pledge now to get out there and try these places and spend my money with smaller, weirder and localerer calorie salesmen. 2017 WILL be the year of the end of meaning to do dinner related stuff I never get around to. So far I’ve come up with a fantasy short list, the bare minimum, The Risks to Take, and they go a little something like this:
Where: Albatta, Sir Isaacs Walk, Colchester:
What: Lebanese, mezze
How overdue? About 2 years.
Albatta is a Lebanese restaurant and takeaway in central Colchester, which to be honest looks a bit pokey and uninviting from the street but sooooooo many people have raved about their dinners there that it must be investigated. Mezze, or any small plates dinner, is potentially one of my favourite kinds of meal- sampling across a range of unusual or new menu tasters rather than blowing it all on one thing. And here, they have fattoush, which I (usually) love for it’s simple, crisp flavours and the foresight of putting the bread in the salad so you don’t have to order it separately! Albatta is top of the list in all respects.
How Overdue? 2-3 Years
I am so sick of hearing about how good it is at Bonedaddies and how much everyone likes Bonedaddies and oh look, everyone is at Bonedaddies again! A curse on all you fly London types and your cock scratchings. One day I will be in town without the kind of schedule that prohibits a no reservations dinner venue and all the lovely noodles will be mine.
Where: Harkstead Farmers Market
What: The clue is in the title
How Overdue? Not yet!
In truth, I’m resolving to visit more farm shops and farmers markets in general in 2017 and this seems as good a place to start as any. Suffolk is a lovely drive from us and home to many, many foodie and pretty places to visit. Plus, this will be easily aligned with an Adnams visit and obligatory freezing cold stroll up Aldeburgh beach.
Where: Il Padrino Pizzeria, Church St, Colchester
What: Traditional Italian pizzeria
How Overdue? Barely 2 months
This is the sister venue to the big daddy Italian eating destination that is Il Padrino, again in Colchester, which opened quietly in winter 2016. I am yet to find anyone who didn’t have a good/great meal with Il Padrino, I look forwards to seeing what they can do with a large Hawaiian. Who doesn’t like Pizza? No one I know, and certainly no one I care to.
Where: Kovalam, Waterside, Brightlingsea
What: South Indian Cuisine
How Overdue? 11 months and one week
Followers of my rantings will notice that I moved last January to the Essex estuary outcrop that is sunny Brightlingsea. This was exciting for many reasons such as having a garden, a spare bedroom and a living room big enough for me and the Mr to comfortably ignore eachother in whilst still technically engaging in couples time. Oh, and living within staggering distance of that amazing curry house near the harbour- The Kovalam.
I visited there for dinner more times in my 15 years as a grown up living 10 miles away than I have in the last year when i could walk there in ten minutes. By which I mean we haven’t been down there yet. Why?!?!? Well, to be honest being in mortgage land has realigned financial priorities which means we get takeaways more often than we eat out and Kovalam don’t have an online menu. The Raj Palace does. The Raj Palace also does an amazing pickle curry thing and a green masala thing which I adore so they have won on the recent Ruby opportunities. But we will get there this year. Hopefully in February with the council tax money we don’t have to spend.
Where: Lily Vanilli- The Bakery, Columbia Rd, London E2
What: CAKE!!! And pastry and cookies and personal hero worship.
How Overdue? Since the second I saw her twitter feed
I love Lily. Love her. Love her cakes. Love her books. Love her style. Wish to squee ridiculously at her and ask how the hell it is that I can’t make my Hackney buns look the way they do in Sweet Tooth, my favouritest cake book of all time. So for her sake, I hope she isn’t around when I finally manage to fit in a Sunday visit to her bakery.
Where: The Man Behind The Curtain, Vicar Lane, Leeds
What: Good question.
How Overdue? Missing from my life like world peace, an interest free Tiffany’s account and a smaller butt.
For the most part I’m too poor and too far away to go for dinner here and it destroys me with intrigue and Tweet Rage when I see others who have managed to get a table there. Frankly, I think Michael O Hare is wonderful for omitting all menu information other than the cruellest of teasers and just saying: I’m going to feed you amazing food in a funky place. A set menu is one thing, not knowing what that menu is is quite another. One might argue that the Hair Metal Chef persona is equally as pretentious as any well oiled French sounding bloke charging £230 a head plus service in the M25 outskirts, but hooray for something a bit different and not as outrageously expensive as many of his home counties peers. Maybe I can round up a 40th birthday expedition there by 2020.