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Ristorante Gusto Pinto – Rome (Review)

Ristorante Gusto Pinto

On our second night in Rome, we decided to head to the Ristorante Gusto Pinto for dinner. It was right around the corner from our hotel and when I was reading Trip Advisor reviews for our hotel, the restaurant seemed to be mentioned several times as a place to try out! The restaurant is owned by a local recording artist which may explain the gold record on the wall!

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We were greeted by a very friendly and efficient waiter who showed us to a comfy table in the corner. It was fairly quiet but still had a good atmosphere inside. The menu was very extensive and there were so many different dishes to try! I was debating whether to go for the Parpardelle Fisherman Mix or the fried calamari and shrimp as I was having a real craving for it. My mum suggested ordering the fried calamari and shrimp to share and I was more than happy to agree!

I always forget that in other European countries, people like to take their time and eat dinner over many hours. After a bit of a wait, our food came 😀 As said previously, I opted for the Pappardelle Fisherman Mix for €12 and we shared the fried calamari and shrimp for €14. My dad went for the Risotto Fisherman Mix for €12 and my mum opted for Escalope in White Wine for €11. All the dishes came nicely presented and my dad and I were both really pleased with the amount of different seafood! A lot of the time when I order a seafood pasta, I only get a few bits of mussel and prawn and am quite disappointed, but not this time! My pasta was full of mussels, prawns, scampi, and clams! It is always a bit of a faff de-shelling all the bits and pieces, but it was worth it as it was really tasty! Although, the scampi basically had no meat and was a weird black/brown colour so I left most of it.

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The fried calamari and shrimp was lovely! Normally in England, you’d get some sort of mayo to go with it, but this really didn’t need it as the flavours were really tasty on their own 🙂

Fried shrimp and calamari

Fried shrimp and calamari

As always, I tried I bit of my parents’ dishes too. My mum got three quite reasonably sized slices of pork escalope and it was decorated with bits of red cabbage and lettuce which made it look a lot prettier. My mum said that the wine tasted a bit weird though.

Escalope in White Wine

My dad basically got the risotto version of my dish minus the scampi for some reason, and it also tasted pretty decent!

Risotto Fisherman Mix

Risotto Fisherman Mix

The service was lovely and friendly and the total came to €60 including some drinks and €6 bread charge.

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Nom nom all gone!

Nom nom all gone!

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We normally like trying somewhere new for dinner each day, but after we’d looked round the nearby restaurants, we found that their menu was very limited and a lot more expensive too, so we decided to go back to Gusto Pinto as we’d all enjoyed it last night.

I was rather intrigued with what seabass sauce would be, but I ended up choosing Tonnarelli Scampi and Asparagus. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer amount of different types of pasta! On the menu alone there was stuff like Paccheri, Bavette, and Cavatelli pasta! Tonnarelli turned out to be like a thicker and denser version of spaghetti and was rather nice! When the waiter brought out my pasta, he said that it was very popular. However, I found that the scampi had hardly any meat and the asparagus was cooked a bit too long and was rather mushy 😦 I much rather preferred yesterday’s dish!

Tonnarelli Scampi and Asparagus

Tonnarelli Scampi and Asparagus

My mum chose the Risotto Fisherman Mix that my dad had yesterday and also got razor clams with it which my dad didn’t get yesterday!

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My dad originally wanted salmon but they had run out so opted for the grilled seabass for €15. It looked quite small, but my dad seemed fairly happy with it.

Grilled seabass

Grilled seabass

I’d definitely recommend this restaurant as it is very reasonably priced and there is an extensive selection of food on offer compared to other nearby restaurants who only have a few pasta dishes! I was tempted by the desserts, but even I (who always has a separate stomach for sweet things) was too full! You can’t fault their decent portion size!

Menu

Menu

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100 Happy Days – Day 77

The last time I went to the cinema was to see the second Hunger Games film last Oct/Nov time. Today, Matt and I went into central London to watch the Book Thief at the West End Odeon as it looked like a fairly interesting film to watch. I always worry a bit when a film is over two hours long as sometimes it can drag out a bit, but I don’t think it did at all, and I found it to be quite a well written, moving film 🙂

Afterwards, we went for a bit of a wander down Piccadilly and admired all the posh, expensive shops. We even had a gander in Fortnum and Mason, which neither of us have ever been to before. There was an amazing Easter egg for £200 that was cut open and intricately decorated inside. For £200, I’d never eat it! We then headed to the newly refurbished Wong Kei for dinner. I’ve only been there twice in the past before so I can’t really remember their “bad service and rude attitude”, but since I’m Chinese I always just thought that it was their way of being efficient as many of them probably can’t speak English that fluently. Anyway, the prices have gone up a bit and there was a bit of a mix up with our orders as we had ordered three dishes to share, but only one came and then it took a while for the other two to arrive. But the guy was pretty apologetic about it, so no harm done. £20 with no service charge for three dishes isn’t too bad, considering other places charge nearly double! 🙂

 

Odeon Book Thief

Wong Kei on Urbanspoon

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Little Italy (Review)

Yesterday I went to Kingston with my mum and as is tradition, we went out for lunch 🙂 Howeeeever, this time we didn’t go to Prezzo – shock horror! Since I have a Tastecard, we always tend to go there since it always serves great food and we get two for one. But this time I fancied trying somewhere new as there are so many other places in the area that allow us to use Tastecard. I wasn’t too sure what to expect at Little Italy as the reviews online were all very mixed! I booked ahead and the restaurant wasn’t very busy when we went which was near 2pm. We were greeted by a very friendly waiter who showed us to a table. We had spent a while wandering around for a couple of hours, so had built up quite an appetite! We got two starters to share: Antipasto di Verdure (platter made up of roasted peppers, aubergine, courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, served with garlic bread) for £6.95, and Bianchetti (deep fried whitebait served with homemade dill tartare sauce) for £5.45.

Our starters didn’t take very long to arrive, only about 10 minutes. The platter came with three slices of garlic bread which was great, and very filling! It was well presented and had a good selection of vegetables, although I wish there was more than just one slice of aubergine! Overall, it was all seasoned well and tasted pretty good 🙂 The whitebait was lovely too and the tartare sauce was a nice accompaniment.

Antipasto Di Verdure (platter made up of roasted peppers, aubergine, courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, with garlic bread)

Antipasto Di Verdure (platter made up of roasted peppers, aubergine, courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, with garlic bread)

Bianchetti (deep fried whitebait served with homemade dill tartare sauce)

Bianchetti (deep fried whitebait served with homemade dill tartare sauce)

Our plates took a bit longer than I would have liked to be cleared, but we didn’t have to wait that much longer before our main courses arrived. As we both couldn’t decide, we ordered Spaghetti Al Gamberoni (with smoked salmon, prawns, musssels, courgette, olive oil, white wine, cream, lemon juice), and Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare (with prawns, mussels, calamari, courgette, and spinach, in a creamy white wine sauce), both for £12.95. They both came with three slices of garlic bread, so we were well and truly breaded out! We both agreed that the Spaghetti Al Gamberoni was the tastier of the two dishes as it just had a richer flavour, and generally had more filling to it too. Not to say that the risotto wasn’t nice! It just had a slightly more subtle taste, but it was still very creamy, and not at all watery which is what a lot of risottos can turn out to be! There weren’t very many prawns, mussels, or calamari though, and the courgette and spinach was also on the sparse side. At least the calamari wasn’t chewy!

Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare (prawns, mussels, calamari, courgette, and spinach, in a creamy white wine sauce, served with garlic bread)

Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare (prawns, mussels, calamari, courgette, and spinach, in a creamy white wine sauce, served with garlic bread)

Spaghetti Al Gamberoni (smoked salmon, prawns, mussels, courgette, olive oil, white wine, cream, lemon juice, with garlic bread)

Spaghetti Al Gamberoni (smoked salmon, prawns, mussels, courgette, olive oil, white wine, cream, lemon juice, with garlic bread)

We were so full at the end of it! I normally always have room for dessert, and at only £4.25 it would have been a steal. On this occasion however, I was so stuffed full of bread that I could not eat a single thing more! The whole bill came to just over £21 (with 50% off due to the Tastecard), and included a 10% service charge which was a bit annoying as I don’t like restaurants to assume that they’ve given a service that I will want to pay for. I much prefer to judge for myself and tip an amount that I want to give. The service was friendly and fairly quick though, and the food was pretty tasty, so I’ll forgive them this time.

Little Italy on Urbanspoon

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Kentish Drovers Wetherspoons (Review)

This afternoon I did another mystery dine, this time at the Kentish Drovers in Peckham. I opted for the lasagne at £5.20 as I had a bit of a craving, and added a small portion of six onion rings at £1.19. I also had a Pepsi at £1.80, but when ordering the lasagne and drink together, I got a discount of £1.01 – win! I had a rather amusing encounter with a rather nice old guy at the bar. I hadn’t had the chance to take my gloves off yet and he commented that it was boiling outside and that I was silly for having them on still. I said that I had cold hands and he replied back with “you must have a warm heart then” haha! You do find the most random people in pubs! Anyway, getting distracted…

I found myself a comfy booth to sit in, and my food arrived within 10 minutes. Not gonna lie, the lasagne looked like a big slop on a plate as half the mince filling was pouring out the side and there was no definition in the layers. But the side salad looked rather appealing and fresh, and it came with a small pot of dressing too. The onion rings looked the most appealing I’ve ever seen them at a Wetherspoons – golden and crisp, although I’m not too sure how an onion ring barely bigger than the size of my thumb counts as one of of my six onion rings!

Looks can be deceiving after all since digging into my lasagne was actually a fairly pleasant experience and it tasted pretty good! There white sauce was nice and cheesy, and the mince had a nice, rich, tomatoey taste to it. I guess you could say that the slightly burnt edge added a bit of je ne sais quoi to it all. All in all, the meal was better than I was expecting, and the random old man at the bar topped off the visit.

Kentish Drovers Wetherspoons Lasagne and Side Salad

Kentish Drovers on Urbanspoon

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Fox on the Hill Wetherspoons (Review)

Number 37 on my List Of Things To Do Before I’m 30 is to eat in a restaurant on my own. It sounds like a bit of a weird thing, but when I was younger I always used to think that people who did that were a bit of a loner. Now, my opinion’s changed and I don’t see the problem with it. I think it takes quite a bit of courage to eat out, visit the cinema, etc on your own since there will always be judgemental people, like I used to be, thinking that you have no friends if you sit on your own.

I had the opportunity to go to my local Wetherspoons, the Fox on the Hill, to do a mystery dine, and I thought I’d do it this afternoon to take a bit of a break from work. I went on my own since my friends were all out at uni and thought it would be a good stepping stone to the world of eating alone, since I feel a pub is a slightly less intimidating place to eat on your own as people come and go, and generally do their own thing. I’d been to this pub a few times before in the past, with my mum, and my friends, and each time I’ve received mixed service and mixed food standards. I never really have that high expectations of Wetherspoons since I knew someone who worked there who said that they basically microwaved everything, but I’m not too sure how true that is. But nonetheless, it is pretty cheap and they do a pretty wide range of food!

The pub wasn’t that busy considering it was lunchtime, and I found a spot in one of their booths and made myself comfortable. Since it was Friday, I decided to go for their Fish Friday deal which cost £5.09 for fish and chips and a soft drink. I also debated over onion rings or garlic bread, and opted for the garlic bread at £2.19 since I’d never tried the Wetherspoons ones before. The guy who served me at the bar was a chirpy guy, who was a lot friendlier than any of the other people that have ever served me at that Wetherspoons! Within about 10 minutes, my food was served (which was pretty speedy, so it does make me think whether they do microwave all their food).

I wasn’t expecting too much from my fish and chips as sometimes you get a meager bit of fish covered in really greasy batter. However, this piece of fish exceeded my expectations and was pretty big! I find that the best part of fish and chips is the batter. I’d be pretty happy if all they had was batter on the menu! I tend to scoop out the fish and eat it first, before eating the batter (weird I know…) and this way I saw that there was a pretty decent amount of flaky fish inside which was good! The batter was lovely and crisp too and the menu said that the fish was “freshly battered”. I chose peas over mushy peas and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked them since a lot of the time peas can be overcooked and take that lovely shade of slime green (a bit like my old primary school lunches…). But these peas were bright green and tasty. The chips were…well chips. I got a standard amount and they filled me up quite well.

Fish and chips

I also got two slices of garlic bread which were a bit disappointing. Definitely the worst part of the meal. At first I was quite optimistic since the slices were rather large, but the bread was pretty hard in places, it was quite chewy, and I could barely taste the garlic-ness of the garlic bread, so I left most of it.

Garlic bread

I had also ordered a carrot cake for dessert and went up to the bar to collect it. This time, a lady served me, who seemed in quite a bad mood, and gave me the typical grumpy Wetherspoons service that I was expecting! It cost £1.99, or £2.49 with a large filter coffee, tea, or other small coffee. The size of the cake was pretty average and it tasted quite nice and moist. I wasn’t a big fan of the nuts on the top, but that’s just personal preference.

Carrot cake

Previous times that I’ve visited this pub, I’ve had the original gourmet 6oz beef burger that has bacon and Stilton, Shropshire blue and spring onion sauce, chips, six onion rings, and a soft drink for £5.89. I’d say that it is pretty tasty, although the standard has varied each time I’ve had it. One time, my onion rings were so burnt that they were as crunchy as crisps. They did do me another batch though, which was appreciated. I’ve also had the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with chips, onion rings, and a soft drink, also for £5.89. It sounds rather appetising, although when it did come I was a bit disappointed as the burger itself looked pretty pathetic and anorexic. It was literally bits of pork slopped inside a bun. The pork did taste quite nice though, but the lack of filling in general let it down. I’m also not a big fan of the wooden boards that they serve the gourmet burgers on. They may look all decorative and give a rustic and more upmarket feel, but it’s really hard to keep everything on it and it ends up being quite messy!

Gourmet beef burger

On the whole, Wetherspoons is pretty cheap with a good range of food, but the food standards and service do vary. It’s one of those pubs that I would return to, but wouldn’t be my first choice of places to visit if I was to eat out. As for eating in a restaurant on my own…doing it at Wetherspoons was fine as everyone tends to keep to themselves, but I can’t see myself having the courage to dine alone in a more upmarket restaurant just yet!

Fox on the Hill on Urbanspoon

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Wuli Wuli (Review)

So last night we decided to go out for a house meal and went to Wuli Wuli, which is a Sichuan style Chinese restaurant. We had originally planned to go to a Greek restaurant that we’d never been too, and never thought of booking ahead since every time we pass, it is virtually empty. Little did we know, Saturday night in Camberwell turns into a thriving community and everyone ventures out from hiding and into the surrounding restaurants and pubs! When we arrived and said that we hadn’t booked, we were given a disapproving tut and said that we’d either have to eat fast or come back in over an hour since they were full. Not wanting to rush or wait a stone age, we decided to venture on and seek out another restaurant. We headed out the restaurant in a state of disbelief and couldn’t quite comprehend where all those diners had come from!

After we’d gathered ourselves a little bit, we racked our brains to think of where we could visit. We walked along the main road with most of the restaurants and found that they were all pretty much full to the brim! We then neared the end of the road and saw that Wuli Wuli only had a few diners inside! Was this because they were really rubbish and everyone else in Camberwell knew this? Or was it that it was simply too early for the regulars to start streaming in? After a bit of hesitation, we decided to take our chances and headed in. We were greeted on arrival and asked whether we had booked. “Not again…” we all thought, but thankfully they were able to accommodate us.

The menu was reasonable and I decided to go for the fried aubergine in minced pork for £7.20, since it is a dish that I always love when I’m in Hong Kong, so I wanted to see what the Sichuan style would be like. I also shared a special fried rice for £5. The lady who came to take our order was pretty friendly and was keen to give us recommendations and asked if we wanted dumplings to start.

The food didn’t take that long to arrive and my friends had ordered chicken in black bean sauce, twice cooked pork, and Kung Pao chicken. We were all pleased with the portion sizes and the food was pretty tasty too. I felt mine was a little bit salty, and could have done with some more pork, but overall I was happy with it as there was a good amount of large aubergine. The others seemed pretty content with their meals and the Sichuan style Kung Pao chicken was spicy enough to give my friend’s “top lip a tingle”, although he seemed less happy with the abundance of peanuts in his meal!

During the course of our meal, the restaurant got steadily busier, with many takeaways going out for delivery too. Our total bill came to about £45 which was reasonable for four mains, two egg fried rice, a special fried rice, and three beers. I would return again to Wuli Wuli as it was a pretty standard Chinese, with decent service and reasonable prices. However, there is another Chinese restaurant down the road, Silk Road, which I endeavor to try one day (along with the other hundred restaurants that I still haven’t made it round to yet!). That too seems rather popular as it was full when we walked past, and two diners came into Wuli Wuli asking whether they were in Silk Road and were met with a face of thunder and a stern “no, down the road!” All in all, a lovely house night out, but we definitely learnt our lesson to book ahead, or to just visit on a weekday, if we want to avoid the problem of being turned away!

Wuli Wuli on Urbanspoon

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Caravaggio (Review)

This restaurant was the first one I visited when I first moved to South London to live with my friends for Uni. I think I chose it because I had seen good reviews for it on the internet and Italian is my favourite food anyway, so I thought why not?

Since living here, I’ve been to Caravaggio too many times to remember! The food is great, the service is friendly, and the prices reasonable! I have had so many different mains on the menu and they were all pretty good! I’ve never tried a starter or dessert from here, although they do look rather tempting!! You also always get complimentary olives which is nice, although I’m not a fan of them so leave my share for whoever I’m eating with.

I’ve had the chicken and pepper pizza a couple of times and you get massive pieces of chicken – well worth the money! The pizza is probably about 12 inches in diameter and is of the thin type. I’m not usually that big a fan of thinner pizzas, but this one was quite nice. I guess it wasn’t anything special but still a decent pizza nonetheless.

Pizza con pollo (tomato, mozzarella, chicken, mushrooms, red onions, olive oil, basil)

Pizza con pollo (tomato, mozzarella, chicken, mushrooms, red onions, olive oil, basil)

Another time I tried the calzone as I’m a big fan of Prezzo’s ones. The calzone normally has salami in it, but I’m not really a big fan, so I asked if I could have chicken instead and they kindly obliged. The calzone itself was well filled and rather tasty. But I did find that the ricotta cheese was a bit overpowering and I would have preferred more mozzarella, however that’s just personal taste!

Calzone (tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, ham, chicken, basil, olive oil)

Calzone (tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, ham, chicken, basil, olive oil)

I’ve had veal a couple of times, once with smoked salmon and mozzarella in a white wine and tomato sauce, and the other time wrapped in ham and cheese in a brandy and cranberry sauce. Both times were fairly nice, although I felt the portions were a little bit small.

Veal with cranberries

Veal with cranberries

Duck is one of my favourite foods, so I was very happy when I saw that Caravaggio did duck breast! It takes them a bit longer than their other foods to cook and from experimentation, I like their duck medium to well done – this ensures that it’s not chewy and still retains that lovely flavour. Their duck comes in a nice orange sauce with potatoes and some seasonal vegetables. The portion size is good as you get about four or five quite thick slices of duck, but I do wish that there was a bit more veg. For about £14, I think it’s reasonably priced in comparison with other restaurants that serve duck.

Anatra all arancia (breast of wild duck cooked in orange and honey sauce with seasonal vegetables)

Anatra all arancia (breast of wild duck cooked in orange and honey sauce with seasonal vegetables)

On weekdays, they do a lunch menu where you can choose any pizza or pasta and a drink for £6.50. I’ve come here several times with my mum and my friends during this time. From the pasta menu, my favourite is the seafood linguine pasta in tomato sauce. It comes abundant with different seafood such as mussels, squid, king prawns, and mini prawns and it is very tasty! All their pasta dishes are massive and definitely very filling!

Before I finish Uni, I’m sure I’ll visit this restaurant many more times since it is just one of those restaurants where you know you will get a good standard of food and great, friendly service. However, I have also found out that in January 2013 they received a Food Hygiene Rating of 0 which is really worrying and surely means that they should have had to close! But we’ve never had any issues and everything appears to be clean. Nonetheless, that fact still remains at the back of my mind now and I’ll be sure to keep a closer eye out the next time I return.

 

Caravaggio on Urbanspoon