In the Heel of Italy

It was the last Friday before Christmas
and the lengthy lunch break was near ended,
when two travellers sought shelter and food.
But the Apulia boss shook his head,
“There is no room. We have nowhere for two.”
They were standing by an empty table.
“This one,” they said. “A group of three might come.”
+++The two sat down. Served with friendly banter
+++they watched diners depart and none enter.

The warm efficiency of the servers
could not elevate the dishes and drink
to the expectations from the prices.
The eighteen pound house wine was diddly-squat.
The six tiny bread rings, came with the wine,
but with only one down the mains were served.
+++The pasta pile in mud was a dismay
+++while the vegan pizza was just okay.

A sure sign of greed in a management
is when Service Charge is stuck on the bill.
Twelve and a half percent in this instance.
The Catholic church demanded only ten
and was offering eternal salvation
(T&C apply). All very feudal.
+++So, it was coins to the serfs who’d been nice
+++though Apulia’s bland fare has a grand price.

(Apulia, Long Lane, London EC1A)

Apulia’s tagliatelle antara plus a bread ring

Sting in Barracuda’s Tail

Yes, we accept the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda with a smile.
We sat. Waited. Waited some while.

Whitebait, cod, skate, all were tasty.
Watched, not served, by Barracuda,
the lax, basking … et cetera.

No, we don’t take the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda through her teeth.
We remonstrated with the thief.

A quarter off only the food,
half what the discount should have been.
Yet full S/C to strip you clean.

(Barracuda restaurant, Brighton Marina)

Poor Plumbing at Pricey Pub

To start water flowing out of the basin tap
hands need to be close to the sensor at the back.
To wash one’s hands they have to be in the water,
which stops when the hands move away from the sensor.
The sensor has a very short detection range
and an on-off reaction time that’s blinking fast.
While one hand is used to keep the water flowing,
the other can only be wetted in the stream.
And this country pub is too pseud to have a plug.
A solution can be found with toilet tissue,
draped over the tap’s arm in front of the sensor,
to be removed after both hands are soaped and rinsed.
+++At three-fifty for a tiny cup of coffee
+++they could afford a plumber for a remedy.

(Black Horse, Fulmer)


We find a free table.
Wait. Bide. No waiter comes.
We find menus ourselves.
Peruse. No Waiter comes.
I go to the toilet,
Flick at the hands-free tap.
Flap at this blind Cyclops.
Waggle. No water comes.
We signal we’re ready.
Wait. Bide. No waiter comes.
Sunday night at Prezzo:
We come. We wait. We go.
++Unresponsive sensor.
++Unresponsive servers.

(Prezzo, Brighton Marina)

Akash, Don’t Ah-Ask

Four guys went to the Akash in Burnham,
but before the final two were seated,
the group was told “You want eight papadum”.
This sharp injunction was thrice repeated.
The four guys had not opened their menus
when they were told “You want four Cobra beer”.
Asking for one tap water, just three booze,
caused a look of derision with a sneer.
They ordered four, but eight papadums came,
with chutney so thin it spilled when rotated.
The flavour of the mains was just as lame,
biryani rice met meat – when plated.
++“You want four guys” to return to Akash?
++Then exhibit good taste and be less brash.

Chutney arc on tablecloth, Akash, Burnham
Chutney arc on tablecloth, Akash, Burnham

(Akash restaurant, Burnham, Bucks)

Eats, Shouts & Leaves

(Bella Italia, Brighton Marina)

The room has a smart black ceiling.
The lampshades are quite appealing.
The soft seats don’t leave one’s bum sore.
But to converse one has to ROAR.

The acoustics of this restaurant, the over loud and ill-suited foreground music, the clatter and chatter, make normal conversation impossible. Everyone has to talk fortissimo and add to the raucous ear assault. This was experienced late afternoon on a Sunday with fewer than half the tables occupied.

The cacophony had a benefit. One could ignore the recurring solicitations of staff as to one’s digestive welfare. Alas, the enthusiasm masked inefficiency for the place had claimed no knowledge of our telephone booking made an hour earlier.

Billed as a “Selection of breads” the Pane Bella was indeed a selection – of shapes. Just two varieties of dough in the basket, the greater number of white having the much lesser flavour. The dip and lush bodied house Solandia Rosso helped the breadsticks not stick.

Bella Italia Pane Bella with dipBest dish was the Pollo Funghi –
crisp sautés, chicken that was juicy.
The pizza Roma base was thin –
but its topping was just green skin.

The sauté potatoes, aka roast potatoes on the menu, weren’t crisp for long. This meat-and-two-veg (chicken, potato, mushroom) was served as a stack in a bucket bowl rather than laid out on a palette plate. On a plate the textures and flavours could have been blended as desired by the diner. Instead, catering’s craze for bowls turns dining into digging and, in this case, steadily softening sautés. However, the dish was delicious – the food not the bowl.

Pizza Roma Primavera? No, it was Pizza Autunno with five fallen leaves. These courgette shavings – thinner than an aphid’s panty liner – were dotted with all the peas that could balance on a stiletto blade and with a pinch of spring onion microbeads. Parmesan came at the second request, drifting onto the pizza as dust from three swipes of cheese along a thimble grater. The pizza was dissatisfying and left one unsatisfied.

The staff were courteous and friendly, perhaps over keen in this new venue. The food was of variable quality. The drinkable smokey wine inured the two of us from dining in an eating house rather than in a restaurant.

Bella Italia Pollo Funghi, pizza Roma Primavera