No Buts

Early March mulching the strawberry bed;
having to remove their leaves from last year.
Where was the frost, the snow, to drop them dead?

Climate change is the prevailing big fear,
global warming from human pollution.
But can humans alter the atmosphere?

White flakes on asphalt lit by street neon,
but why are they only in just one spot?
Walking to them reveals the solution.

Cigarette butts! Thrown by a crass tosspot
from a parked car, no doubt with engine on.
The butterfly flap of an idiot.

Mindless and self-serving is our one song.
We’ve been the fag-end species all along.

Dumped cigarette butts
Dumped cigarette butts

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

Poor Pasta in Cafè Plaça

Do not choose pasta at Cafè Plaça
because all on the menu taste the same.
Hoping for flavour is a big faux pas.

We chose fungi and queso, each by name,
to be served shapes, both with a thin white sauce
of indiscernible flavour, and lame.

Pasta sauces as different as Béchamel and BéchamelThe yellow sunshades induced a bright mood
along with the rosado – but not the food.

Welcoming yellow parasols(Cafè Plaça, Plaça de Sta Eulalia, Palma, Mallorca)

Sunken Standards in Marina

Shall I compare you to some other day
when you were more lovely, considerate?
This time you wiped our table without spray,
so glass and surface formed a bonded state.
You left a trail of drops pouring our wine.
We sought the napkin to clean up your mess.
Of thrice asked tap water there was no sign.
We sought a willing naiad procuress.
Twice we told staff of no toilet paper.
We sought the boss but still none came from store.
We sought a spoon to share our quinoa.
We sought the chilly draught and closed one door.
++So long have we dined here pleasurably.
++“So long,” if this is your normality.

Tasty Leggera pizza and Superfood salad

(Pizza Express, Brighton Marina)

Xanadu in SE11

In Newport Street did Damien Hirst
A stylish artworks home decree.
Where Rán, the city railway, ran
On viaduct of countless span,
Past this new gallery.

Newport St viaduct So, once a painting studio,
Is now six rooms of artistry:
One bevelled, all capacious, bright,
A row of lockers, loos, and light.
This joyful gallery.

Corridor of white lockers, toiletsEach sanctum gives encouragement
To view works open-mindedly.
Without distraction for one’s eye,
In space, and no wall plaques nearby.
This airy gallery.

Jeff Koons' Jim Beam train crossing a white prairieIn Newport Street one finds coerced,
Place with Work in harmony.
The rooms and pieces fuse as art.
The viewer’s mind is also part.
A musing gallery.

Reflections of room, artworks, viewer in Koons' Titi(Newport Street Gallery, London SE11 6AJ)