Pinchito and a week of west London restaurants

Saturday, March 20th , 2010

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Pinchito is a tapas bar in a rather run-down location in Old Street.  The premises are rather shabby in places e.g. upholstery that is distinctly past its best, but the tapas, such as a classic tortilla (pictured), was pleasant enough.  This is not somewhere to make a journey to, but if you are in the area you could do worse.

Le Vacherin Malcolm John served some pleasant dishes on a lunch visit this week. Its cooking has a strongly French feel, and both a chicken liver parfait and a poussin were pleasant.  A tarte tatin was very good, with nice pastry and apples that were just caramelised to golden but were not cooked too long; maybe dipping the apples in lemon would have added just a little acidity to improve the dish even further, as the overall effect was a little sweet. 

The Princess Victoria appears to be prospering, and continues to offer respectable pub food combined with a genuinely top class wine list.  It is not only the range of wines here; in some cases the price is only a little above retail, as with the Coche-Dury that we drank. 

It took me some time to revisit Shilpa, as last time the food was generally OK but the service was Fawlty Towers bad.  This time the service was not only much better, but actually very good, with one very switched on young waiter in particular. Sea bass in a banana leaf was a good dish, as was a spinach dhal, and paratha was also good.  Prices are also very reasonable.

I had another good meal at Kitchen W8 this week.  The eel with mackerel starter remains my favourite dish there, but a special of line-caught sea bass with new season vegetables, morel and spatzle was enjoyable, though the morels had surprisingly little taste.  One thing worth bearing in mind is that you can bring your own wine for £15 corkage per bottle, which actually works out quite well if you are planning on drinking anything of quality.

The final Michelin guide of 2010 came out this week.  The “Main Cities of Europe” guide reprises entries from other country guides, but also picks up various countries not covered elsewhere, including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.  Hungary gets a starred restaurant for the first time (called Costes), and in Sweden Frantzen/Lindberg is promoted to two stars, though previous two-star restaurant Edsbacka Krog disappeared this year, as did Bagatelle in Norway.  There were no other changes at the two star level, with a single two star restaurant in Ireland (Patrick Guilbaud), Finland (Chez Dominique), Denmark (Noma), Austria (Steirrereck) and Greece (Spondi). The Czech Republic has a single starred restaurant, Allegro, while Denmark, Finland and Austria each gained a new one star establishment