Ha! Fooled you…sucka! I pity the fool! Quit yo gibber jabba! Sorry, I was channeling Mr.T again, it’s been a long day.
My point, badly made, was that I have cunningly tricked you into reading another of my blogs by cunningly using my wits and my cunning. I said cunning already didn’t I? Ah well.
I have discovered that on my blog site, there is a tool, which shows me all the stats for my blogs. So I can see how many views I have had on each day, which countries the viewers are in (this is very cool as it has a little map of the world and the countries that have viewed me light up) and which of my blogs got the most views. So using this tool I have worked out which of my articles has had the most views and we have a clear winner folks. “Sex, drugs and you’re fired” has had literally tens of people clambering frantically to get to a computer screen and read it. And I have a theory. My theory is that no matter what drivel I write, if I have an exciting, racy and search engine friendly title to the blog, then…well…to quote a line from an excellent Kevin Costner movie (well almost) “if I write it, they will come.” Or to be more precise, if I write sex, drugs, Lindsey Lohan, Michael Jackson seen working at Tescos High Barnet or anything vaguely Daily Mail/Sunday Sportish, they will come. Then once I have hooked the reader with my cunning head line I just crack on writing what ever I want.
There is one problem with this, namely my conscience. Those who know me well will know that when I am not referred to by my given name, I am often known as Honest Joe McHonest. So honest am I that I would not be able to sleep tonight in the knowledge that I had tricked you, dear reader, into looking at my blog. (Disclaimer: Some of the previous paragraph may be bollocks). So there is clearly only one option for me, and that is to make sure that whatever I have said in the title plays an integral and truthful (see previous disclaimer) part in the blog. So here goes.
It has been my intention to write a few restaurant reviews on this blog site. Up until now I have failed and have been writing non-specific guff. I’ve been putting it off a bit really. I eat out a lot, always have done, always will do. And generally in very nice places. So I have no shortage of restaurants to write about. Its just that I am not a writer or a reviewer so I’m not really sure how to structure a review or what to say to make it entertaining to the reader. I don’t just want it to be boring facts, ”I ate the cod…it was good”.
I’m a big fan of Giles Coren and Matthew Fort and the reviews they write for the Guardian and Times. I read their reviews regularly and so I am a tad intimidated. Mind you they are professional writers so of course they know what they are doing. Although…I can already see one thing that I am doing right. Coren’s reviews often consist of two pages of crap about him moving house or walking the dog and just a couple of lines about the restaurant. So so far so good for me.
Tahiti, as I have mentioned before, does have a couple of nice restaurants. The problem though, is that the majority of locals can’t afford to go to them, as they are incredibly expensive. Like London Michelin star restaurants are cheaper by a lot. Tahitians aren’t poor, it’s not the third world, its just super expensive to eat anywhere a bit posh. So these restaurants are kinda aimed at the tourists, which is a shame because they serve up some great food and use local ingredients. The local restaurants are great and all, with their simply cooked local dishes but I tell you, if I see another tuna sashimi or poisson cru walking down the street, it had better turn and walk the other way, cos I’ll kick its f***ing head in. And relax. Sorry.
Another devastating side effect of this huge price difference is that McDonalds is by far the busiest restaurant on the island. There are four McDonalds on Tahiti. FOUR!! On this spectacular, isolated little island. I’ve never seen such a busy MDs. Sunday lunch on Tahiti you would think that families would maybe go to the beach and have a BBQ or maybe stay at home and cook a meal or perhaps visit a nice local eatery. No, here in Tahiti, they queue down the highway in their cars to get to the drive through. The first time I saw it I thought there had been a traffic accident. The cars were backed up for a mile, waiting patiently to take the kids to get their unspecified, reclaimed, compacted and steamed cow parts a.k.a. Big Macs. Depressing. And while I’m up on that soapbox, why do kids like MDs anyway? That sinister ginger haired clown always used to scare the bejeezus out of me as a kid. Standing there with his cold, dead eyes and freakishly big feet and the bright red lipstick making him resemble a 4am Soho tranny. I blame my parents for letting me watch Steven Kings “IT” at too younger age. Pennywise the clown… you still haunt me. I blame my parents for a few things actually. They also let me watch ‘An American Werewolf In London’ when I was about 3 years old (I might have been 16) so now I find it impossible to go for a pleasant stroll through a deserted, foggy Yorkshire moor, miles from civilization, at midnight when there is a full moon and I have no means of communication. Too scary. Thanks alot Mom.
Well we managed to resist the temptations of the golden arches and instead went to a place called Coco. Tahiti is French as you probably know, and Coco is most definitely a French restaurant. An open-air restaurant set in the gardens of (I think) a boutique hotel. Perched on a small ledge just above the black volcanic sands of the beach, looking out over the lagoon to the island of Moorea in the distance. All very pretty.
We were invited to come through the restaurant and have an aperitif on the lawn while we perused the menu. I never know what to order when they ask me would I like an aperitif. I’m not a gin tonic kinda guy or a bellini kinda girl so normally opt for a beer which is a bit crass I know but hey, that’s how I roll. Besides, one thing that I have learned during my time on the Island is that the cocktails here, and I mean all the cocktails in all the bars, are, for want of a better word, shite. So beer for me please and one bellini for my dining companion Lindsay (see what I did there?). My beer, a locally brewed Hinano was frothy, cold and in a glass, all that I require from a beer. Lindsay’s cocktail was shite. So drinks drunk, we moved to our table. One thing that really annoys me sometimes in a restaurant is when they try and squeeze in too many tables. More tables means more customers means more money right? Well yeah, but I’m not coming back to your restaurant if I have to spend my entire meal jammed up against my table and spilling my wine every time the dude behind me wants to get up from his seat. If I want that experience I’ll go fly economy. Thankfully, this was not the case in Coco. They had really spaced out the tables. Loads of room for everyone. In fact, so much room that I thought they could ad a couple more tables without harming the ambiance one bit. Nice table settings as well, white linen and fresh flowers. Right up Lindsey’s Strasse.
The a la carte menu was priced by number of courses rather than individual dishes, which I always like. So all the starters were the same price, all the mains etc. Great for a filet and truffles guy like me but not so good for a carrot and cabbage girl like Lindsay.
There was also a tasting menu on offer and a wine pairing. Now those who know me will testify that if you go to a restaurant with me and they have a tasting menu on offer then you had better be ready for a fistfight in the street if you don’t choose the tasting menu. I’m exaggerating of course (I’m really not, I will fight you if we don’t have the tasting menu). I don’t mind if you don’t have the wine pairing but why would you not? The restaurant has gone to the trouble of matching six delicious wines with the six delicious courses, why not give it a try. Suddenly it’s no longer a meal but a voyage of discovery. And in my experience, they love it when you order the tasting menu and the wine. The staff worship you. Cos that’s what they love to do, it’s the chefs favorite stuff to cook, where he gets to show off and experiment, maybe throwing in a course that’s a little bit challenging or playful, and the sommelier will be the same. He gets to talk bollocks about his favorite wines all evening. Restaurant staff always love serving customers who are open minded and willing to just let the chef and sommelier take over. And you will get value for money as well. It might be the most expensive thing on the menu but you’ll get better service and I have always found that if you are seen to be appreciating the food and wine then the sommelier will always keep your glass topped up.
We kicked off with a little amuse bouche of foie gras cream with foie gras foam. Served in a tiny glass this was very tasty, very, nom nom nom, as my sister would say. Almost like a custard the foie gras was just solid enough to get on the tea spoon and into ones gob where it instantly liquidized. The duck would have wanted it that way. The foam didn’t taste of much, as is often the case with foams, there for effect rather than substance.
Next we were offered the bread and butter. “Cripes, he does go on doesn’t he, do we really need to hear about the bleedin’ bread and butter?”. Yes! Yes you do dear reader, for this was not just any bread and butter, this was awesome bread and butter. Well the bread was fine, a choice of white sour dough type stuff, grainy brown type stuff and some horrible sweet stuff with sultanas in it, but the butter was super cool. It was served on a small square slate, with a tiny volcanic stone next to it (“don’t eat the tiny volcanic stone” we were warned) and it was formed into a Tiki head. Standing upright and proud on the slate. Very ‘wow factor’. Think Easter Island but made of butter and much much smaller and served with bread. Cool butter I thought. But then as I looked in awe at this proud butter standing there looking at me I remembered where I was and what that meant. Tahiti…which means France…which means horrible disgusting unsalted butter. Yes, my worst fears were realized as I sliced off a nose and tried it having smeared it on some bread. I hate unsalted butter but for some reason the French (culinary geniuses as they are) seem to love it and that’s all they serve. Annoying! So I had to ask for some salt. Actually that reminds me of another thing that gets on my wick. Restaurants that don’t put salt and pepper on the table, what’s that all about? Yes I know that your chef thinks that everything he cooks is perfectly seasoned and that anyone who tampers with his perceived perfection should be thrown onto the street never to darken his door again but hey, everyone’s palate is different right? So give us the frikin salt!
I fear I may have been rambling a little so I will rattle through the next courses at a fair clip. A quenelle of goat’s cheese mousse served on a crouton with some Serrano ham and a vegetable puree came next. Very nice except the crouton had gone soggy as it was sitting in a puddle of babyfoodesque puree. Over all a success. Next up was some more foie gras (Yay!), this time a terrine cut into a square with a tangy jellified layer on top, a small turret of toasted brioche and an amazing reduction which I wrongly assumed from just looking at it was balsamic reduction but infact turned out to be a super delicious sweet wine reduction. I forget which wine but it was damn tasty. Fish up next and a perfectly cooked fillet of Bar (yellow bass), served with some local clams, some cauliflower puree and a very tasty foam. So forget what I said earlier about foams. More fish up next and possibly the tastiest thing I have put in my mouth in recent memory. Three small fillets of Ature (a local fish found on the reefs) that had been lightly smoked and served atop perfect barrel shaped (very French with the eight sided tourneed veg) steamed ratte potatoes. It said on the menu that it was served with a sauce vierge but this was undetectable. A good thing I think as the fish spoke for itself and I could have eaten plate after plate of it. There was also a crostini sandwich with red onion, that had very clearly been cooked in vinegar, on the side of the plate. Again, unnecessary. Just give us the fish! The whole dish was presented very theatrically, very “Heston”, as some of us in the trade like to say. It arrived on the table covered by a clear glass cloche, which was filled with smoke. The cloche was removed with great pomp by our waiter and the smoke drifted away to reveal the fish. I immediately said to Lindsay that I figured there must be a guy in the kitchen whose only job it is, is to stand by the doors with a packet of Marlboro Reds and a Zippo ready to spark up and add that magic to the dish as it left the kitchen.
You know what? I can’t even remember what the meat dish was. Maybe beef or duck or chicken…definitely meat. I guess that it was fine, as I would remember if it was great but I think that I would remember if it was pants also. So I reckon it was probably average, fine, the Aston Villa of the meal with the Bar being the Chelsea and the butter the Accrington Stanley. That is not an idle football analogy either, a lot of thought went into that. I won’t bore you with a detailed explanation of how the Chelsea dish was exceptional and against all odds defeated the Barcelona dish in the Champions league semi final but that the red onion confit on the side, (or the John Terry), should have been dropped from the squad or certainly lost the captaincy. Shall I continue? I could explain the off side rule using the salt and pepper as the defenders and a glass of merlot as the attacker. We could remold the shit butter into a football shape or sphere as they say in science. Hello…hello……no, no, come back, come back please. I’ll stop spouting gibberish I promise. Come on, just a little longer, its pudding next.
Now they pride themselves on their desserts at this place. Thierry the co-owner is married to the pastry chef who is exceptionally talented. She usually (I’ve been to this place a few times now) comes out to the table to present her masterpieces and explain to us what she has prepared. Unfortunately she does this in French as her English is not the best so I can usually be seen nodding and smiling with a very blank expression on my face as she chats away about the ganache. Very much like a Labrador who is being shown a magic trick by its owner.
The theatrics continued with our desserts. Lindsay had what was described on the menu as ‘Chocolate exploding volcanoness’ (you’ve got to love an English translated menu) which consisted of a perfect sphere or football of chocolate. When a hot chocolate sauce was poured over it by the waiter, it melted to reveal fresh raspberries and sorbet inside and also we could hear popping candy popping away. Very clever presentation but after all is said and done, you end up with a bowl of chocolate sauce and some raspberries. But, what’s not to like. I chose the pain perdu which was a bit like sticky toffee pudding and came with some vanilla icecream and a fancy tuile. All very tasty and nom nom nomy.
The wine was great. Wet, red, white, sweet and dry and came in several glasses. The sommelier took great pleasure in explaining each wine in great detail and in English too but as he had such a thick French accent, again it was blank expressions all round.
The bill like I said was stratospheric at around $500 US for the two of us. But you can’t put a price on happiness can you.
So that’s that then, my first restaurant review. Hope you liked it, please leave a comment and sorry to have dragged on a bit but that is where Giles and Matthew benefit from editors. Also spelling and grammar, apologies to my English teacher.
Have I forgotten something? Ah yes, as the bill was being paid. “Please can we go home now and have some sex and some drugs” said Lindsey Lohan. “You’ve got more chance of finding a potato on the moon luv” I replied. (See previous disclaimer).
A chef abroad x