Bar Review: White Stone, Cagliari

White Stone – In The Holiday Spirit

White Stone Bar sat on the busy Piazza Yenna –  Cagliari Marina District’s focal point. It provided perfect people-watching potential, made all the more attractive by very reasonable prices. Be warned: everywhere in Cagliari, music is hideously inconsistent, fluctuating between naff and painful. Think MTV dance hits, intertwined with a Phil Collins medley nobody wanted. Fortunately, there was ample seating outside, mostly free of irritation.

Given White Stone Bars low cost relative to the UK, it would be unkind to be too critical. I visited three times in three days – they did something right. That said, there was plenty of room for improvement. ‘Bourbon Sour’ was made with Irish blended whisky. Everything arrived with a completely unnecessary cherry. The margaritas were undrinkable. They weren’t blends

‘Bourbon Sours’ were made with Irish blended whisky. Everything arrived with a completely unnecessary cherry. The margaritas were undrinkable. They weren’t blends of tequila, lime and triple sec – just tequila with lime wafted over the glass for ceremonial purposes. Crucially, White Stone Bar’s consistency of drinks between servers was laughable. Even the same drink, made by the same person, in the same evening, differed considerably.

However, the size of the pour was gigantic. The Weights & Measures Act of 1985 evidently hadn’t reach Cagliari. The Negroni was intimidating, taking me all afternoon to tackle. I appreciate Italian’s love bitter flavours, but I’d consumed 500ml of Campari after three cocktails. I like an occasional bitter drink, but not to be pummelled mercilessly by them. I hoped Stockholm Syndrome would kick in, so I could perversely come to welcome my aperitif abuse, but sadly it never did.

Thankfully, White Stone Bar wasn’t just quantity over quality. Despite its tacky name, the ‘Between The Sheets’ cocktail was an ironically classy drink. By some miracle, it dodged the ever zealous Campari, although couldn’t survive the obligatory cherry. The sophisticated combination of cognac, rum, triple sec and lemon juice was rather wonderful. An excellent Mojito benefited from mint and lime swollen by the sun’s loving rays. A pleasing frothy, beautifully balanced Pina Colada was perfect on a late summer afternoon. White Stone Bar’s free aperitivos were in plentiful supply, and their budget buffet offered vegetable lasagne and vibrant salads, that were embarrassingly delicious for their low cost.

White Stone Bar pertained to being a proper cocktail bar but lacked the attention to detail required to be one. However, White Stone Bar genuinely friendly staff shouldn’t be unacknowledged, who were happy to chat in broken English, despite my shameful inability to meet them halfway.

White Stone Bar Review Summary

Atmosphere 8  Cost 10  Quality 4  Service 9

White Stone Bar Cagliari Review
The Holiday Spirit

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Cagliari

Restaurant Review: Tang KTV, Preston

Tang Restaurant- Never Left Wanton More

I want to like Chinese food, I really do. However, I can’t be cheaply seduced by salt, sugar and bright colours forever. Mercifully, Tang Preston fought against stereotypically luminous Chinese cuisine, with authentic dishes that thankfully did without fortune cookies.

Tang Preston’s vivacious manager Rob brought the restaurant to life: his omnipresence ensured diners were kept happy and his polite team organised. Rob happily elaborated on what was a potentially intimidating menu, covering Dim Sum, Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines. Perhaps the Chicken Feet or Fish Heads won’t tempt, but take his advice and break free from self-imposed Sweet N Sour Chicken prison. Tang Preston had a broader ingredient list than any local Chinese restaurant – don’t waste the opportunity for exploration

Regarding atmosphere, Tang Preston had a sparse philosophy to interior design. The PowerPoint menu presentation seemed unnecessary. Call me old fashioned, but I can do without rotating images of stomach and intestines – a humble Specials Board would suffice. More importantly, Tang Preston was spotlessly clean and populated by the local Chinese contingent, suggesting an authentic kitchen.

The Hot & Sour Soup was rich and thick, a little gloopy, but I found that strangely comforting. Is dipping prawn crackers into soup poor etiquette? Regardless, I was a Pavlovian dog to the sound of them sensually sizzling. It was packed with vinegary, peppery flavours that did me good. However, the vegetables were flaccid, not crunchy; thus, the dish lacked texture.

The Deep Fried Aubergines with their fluffy centres and crispy skins were so moreish they should be criminalised. The salty, chilli crumby bits were fiercely fought over and the best thing in the restaurant. They made a great alternative to chips, although weren’t any healthier.

The oddly named Char Siu Honey Roast were porky clouds, without an equivalent in British cuisine. They had a spongecake-like texture, punctuated by bits of bacon. The aubergines I could’ve eaten until my heart stopped or the restaurant closed. However, the Char Siu were deceptively filling, and prohibitively sweet to stop me from wanting more than a couple.

As with everything at Tang Preston, the Duck Chow Mein was very generously proportioned. I would have liked to have traded a bit more duck for loads fewer noodles, as there was a daunting amount. The duck itself was well cooked, while the Chow Mein had a good selection of lightly cooked vegetables Peking peeking out. Like a Thai Massage, I found the dish oily, but certainly enjoyable. It provided 3,000% of my RDA of MSG, but hey, it was the weekend. A Chicken Curry dish didn’t fare quite so well, offering more salt than chicken.

If anyone eats: Soup, Dim Sum, the main course and then asks for the dessert menu, lock them up as a menace to society. Tang Preston can’t sell more than two hundred desserts a year – there just aren’t enough morbidly obese people in waddling distance. Tang Preston is a small, industrious restaurant, providing warm welcomes, generous portions, an interesting menu in a casual atmosphere – try it out.

Tang Restaurant
Review Summary

Atmosphere 5    Cost 9    Quality 7    Service 8

Tang Preston Restaurant Review
Hot & Sour Soup – tastes better than it looks
Tang Preston Restaurant Review
Char Siu Honey Roast
Tang Preston Restaurant Review
Deep Fried Chilli Aubergines
Tang Preston Restaurant Review
An XXL Chow Mein

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Restaurant Review: Peachy Keens, Manchester

Keenly Priced But Far From Peachy

First impressions of the bizarrely named Peachy Keens Manchester were positive: bright, clean, but juvenile. With over thirty starters, the variety on offer was quite astounding; yet, restaurants trying to be everything become nothing – Peachy Keens Manchester was no exception. I self-righteously tittered at the giant ‘ORIENTAL’ neon sign looming over the school canteenesque dining room, and queried the authenticity of ‘Fish Fingers’ listed under ‘Italian Starters’. This cacophony of branding strangled any potential atmosphere although may appeal to a younger demographic.

Peachy Keens Manchester’s food was disappointing; although, given the exceptionally frugal price, expectations should have been no higher than ‘edible’. The assortment of sushi all tasted the same e.g. of nothing. The Salad Bar was OK but punctuated by tasteless olives and unpleasant cheese. Peachy Keens Manchester’s hot wings were predictably far from hot, rendering themselves redundant. The “Grill Section” masqueraded as a legitimate piece of kitchen equipment – it warmed grey lumps up – rather than cooking steaks to order. My steak was impossible to cut, let alone digest by a human. The Lamb Rogan Josh was ungodly,  smelling like Satan’s left over takeaway; after I was too terrified to return for hot food.

Peachy Keens Manchester’ desserts were either sickly or luminous – the pastry chef made Ronald McDonald look like Michel Roux. Things resembling Aftershock were avoided and ice creams were a psychedelic dripping mess; although, neatly formed miniature cheesecakes were surprisingly edible and in endless supply.

I was amicably greeted, seated and warmly bid farewell to; but, the Peachy Keens Manchester staff were impressively morose. However, the team were organised, with plates quickly materialising and disappearing when required.

Peachy Keens Manchester offered all-you-can-eat food for the price of a nearby swanky cocktail: nobody can ask for better value. Furthermore, Peachy Keens Manchester provided the ultimate in variety and convenience, perfect for young families or groups with differing dietary requirements. Unfortunately, the food ranged from acceptable to offensive.

Peachy Keens Manchester
Review Summary

Atmosphere 3  Cost 10  Quality 2  Service 4

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Manchester