Best Drink

Great bar staff can endlessly discuss cocktails, and interested customers are a blessed relief to them. Servers love nothing more than receptive customers – customers love nothing more than engaging servers. Dialogue makes everyone happy. Unless bar staff hear the dreaded: “What’s your best drink?”. It is deceptively infuriating, surprisingly common and universally loathed. This seemingly innocent question makes hospitality staff immediately regret every life decision leading to that moment.

Here’s why:

I.What is meant by best? Best for what exactly? Best for getting you drunk? Best for refreshment? Best to pair with Beef Bourguignon? Best to warm your cockles? Best to drown your sorrows? It is an impossibly vague question, yet demands a definitive answer.

Conclusion: One wouldn’t ring up a local radio show and request their best song.

II. Although the question is impossible to define, it is usually interpreted as: “What is your (the server’s) favourite drink?” Thus implying: “What am I likely to like?” It is completely irrelevant what the bar staff like, they’re not drinking it.

Conclusion: One wouldn’t go into McDonald’s asking: “Hi, I’ll eat whatever burger you like best!”

III. Another potential interpretation is: “What is the best quality drink?” or “I want your ultimate drink?” This is almost guaranteed not to be required. If the bar staff return with a Magnum of 1990 Krug and a £750 bill most customers would collapse.

Conclusion: One wouldn’t walk into an estate agent as a first-time buyer and ask: “I want your best property!”

IV. If bar staff handle this request professionally, clarifying the enquiry with: “I’ll tailor something to your tastes, what flavours do you like?”. It invariably elicits the soul-draining: “I like something fruity!”. The realisation that Um Bungo in a Martini glass would surpass anything is profoundly depressing to a mixologist. Undeterred, the tenacious server may endeavour with: “What is your favourite spirit?” This generally provokes the ever helpful: “I like vodka!”, the same as saying: “I like nothing!”

Conclusion: One wouldn’t stride into a Chinese restaurant proudly proclaiming: “I want the most flavourful, exciting dish possible…using mainly Tofu!”.

These respectable questions may navigate the potentially murky waters of libation decisions:

I. Ask for a recommendation built around the primary tastes of sweetness, sourness, bitterness or saltiness.

II. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular spirit, but not vodka as it’s tasteless except for impurities or negligible nuances depending on the cost. Regardless, these subtitles will be lost in conjunction with most mixers.

III. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular flavour(s).

IV. Ask for a recommendation built to pair with a foodstuff.

V. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular texture or length, such as something: sparkling, creamy, long or short.

VI. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular price point, but demanding the cheapest or most expensive of anything is cringeworthy.

What is the best drink?

Not the ‘best drink’

Money

Do not, under any circumstances, frantically fidget at a busy bar waving money around. Please, you will look stupid. Not just stupid, but the worst kind of person. The worst kind of stupid person. Your server is there to prepare drinks and facilitate good times, not to provide lap dances (unless they genuinely are there to offer lap dances, in which case I retract my earlier statement).

Believe it or not, servers will give you the benefit of the doubt that you own money. Maybe not to warrant a mortgage, but at least enough for a round of drinks. You do not need to display it as evidence. They are not thinking: “I would serve him next, but I am not convinced he will be able to pay”.

Nobody needs to flash notes in the mistaken belief they are somehow discreet. Your presence alone alerts servers to your drinking requirements. A bar is not an auction house, and servers are not auctioneers. They are not surveying a sea of blank faces, looking out for a suavely raised card.

If this money waving sounds familiar, next time open your eyes to the swathes of people who were at the bar before you dragged your knuckles to the front of it. You were more than likely waiting because others had been waiting longer. You didn’t miraculously turn invisible; nobody had a vendetta against you, and the server’s had good eyesight.

The infuriation this caused was illustrated by a manager of a high-end cocktail bar in Leeds, who suffered from a customer waving £20 notes around. He responded by calmly taking it from his gesticulating palm, dropped it in a blender, and coolly served £20 worth of confetti in a Collins glass. I sincerely wish he asked him if wanted ice.

Admittedly there is nothing more infuriating than being ignored by servers. Especially over louder, bolshier customers who are all elbows, mouth or silicone implants. In Concert Square this is likely to be all three. I suggest bars directly serve the quietest most polite person next. If only libraries served alcohol, I’d have somewhere to go mid-week.

Bar Etiquette Money

Queueing is never fun

Restaurant Review: Ristorante Luigi Pomata, Cagliari

Ristorante Luigi Pomata – Poor Attempt At Fine Dining

Foodies visiting Cagliari (or Sardinia) for the first time, will, as I, fall in love with the food. It is simple, fresh and delicious. It is food that has been sun-kissed, honest, and direct from the land and her people – precisely the kind of food lacking from British mid-week dinner tables. It speaks volumes of the Sardinian culture and should be celebrated; however, presentation is rarely considered, menus are incredibly insular in technique and ingredient, and restaurants rarely expect guests in anything smarter than T-shirts. Ristorante Luigi Pomata on paper provided a refreshing, modern alternative.

Unfortunately, Ristorante Luigi Pomata was the worst kind of restaurant: it thought it was sophisticated, but wasn’t. The only thing worse than a snob is an inept snob. I can only assume Luigi saw Michelin star restaurants on TV and tried to emulate them without leaving the house.

Luigi Pomata’s staff for all their running around and snooty faces were entirely unintuitive and inefficient – as though Italy’s declined industry was paralleled in the dining room. The atmosphere, unless eating shortly before sunrise, is non-existent. I find our continental cousins evening dining habits strangely sophisticated, so arrived when it was suitably dark outside. Still, it was quieter than lunch in Islamabad cafes during Ramadan. I’m English; admittedly, but wasn’t staggering in, chanting “Vindaloo, Vindaloo!” I had the decency to turn up before midnight, yet received less rapport than on my driving test.

In Italy, the idea of pushing the boundaries of flavour is daringly swapping oregano for rosemary on focaccia. At least Ristorante Luigi Pomata was serving unique dishes for a 100-mile radius. That said, never eating octopus and chickpeas together won’t keep me up at night. The food, although thoughtfully presented, was largely style over substance; however, the quality of ingredients was self-evident across all dishes.

Ristorante Luigi Pomata thought it should only sell food, not ambience. At least their extra dry Prosecco is as good as a champagne three times its price in England.

Ristorante Luigi Pomata Review Summary

Atmosphere 2/10    Cost 3/10    Quality 6/10    Service 2/10

Ristorante Luigi Pomata Restaurant Review

Swordfish & Mozzarella

Ristorante Luigi Pomata Cagliari Restaurant Review

Octopus & Chickpeas

Ristorante Luigi Pomata Cagliari Restaurant Review

Tuna & Vegetables

Find Ristorante Luigi Pomata (Cagliari)

Restaurant Review: Kashti, Preston

Kashti Restaurant – Curry Not In A Hurry

I have previously dined in Broadgate’s Kashti on previous occasions and been impressed with the food relative to its reasonable price point. Although I fell off my chair in hysterics as one TripAdvisor reporter advised Kashti provided the: “Best Curry In England”. I can categorically advise this is bollocks.

Like most Indian restaurants, Kashti suffered from the delusion that the more complicated the menu, the better it is. Twenty-eight starters, ‘Traditional Favourites’, ‘Classic Favourites’, an ‘Early Bird Menu’ available practically 24/7, combined with ‘Set Meal’ options and ‘Half Price Food’ all await the bamboozled bargain baji hunter.

The big issue was that despite booking, the kitchen seemed stunned this would entail producing anything. It took forty-five minutes not for the meal to arrive, but just for someone to take the food order. If I’d have known, I’d have brought a packed lunch. Two and a half hours later after arrival, the main courses were served, then unceremoniously wolfed down in five minutes by the ravaged crowd. Not only did the kitchen smash the previous world record for the World’s Slowest Curry, but it all frustratingly arrived in drips and drabs.

Firstly the plates, five minutes later the bread, five minutes after that the rice – as though this carefully staggered arrangement was the preferred way to eat curry. This sea of empty of plates, without any explanation for the lack of anything edible, was the culinary adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The first couple of dishes arrived, diners waiting politely for ten minutes for the rest to follow, gave in to hunger and ate awkwardly in defeat. Some had finished, smoked a cigarette and still had twenty minutes before other’s food materialised. I could have driven from Preston to Manchester, popped in at Tesco, prepared a Chicken Madras from scratch and served it quicker.

Not only that but the restaurant ran out of draught lager; I don’t need alcohol to have fun, but how can a supposed city centre Indian restaurant run out of all drought on a Saturday night? It’s not as though there was a tempting wine list instead. The starving hoard’s spirits were only kept alive by the broken promise of beer. When this turned out to be a mirage, morale sunk to rock bottom.

What made this painful situation explode off the Richter scale of embarrassment was the Kashti manager’s insistence on photographing everybody. There’s a reason you don’t see overstretched doctors taking selfies of bleeding patients waiting in A&E. Why he wanted to document his diners with plates devoid of curry was beyond me.

Regarding the food, the poppadum and sundries were of low quality but almost free, thus difficult to criticise. The starter of the Shami Kebab was light and tasty, with no great depth of flavour but well cooked nevertheless. The Chicken Vindaloo consisted of literally six pieces of chicken, drowned in a bowl of exceptionally thin sauce. The dish had flavour but was not as fiery as its proceeding reputation, and ultimately it was hard to get excited over six pieces of chicken. The Vegetable Rice provided a welcome upgrade from boring basmati, while the Chilli Naan was thankfully grease-free. The Chicken Gurkali was tender and bathed in an exotic mix of whole spices. This Nepalese dish was ideal for those who like heat without melting their minds. The Handi Chicken was handily cooked in its saucepan and provided a flavoursome but more sedate option.

For the sake of your sanity, avoid Kashti Indian Restaurant for group bookings.

Kashti Review Summary

Atmosphere 1/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 4/10    Service 1/10

*Since this review was first published, Kashti in Preston is unfortunately no longer with us – hence the lack of link*

Bar Review: Revolution, Preston

Preston Revolution – In Need Of Revolution

I am a fan of the Vodka Revolution chain, in theory. However, everything that could go wrong does go wrong in Preston. Revolution’s recent refurbishment and prominent promotional literature suggested ambitions of a proper cocktail bar – nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s how to improve:

  • Revolution Preston staff need basic cocktail knowledge. Not pretentious levels of flamboyance, but not knowing a Vodka Martini was embarrassing for someone called Vodka Revolution. Requesting a Caipirinha resulted in nothing but a blank expression. I was served an Old Fashioned so extraordinary unlike one, I’m too embarrassed to elaborate: not ideal when Revolution sells cocktail training to the public.
  • Revolution Preston bars need fresh fruit. Basil & Raspberry Mojito contained no fresh limes, no fresh basil, questionable raspberry puree and unconvincing mint – the sheer audacity of it all! Staff not bothering to muddle limes during manic periods is forgivable, but when there’s nobody else in, it’s painful. Similarly, it was a crime not to receive lime with rum and ginger. Furthermore, G&T’s were missing garnishes, meaning Wetherspoons outclassed Vodka Revolution.
  • Revolution Preston needs stock. I asked for a 15 year Havana: ten minutes later I was poured a seven-year without explanation.
  • Revolution Preston needs to provide hospitality. I ordered a bottle of vodka for £75, providing a healthy margin from £18 trade prices. An ice bucket is provided without tongs, so bare hands were used which was both unpleasant and unhygienic. There was no bar towel to wipe up the ensuing puddle; obviously, limes were a non-starter. No staff were aware to wipe down a table, let alone engage with customers in any manner.
  • Revolution Preston needs to get organised. When making a spirit on the rocks, don’t use one piece of ice which quickly melts. When making three drinks, don’t make the spirit on the rocks first, then take ten minutes making two cocktails and another minute to key it into the till. Please be able to remember three drinks without pen and paper. Likewise, when receiving a large booking, have the cutlery pre-set ready – at the very least bring the cutlery before the food. Furthermore, turn the coffee machine on, or throw it away and give up the pretence of offering hot drinks.
  • Revolution Preston needs table service. If customers are sat with empty glasses for ten minutes, they are likely waiting for another. Proactively provide the bill, and encourage servers to look in the direction of tables occasionally.
  • Revolution needs to clean its lines. Knowing the beer is undrinkable I ordered a bottled beer – it was room temperature. This really was the final straw(pedo).

Vodka Revolution Review Summary

Atmosphere 4/10    Cost 3/10    Quality 1/10    Service 1/10

  • Vodka Revolution Preston Review

    Vodka Shots – The Only Safe Bet

    *Since this review was first published, Revolution Preston is unfortunately no longer with us – hence the lack of link*