Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sunday Lunch - Shakespeare's Head

Date: 26th June 2011

Location: Shakespeare's Head, 1 Chatham Place

Price range: £9

Drinks available: Small selection of high-quality ales (Badger brewery).

The Shakespeare's Head specialises in sausages. Alas, the cookery skills required for a good sausage meal are not the same as those for a good roast.

The selection of roasts was similar to that of the Good Companions, although instead of Turkey they offered Chicken. I ordered the beef. After a decent wait (I was not the only customer) my plate came.

Let us start with the vegetables, for that is where I started. Uncompelling, wet. The meat was much the same, and everything had steam rising from it as if (as indeed may have been the case) it had come straight out of the microwave. The potatoes were satisfactory. The whole meal would have been a lot better if had been set in a hot bath of gravy. But the only moisture was meltwater. This was little better than school dinners. I would even go so far as to compare it to Gekko, that almost incomparably bad all-purpose buffet (unless your purpose is to 'have a good meal') that since my visit in March has actually closed down.

There was also a cheese and cauliflower side and a yorkshire pudding on the side, neither of which I have anything bad to say about. However, they only seemed good in comparison to the rest of the dish, a relieving break I could occasionally turn my knife and fork to.

Normally I quite like this pub, and I was sat in a nice shaded area overlooking the main road (coming down from the Dials towards Preston Circus) once again with my Sunday readables. It is on the basis of the quality of the roast (and the price demanded for it) that I have concluded to give this place the lowest possible score - i.e. I never intend to come for a sunday roast here ever again.

There are three other pubs in my immediate area (Crescent, Palmeira and Prestonville Arms) which I believe do roasts. I already have a high opinion of the Crescent roast so will try the other two first. After I've toured this lot I shall find places further out from Seven Dials.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday Lunch - The Good Companions

Date: 19th June 2011

Location: The Good Companions, 132 Dyke Road

Price range: £10-£12

Drinks available: Broad selection of real ales.

The Good Companions has gone through a transformation in the last year. Gone are the pool tables, quiz machines, TV sports and balding middle-aged locals staring into their empty beer glasses. The Good Companions has been gentrified/poncified and has built up a reputation of being a food pub. It has been resettled by twenty/thirty-somethings on above average earnings and inoffensive, couth demeanours. Though not everyone enjoys this cultural colonialism, for the purposes of my Sunday Lunch project this pub is now on the radar in a way it would not have been before. Indeed as far as I remember, this time last year they did not actually do sunday lunches - the closest thing they had to food was pub pizza.

I have dined at the Good Companions many times since its refurbishment and, having found this food greatly to my taste, it seemed only natural that this should be the first place on my sunday lunch tour.

The selection of roasts was the usual - beef/pork/turkey/lamb/nut-roast (if I remember correctly). My preference is usually for beef, and this what I went for.

Beef was the most expensive of the roasts at £12. At most places I would not have paid this much for a roast, but having eaten here before I knew to expect high quality fare.

I was not disappointed. The vegetables were subtle and moist, the potatoes crispy, the beef juicy and generous and the king-size Yorkshire pudding very savoury. The meal was just about the right size too. As was the table - large enough for the Independent on Sunday anyway.

My only real objection is the price. Though I am always willing to fork out a few extra pounds for a good eating experience (there are no shortage of bad eating experiences out there for sure) it's just a touch on the pricy side. However, the quality is sufficiently good to compensate to this and indeed draw me back on future occasions (the few there will be).


Sunday Lunch

Over the next 8 weeks or so (however long I'm in Brighton) I'll be trying out sunday lunches at different pubs across Brighton. I shall post brief reviews on this blog. The 'star rating' I give to each lunch/venue will be based on how likely I am to go back there in the future. This will include weighing up such factors as the quality of the food, the ambience in the pub and the price of the meal (drinks not included!).

I have already done two such lunches which I shall post very shortly.

Lost & Found

It's a funny thing - three times in the last week I have mislaid something only to find it again. First was in Yorkshire - I lost my favourite hat somewhere between Halifax and Bradford but managed to find it the next day at Halifax station. Second: Four days ago I thought I'd lost my driving license, but it turned out that I had simply not brought it out with me (having meant to). And today I found £15 in a shirt pocket (which I did not realise I had lost). When I went out this night I couldn't find the said money. When I got home I found it neatly strewn on my bed.

One thing I have lost and will not get back are 188 facebook friends. I decided to reduce my friend list from the proposterous 230 to a real, managable amount of people (42) I actually know and like and voluntarily communicate with on a regular basis, or would wish to. Some are family members who never actually use facebook but with whom there is no real need for removing. As for the others? Well, I'm more than content waiting 20 years till the school reunion. Only then will it be really fair to say who is doing what with their lives. A friend and I have a running joke that a lot of people from school aren't actually doing anything - they haven't formed any life plans and have no serious ambitions or interests other than hanging around 'being awesome'. But I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life until around six months ago and had some good luck along the way, so I shall reserve any concrete judgement for 2031.

But there is also a broader reason for my curbing my 'online friends' so. I am increasingly demanding a more subtle life for myself, one with a greater degree of self-discipline, open-mindedness and unlaboured extroversion: facebook hinders all three of these things. My keeping up of a facebook account is now for practical purposes only (I genuinly keep in contact and organize things with people from it, both local and distant). In general I would like to see the computer and the internet as tools which facilitate my to do things I need to do and want to do e.g. work activities, communications, research and (as now) writing. These are specific activities. What I do not want is for the computer itself to become an activity, a sort of default spare-time activity, the first item to consult when ennui strikes. I got rid of my TV back in the winter in a similar vein. I'm not anti-technology in the slightest, but it is up to the technology user to decide what his relationship with the technologies should be.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Creating things that no-one will see
is the surest way to misery

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Inconveniently named items that can be added to restaurant/takeaway menues for comic effect

- My Favourite
- The Usual
- What He's Having

 - The Bill
- Another


Saturday, 4 June 2011


I have one.

I actually received it on the afternoon of the 2nd, but have been busy socializing since then and have had no time to write. Ironically these socials had actually been planned before I received my offer.

I'll continue my tradition of not giving individual firm names (this is partly out of superstition I admit). But let us say only that they are a top firm and that these may be the hardest, most stimulating 3 years I have ever had.

I still have to accept the offer / pass the screening, and (again, with all superstition) refuse to plan anything elaborate until I have actually signed a training contract. Nevertheless I shall now have to pick very carefully what I do over the next months. Don't let my usual bland language fool you - there is an undercurrent of dread and excitement and immense relaxation behind every word I type today. I realize that this is a huge opportunity and that I must do whatever I can to ensure that, by the time I start, I am fully prepared.

There are a lot of practical things involved here: getting accomodation, fixing up the old car, improving my fitness, mustering a bit of living cash in advance of any salary I receive, and of course trying to get a few of the professional exams out of the way.

But I must also consider all those things which I simply won't have time to indulge in once my contract starts. Things like visiting friends in other parts of the country, getting one of my board game ideas into a publishable state, reading extensively and perhaps even the occasional poker match. The Brighton UKIPT looks like a good bet, although naturally it would have to be a side event. A Vic visit is also on the cards. I used to joke that I would one day try playing there full time for a week with a full bankroll (£4,000) for deep 1/1NL. However, I don't think this will be possible or desirable - it's pretty certain that I won't have a £4,000 roll at any point and that even if I did, I think I'd get bored of the project after the first day. More realistic is, say, an all-night session, probably near the end of my holiday (but not so near the end as to destroy my sleeping patterns pre-employment!)

Am excited but, for the time being, the practical things to do will take a slight precedence over the fun things. That said, I think that property searching (in West Hampstead or St. Albans, most likely) will be pretty enjoyable.