Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quick update from London. Despite the "historic" snowfall (6 inches; the Brits are wussies!) I did manage to get out and around the crippled city. After a morning and early afternoon of meetings I hopped in a cab and told the driver to head to 19 Theobald's street. As we approached our destination the driver began looking for the number at which point I told him, "I'm going to The Fryers Delight, for a little lunch". "Ah, the Fryer's Delight! Why didn't you say so that's where all the cabbies go" was his response.

At this very moment, I knew I had made an excellent choice.

I paid the driver and headed in to the clean, but decidedly spartan place. The waitress was quick, and I ordered a plate of cod and chips. A little heat would have been nice, but I suppose London isn't prepared for the type of weather that us Chicagoans take for granted.

My food arrived unbelievably fast, and it was excellent. The Cod, a big ole piece of fish was darn near cooked perfect and certainly the best fried fish I've had. The batter was nicely flavored, and provided the cod with a crispy, flavorful coating that was not the slightest bit greasy. Good temperature discipline on the fry vat was clearly a core competency! The best thing about the place is that they fry in, as they refer to it, "beef drippings" which as I understand it is the traditional Engtlish way. Even more impressive when one considers that the joint's proprietors are a couple of Italian brothers.

Bottom line: Highly recommended.

For Dinner I popped over to Zafferano, a Michelin two star that happens to be next door to my hotel. I didn't have reservations, but I was counting on the "historic snow" to keep business down a bit, and my strategy paid off with a table in the bar. I momentarily wondered what happened to the traditional British stiff upper lip, but then figured I shouldn't question my good fortune and took my seat.

The amuse bouche was a traditional onion tart. Very well done, nice pastry.

I then started my first course with a warm roasted artichoke salad with veal shins. Delightful! Although, to be honest, it would have been just as good without the artichokes as they really had very little flavor.

Course number two was papardelle in a saffron scented sauce with pig cheeks. This dish was profound. The hint of saffron was perfect and the bits of onion among the shredded meat really made this an outstanding course.

Course three was veal kidney with warm lentils. When the dish arrived at my table, I must say I immediately became concerned; the scent of sage was quite strong and I was afraid the chef might have had a bit of a heavy hand. This only turned out to be partially true and the lentils, kidney and sage mostly worked together in the dish.

Wine was by the glass, as I didn't want to order a full bottle, and wasn't terribly enamored with the half bottle selections. I enjoyed a Sangiovese with the first two courses and had a very good Montepulciano with the Kidney.

Desert was a chocolate fondant, better known to us as a molten chocolate cake with a scoop of espresso flavored ice milk.

Zafferano was good and at 80 pounds for the above, a good deal considering the two stars

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