Sunday, 2 September 2012

Two restaurants to never eat at

This last week has not been good to me food wise. Two nights of M&S 'picnics' (no offence M&S - I love your sandwiches for lunch, but eaten on a train for dinner they're less appealing) and two tremendously terrible dinners.

The second one, at Opium in Glasgow, was an absolute fright of 'oriental' cuisine. I take 'oriental' to mean 'food from no actual country'. According to Trip Advisor, I am the only person in the whole world who didn't enjoy my meal there (abysmal service, watered down wine, day-glo calamari, battered monkfish, followed by actual vomiting). It's apparently Scotland's best oriental restaurant. I think that says more about the dire state of Asian cuisine in Scotland than it does about the skill of the restaurant. Anyway, I shan't review it here, as there aren't enough superlatives to slate two restaurants in the same blog post.

I shall however, review Canecao, a Brazilian 'restaurant' in Camden. If you haven't time to read the full review, I shall preface the following text with: Don't eat here.

There is one big problem with Canecao. It is not a restaurant. It is a dirty, shabby dining room attached to a very grotty, dingy pub. To enter the 'restaurant' you have to walk through the pub, which is filled with yobs and perverts. Not ideal. You may wonder how I came to eat here. Groupon is the answer. Groupon who supposedly check all the deals they sell on their site for quality. Either this place wasn't checked, or they sent some underpaid intern who hadn't eaten for three days to sample the food. 

So, the pub itself is horrible. Then there is the service, which verges from rude to indifferent to plain bizarre. The staff don't speak very good English, but as a result trying to explain that red warm shouldn't be hot and that you don't want it is a challenge. Speaking of which, the red wine was actually hot, as though it had been kept next to an oven. We tried to exchange it for another wine, but the wine list (3 reds, 3 whites) appears to just be for show as they don't have any of the wines available. I settled for a glass of flat, albeit cold, cola-flavoured drink. I say cola-flavoured as it was definitely not Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

Moving on to the food; Harry and I had dough balls to start with garlic butter.

In fairness, dough balls is a very apt description. They were so undercooked, that they literally were lumps of dough. The accompanying garlic butter was nothing of the sort; it was margarine sprinkled liberally with oregano. Most of this went uneaten, however the charming staff simply swept the plates away, obviously used to seeing food left uneaten.

Next up came the steak with red wine sauce and rice. It was not steak, it was some kind of cheap stewed beef that had not been stewed for anywhere near long enough to get rid of all the fat and gristle. The portion of rice was undercooked, the salad swimming in some kind of dressing that tasted very much like sunflower oil. Yum.

Dessert, which I do not have a photo of, was some kind of apple tart. Very Brazilian. It was at least edible, having clearly been bought in and so I didn't need to worry about the kitchen massacring it.
A three course meal for two was £24 (not including drinks), for the Groupon voucher. Yes, it wasn't the most expensive meal in the world, however when there are so many good, cheap restaurants in London it was a poke in the eye to expect to pay for this. Of course, the restaurant know what they are doing; serve disgusting food to people who have pre-purchased a voucher so they have already paid. It's obviously working to some extent as the place was fairly full of other voucher-toting innocent punters. Maybe going for repeat business isn't in the business plan. Anyway, we paid the drinks bill and left, having tired of trying to get someone who understood enough English to speak to us.

I think I'm due a full refund from Groupon, but so far have only been offered a £10 voucher towards the next purchase. Why I would purchase anything from Groupon again, I'm not entirely sure.

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