taverne massena, nice

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mediocre food in nice. this was our last meal in nice, and boy was it a letdown. we had walked by countless times on the way back to the hotel, and were always enticed by the wood-fired oven. I think we are all trained to expect great food from good ovens, but this restaurant is an example of how good equipment does not mean a place can churn out good food.

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union jacks, london

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enjoyable british in covent garden. this is the first jamie institution that I have gone to, and only because it is the only one that I have read consistently good reviews about. it wasn’t technically challenging or impressive in any manner, but it was enjoyable and service was good and friendly.

the place was packed on a friday evening, and so we had to wait a little for our food, but it was nice to sit in such a colourful and visually appealing place and talk.

we started with fish fingers – they were tasty and flaky, though there was a bit of resistance to the fish that gives me the impression that the fish fingers might have been frozen prior to cooking. the sauce on the fingers was pleasant and tasty, with chunky bits of pickle that brought a new dimension to the fingers. the sauce did make the outside batter a little wet, but it was enjoyable.

we ordered two ‘flats’ – so named, I believe, so they don’t incur the wrath of italians by calling it pizza. these flats are of what I think to be the modern style – with the dough baked with some sauce and then later topped with some separately cooked ingredients.

we had the old spot; basically roast pork and crackling, as well as the oxtail – half of which I asked for chillis to be put on. the old spot was a little greasy as the pork was fatty, and it made the dough a bit wet at certain parts. it wasn’t very strongly flavoured, and I think the oxtail was much better. the oxtail was strong-tasting and very, very tasty. my half of the pizza was the one with the rainbow chillis on there, and I nearly expired from the heat.

I had thought it was going to be a british-kind-of heat, i.e. non-existent but I had clearly forgotten that jamie oliver is a bit of a chilli fiend, which is why the chillies were quite so potent. I still very much enjoyed the pizza though, but I’d watch out for it if you aren’t quite used to spicy heat.

I’ll come back again; the prices are fair and the servings are reasonable. the menu is small but quite satisfying, and I didn’t get to try the desserts this time. worth a visit.

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otto pizza, london

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get the taster plate, which has 6 different chef choices. it serves two healthy appetites, or three normal ones. the dips are very good, especially the homemade BBQ. that cornmeal crust is so tasty – especially if you love all kinds of bread – that ideally you have three people sharing the pizza so it doesn’t go to waste like mine did.

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