saturday night at brinkleys

a flaming birthday brownie

a flaming birthday brownie

Saturday night saw me celebrating RP’s birthday at Brinkley’s in Chelsea.  There was a good atmosphere there and I think we all had a good time.  As there were quite a few of us we were given a limited menu to choose from – which is to be expected really.  I had a starter of fig, prosciutto and mozzarella, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  The fig was good – perfectly ripe, although too cold – it felt as though it had been taken straight from the fridge.  The proscuitto was as expected – although only one slice!  How stingy!  The mozzarella was pretty average – not as tasty as it could be and a little on the rubbery side – it tasted like supermarket standard.  The whole plate was fair, but could have done with a touch of olive oil to finish it off.

My main was a rack of lamb.  It wasn’t too bad – slightly overdone for my liking, but it was a good-sized portion, and was quite tasty. For dessert I chose a selection of Italian cheeses.  I received 4 small slices of cheese and 4 biscuits (again, slightly stingy IMO).  The cheeses weren’t anything amazing, but perfectly good.  But actually all in all, for the amount it cost us for food and for drink (and we certainly consumed a lot of wine), I think it was very good value for money, especially as I was expecting “Chelsea” prices.  And sometimes, just sometimes, a good night out with friends can more than make up for any lackings in the food department!

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mennula

Mennula is the Sicilian word for almond.  Now, I’m not especially fond of almonds; I like them encased in chocolate but not so much roasted and salted (but will eat them if they are there), and definitely not in the form of marzipan… and the reason that I’m going on about this is because last night saw a few of us at Mennula (on the lovely Charlotte Street, London).  We had been told in no uncertain terms that we had to be seated by our allocated time (or else what? I’m not sure, but they were Sicilian, so we thought we’d better behave).  The restaurant was quite quiet when we got there.  The decor was pretty, although I found the squashed bug on the wall next to my shoulder, less so.  We were having a meal of four courses.  The first course – the stuzzichini – included several small platters of nibbles (including roasted and salted almonds), green olives, arancini rice balls and sour dough bread.

For my primo piatto, I had strozzapreti in a braised venison and mushroom ragout which was quite lovely (although some of my strozzapreti was a little hard in consistency, but I was the only one who had this experience).

For secondo, I had pork belly.  As a bit of background, I LOVE pork belly and it tends to be a benchmark dish of mine (pretty much, wherever I go, if it’s on the menu, pork belly will end up in my belly) and unfortunately this pork belly didn’t really compare.  ES had a plate of fritto misto but the complaint there was that there wasn’t quite enough of it!  Conversely, and unusually for me, I was feeling quite full by this point, so I think my pork belly was gratefully received.

For my dolce, I chose traditional Sicilian cannoli filled with sweet ewe’s ricotta.  It was a bad choice by me and I had definite food-envy over everyone else’s warm Sicilian sfinci (doughnuts) served with honey, vanilla crème anglais and Sicilian granita.

So all in all, I feel about Mennula the same as I do about almonds – good in some respects and lacking in others, and I probably wouldn’t eat there again unless it was put on a table in front of me.