Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Real" Italian

So for the past two nights, I've stayed at the quaint Ardmore House Hotel in lovely St. Albans, UK. The hotel is situated in a residential area along Lemsford Road in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK. I've got an "upgraded" room, complete with 13" color television and 4-poster bed. It looks nice, though the bed's comfort leaves something to be desired. My room has built-in wardrobes on one wall, bookending a large window with gold curtains, and a private bathroom.

Tonight, I dined for the second time at the Belvedere, the posh Italian restaurant attached to the Ardmore House Hotel.

While the atmosphere is beautiful--everything you'd expect from a fancy restaurant (see the picture of my table next to the piano)--the food isn't as good. Last night, I ordered an appetizer of Tricolore, which was supposed to be slices of avocado, tomato, and cheese drizzled with olive oil. The cheese ended up being an unfortunate clump of gooey goat's milk cheese--nasty to both look at and taste. I didn't fare much better with the rocket ensalada--it's a collection of spicy spring greens in an old-tasting olive oil dressing. My main course, Spezzatino di Pollo con Crema e Funghi, however, was very good. It was sliced chicken breast in a brandy cream sauce with fresh mushrooms and rice. Delicious. The house red wine that accompanied it burned like a cheap box wine, but there was nothing cheap about the price--$16 for a half glass.

I decided to go for a dessert, hoping I could depend on the classic Tiramisu; it was nothing more than dry white cake with layered with whipped cream, drizzed in Hershey's syrup and topped with Swiss Miss hot cocoa powder. Very disappointing. At least the Bailey's, Cointreau, and Cream I ordered was good.

Tonight's meal was equally unbalanced in quality. I started off with a delicious minestrone soup, followed by another cold appetizer. This time I tried Carpaccio of Beef. Never having had it before, I had no idea what to expect. The description on the menu is "Slices of Fillet Steak Marinated in Olive Oil & Lemon;" the word ommitted here is raw. I was starving, so I ate the entire thing--about 4 ounces in all. It tasted fine; the texture was a little unnerving, and the olive oil drizzled on it had the same old taste as the night before. My stomach is not entirely happy with me right now.

For dinner, I ordered something that I figured would be "safe"--Spaghetti v Napoli. It was okay; it had a meat sauce quite reminiscent of "Chef Boyardee." But, at least it was cooked. I finished it off with a Tia Maria-liquered coffee topped with cream, which at $12, cost as much as my main course and was twice as good.

All-in-all, the miss-and-occasionally-hit Belvedere restaurant gets an "A" for looks, but a solid "C" for food quality.

1 comment:

  1. Bummer you had such bad luck with the food. I would have thought a place as beautiful as that would have equally amazing food. Such a bummer.