Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bar Roma, Edinburgh

It’s not very often that the Buddha Belly goes to the theatre. However, this was a special occasion as I had been to see my niece perform in her dancing display at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh. I won’t name my niece as she will be totally embarrassed and mortified. But she comes from Livingston, is nine years old, she’s a star and she knows who she is.

After the outstanding performance, we decided to stop off at a restaurant that we had been regulars at a good number of years ago. It had been at least six years since we had visited Bar Roma, which is a stones throw from Princes Street, in the West End of Edinburgh. As we walked towards Bar Roma we could not help but notice that the restaurant had some what changed in its appearance both externally and internally.

We were greeted warmly by the Manager and seated quickly. As we began to take in the noisy and lively atmosphere my wife and I began to reminiscence of our earlier visits to Bar Roma when we had been much younger. You could see the look on our daughters face “Here they go again!”. We shared with her that Bar Roma had changed. It appeared lighter and brighter with the larger windows, ultra polished wood and chrome fittings. We liked it better when it was slightly dare I say duller. It had more character.

There is very little wrong with Bar Roma’s menu as it offers a wide variety of choice for the diner. For starters, we ordered two Bruschettes with fresh ripe tomatoes, basil leaves and extra virgin oil between us. For our mains, my wife ordered Tuna and Bean Salad. My daughter ordered Spaghetti Bolognese and I ordered Rigatoni Mario’s which was spicy sausage and green peppers in a rich tomato sauce. We also ordered one Insalata Mista. To drink we ordered a large bottle of mineral water and two small glasses of Pinot Grigio. Which at £5.50 a glass was a rip off!

It took some time for the meal to arrive. The Bruschette was fine if non-descript. The Tuna and Bean Salad was bit on the dry side, but my wife added extra dressing and struggled on with it. Both the Spaghetti Bolognese and Rigatoni Mario’s were okay. The pasta was little overcooked and we have had better elsewhere. As ever, my daughter wished a desert and after an eternity we ordered her a mango sorbet.

The reason that it took so long to order the sorbet was that the four different, yes the four different waiters that served us through our meal, were flirting with the women at the table next to us. Italian men have a reputation for giving attention and show their appreciation of women openly. But this was a display of shameless and solicitous flirting. It was clear that the waiters were keen to exploit their Italian charms on the female diners, rather than provide efficient and effective service to the rest of the Bar Roma’s diners.

The Buddha Belly may sound like a moaning old Buddha, but this is not the case. It was really frustrating and at best really rude to the other diners. With telephone numbers exchanged we eventually had our order taken. Oh and by the way, my daughter thought that the mango sorbet was okay.

The reminiscence of our previous experiences of Bar Roma was certainly better than the food served. Bar Roma has lost something. It may be something to do with the Buddha Belly’s nostalgic tendencies, but there’s something that’s changed over the years. Bar Roma describes its self as “The Best Italian Restaurant in Edinburgh...”. Well if this is best that Edinburgh has to offer then the capital city in big trouble in the dining out stakes. It is the Buddha Belly’s view that Bar Roma overcharges for what it offers. The meal was just under £60.00. I know it’s in Edinburgh, but I feel as though it’s taking the piss. Each dish is about 25% more expensive than they should be. With that stated it was an average rated meal. However, the service was as much a joke, as it was entertaining. Would the Buddha Belly go back? I doubt it.

Contact Details:
Bar Roma
39A Queensferry Street
Tel: 0131 226 2977

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bar 51/2, Porto Colom, Majorca

Buddha Belly Eats was established for ordinary people who are looking to find somewhere to eat and drink well primarily in Scotland. However, there are some special moments and special places that have challenged the Buddha Belly’s original thinking and whilst holidaying on the beautiful island of Majorca the Buddha Belly had the fortunate experience to visit a small pub in the town of Porto Colom.

As regular readers of Buddha Belly Eats will be aware, the Buddha Belly is rather partial to one or two cold beers. And, as he meandered along the fantastic sea front of the bay of Porto Colom his throat had become extremely dry and parched. Even on sunny autumn days the temperature in Majorca can reach 26C and nothing quenches the thirst like a cold beer. So looking for the nearest pub, the Buddha Belly spied Bar 51/2 and found a table outside that offered a relaxed and a casual atmosphere with stunning views of Porto Colom.

The staff at Bar 51/2 were extremely friendly and attentive, although they had limited English they found it easy to communicate with the Buddha Belly. The order “Dos cerveza por favor” was met with a knowing nod and the beers duly arrived at the table. The beer served in Bar 51/2 is cool, crisp, and refreshing San Miguel, although the Buddha Belly was later to discover that they also sell Kronenberg 1664 on draught. The Buddha Belly can just visualise his brother in law booking the next flight to Majorca.

The Buddha Belly believes that you can tell a good place to eat and drink when the local inhabitants use it as their own. Bar 51/2 is such a place and the Buddha Belly was privileged to observe Majorcan life as the locals took part in the tapeo. The eating of tapas is distinctively Spanish and for some it is a way of life. The Buddha Belly ordered a number of tapas and was immediately smitten by the fantastic flavours of Majorcan tapas prepared and served by Bar 51/2. The next couple of hours were pure bliss. Sitting outside, beer in hand, eating tapas and watching the world go by. The tapas the Buddha Belly consumed included house potatoes (Patatas Caseras), fried squid (Calamares Fritos) served with slices of lemon, mixed olives (Aceitunas Mixtas) served with marinated with peppers, onion and lemon and small potato croquettes (Croquettes de Patatas) served with garlic mayonnaise.

The Buddha Belly enjoyed the beer and tapas to such an extent that he became a regular visitor to Bar 51/2. If you ever have to good fortune to visit Porto Colom then go in search of Bar 51/2. You will not be disappointed.

Contact Details:
Bar 51/2
C/. Trafalgar
Residencial Garau
Bajos 07670
Porto Colom

Upcoming Posts in October 2006

Keep your eye out for upcoming posts in October 2006. The Buddha Belly will be posting reviews of the following:

- Bar 51/2, Porto Colom, Majorca
- Bar Roma, Edinburgh
- Pizzeria Corrieri, Stirling

Even though the Buddha Belly has been on holiday during October he still has a bit to share. Keep visiting Buddha Belly Eats for reviews on some of the good places or not so good places to eat and drink.

Buddha Belly On Holiday

Just a note in case anyone was wondering why the Buddha Belly has not posted any reviews lately or has not replied to emails it’s because he has been on holiday on the beautiful island of Majorca. Normal reviews of eating and drinking business will resume shortly.