L’Oliveraie

The Joint

10 Place aux Huiles
13001 1er Arrondissement
Marseille, France

Cliff

france_ascension_2006_023We parked in a garage not far from here (see photo) after sharking around for a spot and then walked to the Place aux Huiles to this restaurant.

Again, I am thankful for hospitality staff who are patient with foreigners. Our guy at L’Oliveraie was patient with us and used his English as best he could to answer our questions. When we found we had Spanish in common (because I kept saying things like “muy bien” instead of “tres bien“), we switched to that and happily continued our meal. I had hazelnut-encrusted fish of some sort and it was very good. The sorbet maison (home-made sorbet) to finish the meal was my favorite part though — peach and strawberry flavors melting together in your mouth is a very nice thing.

Sarah

We found this in our Frommer’s France guide book (2005). Unfortunately, frommers.com no longer lists this place as one of the recommended restaurants for Marseille. BIG MISTAKE!! The food was fantastic, the location is right in the Vieux Port area (directly off the main drag – fabulous people-watching opportunities) and the service was outstanding. We ate outside and, unfortunately, we didn’t have the foresight to pop inside and check out the interior. But they have a lovely setup on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant under some trees.

We had the prix-fixe menu again, both starting with chicken madras salad, a regular mixed salad with a dollop of cold chopped chicken in a wonderful curried dressing. Cliff had the fish, so I went for the other option, a beefy miracle with some mixed veggies. Now, I’ve had some lovely beef in my life (I am from Kansas City, after all), and this little nugget o’ tenderloin (I think) easily ranks in my top ten red meat experiences. It was expertly cooked, seasoned and presented. So much so that I would, apropos of nothing, turn to Cliff at random and just say, ‘Dude. That BEEF. Wow.’ Dessert for both of us was homemade sorbets with coffee and little bon-bons to finish it all off. Marseille was about a 3-hour roundtrip out of our way and this place made it 150% worth the drive.

Couscouserie de l’horloge

The Joint

2 rue de Mons
Face à la Mairie
84000 Avignon
France

Reservations: 04 90 85 84 86
website link

Cliff

As we were strolling around the Place du Palais du Papes, I saw a little Middle Eastern joint offering merguez and couscous together — two things I love! I’d previously only had merguez in crepes at Mr. Crepes in Boston (formerly located on Davis Sq – R.I.P. Mr. Crepes!). Sarah ordered a traditional lamb couscous dish. Our meals arrived as two different large bowls. One of them was a large dish containing Sarah’s lamb chops and my merguez on skewers sunning themselves on a couscous beach, and the other one was full of vegetable broth with big chunks of carrots and onions and others. It was fantastic! You’d think couscous, having absorbed water in the cooking process, wouldn’t be able to soak up more broth, but in fact, it did just fine. It turned out to be way more food than it looked (that’s how couscous works). I couldn’t let the last two links of my sausage get chucked though, so I managed to find room for them.

This place is a “can’t miss” if you like North African food and want to eat on the main drag in downtown Avignon for less than 20 EUR per head.

Sarah

After we made it into the city walls, we decided to wander around and look for something to eat. Because we were absolutely not going to stay at the misery that was the Best Western all evening. We wandered up the main drag of the Avignon tourist restaurants and Cliff spied this little gem tucked into the corner of a building. We passed it the first time (my fault – I wanted to keep looking around), but eventually returned. We’re both avid fans of middle eastern cuisine (and north African food shares many of its traits), but we didn’t realize the extent of the treat we were in for.

My lamb (two good-sized chops) literally fell off the bone and was deliciously seasoned to work with the vegetable broth and couscous. Cliff’s merguez was very intensely flavored and presented an interesting contrast to the rest of the meal. The two gentlemen that served us were charming and helpful. If you’re in Avignon and you need a short reprieve from rich French cuisine, seek this place out as a thoroughly enjoyable palate-cleanser.

Azzuro

The Joint

145-146 Sutton Walk, Waterloo,
London, SE1 7ND
phone: +44 08713325332

Cliff

After walking around all day on our last full day in London and checking out the Salvador Dalí museum, Sarah wanted to find yet another Indian restaurant, but I just wanted to eat and we happened upon Azzuro. I was pleased with the carbonara pasta I had. It was a nice way to round out our trip to London.

Sarah

Nice little place. Right in the middle of a museum/business district, so I bet they do huge lunch business. Good pasta, good price. I was most excited to sit down and drink something!

Masala Zone

The Joint

147 Earls Court Rd
London SW5 9RQ
phone: +44 20 7359 3399

Cliff

I had the Lamb Coromandel — coconut milk, fennel, and red chilies provided most of the flavors. It was simply great. It came with mushroom rice and had fresh cilantro in the sauce. I’ve been craving fresh cilantro pretty much ever since we moved away from the U.S. It was labeled as “quite spicy” or similar in the menu, and they weren’t kidding. It was pleasantly hot.

Sarah

I had the Chicken Madras noodle bowl with Udon noodles, tandoori roasted chicken, lettuce of some sort, fried onions, green onions, white onions, red chilies, bean sprouts, red and green peppers and a heavenly sauce.

Invicta Tandoori

The Joint

15 Harbour Street
Whitstable, Kent
United Kingdom
Phone: 01227 264700

Cliff

This is a find; we’re so pleased Ian and Michelle introduced to this place to us back in April 2003. Sadly (for Invicta too!), they’ve moved to another part of the country, and now we’re short on motivation to return to Whitstable — other than for a meal at Invicta Tandoori, of course.

Sarah

This was the first time I had Indian that really knocked my socks off. Way to enable an addiction, Invicta. Teeny-tiny venue – barely enough room to turn around – but absolutely lovely food. The amount is surprising and the menu is extremely varied. The waitstaff is lovely. Altogether, a great joint.

Shalimar Garden

The Joint

42-44 Gloucester Terrace
Paddington, London W2 3DA

http://www.shalimargarden.com

Cliff

I had Goa Chicken and pilau rice, and we split an order Sag Aloo. This little bitty place was not even really visible from the street — you can see the sign for it coming from the Paddington tube station, but you enter the restaurant after descending an external staircase. It was small and seemed almost hastily put together. But maybe that made the food all the more delightful. This was my 2nd favorite Indian restaurant in London.

Sarah

This place was a little treat. Like Cliff said, not impressive looking, but the food was pretty tasty. And it was on the walk from the tube station to our crappy hotel. So points for convenience.

Bhatti

The Joint

37 Great Queen street
London WC2B 5AA
U.K.

Cliff

The main waiter seemed annoyed that we were there, and the entire staff seemed like they had something better to do. We got hit twice with upsell tactics and the food itself was rather weak on flavor. I had the Kabab Afghani and Funky Pie ice cream dessert, which was a joke. It was served rock-hard out of their freezer. I’d say skip this place altogether. We were only there because we wanted some Indian food close to the theater where we’d just seen The Producers.

Sarah

This place sucks. Nothing else to say about it.

But seriously, how can you resist trying something called ‘Funky Pie?’

The Everest

The Joint

41 Craven Road
London W2 3BX

Cliff

This was a little place quite near our apartment at Apartments Apart that we spotted on the way to/from Paddington Station. The staff was quite friendly and the food was good and relatively cheap. My only complaint was that the quantities were so small; especially given the fact that the portions of rice were not included in the entrée.

Sarah

The staff here was so friendly and this was my first step into London’s Indian cuisine scene. I wasn’t disappointed by the food, but I was rather shocked at the tiny portion size and the fact that rice or naan bread doesn’t come with a meal – everything is a la carte. Given how expensive London is, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise, but I was thinking in terms of how food in restaurants is served in Germany (hugely). Just a difference we needed to note for future reference!

Old Commercial Room

The Joint

Englische Planke 10
20459 Hamburg
Germany

phone: +49 40 – 366319
fax: +49 40 – 366814

Cliff

After reading about the famous Labskaus in Frommer’s and learning that this restaurant offers a certificate to anyone who orders it, I had to try it out for myself.

Here’s the certificate:
labskaus1.jpglabskaus2.jpg

Sarah

I witnessed the Labskaus and it looked repulsive. But Cliff seemed to like it. Much like Mikey from the Life cereal ads, he’ll eat pretty much anything. But the Old Commercial Room itself was pretty nice in a kitschy way. The prices weren’t kitschy, though. I did have a lovely meal of chicken and blaukraut, red cabbage shredded and cooked into a sweet, sauerkraut-like dish.

La Shish

The Joint

22039 Michigan Avenue
Dearborn, Michigan 48124

http://www.lashish.com/

Cliff

La Shish, oh how I miss my La Shish. Most people are probably familiar with La Shish thanks to Dearborn (in fact, that’s how I first tried it), but my favorite La Shish has always been the one in Troy. For some reason, it’ just a nicer atmosphere – smaller and quieter and much more brightly lit.

I often think about how darn good the little things at La Shish are. For instance, I’ve never quite had a salad dressing like the one on the standard house salad at La Shish. It’s light and zesty at the same time.

Another Cliff-pleaser: “mediterranean salsa” as an appetizer. Don’t eat too much though – it’s easy to fill up on that and the other starters (hummous with “highlighters” and their freshly-baked bread). Save room for a nice traditional arayis (get rice on the side instead of potatoes), or a fancier shawarma or ghallaba dish. You’ll need it, trust me.

Sarah

After moving to Detroit, this was my first experience with Middle Eastern cuisine. Now I’m hooked. La Shish helped me develop a taste for lamb, couscous, hummus, turmeric and nutmeg and cinnamon and cloves and any number of exotic flavors. I usually got the traditional Arayis (thin, delicate pita filled with onion, ground lamb and pine nuts served with almond rice) or Ghallaba (rice and vegetable pilaf (sometimes with chicken or lamb) with lots of seasonings). Just wonderful! Cliff’s loyalty is well-placed.