Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach Review (Exchange Court, Dundee)

October 31, 2016

I’m a little bit behind on my restaurant reviews, so I must apologise. I can only imagine those of you holding your breath have died of oxygen starvation…

But next on my travels round the eateries of Dundee is New Zealand restaurant, The Bach (pronounced Batch, which you should know to avoid any embarrassing social faux-pas in the company of Kiwis) in Exchange Court, Dundee.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Venue

The first thing to note about The Bach is the venue itself, situated as it is on the top floor of an old flour mill.

A Pretty Daunting Set Of Stairs.

A Pretty Daunting Set Of Stairs.

As far as I can see, there’s no obvious disabled access and a quick google search comes up with a line on their Facebook page confirming that.

Unless they’ve installed a lift since they wrote that, it means that the only way in is to climb the steep flight of stairs to the entrance shown in the picture. That not only precludes those who require disabled access, but also anyone with trouble climbing stairs.

Put simply, unless you’re fit, you’re not getting into The Bach.

Once you get in, it’s a nice enough looking venue with a purposefully minimalist style. The seating was comfortable but the lighting at the table we were sat at left a lot to be desired.

At one side I sat under a bright spotlight, while at the other, Mhairi was almost in complete darkness. I felt as though I was being interrogated.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Food

We came for brunch on a Sunday, so the menu was different to what you would expect during the week or if you’re coming for lunch or tea.

Having said that, there was still a decent amount of choice, and though they didn’t have what I had specifically come for – The Mexican Breakfast Burrito – I was pleasantly surprised by their off-menu alternative of mince on toast covered in a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

I say pleasantly surprised because it’s nice to have the choice of eating something a little bit different.

The dish itself was reasonable enough, but I think they added extra pepper and a hint of chilli to the point where the intended flavours were overpowered.

Mhairi meanwhile went for Gingerbread Waffles with Strawberries and Maple Syrup. She thought they were great, and having convinced her to let me try a bit I can confirm that was the case.

Mince on toast covered in eggs benedict. It was...interesting.

Mince on toast covered in eggs benedict. It was…interesting. Notice the wonderful lighting from the intense spotlight I was sat under.

I think I’d rather have had that than what I ordered.

As a takeaway treat, we each bought a brownie to go.

Now I’m a fair man and believe in only giving honest feedback, otherwise the reviews lose their merit, so I apologise to the chef in case he reads this when I say…

We both agreed that what we got was possibly the worst brownie we’d ever tasted.

Honestly folks, it was just grim. A dry, crumbly husk with dark chocolate chunks that made it bitter.

A brownie should be soft and chewy, perhaps even gooey. This was the opposite.

Thumbs down.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Drink

Fresh Orange juices for us both, and thankfully it wasn’t from concentrate.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

Almost everything on the menu with only a few exceptions was suitable for vegetarians and there were also plenty of items for vegans too.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: The Price

All in, it cost £25.50. That’s almost double the price of brunch at the superior Tonic and is more expensive than the vast majority of the places I’ve reviewed.

Let’s be honest, this wasn’t great value.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants – The Bach: Final Thoughts

The only major success story from The Bach was the gingerbread waffles. My food was interesting in theory but not particularly tasty, and brownies were awful. When you add that to potential issues with access, the relative lack of value for money and the discomfort of sitting under a bright light as if I was being interrogated, I just can’t recommend The Bach.

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Movies – Doctor Strange Review (or ‘When There’s Always Biscuits In The Tin, Where’s The Fun In Biscuits’)

October 31, 2016

Who’d have thought a superhero movie from Marvel Studios could be ‘worthy’?

I certainly didn’t think it would be possible, but Doctor Strange has disproved that theory.

With a cast full of actOrs (with a capital O)  that the more poncy reviewer – you know, the sort who sneers at anything that doesn’t “examine the human condition” – loves, including Benedict Cumberbatch (with a drstrangeterrible American accent), Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton (because what’s more sophisticated than a woman who is willing to shave her head for her craft?) and Mads Mikkelsen, this is definitely a step above the oik level fayre that Marvel usually serve up.

And you can tell that the cast think it too, otherwise they probably wouldn’t have agreed to take part.

But here’s the thing; Dr Strange is one of the more obscure Marvel characters for a reason, and that reason is that he’s a bit boring.

And so is this movie.

The plot was unoriginal, the characters were unlikable and the villains were uninteresting.

There just wasn’t much to it.

The best I’ve heard anyone come up with is that it has good special effects, but as I’ve said before, special effects are no longer ‘special’. We now know that if enough money is given to computer animators, then anything is possible. And when anything is possible then nothing stands out.

You know the old saying don’t you? When there’s always biscuits in the tin, where’s the fun in biscuits? That applies here.

And here’s the case in point for you; on Saturday I watched the 1982 John Carpenter horror, The Thing. Made in an era before computer animation, the monster now looks pretty ropey. And yet to me, that monster looks more ‘special’ than the effects of today because it was created by talented prop designers and prosthetic experts rather than by some bloke who is able to click his mouse in the right way a few times before letting a computer take over.

So this all leads me to the belief that if all a movie has going for it is the effects, then in 2016 it’s not a very good movie.

And that describes Dr Strange perfectly, in spite of its obvious worthiness.


Movies – The Girl on the Train Review (or ‘Nobody Has Passwords Like That In 2016, Surely?’)

October 16, 2016

I’ll cut to the chase…

The Girl on the Train is a decent movie. While it’s initially a bit confusing, told as it is in a non-linear style with parts that don’t make any sense until they are revisited later, the end result is an enjoyable story girl-on-train-movie-posterwith some entertaining twists and a satisfying resolution.

Some of the acting is a bit dodgy though. Emily Blunt is fine in the lead even though she hams it up a bit while doing drunk acting, but some of the other players – notably Justin Theroux and Luke Evans – appeared to be made out of wood.

But anyway, I wanted to get those points across early and focus my review on two aspects of TV and Film that really bug me that were on display here.

1) When People In TV and Film Try To Guess Passwords

Now maybe I’m in the minority, but of all the multiple passwords I have for websites and computer logins, none are ones that anyone would be able to guess. In 2016 does anyone who feels the need to password protect their PC have a password that is either the name of their wife, ex-wife of child? Of course not. The whole point of a password is that it shouldn’t be guessable, and it should have a variety of letters numbers and/or characters.

And yet in the Girl on the Train – and in loads of other examples of TV and Film – those are the sorts of things people guess when trying – often successfully – to crack someone’s password.

It does my head in; I just don’t think that sort of thing happens in real life.

2) Villain Revelation Syndrome

The Girl on the Train also has that nonsensical moment when a character finds out that someone unexpected is the villain. Up until that point that someone has been acting nice and normal; there’s no reason to suggest he or she is the bad guy.

And yet the moment it’s revealed and we the audience are let in on the secret, the character suddenly starts to act like a proper bastard.

To me, that’s bad writing.

To be clear, within the context of the movie, this character doesn’t know anyone knows that s/he’s the villain, so why would s/he act differently?

It’s stupid.

Of course, those are only two aspects of TV and film that bug me; I wrote a series of articles on that very topic, starting with this one. You can find the rest in the article index.

But to go back to The Girl on the Train, it is – as I said above – a decent and entertaining movie.

Good enough to pay to see? Perhaps not, but one that you should try to catch up on at some point.


Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder (near St. Andrews)

October 16, 2016

The Balgove Larder must be an absolute gold-mine for its owner.

When we went for lunch yesterday to their cafe, every table – and there are lots of them – was taken, with a long queue of hungry diners waiting to be seated the moment anyone left.

Add to that the Steak Barn and two shops that always have a constant bustle of people whenever I’ve stepped foot inside the place and you have one profitable business.

Anyway, this is the first time I’ve been to Balgove to eat, so I was hopeful that the level of busyness meant a good quality lunch.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder – The Venue

If you’re planning on a quiet, intimate meal, Balgove is not for you. Its large open plan cafe seeks to fit as many people in as possible, and thus the tables are closely packed together to the point where getting up to have a look at the specials board required a full on plan of action. But it was comfortable enough.

Sat in the corner, we were in a great spot for people watching, as we could see families having tense lunches with one another and dozens of blokes looking like they’d rather be anywhere else.

It also meant that we could hear all the conversations at the tables around us, including a father and son engage in what could only be described as awkward small talk about light aircraft and a couple of 20-

Split Pea Soup and Meatloaf. The salad came with the bold - but not unwelcome - addition of pickled onions.

Split Pea Soup and Meatloaf. The salad came with the bold – but not unwelcome – addition of pickled onions.

something girls having a deep-and-meaningful. Well…one of them was having the deep-and-meaningful anyway; she didn’t pause for breath and went on non-stop for well over an hour while her friend sat there looking like she wanted to smash her head off the table. It was like our own personal free-entertainment, and for me the highlight was the girl saying “If a guy buys me a bar of chocolate, he can do anything he likes to me. I’m his”. So there you go guys, for the price of a Dairy Milk, you’re in.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder – The Food

While Mhairi went for the Soup of the Day (Split Green Pea) served with a cheese scone, I opted for one of the meatloaf, which was a daily special.

Word on the soup was that it was tasty and filling, while the cheese scone was nice and soft but thankfully not dry. Having had a bit of the scone, I can concur with this assessment.

As for the meatloaf; I won’t pretend that I wasn’t initially disappointed. I had ordered it expecting a hot meal covered in gravy, but instead it was a cold terrine-like loaf served with bread, salad and coleslaw. While that was unwelcome news, it still turned out to be very nice and something I’d probably have again if given the choice.

And while both of us were full, there was still room for dessert, and this is where the Balgove Larder shone.

We ordered one hot brownie with chocolate sauce and ice cream to share and yet the waitress – no doubt thinking that we were delightful customers standing out from a crowd of mopey faced gits – decided to give us one each at no extra cost.

Boom.

I didn’t eat again for the rest of the day and was more than satisfied.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder – The Drink

Two Sprites. Bob’s your uncle.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder – The Vegetarian’s Viewpoint

There’s a decent selection of food available for vegetarians, although – much to my amusement – they have to walk through a butcher’s shop to get to the cafe and see all the lovely parts of the dead animals on

One of our bowls of hot chocolate brownie with strawberry ice cream. Mmmm

One of our bowls of hot chocolate brownie with strawberry ice cream. Mmmm

display.

Mmm…dead animals.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder – The Price

All in it came to roughly £20, so I have no complaints.

Stuart Reviews Restaurants: The Balgove Larder – Final Thoughts

While it might have been nice to have a bit more room around our table, that perhaps would have taken away from the entertainment value of eavesdropping on those around us.

So I’ll give Balgove a hearty thumbs up. Good food, good service and a nice shop to buy groceries from afterwards.

We’ll be back to try the Steak Barn soon.

 


Movies – Deepwater Horizon Review (or ‘A Disaster Movie Without Distractions’)

October 5, 2016

The main strength of Deepwater Horizon – the movie based upon the 2010 explosion and oil spill at the rig of the same name – is its basis in reality.

What I mean by that is although I’m sure certain liberties were taken in the telling of events to make for a better story, there are no unnecessary sub plots about teenagers falling in love or an estranged couple deepwater_horizon_filmgetting back together because events have made them realise they can’t live without each other; this is all about the disaster and that’s it.

And that’s good; that’s what I want.

I haven’t seen Titanic since it was first on the cinema because I can’t be doing with watching two hours of unrelated nonsense with Kate & Leo before the good stuff happens. When I go to a disaster movie, I want it to actually focus on the disaster.

And that’s what Deepwater Horizon does with aplomb.

That’s helped by two other strengths. The first is the location filming – set as it is on what appears to be an actual working rig – which adds authenticity.

The second is the cast.

Though the two poster stars – Mark Wahlberg and Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez – are fine, the real MVPs are Hollywood veterans Kurt “I Suddenly Look Ancient” Russell and John Malkovic. Both are absolutely fantastic in their roles. And hey, it’s got Buddy Garrity  from Friday Night Lights in it too, which is always a good thing.

Running at 107 minutes, Deepwater Horizon moves at a brisk pace and thankfully never lulls or outstays its welcome. I really enjoyed it, and happily give it my seal of approval.