Pizza Express, East Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Pizza Express is where the Eastside Tavern used to be.

I dropped in late on a Friday evening. The place looked fresh and has been totally refurbished since the Eastside Tavern days. Gone are the TVs that adorned the old sports bar.

There were still many diners eating when I arrived close to 9pm but I was able to get a table.

The menu looked good with plenty of choice.

I quickly ordered a beer, in this case a NZ wheat beer – Mac’s Great White. I didn’t mind it!

For dinner I ordered a garlic bread and added Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheeses on the top. The Gorgonzola added a zingy bite to the bread.

For my main course I ordered their signature 13″ rectangular Calabrese pizza. The pizza was large and tasted good although it was a little oily.

Dessert was the Big Brown Brownie with vanilla gelato and caramel sauce – probably the dish of the meal.

While the food was good, it was certainly overpriced for what you got.

However, the service was absolutely abysmal. I had to put my hand up and wave it like I was back in primary school to get attention. I could have sat there for an hour ignored if I’d just sat there.

My empty beer glass sit in front of me for an extended time without anyone asking if I’d like another.

Despite the over the top prices, the thing that really pissed me off was that, unlike most Hong Kong restaurants, the prices in the menu are NOT inclusive of the 10% service fee… so I had the pleasure of paying 10% more than I thought I would be paying while having endured some really crappy service. Not impressed!

Truth be told, life is too short, give this place a miss.

Café le Petit Pont, Saint Michel, Paris, France

After a bit of a siesta after a Saturday of eating and drinking I headed off to see what restaurants were hiding in the laneways of Saint Michel to see what the options were. I strolled down to Boulevard Saint-Germain, up Rue Dante and Rue de l’Hotel Colbert and Quai du Montebello but nothing really took my fancy, and those that did were full. Shakespeare and Company was closed for the day and I’d started to lose hope.

About 50m past Shakespeare and Company was Café le Petit Pont. The place was bustling but had a few tables available so I went in and was given a seat facing towards Notre Dame Cathedral.

I was looking for something on the light side rather than a large meal, so I decided on a pizza. The Orientale approximates a meat lovers pizza in Australia containing tomato sauce, North African sausage, ground beef, red sweet pepper, mozzarella cheese, olives.

To drink I had a half litre of Cotes du Rhone red wine.

Pizza was OK, the wine was decent. The view of the cathedral at night was great. The escapades of the restaurant tout trying to entice folks in was entertaining.

Rim Café, Saint-Michel, Paris, France

After a couple of beers at Frog XVI, I got the bus back to Saint-Michel and as I was walking back to my hotel I started to feel a bit hungry.

There’s a large Italian restaurant on the corner of Rue Saint-Séverin and Rue de la Harpe called Rim Café.

I didn’t think I was overly hungry, but it turns out I was.

I sat outside as the temperature had risen a little during the afternoon. This allowed me to indulge in a little people watching. Surprisingly, the streets weren’t that busy mid afternoon.

For my main dish I tried a Calzone containing mozzarella, ham and egg with tomato sauce. It was a combination of ingredients that I’d not encountered in calzone before… but they worked. The tomato sauce on the top made the top puff up like a football, weird but sort of artistic.

Along with the calzone I decided a wine would be a better choice so chose a half litre of the Chateau Escalette from the Cotes de Bourg AOC. This was a decent wine that went well with the calzone.

I originally wasn’t going to have desert, but when I saw profiteroles on the menu I just had to try them… and I’m glad I did as they were great.

As I was paying I was given a complimentary Limoncello to complete my meal.

Probably a little on the expensive side but you’ll get decent food and wine.

Les Balkans, Saint-Michel, Paris, France

After walking probably 10km around Paris during the day I ended up back at Albe Hôtel and after a rest I decided to try another restaurant close by to the hotel for dinner.

Unfortunately I decided to eat at Les Balkans, right next door to the hotel.

I was earlyish so I didn’t expect too many people there, but I was the first, and only patron it would turn out, while I was there.

I ordered a salami pizza and a beer.

The pizza was very underwhelming. Not much flavour and quite oily.

What really turned me off was the lack of service. The waiter and the chef just stood at the bar talking. They didn’t notice that I had finished my beer so didn’t ask if I may want another.

After I finished my pizza, they didn’t notice, and I had to frantically wave to get their attention so I could pay and leave.

Do yourself a favour, avoid this place. There are so many decent restaurants within 100m where you will get great food and decent service.

Pizza Sarno, St Michel, Paris, France

After a quick snooze at Albe Hôtel after the flight from Hong Kong I was looking for some sustenance. Luckily the area around Saint Michel is full of bars and restaurants so I didn’t have to go to far.

I did a bit of a walk around the neighborhood to see what options were on offer before deciding on a small pizza restaurant called Pizza Sarno, more because there were tables available and there was an English menu more than anything else.

While I went through the menu I ordered a Kronenbourg 1664.

I finally chose an entree serving of the bruschetta as well as a penne arrabbiata main course which arrived in about 10 minutes… just in time to order another beer.

The bruschetta tasted great with the tomatoes just oozing flavour.

The main sized penne was a large dish, I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but the pasta was cooked to perfection and the sauce was superb (not too spicy) so I ended up finishing the dish, and mopping up the sauce with french bread.

All round a great meal.

And yes, and the irony that my first meal in France was Italian is not lost on me! But atleast I had French beer.