Friday, September 20, 2002

Thoughts from the UK

In London the Internet cafes never close, and my belly is full with some delicious Indian food, so here are some thoughts on life on this side of the pond...

Indian Food

I don't know why, I don't know how, but the Indian food just tastes better here. Is there some sort of sorting as they leave the country? "You cook somewhat better...go to Britain instead of the US."

Jim Thompson's Oriental Bar

According to a friend living in Cheltenham, however, the other Asian food is not up to snuff. She said the only place she'd eat it was as "Jim Thompson's Oriental Bar". Let me count the ways this didn't seem to be promising:

  • "Jim Thompson" is not the sort of name you expect to see associated with Asian food. (Although finding out who Jim Thompson was changed that view a little bit.)
  • "Oriental" is not a term (at least in the States) that is considered "proper" for referring to Asians.
  • They had 12-foot high torches out front.
  • The restaurant was decorated with Asian "artefacts".
  • Which are for sale.
  • It serves a mix of different Asian cuisines. Generally, in restaurants, it pays to specialize. ("Fusion" cuisine notwithstanding.)

Anyway, it was pretty good, though the service was laughably bad.

The Belgian Monk

OK, not as laughably bad as at the Belgian Monk. I wasn't thrilled with this restaurant a couple of years ago, but I decided to give it another shot, due to my love of Belgian food. (And its difficulty to obtain.) The beer was great, the food was so-so, and the service was pitiful. Generally, you expect a Belgian restaurant to have lambic beers. Generally, you expect the wait staff to know that they do, and not deny the existence. Etc. Anyway, I think for future visits, I would drink the beer and go some other place for dinner.

Exchange Rates

I don't know why it is, but life over here makes sense if you think 1 pound=1 dollar. Now, actually, 1 pound=1.6 dollars (or something like that). But things are more expensive here, so it evens out. Oddly enough, this also works in Canada and Australia, whose dollars are worth less than the US dollar.

The UK Thought Process

Until the other night, I had never been charged for the "mixer" when I ordered a bourbon and coke. However, when I placed that order at Jim Thompson's, I had the feeling that they were going to charge me separately for the coke. And they did. The fact that I anticipated it sort of frightens me about getting tuned into the British mindset.

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