Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Slow food, fast

It is a funny phenomenon, but Americans in London (and, of course, Americans in America) eat. And of this I was reminded last night when I joined a group of yank-minded friends in the Prince Bonaparte to stave off Election Day jitters (c'mon Montana and Virginia). And whilst the conversation flitted over vote robbers and Britney Spears' divorce, the one consistent theme was food - the eating of it not the talking about it. To Americans a good night out still revolves around food first, drink second (the real UK-US divide). And because hearty food serves as a useful mop-up for upcoming holiday season drink excess, it is timely that Britain's first risotto bar, Ooze, just opened on Goodge Street, W1.

Affordable fare in London being such a rarity, I was willing to ditch my carb-free (well, except for pizza, pasta, chocolate and red wine) diet and see what this sticky, slow-cooking rice can do when set pride of place. And so I arrived at Ooze, their tag line being "slow food, cooked fast," this past Monday evening with the expectation of an Italian Wagamama experience (not to sound like a Dragons' Den pitch).

But, rather than give the typical restaurant review telling you how my scottish salmon with braised fennel and parsley risotto was tasty, but definitely not for size zero contenders. Or, how the house wine is an easy-drinking red from Montepulciano, and the season crumble was spot-on if quite heavy after a heap of Arborio rice. I will leave the foodie talk to the gurus at Time Out and the Indy. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed it (pastel walls withstanding) and would go back; and certainly rate it above Ping Pong which is, either savvily or tragically, located directly across on Goodge Street.

Now let's take on the bigger issue facing London. Can Ooze do for risotto what Wagamama's did for the noodle? Let those opinions ooze here...

Ooze, 62 Goodge Street, London
020 7436 9444
Mains from £6.95 to £9.50, Wines from £12.95 to £25


Anonymous Tanya said...

First to post today, yeah!

Hum, risotto bar? Not sure. Although you liked it and Time Out review gives it 5 stars?!!
Maybe worth a try as you suggest stumbling home from Soho.
What are opening hours?

2:32 pm  
Blogger Moaner Lisa said...

Is the UK/US split driven by crap american beer or rubbish english food?

Both, I guess. But give us the option of decent food and it might change.

So although a wagahollic, I think the more variety in the range of affordable eats the better.

3:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is an absurd idea. Risotto, like pasta, can only be a first course, both gastronomically and nutritionally. The italians understand this, so why can't we?

And nobody out does the Wagamama beast.

3:14 pm  
Anonymous bighouselittleman said...

I cooked risotto the other night for the first time in a while and however much I enjoy it I too find them a bit one dimensional (if you can be "a bit one dimensional"), great for a few bites but after that they lose their shine. Definitely a starter thing for me.

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the f**k call it 'Ooze' though? open wounds Ooze, my dinner shouldn't

3:17 pm  
Anonymous HeartyBowl said...

To answer your question Moaner Lisa (cool name BTW)..

"I suspect that 99% of the typically british tasting palate is flawed" - Vadouvan

3:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My problem with risotto is that no matter how good the first mouthful, the experience goes downhill from there. Flavour/texture fatigue always gets me well before the end of the dish.

Ooze seems like a missed opportunity: a tappas element would get around one of The Big Problems With Risotto.

3:23 pm  
Blogger ems said...

I'm dubious in that risotto should be cooked fresh - it just doesn't keep. I'd certainly give this place a go. The last time we ate at Wagamama was a disaster. Friend's veggie noodles contained meat and the waiter launched someone else's drink all over us and the table. That was the least of it. Never again. (I always say try to avoid the chains).

3:24 pm  
Anonymous Jamie said...

EMS, CS, anybody out there -- While we're here: I agree can anyone guess what their secret, ultra-quick cooking method may be? Is it wildly different from the catering standard mentioned in Bourdain's first book? (Ie. make a huge pot and cook it to within a minute of being ready, then keep it chilled for the duration of service so you can finish off each individual order by adding blocks of cheese and butter.) I was under the impression that this shortcut method was the cause of the claggy, over-rich, three-spoons-and-you're-bored problem they're aiming to avoid.

Take on Wagamama's? No way...

3:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally a good night for the Democrats - way to go pumping out the YouTube vid.

And NY got rid of Pataki. Spitzer should be a much better Governor.

Oh sorry wrong post you guys are talking London food here which I can tell you for nothing is way over priced garbage.

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only such cool concepts would make it to Manchester :-(

To me a risotto bar sounds fab

3:38 pm  
Anonymous badgelady said...

Don't no what their method is, but it is also possible to part cook a risotto, leave it to cool and then finish for service.

There is a good description of this method in Gordon Ramsay's first book, Formulas for Flavour.

4:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds fabulous but I LOVE risotto. Yummy...will definitely check it out.
Cool tip blogmistress!

5:06 pm  
Anonymous Beth said...

I agree that its a bit monotonous, but pasta isn't. I don't get it.

On the opposite side of the coin, I could eat it forever and ever, even just plain with parm and butter. I adore risotto.

5:27 pm  
Anonymous Samson said...

FYI guys

Ooze. An obsolete term for the vegetable tanning liquor used in converting hides and skins into leather

5:34 pm  
Blogger Monique said...

so true about Americans & their food - that place sounds fabulous!

my favourtie American like food places here are - Cafe Pacifico in Covent Garden (darn good Mexican food - and REAL toritilla chips!) of course Chillis in the Docklands (OHHHHHHHHHH AMERICAN huge portions GOOD), and The Big Easy Crab & Seafood Restaurant in Chelsea - yummmmm

6:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the Ooze folks the best of luck. It's a big risk taking on the financial and personal burdens of opening something like that in the West End. I'm sure enormous hours of effort have been put into it. All the best - I wish I could be as brave as them!

6:34 pm  
Blogger Red said...

Their slogan makes me want to avoid them...

8:22 pm  
Blogger Jamie said...

Ooze sounds awful, wonder how long before it dies a death like so many other resturants in London?

The name alone would put me off from going!

Well done on your recent blogging fame. Definatly one of the more entertaining blogs I've had the pleasure to lurk

11:01 pm  
Anonymous Ella said...

City Slicker is so it darling x

11:34 am  
Anonymous dawnbysea said...

checked this place out last night
awesome risotto with tuna
definitely worth the trip and i live in hampshire but was in town for a meeting.

definitely see it being the new wagamamas or pizza express type thang...

11:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta say I ate in Ooze the other day for lunch and it was fab. Great atmosphere and great food. The starters were full of flavour you could tell that only the best ingredients had been used. I was speaking to the owner who was very helpful and the technique they use is no different from any otherrestaurant producing Risotto on mass - they simply just partly cook the base then do the finishing touches as required. Perfect alternative to alll the crap thats out there at the minute.

PS try the chocolate fondant - naughty but bloody goooooood!

Think the names great btw...

7:56 pm  

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