Marrakesh Ave

Marrakesh Ave is a Moroccan restaurant on Princes Avenue. For me, it’s always been one of those places I was intrigued by as I walked past. A couple of weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and took one of my friends there for her birthday.

There were problems from the start – we turned up at the date & time we’d booked to find that the restaurant hadn’t reopened as planned, the refurbishments they’d been doing had overrun! The owner apologised & offered us a free bottle of wine for when we rebooked.

Upon our return on Tuesday of the next week, things went smoothly. The front room of the restaurant (it was a bitterly cold day, so we didn’t see the ‘secret garden’ at the back) has cushioned seats along the walls, with chairs on the other side of the tables. It poses something of a dilemma if there’s two of you – do you go for both being comfortable, or sit opposite each other to make conversation easier? Opting for the latter, I was annoyed to find that there was a a slight draft from the front door which I was sat near.

The service was excellent – our waitress friendly and chatty throughout, and didn’t object when (on a limited budget) we wanted to share both a starter and dessert rather than buying one each. The food was served quickly, but it wasn’t mind blowing; the starter was probably the highlight: we had humus and olives with bread, which while simple was still extremely tasty. For the main, we went for the ‘Marrakesh platter’, consisting of skewered lamb, chicken, and vegetables with salad, garlic yogurt and chilli sauce. There was more than enough to fill the two of us up, but on the other hand it became somewhat repetitive!

For dessert we shared a portion of Baklava. While it was very tasty, it was also quite difficult to eat – very tough, and bits tended to fly everywhere if you attempted to hack off a bit. The waitress had said it was the last piece so in hindsight it may have been there some time.

The bill came to £40, which is really quite pricey for one starter, one dessert, and a main course designed to be shared between two. Count in the fact that our wine came free and you could easily add substantially to that bill even if there’s only two of you. Overall, the excellent service and nice atmosphere at this place doesn’t make up for the expense. 5/10

Giant Panda

Giant Panda, on Princes Avenue, is an all-you-can-eat chinese restaurant. A party of 12 of us went last night.

With such a large party, ordering can be quite difficult, so we started with a mixed platter of starters – spring rolls, spare ribs, etc. The stand out here for me were the spare ribs with a kind of fruity glaze on them. It was a little like sucking a boiled sweet at the same time as eating the rib. After the platters, everyone’s favourite crispy duck pancakes – no complaints there.

For the mains, we had a variety of things – I won’t list them all, but the crispy chilli beef wasn’t particularly chilli – a little disappointing even – while on the other hand the beef in black bean sauce was one of the best I’ve ever had – for some reason it seemed to have more chilli peppers in than the crispy beef! The chicken & cashew nut was also better than average.

As it was all-you-can-eat, commenting on portion size is irrelevant, but requests for more food or extra dishes were met very promptly – the service was very good indeed. At £12.88 (on fridays and saturdays; cheaper sun-thurs) per head and drinks which aren’t super expensive (£2.50 a pint), it’s quite affordable (we had a competition to guess how much the bill would be – I guessed the lowest and got it right).

Sleepers – a brief review

Sleepers is a restaurant/café bar on Newland Ave, next to the railway bridge (hence, presumably, the name). I went there the other day for a work Christmas meal. It’s a pretty nice place. Fully booked with Christmas parties on the day I went, they were turning people away. Before I start reviewing the food I should mention that I’m currently trying to gain a bit of weight so quantity may weigh on my mind a little more than it should.

To start, I had pâté with toasted ciabatta. Except the ciabatta wasn’t toasted. Otherwise, excellent – lots of pâté. For the main course, turkey. Lots of it; and lots of vegetables (a few too many brussel sprouts for my liking – but the parsnips made up for it), mashed potato but only two roast potatoes. Dessert – fruit crumble, I liked it a lot. 6/10 on the food – good but not special.

The drinks at Sleepers are quite reasonably priced, or at least the bottled ales are. Good selection too. 8/10

Overall a solid 7/10. As it’s only a minute away from my house I may go again!

Ian McMillan & Henwen, Hull Truck Theatre

So as my Dad couldn’t make it to Hull Truck Theatre tonight, there was a ticket up for grabs and I gladly accepted, having no idea who was performing. I was expecting some good comedy fare which is what my parents usually go in for, but tonight was a little different. There was an acapella group, Henwen – five yorkshire ladies creating harmonies with their voices – and Ian McMillan, the “22nd Most Powerful Person in Radio” – mainly a poet. Started with a few funny stories and a couple of poems, then a couple of songs from Henwen – including a cover of Hyperballad by Bjork, then another poem, another couple of songs… etc. I was very impressed with Henwen, good stuff – they covered Nina Simone as well as Bjork and somebody else whose name escapes me. McMillan gave readings from his new book, a Yorkshire dictionary which also has some of his poems in, and other bits such as the Book of Genesis as written by a typical Barnsleyman (very funny!).

After the interval, Henwen & McMillan joined forces to do a piece called “Happen”, a song-poem about a man from Barnsley. It was a bit out-there at times, but the acapella stuff was really good, and they managed to fit it together with McMillan’s poetry pretty well. Certainly not world-changing, but if you like poetry & acapella or think you might, I definitely recommend it. Tonight was the ‘world premiere’ – first time I’ve been to one of those! There are only a few more dates, catch them if you can.

a Hull bus story

Ran out onto Beverley Road on Friday, to catch a bus to town. It was about nine thirty and I’d just missed a 105, and with Hull Fair on, I wasn’t exactly hopeful. But lo and behold a bus came into view. One with no number or destination board. I hailed it, anyway, and surprisingly it stopped; a couple of men got off, I got on and asked the driver if he could take me to town. “Sure”, he said, “Call it 50p”. “Bargin!”, I thought.Then I noticed the smell. The entire bus smelt of raw meat; turns out the men were the last of the (predominantly Polish, apparently) slaughterhouse workers he’d been dropping off after picking them up somewhere out near Leconfield. Since he was now just heading back to the depot, he was kind enough to drop me off right in the middle of the old town, exactly where I wanted to be! Hurrah for friendly Hull bus drivers!