Tag Archives: Almeida

Restaurant Review: The Afghan Kitchen

13 Mar

afghankitchen1

I have lived in Hackney in the last 8 years and have been passing through Islington via the 38 bus route and have always been curious about this quaint restaurant called The Afghan Kitchen just on the corner of Islington Green as it merges with Essex Road. First off, I liked the simplicity of the restaurant with its canteen style wooden table and chairs and how it’s always full everytime I pass by there. A work colleague was due to have a leaving do here last Wednesday and I couldnt make it, then I realised I was going to be in Islington anyway to watch Duet for One at the Almeida with fellow theatre trotters Lynne and Tony, we decided to book seats and try it out for our pre-theatre meal. The excitement to finally dine here stems from the fact that I have never tasted traditional Afghan cuisine before, I have heard quite good praises about this place, and tonight that curiousity will be finally satisfied.

I booked the table for 6 pm but knew I wouldn’t get there till 630 pm so on my way texted Lynne my order to save us time waiting for the food to arrive. I ordered their Qurma Suhzi Gosht (lamb with spinach), rice, and Afghan mixed pickles, whilst Tony & Lynne both had the Banjon Borani (aubergines with yoghurt). Service was friendly and lightning quick, our food arrived just as soon as I got there. So how was it then? Decadently delicious! My lamb reminded me of the Indian sag aloo but as I am picky with my sag aloo and only ever orders it in my local Indian take away, this was just as tasty and the lamb very tender. How many ways can you describe the rice. I mean how did they cook the rice, it’s already a meal on its own! Tony and I both couldnt get over it. The portions are generous although their menu is quite limited with just 4 meat and 4 vegetarian dishes but I can say now that I would like to try them all! I had my eye on the Lavand-e-Murgh (chicken in yoghurt) and will also try the highly recommended Sarah’s (kidney beans, chick peas and potatoes cooked with yoghurt). What’s more is that it’s also very reasonably priced, our total bill was only £50 including a bottle of white, and superb cafetiere coffee. Be warned, they only accept cash or cheques but there’s lots of nearby cashpoints.

afghankitchen2

If you happen to be around the area, forgo your usual dining fare and try this little wonder called The Afghan Kitchen, and come back here and tell us all about it!

The Afghan Kitchen- 5/5

35 Islington Green, London N1 8DU
Telephone: 0207 359 8019
Eat in or Take Away
Closed on Sunday and Monday

Addendum: Lynne left her bag of strawberries so we returned at 2230 and the lady who served us very kindly gave it back to her, all 26 of ’em! More brownie points there!

Afghan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Theatre trotting in March

1 Mar

First off, I want to say that I did well last month for I did not skip any of the six productions I have booked, so pat me in the back please! Our party almost missed Zorro on the 02/02 because of the heavy snow that London and most of the UK experienced but as they cancelled the show, we were entitled to rebook. Thanks to SEE tickets who were very understanding and helpful. Speaking of Zorro, the bad news came out last month that Zorro is definitely closing and this is due to recasting issues. The last I heard and this is straight from their website is that Zorro will embark on nine confirmed future international productions including France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea and Russia. The mark of Zorro lives indeed!

So what am I seeing in March then?

2- La Cage aux Folles, Playhouse Theatre

I wasn’t really planning on seeing this but after having read several enthusiastic reviews and really good word-of-mouth vibe about the performances and how it’s such a feel good production, I was left with little choice. As I am seeing it tomorrow night and have never been to the Playhouse, I am trying to navigate my way to get there.

6- Zorro, Garrick Theatre
Playing until March 14

I have a ticket to see Mrs Affleck at the Cottesloe but as most of those I know who have already seen the production loathed it, a couple of them walking out in the interval even, I thought, well what’s the point? Okay, I would lose my hard earned £10 but it’s better than a wasted Friday evening when I know I could be having more fun in seeing Zorro for the 3rd and last time! I missed Matt Rawle in my second viewing so I am hoping that he is back for this.

13- Duet for One, Almeida

Seeing this play was decided after watching the National’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour with fellow theatre trotter Lynne back in January. Now almost at the end of its run and with tickets sold out I am pleased we did book tickets as it has received very good reviews here and here. Now that’s another Friday evening to look forward to!

17- War Horse, Olivier, National Theatre

This is really more like a box ticking exercise to say that yes, its that Michael Morpurgo recreation and I have seen it. When I first started going to the National in 2008, and missed War Horse the year before, I was advised that if it should have another staging that I make a point in booking it. I have also been warned about it but if it fails to capture my imagination, and as I am catching a matinee performance, all is not lost as I have another play to see afterwards. But I want it to be good!

17- Dido, Queen of Carthage, Cottesloe, National Theatre

Would saying I am curious about Christopher Marlowe’s work suffice for my booking this?

So with back to back plays, it’s really going to be a day out at the National, missing SRB like crazy, but also looking forward to meet Abigail!

20- On the Waterfront, Haymarket Theatre Royal

Making sure that I must have seen Stephen Berkoff in at least a film of two, I checked out his CV in IMDb and found that he was in Revolution with Al Pacino but I so hated that film and I barely remember him in it. But yes, he was also in Octopussy, Rambo II, and Beverly Hills Cop among others, so okay I do know the man. Anyway, his involvement with On the Waterfront is enough to get excited but it took a few good word of mouth for this production that behooved me to finally book it. Not having seen the Elia Kazan film with a younger Marlon Brando, I still have the time to do so before sinking my teeth into it!

27- Dimetos, Donmar Warehouse

Jonathan Pryce. The Donmar. Enough said.

So what are you seeing in the theatre this month?

Theatre Review: Rosmersholm

30 Jun

Plot: When the seductive Rebecca West (Helen McCrory) arrives at Rosmersholm, Johannes Rosmer’s (Paul Hilton) beliefs are thrown into turmoil.

Two psycologically fascinating character studies.  A society divided between conservatism and a new democracy.  A portrait of idealism foundering in the modern world of journalistic spin and opportunism.  A story full of frightening twists.

A play believed by many to be Ibsen’s dramatic masterpiece, in a new version by Mike Poulton.

I first saw Ms. McCrory in 2004’s Five Gold Rings also at the Almeida. I have always respected her as an actress and have been keeping an eye on her so imagine my delight when I learned that Almeida is staging its version of Rosmersholm with Ms. McCrory in the lead. Like webcowgirl, I am also on an Ibsen quest, which I am doing the same with Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw and Pinter. For the record, this is now my 5th Ibsen, and there’s still 21 more to go, not sure if the chances of seeing them all will be likely though!

Patiently waiting for the play to start, I spotted Alan Rickman a row below me. I remembered that he will be directing Strindberg’s Creditors at the Donmar this autumn which I am quite keen to catch as well. I was close to saying, nice to see you here Colonel Brandon! But I bit my lip of course. Now to the play.

Hmmm, I have to say I didn’t really like it that much, but I didnt dislike it that much either. I thought Rosmersholm as a rather strange play altogether. It took a while for my interest to build up, I suppose if I had some drinks at the first interval, it would of made the experience bearable towards the following acts. It just didnt appeal to me the way Pillars of the Community, John Gabriel Borkman, and An Enemy of the People did. If there was anything to recommend about it, it will have to be the performance of Malcolm Sinclair as Doctor Kroll. As for Paul Hilton and McCrory as the ill fated lovers Rebecca and Johannes, I just couldnt make myself sympathise with their characters that it didn’t bother me the least when in the end they ran towards the millrace and drowned to their deaths.

Clearly not one of my favorite Ibsen.

Rosmersholm: 3/5

Theatre Review: The Homecoming

1 Feb

Plot: Set in North London, the play has six characters: five men who are related––Max (Kenneth Cranham), a retired butcher, and Sam (Anthony O’Donnell), a chauffeur, who are brothers; and Max’s three sons, Teddy (Neil Dudgeon), an expatriate American philosophy professor; Lenny (Nigel Lindsay), who appears to be a pimp; and Joey (Danny Dyer), a would-be boxer in training who works in demolition; and one woman, Ruth (Jenny Jules), Teddy’s wife. The plot involves Teddy bringing home his wife, Ruth, for the first time from the United States to the working-class North London environment where he grew up and which she finds more familiar than their arid academic world in America. Much sexual tension occurs as his wife teases Teddy’s brothers and father and the men taunt one another in a game of oneupmanship.

I saw my first play at the Almeida back in 2003, with Joanna Laurens’ Five Gold Rings. So it was a thrill to come back after 5 years, this time watching my very first Harold Pinter production of The Homecoming. I was also thrilled to see Kenneth Cranham (HBO’s Rome, Hot Fuzz) perform on stage, again for the first time.

Directed by Michael Attenborough, this is an excellent revival of Pinter’s black comedy of brute alienation and sentimentality. In the performances, Cranham is just fantastic. His Max was fearful and all that bottled up rage is palpable long after the play has finished. But I suppose the genius was in the casting of Jenny Jules as Ruth, her coolness and seemingly calculating subtle manipulation is just what the family ordered. It’s not an easy production to watch with all the morality play and if Pinter might have left his options open as to what has to become of Ruth and this revival might have implied otherwise with such panache.

The Homecoming: 4/5

Playing at the Almeida until March 22