Silicon Valley says no to Wi-Fi

The LA Times this week ran an interesting article about Cafe’s in the heart of Silicon Valley turning off Wi-Fi.

“We had big parties or family groups who wanted to eat but had no room,” said Jean Paul Coupal, who runs the cafe with his mother, Nancy. “They were getting upset about it. They felt the whole place was being taken over by techies.”

Coffee shops were the retail pioneers of Wi-Fi, flipping the switch to lure customers. But now some owners are pulling the plug. They’re finding that Wi-Fi freeloaders who camp out all day nursing a single cup of coffee are a drain on the bottom line. Others want to preserve a friendly vibe and keep their establishments from turning into “Matrix”-like zombie shacks where people type and don’t talk.

This issue doesn’t just occur in Silicon Valley the mothership of all techies.  It is an issue being encourted more and more by cafe’s and hotel lobbys here in Ireland and the UK.  With the shift to mobile internet, the fact more of us are online now than ever before (The 5th Billion Internet device is about to connect to the ‘web‘) and with mobile opererators restricting the amount of data we can pull from cell towers, it is easy to see why more people are seeking out Wi-Fi hotspots during their working (and resting) day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Restaurant Review – Del Toro Lisburn

I really would like to give you a review of Del Toro in Lisburn, the new steak house that has just opened however sadly it is not meant to be.

I planned on going there on New Years Eve with my family (11 people) to celebrate my Mothers birthday, however a day after making the booking the Manager called me up to inform me that they would not be able to offer us the normal menu but rather the New Year’s Eve gourmet menu at a staggering £45 per head. (plus a 10% service charge)

We cancelled !

In times of a recession and in Lisburn of all places, how a restaurant thinks they can get away with £45 a head for a meal just baffles me.


Restaurant Review : Metro Belfast

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Metro Restuarant is attached to the Crescent Townhouse hotel in Belfast, across from the empire…… It used to be called The Regency and if you can remember it when it was called that, then there is older than me here !

First Impressions

Its a busy Saturday night and we booked dinner for 6pm, when we entered the restuarant it was half full and well staffed.  The dinning area is bright and well laid out on two levels, we sat down the back towards the kitchen and set about getting drinks and choosing a menu.  There are two menus available, the standard and the ‘Dine with Wine’ menu.  We went for the ‘Dine with Wine’ menu – two courses each and a bottle of wine for £45.

Food, Service and Selection.

The menu is small with around 6 dishes for starter and the same for main however all areas are covered although two of the main meals (Duck and Steak) come with a £5 additional charge.  I went for Fois Gras Pate to start, Lyndsey went for Pasta and we both had the rib-eye for Main (both with a £5 additional charge).  The food was average – nothing specular and certainly not worth £55 I thought, The steak was under cooked and very fatty.

The service I have to say, was very good – the staff were attentive and well trained, as the restuarant started to fill up they coped well.

Costs

As I said the Dine with Wine menu is £45 plus we paid an additional £10 for the two steaks so £55 all in.

Rusky Rates
Service was good, very attentive and well trained : 9/10
Food, Steak undercooked and fatty  : 5/10
Vibe : busy, a few girls parties in, a good buzz: 8/10
Value for Money : £55 for two course and a bottle of wine, I have had better for less money : 5/10
Choice : A good selection on the menu for all tastes, some thing for every pallet 8/10

Total 35/50


Restaurant Review : Ginger Bistro Belfast

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Their website simply reads :Ginger…

Well fundamentally it’s a Bistro, good food & drink. But it’s also Bohemian with a menu which zigzags across the globe but is at the same time conscious of the importance of Local Produce. Local is Best. Simon buys fish from the fishermen and meat from the farm. A funky place with a good stereo. Not formal but slick. A great addition to a good night out in Belfast.

When we are in Belfast, we never miss the opertunity to grab lunch in Ginger, tucked away in one of Belfasts many side streets, Ginger is a great funky bistro to be enjoyed with friends and family, or a business lunch.

First Impressions

Its around 2 oclock on a quiet Belfast Saturday, the bistro is not busy but its about half of it is full, and the patrons all seem to be in good spirits.  We are quickly shown to our favorite seats by the window and get on with choosing what to have for lunch.

Selection Food and service

It’s not a huge menu but there is a few fish dishes, meat and poultry.  all in all a good selection.  The service was average and the waiter knew the in’s and out’s of each dish on the menu.  I went for the squid and garlic fries with a garlic dip and my wife went for monk fish pan fried.  The great thing about Ginger is all the meals are light and well cooked which is great for lunch, we also had a side of greens.  The monk fish was meaty and really filling, cooked as described and the perfect amount.  The squid was lightly dusted in breadcrumbs, slightly browned and cooked to perfection.  My father in law (if he were there) may have described the greens as under cooked – however I thought they were just the correct amount of crunchiness.  For desert we shared an Irish cheese board and homemade Armagh apple crumble.  Delicious

Costs

For lunch, Ginger really does represent excellent value for money.  A few beers, two starters, two deserts and sides for just under £30.  spot on !

Rusky Rates
Service was acceptable, didn’t check on us, nor keep our drinks topped up, had to ask twice for the bill : 7/10
Food, Excellent, fresh, as described and on time  : 9/10
Vibe : Quiet but every enjoying themselves: 8/10
Value for Money : Under £30 for lunch – great value all round : 9/10
Choice : A good selection on the menu for all tastes, some thing for every pallet 9/10

Total 42/50


Restaurant Review : Tony Romas Belfast

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It has been nearly two years since our last visit to Tony Roma’s in Belfast, since then steak houses have came and gone but none seem to have stuck in the minds of steak lovers like Tony Roma’s.  I wanted to revisit and see if the credit crunch had effected business.

First Impressions

We entered on Friday the 1st of May at around 7pm – the town had been quiet all day so we didnt feel the need to book, this was a mistake as the restuarant was packed however the friendly Texan lady on the welcome desk did her best to squeese us in, she gave us a pager and found us a resting place at the bar until a table became available.  Lyndsey of course (my wife) took the opertunity to attack the cocktail list !

Selection food and service

As ever the menu was huge, well presented and laid out and their really was something for every pallet.  We shared an onion loaf for starter (If you have never experienced an onion loaf – get down here right away and try it !) I went for the steak and shrimp with garlic fries, mash and pepper sauce and Lyndsey had the house ribs and shrimp with greens and mash.

The service as usual was fantastic, the food came in a timely manner and as a nice touch, I was asked to cut into my steak to check it had been cooked to my request – it had, I often go for a medium steak but it is often in other places either under or over cooked.

Costs

So its not the cheapest however, it is true when they say you do get what you pay for.  The total came to £57 which for a heap of meat, shared starter, drinks and shrimp it is not bad at all.

Rusky Rates
Service good and very accommodating, checked how we were getting on through out the meal and kept our drinks topped up: 9/10
Food, All prepared fresh and hot, served in good time, All food cooked to request : 9/10
Vibe : a great atmosphere, very busy and staff were not under pressure: 9/10
Value for Money : £57 for Dinner – Not good for a cheap evening out, but great for a treat : 7/10
Choice : A good selection on the menu for all tastes, some thing for every pallet 10/10

Total 46/50


Restaurant Review : Mourne Seafood Bar – Belfast

imagesMourne seafood Bar in Belfast is tucked away from the main street in bank street, one of Belfast many famous entree ways now facing the wrath of the bulldozer as Castle Court shopping centre attempts to expand to a ridiculous size.

I had been promising to take my wife back to Mourne Seafood Bar since she gave birth (pregnant women can’t eat seafood!) to our daughter in March last year.

You can’t book for lunch so the three of us (myself, wife and baby Hannah) headed down at around 2o’clock – The restaurant is set behind a small fish counter where you can go and buy the same fish they will serve in the restaurant, this is also were a lot of the prep work goes on in full view of the public. There was a large queue up to and past the counter. At first I thought the queue was for the counter but no it seems that even during this recession people still can’t get enough of Mourne seafoods excellent offering.

We queued for around half an hour, slowing edging toward actually getting a table when I discovered that this was not actually the queue for getting a table, this was a queue to get into the waiting area to wait to get a table ! crazy, but I did promise Lyndsey that this is where we would eat so queue some more we did. Besides, I figured if all these people were happy to queue then there must be something worth waiting for.

The service was excellent when we finally got to our table, the staff here always know a fair bit about whats on the menu, well trained, friendly and helpful – even more importantly to us – they were very child friendly and prepared some salt free mash for the little’n.

We decided that rather than go for main courses we would get a medley of starters which comprised of.

2 Portions of lightly dusted squid with salad and dips
Fish fingers
Prawn Risotto
Garlic Chips and mash.

The fish fingers are made up of fresh cod, tossed in breadcrumbs – served very hot. incredibly simply and tasty, The squid was good – but a little undercooked for my liking, Squid is one of fav fish dishes and I’m fussy about it ! The Prawn Risotto was simply divine, one of the nicest risotto’s I have had with plenty of prawns through it. Chips were hand cut and the mash was really creamy.

Everything at Mourne Seafood Bar is fresh and locally caught, what you are eating was more than likely in the sea not 24 hours before hand and that is what makes it so good. The restaurant is fairly small seating around 40 people with a further 35 upstairs in the evening. It has a great feel and vibe to it inside with a big old bar and chalk boards scattered around the place with info and stories about upon.

The Costs.
Prawn Risotto £6.50
Squid (£6.50) x 2 £13.00
Fish Fingers £7.50
Champ £2.75
Chips £2.75
Water £1.55
Orange £1.55
Guinness £2.85

TOTAL for 2 people for Lunch :- £38.45
so by no means a cheap lunch but I would say close to being worth it. Lyndsey enjoyed it and our 10 month old daughter Hannah loved the cod !

Rusky Rates
Service, Helpful, friendly and knew the menu, the only downfall here was that she didn’t check how we were getting on : 8/10
Food, All prepared fresh and hot, served in good time, Squid undercooked for my liking : 8/10
Vibe : A good feel to the place, the owner’s care very much about you enjoying your visit : 9/10
Value for Money : £40 for lunch – It was a nice meal but we only got some starters and most of the mains are over £15. At these tough time’s there is defiantly better value out there so : 6/10
Choice : A good selection on the menu for all tastes, there is even some non fish dishes for any non fish lovers in your party. 9/10

Total score 40/50