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Food review: Edward's Restaurant

Michael McIlvenna, in Waterloo, is far removed from the Chinese New Year experience

Published on February 3rd 2009.


Food review: Edward's Restaurant

TO celebrate Chinese New Year, our bathroom decided to treat the kitchen below it to a big drink. My fault for taking a bath, the waste pipe of which severed in the night as punishment for such decadence.

Ah, well, I thought, on discovering the flood at 7am, the day can only get better. Instead, we waited seven hours for a plumber, the telly broke and the dog shat on the living room carpet. And a gung hei fat choi to you, too.

Then the kids started crying because they had missed the dragon dance, the funfair, the firecrackers. So we sought consolation at a local Chinese restaurant, Edward's in Waterloo. No firecrackers, but a big bowl of prawn crackers.

Edward's Restaurant, apart from the name (“ER” is the proud neon insignia above the door) is your everyday, neighbourhood Chinese: deep red, heavily patterned carpet, fish tank, the usual cultural adornments and, in a bid to attract the royally appointed end of Waterloo, proper linen tablecloths, napkins and silver cutlery.

As we walked in, there were children ambling between tables, which was disappointing but it could have been worse; they could have been sitting quietly, getting on with their meals. As any parent of children under 10 will tell you – unless they are liars – the last thing you want to see is other people's offspring doing as they're told.

Well-behaved children unsettle us, shame us, fill our heads with self-doubt, even though we know very well that obliging children in a restaurant must have been either thrashed into submission or heavily sedated.

We don't normally resort to drink when the kids are around but after a day bereft of gung hei we were feeling pretty gung ho. The wine list looked like it was compiled in 1973 - Black Tower, Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch, Riesling – but we found a muscadet (£10) that wouldn't upset or particularly cheer anyone.

The Chinese have so much respect for children that they created a whole lot of dishes just to please them – sweet, sticky, messy, chewy, crunchy, artsy-craftsy-build-your-own-pancakes. Crispy duck (£6.60) and a pile of veggie and meat spring rolls (£2.50 per portion) with chilli sauce were fine, no more than fine, but that's fine because the kids were enjoying themselves and we had the muscadet.

We wanted to try something a little unusual and thought we'd found the very thing in "deep fried sweet com and minced me". What exotica is this, we wondered of the waiter. Even he hadn't come across such a dish before and further consultation with a colleague drew another blank face. Eventually it dawned on us that it should have read "deep fried sweet corn and minced meat". No matter. Instead, crispy seaweed with grated dried fish (£3.80) was the only thing approaching the job.

Service (“you want chips or rice?”) was charming and willing but suffering badly from amnesia. The water didn't arrive so we asked again. Then the prawn crackers didn't arrive, then the seaweed and grated dried fish didn't arrive, and the water still hadn't arrived. Two glasses of iced water finally came at the fourth time of asking. Lucky the place wasn't busy.

Fried mussels (£8.50) came (along with the chopsticks) atop an unspectacular black bean sauce. The mussels, a little on the chewy side, were monsters, with shells the size of kayaks for miniature inuits. Stir-fried beef with ginger and spring onions (£7) was either experiencing an identity crisis or, as I suspect, we were given fried beef with pineapple and stem ginger (£6.50) instead. Either way, the ginger was barely visible to the naked eye, while the beef, in a thick sweetish sauce at least made up in taste what it lacked in tenderness.

Funnily enough, the best thing of the night – the kids' chicken chow mein, brimming with meat, baby corn, celery, slivers of carrot and more – was barely touched. They were too full, so we got to have it as a “takeaway”, two nights later, warmed through but just as tasty.

Edward's is a fairly average anglo-Chinese culinary experience but the prices were fairly average too and you have to be doing an awful lot wrong to ruin crispy duck pancakes. Sometimes it's enough that you don't have to go far from home, that it's not you cleaning up the mess, that collective spirits are lifted. On that basis, mission accomplished; just no fireworks, that's all.

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ADFebruary 3rd 2009.

Why when the service was clearly awful do you give it 3 out of 5? you got half of what you ordered and the rest at the wrong time?

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