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Black Chile Mexican Grill, Phoenix – AZ, USA

I had been in the US for about a week on business.  I had gotten up early and driven to The Apple Store to buy some goodies on the cheap (compared to the UK!).  Black Chile is located in an upmarket mall with several funky shops and eateries as well as The Apple Store.  A shiny new Apple TV in hand I decided it was time for lunch.

I went in the restaurant and the first staff member I encountered completely ignored me – not a good start.  The girl behind the bar shouted me over and explained I could have any table I wanted.  It may have been January and it may have been colder than it could have been, but it was a lot warmer than it is in Scotland in January so I went for a table outside.  I was delighted to find bar stools – one side of the bar had a shutter so I could sit outside at the bar!  Fantastic!

This was a fairly modern place – focus is on expensive dinners with a strong Mexican theme.  There was lots of black and a few choice paintings dotted around.  It was lunchtime though and most people were having smaller plates.

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Weinhaus Winzerhauschen – Königswinter – Germany

I was staying in Bonn for a few weeks on business.  Someone in the hotel told me that they had the ‘perfect’ day in the ‘beautiful’ town of Königswinter that was a 20-minute U-Bahn ride from the hotel.

Being a Sunday, there was not much else to do (other than work which wasn’t exciting me), so I cajoled a colleague to join me and off we went.

We got off the train and saw a Sea Life centre, some snow and a very dull small German town.  We had been told to cut through the town and find the railway, which would take us up the ‘mountain’.  We managed to find said train easily, however we decide to walk up – which was probably a stupid decision in the snow.  Suffice to say that the walk up was not worth what awaited us; not much more than a building site.  We walked back down the hill and found this pub almost at the bottom.  In we went; we had certainly earned a beer.

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Barking Frog Grille – Sedona, AZ, USA

I was in Phoenix for business and decided to take a day trip to Sedona.  My colleague had hitched a ride with me and due to the early start we were real hungry by lunchtime.  We had seen the main tourist strip of Sedona and perhaps unsurprisingly, the eateries did not look up to much.  We took a short drive South and found another strip with lots of fast-food chains.

Luckily, my colleague glanced at the map we had picked up form the Tourist Information centre in the small village of Oakwood on the drive up.  He noticed that a restaurant called the Barking Frog was on the map – just as we saw it appear on the right!  I pulled in to the car park and we agreed it was by far the best option we had seen so far.

Entrance to the Barking Frog was via an imposing set of double wooden doors that opened to reveal an entrance hallway leading to a small welcome desk and a woman on the telephone.  As we loitered in the hope of being greeted and seated, I had a look around; there was a small bar to the left, with a good selection of Whisky (‘The Lounge’); an outdoor seating area (‘The Patio’); a large table next to a fountain (‘The Pond’); and another seating area at the other side of the bar (‘Fireside’).  It was clear that this was meant to be an upmarket establishment, and it would have been if it wasn’t for the fact that we were still loitering while telephone lady continued her chat.

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Cadillac Ranch – Tempe, AZ, USA

I had been working in Tempe for a couple of weeks with some guys from The Americas –Peru, Chile, Mexico, Canada and most places in-between.  It was our last night together and it fell on me to take everyone out for a farewell meal.  My colleagues had been in the US for almost three weeks longer than me and were fed up of eating huge meals all the time.  We decided to go the Tempe Marketplace and find some easy food that could be shared and then get back to the hotel to pack our bags.

We initially tried The Thirsty Lion, which we had visited previously, however there was a long wait for a table here as it was a Friday night.  We carried on walking and came across the Cadillac Ranch.

It looked a little cheesy with the huge neon sign pointing to the stairway that led you to the entrance but I was too tired to find an alternative.  The girl at the front desk gave us their last table – which luckily for us was a table for 8.

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NeroVivo Restaurant – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I stumbled upon NeroVivo (‘Live Black’) whilst browsing the Internet.  I was looking for somewhere great to take a colleague out for dinner for a birthday celebration in Kuala Lumpur.  It seemed that NeroVivo had everything I was looking for: great food, fine wine and a fantastic reputation.  It was also Italian, which was the only condition I had been given from my colleague.

I made a reservation online as instructed by their website.  Being a Monday night in late November this later turned out to be unnecessary (although I am reliably informed that weekend tables must be booked).

As the taxi turned in to a dark street with a large construction site on one side, I was beginning to feel a little nervous.  We pulled up maybe 400 yards after the site; there were two eateries almost joined together.  There were no other restaurants or bars etc. in this street that made me think it was odd that there would be two together.

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Clifton Indian Restaurant London – UK

Monday nights are not the most profitable for a lot of restaurants.  My dinner companion had just been given a promotion at work so we decided to go out for dinner.  It was too late to book somewhere posh so we walked along to The Clifton.

The restaurant was fairly traditional in appearance, with the addition of a number of waterfalls (in frames) throughout the seating area.  There was also a small bar area by the entrance.  There were no customers in the restaurant when we arrived so we had our choice of tables.  We went by the window.

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Sky Bar @ Traders Hotel – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I was looking for somewhere to go for a pre dinner cocktail (or perhaps even a glass of champagne) which had a view of the Petronas Towers.  Some local colleagues informed me that Sky Bar at Traders Hotel was the place to go – if my budget allowed.  Traders Hotel in KL is pretty posh with rates around the £100 mark.  £100 a night for a hotel in KL is a lot of money; we had a room at the sort-of-nearby  Hilton PJ for less than £60.

Traders Hotel is situated in the ‘golden triangle’ of expensive shops, eateries and hotels near the towers.  We caught the LRT to the station by the towers and then argued with a number of taxi drivers who were trying their best to rip us off.  We eventually found a driver who was willing to take us to the hotel using the meter and some 5 MYR (about £1…) we were there.  Naturally we gave the driver MYR 10; the moral of course is that honestly is always the best policy.

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Chutneys Restaurant – Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Exit the Hilton PJ, cross the road, turn left and then turn right; you will find Chutneys on the right.

Chutneys is an Indian restaurant which didn’t seem to be very busy.  I have no idea why as the food is exceptionally tasty.

I visited Chutneys a couple of times during my trip to Malaysia, primarily as it was really easy to reach from the hotel.  The first of my visits were with a colleague.

We ordered two beers and were given 2 glasses of Tiger (MYR 12.90); these came from a can but hey – I am not that fussy.  The beer was cold.  The menu here is fairly succinct, but sometimes I think that its better to cook a few dished really well, than to cool many dishes not so well.
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Three Horseshoes Restaurant – Breedon, UK

I had been staying at the-almost-nearby Hilton East Midlands Airport with a few colleagues for almost three weeks. We were moaning about being really fed up of the same hotel food when someone in the office told us to try the Three Horseshoes.

Breedon-on-the-hill is a quaint little village about five miles from East Midlands Airport. I reckon it’s no more than 15 minutes off the M1.

We arrived into Breedon around 6pm on a Wednesday and found The Three Horseshoes just off the main road – it was busier than expected but there was still ample space in the free car park.
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Benihaha – London, UK

I was looking forward to being taken out for Teppanyaki by a new client.  I had been to Sen Nin in Islington a few times before and had really enjoyed it.

Benihana at Piccadilly is a few minutes’ straight walk from Piccadilly Circus.  It was a Wednesday night and we didn’t expect it to be all that busy.  Of course I had forgotten this was central London and the restaurant seemed almost full on arrival.

Luckily we had booked, however we had arrived about 20 minutes early.  We were invited to have a drink in the bar.  We took the four remaining bar stools and waited for a barman to become free.  We waited and waited and then waited some more.  There were two staff serving behind the bar and they kept looking at us and then looking away; we weren’t even acknowledged.
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