La Primavara, Universitatii
I never liked this dump. Its very name was an insult to every other restaurant in town. It was owned by a pair of Germans who after a few years had a tiff and parted company. It strutted and swaggered and punched above its weight. Serving nothing more than 1960s styled food, it was so formal and serious. The public soon tired of this pretence and went elsewhere.
Status: closed, thank God
The Brasserie, Hilton
People think the Hilton has been around for ever. It has not, and it only opened its doors in 1998. They were still finding their feet at this time and even their English Bar was a restaurant. But with the expertise of a great French Executive Chef cooking in the Brasserie's own, separate kitchen, it soon found its niche as the top ‘power lunch' venue in town – a position which it still holds today.
Status: still going strong
Sydney, Pta Victorei
Simply the hottest, wildest, sexiest place Romania has ever seen. It was only a glorified burger bar but the city's most beautiful people would flock there and compete for attention with 35 of the prettiest waitresses you have never seen. I am reliably informed that they all married ‘well' subsequently.
But the Australian owners got arrogant and ignored City Hall's demands for a new terrace application and entered a losing war with Mayor Basescu. In a fit of stupidity they defied him by flying a Nazi Swastika. That got them arrested and thrown into jail. Basescu then sent in his bulldozers and literally tore Sydney down.
It then re-opened under the name of ‘Silkes' (without its famous terrace), but now owned by an Irish twit who drove it into financial ruin after two years. It holds true that fools and their money really are soon parted, and there were no bigger fools than the Australian and Irish owners of this once fabulous place.
Status: gone forever, but still a legend
Aquarium, Alecu Russo, 4
I remember back in 1994 that Serbian-owned Aquarium was the first Italian restaurant in Bucharest. How times had changed by 1998 when it was simply one of many, all offering the same, identical trattoria menu. Apart from expanding their premises, not much has changed over the years and it still remains unremarkable but expensive. Maybe the high prices explain why so many of their customers are pathetic gold-chained thugs, attempting to impress the world with big cars parked outside to match their big egos. To this day, the food is not bad but both the location and a lot of its clientele are.
Status: still alive
Casa Carigiale, Str Ion Caragiale
It was a sensation when it opened. Owned by a loveable, eccentric Greek it was simply the finest European/French restaurant in town. But they got carried away with their signature dishes of either foie gras or sole and they would not remove them from the menu. These dishes and their presentation became tired refugees from the 1970s. The ubiquitous trolley was everywhere either flamb