All reader reviews by SJP
My husband and I went to Le Vacherin last night with an Amazon Local voucher having lived nearby for a while and never tried it. Our first impressions were not good as we entered through what looked like the front door to be immediately herded out by a waiter who ordered us to 'use the other door'. The other door had a piece of paper stuck to the window indicating that it was hosting a corporate dinner but as instructed, we went in anyway.
We had pre-booked and were given the last table for two next to the corporate party's table right in the doorway, although to the waitress's credit (she must have seen our faces!) she immediately offered to lock the door so other patrons wouldn't squeeze past us to use this one - especially given it was a freezing cold night outside.
On to the food, they honored the voucher impeccably (as some places often don't) and we could choose any starter and main each with no exceptions or surcharges except on the larger sharing dishes such as chateaubriand which is to be expected. Whilst making our selections, we ate some lovely bread with delicious anchovy butter, although the amuse bouche of leek and potato veloute that followed was nothing special.
The starter of snails was well received, although the pasta of my crab ravioli was rather thick and undercooked but not inedible. The main of pork belly was again polished off with ease and declared wonderful, whilst my lemon sole was also very good. The side of frites were fine although over-salted, as was the spinach which is a shame. Like many of the other dishes we consumed, the potato dauphinoise suffered from being very heavy on the butter, to the point where it had pooled at the bottom of the dish. Dessert and a cheeseboard were ok although they took a while to arrive by which point the rich French food was taking its toll and making us drowsy and keen to get back in the cool fresh air!
Overall, I would say the meal was pleasant enough although there were problems which may have been a symptom of having to cater for a full restaurant and one large party. To their credit, the staff were great and did their absolute best to keep things running smoothly, never treating us differently for 'being on a voucher'. Our waitress even bought a complimentary drink each at the end and apologised for any noise from the large group (which to be fair wasn't any louder than you'd expect a full restaurant to be anyway).
I definitely would have appreciated being told about the large booking when we phoned to confirm our table the day before, and I'm not sure that we'd hurry back simply because of the heavy use of butter and salt and the fact that there are other restaurants of the same calibre locally who I feel do a better job. However, I'm glad we've now been and if the same offer appeared again on a voucher website I would still say it's worth a go to others.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7
Finally visited Esarn Kheaw after living in the area for almost four years and hearing plenty of good things about the place. Needless to say, we were not disappointed!
The great menu here features all the usual Thai restaurant staples but also a wide selection of unusual and more authentic(?) dishes and house specialities, including offal and various seafood dishes. Everything we ordered was delicious, with the stand out dish being the fresh and crunchy papaya salad (a house speciality) which was so packed full of flavour I can't wait to go back for more!
With a menu this varied it seems a shame to go for the standard options (Pad Thai etc), however we did order a favourite dish of Penang curry to see how this measured up - it was so yummy that we were fighting to scrape the last bits of sauce off the plate!
We found the staff to be friendly and helpful, especially when it came to advice on our order - for example, after asking for two portions of sticky rice, we were told to order just one and another later if we felt we needed it. I always appreciate this in restaurants as too many places let you over-order only to later bin the unneccesary wastage. He was right of course, one rice was plenty for two.
An unusual dessert of black rice with banana wrapped in a banana leaf was a different end to what was a thoroughly enjoyable meal that I just can't fault in any way. Two courses each for two people, a shared dessert and a bottle of white came to less than £45, an absolute bargain for this kind of quality and a great neighbourhood setting. I think the fact that it was almost full with people coming in all night on a drizzly Sunday speaks volumes. We'll most definitely be back :-)
Monday, September 03, 2012
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10
We visited Sam's Brasserie for a birthday meal at the end of last month. The restaurant itself is a nice, relaxed space with plenty of room between tables. Service was nice and friendly and food was good, with notable mentions for some nice plump oysters, fantastic scallops with risotto and salsa verde, and some irony rich lamb's kidneys on toast. Cauliflower fritters as a side were delicious and not oily - I could easily see myself devouring them on their own if stopping in for just a couple of drinks!
Brown paper style place mats with the printed menu for the day on were a nice touch too.
Only negative came with dessert - sorbets were lovely and refreshing however, sticky toffee pudding had obviously been warmed up in the microwave and had ended up dry around the edges with the slight acrid taste of burnt sugar in the background as a result.
Overall though, a good value, nicely laid out local restaurant which I would happily go to again, perhaps on one of their live music nights which sadly for us didn't coincide with our visit this time!
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
I visited Terra on Thursday night to catch up with some old friends, having chosen it because of its good reviews and location. I'm pleased to say we were not disappointed.
Staff were exceptionally friendly right from booking the table to the actual evening itself, without being overbearing or too 'matey'. Described as a mediterranean restaurant, the menu was not long but quite varied with grills, pasta or risottos available. The food was freshly prepared and well presented and everyone was satisfied with their choices.
The cost was very reasonable, with the bill coming to just £88 (exc. service) for two courses each for four people and two bottles of house white.
Perhaps its busier at weekends as there were only a few other tables occupied on the evening we visited which is a shame as this is definitely a good fail-safe option in the area and a restaurant that deserves to survive. Recommended.
Friday, June 01, 2012
Food 8 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 10
Having visited Charlotte's Place with friends just before Christmas and enjoying a great experience, I returned last night with my husband for our anniversary.
As with my last visit, the food was impeccable - I had the Cornish mackerel tart followed by the black bream in a langoustine beurre blanc, both were delicious and perfectly cooked. I would happily have the same for dinner again tonight! My husband opted for the haddock and leek croquettes with runny duck egg to start which he enjoyed, followed by the beef onglet which was a beautiful piece of meat in both cooking and flavour.
For dessert I had a dark chocolate and Baileys marquise which, although tasty, was very rich and I had to let the other half polish off most of it. As is typical when we eat out, he chose to conclude with the cheeseboard, proclaiming it to be the best he'd 'ever had' - high praise indeed! It was refreshing to see the cheese kept at room temperature (although covered) as too many places seem to think fridge cold cheese is ok, thankfully not here.
Service was a bit patchy at the beginning - it took 20 minutes for someone to take our order - but it's a small place with a small number of staff and when in pleasant surroundings overlooking the common, this can be forgiven. Once orders were placed, food arrived at an enjoyable pace and we were never rushed or left wanting.
The menu is a fixed price based on either two or three courses (with only the cheeseboard at a supplement) and our bill, for three courses each plus wine, a couple of glasses of prosecco and one of port, was under £130 including service.
Charlotte's Place offers quality dining at neighbourhood prices and really is worth a visit - the evening prices are great value for money but the fixed price lunch is practically a steal! With a seasonal menu that changes monthly, I look forward to returning soon.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9
My husband and I popped in here on Friday night, originally with the intention of enjoying a a relaxed bottle of wine following a gig in Leicester Sq. It was around 10pm but Cafe Koha was buzzing with the post-theatre crowd, nevertheless the waiter found us a lovely little table in the corner by the window without issue, even though we explained that we weren't planning to eat.
Halfway through a very reasonably priced bottle of white and after seeing several tantalising plates of food land on the surrounding tables, our resolve failed and we ended up ordering a mezze platter to share. This comprised of several dips (all homemade), some olives, feta and grilled pittas. For about £7 it was an inexpensive and tasty accompaniment to the wine.
On the downside, the mezze proved a slippery slope and we soon ended up ordering two mains as well - a very well put together burger which my husband wolfed down and some delicious gnocchi with tomatoes, goats cheese and olives.
On reflection, the attentive staff are probably so accommodating to those 'just coming in for a bottle of wine' because they know it takes steely determination to resist the temptation of their food... I'm certainly glad I gave in and am very pleased to have found this little gem amongst the many tourist traps and burger bars nearby. Would recommend and will definitely be back!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9
I am Persian and have visited this restaurant many, many times over the last couple of years and have yet to be disappointed. It's a great, inexpensive restaurant for catching up with friends or for family occassions, even my fussy Persian father loves it here.
Having been brought up on Persian food - both home-cooked and in restaurants - I can honestly say that anyone who has had a negative experience with the food here must have gone on an exceptional 'off' night as I have never found anything to complain about. Portions are plentiful and they will happily pop leftovers in a box to take home, which have been gladly enjoyed the next day for lunch.
It's true that due to the restaurant's popularity (be it day or night), service can sometimes be slightly slower but they are always polite and friendly, and there seems to be very low staff turnover with the same faces there each time I visit.
Having been to many Persian restaurants in London, this is one of the best in terms of food quality and value for money. The jojeh kebab (chicken) is the best I've ever had. The fact that the place is usually packed full of Persian families speaks for itself really.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10
Oftentimes, when a restaurant is talked about and reviewed to such epic proportions, the reality can only be a bit of a disappointment. With this in mind, and after wanting to visit Meat Liquor since it opened, we headed there with an element of trepidation on Thursday night.
The much-mentioned queue was already pretty sizeable just before 7pm but moved at a fairly reasonable rate and we were seated just over an hour later. It's true that the place is quite loud and grungy feeling but not ridiculously so, and service was efficient and friendly.
The cocktails, of which there are many to choose from, were well made and at prices you would expect in London, circa £7 a go. There are also wines and beers but with cocktails this good, I would definitely budget for a couple of those when visiting - particularly the Donkey Punch or Cyder Car!
On to the food - we started with unbelievably good buffalo wings which were plentiful for only £5, alongside some of the deep-fried pickles. Both were delicious and accompanied by a very well balanced and creamy blue cheese dip. When it came to the main event - the burgers - we opted for the chilli cheeseburger and the cheeseburger. Good, juicy burgers well cooked and full of pickles and a bit of salad, all held together admirably by a sturdy bun which didn't fall to pieces the second you took a bite.
We finished rather greedily on the pecan pie and crack pie, both of which were yummy and the perfect end to the meal. The bill was very reasonable and in short, a belly-busting but enjoyable experience was had by all!
If I had to sum this place up in one line it would undoubtedly be 'Forget the queue, believe the hype and go'!!
Friday, March 09, 2012
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9
My husband and I visited Saigon Saigon on Friday evening and had a good experience.
We arrived at about 9pm without a booking but were well received and told that some tables were due to leave in about 5mins. As it turned out - and possibly because of the couples who arrived just after us with bookings - we waited around 15 - 20mins but no matter, the place was packed and obviously very busy plus we were keen to try this restaurant off the back of its positive reviews.
As others have said, the menu is vast but not insurmountable, even if you have no prior knowledge of Vietnamese food. For starters, we opted for the chilli tempura squid which was a very generous portion of light and crisp squid, and some pork which came with a beansprout salad and rice papers to create our own delicate summer rolls. Again, a decent-sized portion and very light and fresh.
For mains, we had honey chilli pork in a clay pot and chicken in tamarind sauce. The pork was nice and tender, whilst the chicken was generous and mixed with vegetables for a nice crunch - both had lots of flavour and we weren't disappointed with our choices. On the advice of the waitress, we shared one portion of steamed rice which was plenty - a refreshing approach when so many restaurants attempt to upsell at every opportunity, especially given the relatively low prices here.
We accompanied our meal with a bottle of white, reasonably priced at just under £14.
Overall, the bill came to just short of £50 which included service. For the setting, food and service I would definitely class this as good value for money. There are quite a few other good yet inexpensive restaurants on this stretch of King Street but I can definitely see us returning.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9
Five of us ended up here on Friday 9 September as the restaurant we had planned to go to was closed - turned out to be a blessing in disguise!
The service was friendly and welcoming despite us not having a booking and our waiter was happy to explain the dishes on the enticing menu. Everything was very different to anything any of us had experienced before but a complete delight - starters (from the fairly short selection) were soup and a spinach and homemade cheese dish with pitta breads, both of which got rave reviews but the main attraction were the delicious main courses. We opted for various dishes, all of which come on a huge silver tray covered in injeera pancakes as other reviewers have described, making this a great sociable eating experience with friends. The stews and other meat dishes were warming and so tasty, everyone was very satisfied.
All in all, three starters, five main courses, a bottle of wine, soft drink and two glasses of white came to £73 between five of us (not including service). A total bargain in a wonderfully unassuming restaurant serving up food with a real homely feel - highly recommended and can't wait to return!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10
Four of us visited Kaosan for the first time on Wednesday night and loved it! Everything on the menu sounded tempting and we weren't disappointed with our selections - from the range of starters we tried to the generously-sized mains, everything was fresh and tasty. Particular highlights were the Moo Ping starter - marinated pork with a delicious dipping sauce - and the chicken with garlic and chilli. It's BYOB (no corkage) and the bill came to around £47 which included service, making it a very reasonable evening out and excellent value for money!
We had no problems with the service which was efficient and polite despite the place being packed out. Do be aware though that Kaosan is absolutely tiny and the seating is not necessarily the most comfortable, but the food more than makes up for it! It's clearly very popular (and rightly so!) so would recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
Will definitely be back, just hope it's relative overnight success doesn't end up being it's downfall as it's a real gem!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10
My husband and I visited 101 Thai Kitchen on a rainy bank holiday Monday as we were in the area and had heard good things about the food there.
We arrived at around 6.30pm and it was fairly quiet apart from two tables of Thai people (a good sign). The welcome was friendly and we were given enough time to look over the food and drinks menus without being rushed.
We opted for the '101 ways to heaven' mixed starter platter for two which was reasonably priced at £7.50. The platter was mostly good, with the glass noodle filled spring rolls proving the biggest hit, although the the sweetcorn fritters were a bit dry and falling apart as a result.
On to the mains, we tried the chicken panang curry with steamed rice which, although the sauce was quite thin, was packed with flavour and heat and very good indeed - there wasn't a scrap of it left at the end! We also had the obligatory prawn pad thai (usually a good benchmark by which to judge Thai restaurants) and this was good too - tasty and just right for a chilly evening!
With a bottle of house white (£10.50), the bill came to £33.70, with service not included - very reasonable for the level of food received. By the time we left just before 8pm, the place was two thirds full and had a nice, relaxed feel to it.
All in all, Thai 101 Kitchen is not really a 'destination restaurant' but definitely a great local pitstop when you want to be fed well without breaking the bank... We'll be back!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9