All reader reviews by dawnage

Tufnell Park Tavern

Quite a nice space at the Tufnell Park Tavern; the restaurant is adjacent to a busy bar which seems pleasant. The food is decent enough - I really liked the balance of the salmon dish. Only a more rare piece of fish could have improved it. Would return again if in the area and wanting a fairly informal meal - the menu was quite interesting and there are a couple of other things I'd like to try.

Sunday, January 16, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


St Pancras Grand

Went to the St. Pancras Grand using an offer which, although cheap, was a bit lacking in inspiration - normally I can find something to please me on a set menu. Going a la carte ramped the cost up massively. I wouldn't have minded if the meal had proved to be special but the whole experience was a bit anti-climatic. The potted prawns were ordinary, not helped by the slightly burnt sourdough toast which then overpowered the flavour of the prawns.

My main course of calves' liver - while executed well - was very expensive for what it was. It was served without vegetables so my addition of a portion of green beans took it beyond £20, which I thought was excessive for a standard dish that is found pretty much everywhere.

The endive, stilton, walnut and apple salad was an enjoyed starter: the combination of ingredients worked very well and the dish exceeded expectations. While the mushroom, spinach and pumpkin wellington looked terrific and seemed like a great idea, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

Whilst service was pleasant and polite, it was pretty poor. After the initial pouring of our wine, we had to look after ourselves for the rest of the bottle. My husband was trying to attract attention for a good 2 minutes in order to ask for more water. Nobody brought our coats for us at the end of the meal so, after a couple of minutes of just hanging about, we went and helped ourselves, leaving our cloakroom tickets on a nearby chair. Obviously, this shows that the security of garments handed over are compromised somewhat. There were no apparent issues with short-staffing: the restaurant probably wasn't even one-third full and there was always a member of waiting staff in sight... they just didn't seem that interested in us.

Finally, the ladies' bathroom was odd. While it was new and shiny and clean, despite two visits I could not find any apparent method for drying hands! No towels, no paper tissues, no hand dryer...

Sunday, January 16, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


Limoncello Restaurant

Limoncello has a fairly extensive menu which features some good ideas. However, some of them are a bit odd in the execution - some funny flavour combinations, such as salted potatoes with prawns, and pickled onions with pork rather than the tempting caramelised onions promised! The food is ok though, improving as the meal progresses, and the puddings received good reports from our party: the marscapone ice cream dish is a triumph, while the chocolate and strawberry pizza was good fun. The service is friendly and relaxed and the restaurant proves to be a reasonable choice in an area where options are somewhat limited.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


Stef's Italian

Stef's is a good value night out which is suited to a lively group. Although the menu is nothing beyond the ordinary, it is executed pleasingly and the restaurant caters well for larger bookings. Would go again if I wanted an informal, fairly inexpensive meal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


The Triangle

Triangle is a quirky venue with a particularly enjoyable ambience. The menu is varied and interesting, with food that is generally good; the crocodile satay was particularly exciting and I only wish that the portion of meat had been bigger, to balance the rest of the dish! The rabbit was delicious and fell off the bone - however, my companion who also ate it agreed that the potato accompaniment didn't quite work. On the whole, Triangle is a good local option and I'd return.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Terra

Terra is an informal, friendly venue with a very extensive menu. While it may not win prizes for culinary daring, it does what it does well. I enjoyed perfectly decent grilled lamb patties to start and mixed seafood kebabs for a main: the latter was a particularly good-value portion. Although there are a number of vegetarian main courses available, they are somewhat lacking in variety and excitement. However, that's a fairly minor niggle for what was a reliably-good night out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


Ziloufs

Zilouf's is a good destination for a cheap, informal dinner. The interior is quirky and the bar seemed very popular. Food-wise, it was pleasing and good value. Although my pork belly was a little dry and salty, the sweetness and succulence of the sauce and the varied accompanying vegetables remedied it. The vegetarian options are limited but what was available - pakoras and a mushroom pad thai - were executed well. I'd return if in the area for a quick meal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Camden Bar & Kitchen

Although the menu does not set the world alight, straightforward dishes are executed well, and portions are good. Main courses of lamb kofte and wild mushroom lasagne (from the specials board) were very enjoyable - and superb value with a meal deal. I have been to the Camden Bar & Kitchen a couple of times and have been struck on each visit by the limitations of the starter options; a bit more variety would be great. Service was friendly but slow - more staff needed, those working were frantic!

Saturday, November 06, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


The Greenhouse

I ate recently at The Greenhouse with 5 friends on a meal deal. This proved to be great value; all 5 courses were very good and presented beautifully. The accompanying wine was excellent: although the list is a terrifying size, it features some budget options, which suggests that The Greenhouse seeks to include, unlike some other top-end restaurants. Service was well-judged - polite and humorous. Some prompting of the waiter to offer an alternative option was required when one of our party did not wish to eat one of the set courses as it contained foie gras, but that's a minor niggle. I'd return for a meal deal.

Saturday, November 06, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Small & Beautiful

This restaurant is amazing value - I can't believe they make a profit, especially with portions so large they can't be finished! Although the food is never going to win any Michelin stars, it is acceptable. This is a quirky venue, well-suited to informal, relaxed group meals; it's charm means that I would return if in the area.

Sunday, October 17, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


The Montagu

Had a reasonable meal at The Montagu last night from the set menu. The pate starter was decent and the three puddings offered were all judged to be very good by our table - good enough to sneak bites from each other's! The rest of the dishes were lacking in imagination, disappointingly. My hake was ok, and I quite liked the accompanying beetroot risotto, but it was a little bland overall. The pumpkin soup and rice cakes for the vegetarians were similarly so. Service was polite but slow; we were waiting quite some time to be brought the wine list and have our orders taken - and our complimentary bread arrived about two minutes before our starters! Beware of the wine list if wishing for a bottle; you may, in fact, be going for a carafe which seems like decent value until you read the small print!

Overall, the experience was underwhelming and I won't return.

Sunday, October 17, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Public House

Public House is a lively venue probably best suited to groups rather than an intimate, romantic meal - at least on a Friday night, when it really bustles. We enjoyed our meal and were impressed by the creativity of some of the combinations found in the dishes, such as the crab starter and the wood pigeon. All executed well - but you may need to add a side dish to round the main course off. Service was friendly and unhurried, despite the business of the restaurant. Good value with the meal deal.

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Gauthier Soho

Went for dinner with three friends to avail ourselves of the half-price tasting menu deal: this proved to be fantastic value. We enjoyed a delightful, leisurely meal and did not flinch when the bill arrived. Highlights included the Summer Truffle Risotto and the cheese course, where the variety was superb and the service was impeccable. The signature pudding of Golden Louis XV is also worthy of comment: it was superb. Overall, the food was good quality and creative - and it was pleasing to see a vegetarian tasting menu also available.

As the evening progressed, the dining room filled up, creating a pleasant ambience, accentuated by polite, generally attentive service. I had a terrific evening and would certainly return.

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


The Grill at The Dorchester

Food at The Grill is, unsurprisingly, high-quality and quite creative. Careful preparation is evident and - most of the time - the different ingredients complement one another well. My pudding of black cherry soup was notable. Although the lunch deal is very good and worth taking for food, wine at The Grill is prohibitively expensive; the smallest, cheapest glass costs £9, which I found excluding. Service is crisp and polite but matched the venue, which lacks a little warmth and heart. I probably would not return as there are better options for a high-end hotel dining experience in London.

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


St James Restaurant & Bar

St. James has an extensive, creative menu - including for vegetarians. Portions are also very generous. I really enjoyed my scallops followed by the venison, while the halloumi salad and green curry also received good reports. We shared the speciality Toblerone cheesecake for pudding, which was great., and set off nicely by the recommended dessert wine.

The space is light and airy, while the service is excellent - very polite and knowledgeable. Generally, I liked the atmosphere but found the music to be poor and repetitive; it was at odds with what was otherwise quite a refined experience.

Value was good with a meal deal; I would certainly be interested in trying it again!

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


The Old Dairy

Pleasant surroundings in the Old Dairy and very polite, attentive service. Prices for enjoyable mushroom stroganoff and scallop dishes - plus a bottle of wine - were reasonable. I'd go back again for an informal, local meal.

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Roux at The Landau

After having wanted to do so for some time, I finally ate at The Landau recently. I was extremely glad I did so, as it offers a refined experience, from the well-executed food to the distinctive and charming service (which, while not always the slickest, is genuinely warm and worthy of return alone).

I loved my chicken parfait starter from the set menu deal; it was the highlight of my meal, just melting in my mouth. Vegetarians, can request the additional flesh-free menu; my husband raved about Mrs. Tee's mushroom linguine.

The dining area is beautiful and the pace of the meal was good - it's a real dining event and I wouldn't hesitate to return.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Thai Thai

Two of us ate here this evening, availing of a reward meal from a rival restaurant website. The selection was pleasingly varied and the red duck curry main course was notable; the sauce was excellent.

Other dishes (fishcakes, sweetcorn cakes and a red vegetable curry) were fine (excepting the sticky rice, which was overly-starchy) - nothing beyond the basic expectation of a Thai restaurant, which does give Thai Thai a conveyor-belt feel. This was compounded by rushed service; the main course was served far too quickly after the starter, while the staff hurried our menu choices and the collection of dishes.

Thai Thai proved to be a cheap night out in pleasant surroundings; don't go if you're looking for a special experience, but it's worth a visit for a quick bite in a lively atmosphere where you'll be seated very close to other diners.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


The Clerkenwell Dining Room

A lovely meal at the Clerkenwell Dining Room. My quail starter was unusual and interesting, while my monkfish main course was executed lightly enough to allow me to enjoy a heavy chocolate fondant pudding - accompanied by delicious, tangy raspberry ice cream. My companion loved her tuna and lamb courses. Service is attentive, courteous and unhurried - we were at our table for more than three hours and never felt rushed. Excellent value with the 50% meal deal.

Friday, August 15, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Le Bijou d’Ange

Le Bijou d’Ange is a great find! It's a welcoming little restaurant with an extensive, appealing menu - including a few vegetarian options, unusually for a French restaurant.

My husband's breaded mushroom starter was reasonable, although I felt that I had made the better choice, with some fantastic mussels. They were large, juicy and plentiful - and dressed simply yet perfectly.

My veal main course was tender but very rich - typically French. The accompanying cream sauce also enriched my husband's main course, a vegetable and goat's cheese tart.

The service was warm and attentive, the ambience was good (once other diners arrived) - I'd certainly return.

Friday, August 15, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Fredericks

Four of us went here during the week for a special meal to celebrate a birthday, and Frederick's fitted the bill. It's a stylish, tasteful venue with comfortable seating. We were placed in the garden, which was also quite pleasant - even if the patio area betrayed that birds can sometimes be a problem there!

The first course of dressed crab with prawns, guacamole, cos lettuce and toast was excellent - and with a surprisingly large portion of both crab and prawn. The langoustine salad was reported as being really good, as was the asparagus and red pepper salad, accompanied by a notable goat's cheese dressing.

This set a high standard for the main course, which my rump of veal with French beans, girolles and tarragon dressing very nearly met. The veal was tender and plentiful, I would have just preferred it slightly better done (I wasn't asked my preference). No complaints at all about the roasted cod and herb-crusted halibut. The sole vegetarian option was artichoke and spinach ravioli with crème fraîche and truffle oil; this was reportedly really enjoyable, if not very filling - my husband needed to help himself to some of the side dishes we ordered to satisfy his appetite. However, he was fairly impressed with the numerous ingredients in his two vegetarian courses, none of which were the inevitable mushrooms!

Pudding was excellent. The chocolate baked alaska with warm raspberry sauce could not be faulted, nor could the double chocolate pudding soufflé. The cheese course was praised, particularly for the accompanying chutney.

Frederick's has a very good wine list, priced very reasonably - our Italian Chardonnay was very enjoyable. However, drinks at the bar are quite expensive - and subject to a 12.5% service charge. A round of four drinks after our meal came to £30.

Frederick's participates in a discount card scheme to which I belong, offering 2-4-1 on the food courses. We chose Frederick's over another local restaurant which said their 2-4-1 applied only to two diners, regardless of how many were actually eating at the time - I thought this was a little churlish, so decided against that particular restaurant. I am very glad that Frederick's doesn't adopt the same attitude, as I then felt we'd had good value for money. That factor, together with the pleasant, unobtrusive - if a little unhurried - service, means I'd certainly like to return to Frederick's at some point.

Friday, July 25, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Pho (Great Titchfield St)

Pho's a lively, informal restaurant, well-suited to a group meal. Eight of us enjoyed the varied starters we shared after dining here recently. For my main course, I had the traditional Pho dish (a noodle soup), which was quite nice, but not really worth finishing, as every mouthful was the same! Herbs and sauces livened the soup up a bit. Although unexciting, it was pleasant enough - and certainly tasted like it was healthy.

Service was friendly, if a little hard to attract at times - I was probably in the restaurant for close to half an hour before I received the drink I'd ordered. staff are courteous though, and we never felt hurried, even though they were quite busy. The 50% off meal deal running currently is excellent value - it worked out as a little over £14 per head for our party, which included drinks and service change.

Friday, July 25, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


The Gay Hussar

My second visit to The Gay Hussar and I enjoyed myself once again. It's an unusual, interesting venue which offers something a little different from other restaurants in the area. The food is good, solid fare, which I found to be quite representative of the food I ate while travelling Eastern Europe last year. My starter of fish dumplings with a mushroom and dill sauce was notable, as well as the walnut pancakes for pudding. More vegetarian choice would be desirable, though.

Service was friendly and efficient and I like the restaurant's décor and ambience. Overall, I enjoyed my meal and wouldn't hesitate to return to The Gay Hussar - particularly with the 50% discount offered, which gave us excellent value.

Friday, July 25, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


D.Sum2

The food is good at Dim Sum 2 - the black cod tasting menu is well worth trying for its variety and value. Service is quick - a bit too speedy at times - but very welcoming, and not at all pretentious, despite the slick decor which suggests otherwise. I'd return if in the area as long as a similar meal deal was available.

Sunday, July 13, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Villandry (Great Portland St)

Ate here last week and really enjoyed my meal - delicious oysters to start, followed by the highly-recommended calf's liver. My husband's globe artichoke starter was reportedly very good - it looked and tasted great. However, the sole vegetarian meal on the (extensive) menu of main courses was an inspiring pasta option.

We ate at a 50% discount, which made the dinner excellent value, but probably won't return because of the lack of choice for vegetarian diners - there are plenty of places which cater for vegetarians much better.

Sunday, July 13, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


The Grand Indian 2

Like many others I am sure, we ate here this week out of sheer convenience, passing this restaurant as we hunted for a quick meal. I wish I hadn't bothered. The food is mediocre, lacking in flavour and over-priced. I had a dish which encompassed prawn, chicken and 'meat'; all of these ingredients were tasteless. I objected most of all to the price - each dish cost, on average, 25% more than the same at a local restaurant, or one on Brick Lane where there's a decent level of competition; cheeky, when the quality was nowhere near as good.

Service was quite fast - a bit too fast for freshly-prepared food. The restaurant lacked atmosphere and was almost empty. Therefore it was a mystery why 4 of us were crammed on to a table barely adequate for 3; we had to move the table every time one of us wanted to use the loo, and leave our chutneys and side plates on the neighbouring table, as there wasn't a spare inch of room on ours.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 3 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2


The International Bar, Lounge & Restaurant

Potentially a very good restaurant, with an attractive layout and décor. A group of us dined on the set menu with complimentary drink, which was excellent value. However, the menu options were less-than-inspiring, with not much variety: the dishes are geared very much towards chicken. Although I enjoyed my chicken skewers and teriyaki salmon salad, neither course was exceptional or particularly interesting: I would have been pleased to pay a few pounds more for a set menu with some more exciting options.

Service was pleasant, if inexperienced and slow. We had been warned in advance that we'd have to vacate our table within two hours - which suited us fine, as we had tickets for a performance just down the road. However, this was clearly not happening in practice; two of us who risked ordering pudding as the time ticked by managed no more than a couple of bites before having to rush off to the theatre, while another of our party had to leave before her pudding even arrived. This was quite an unsatisfactory ending to the meal.

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Albannach

I returned here recently and wasn't disappointed; the food really is great. I had the rabbit terrine to start - the accompanying piccalilli and quail Scotch egg worked really well. My seabass main course was also excellent, with mussels and Jerusalem artichokes. All of our party really enjoyed our meals.

The ambience of Albannach is where the experience is less-than-perfect. The main restaurant section is really noisy from the bar underneath, so we were glad to be directed to the quieter side room. Unfortunately, another group had been seated at our table in error, so we had a bit of an uncomfortable wait while they were moved. We'd already been kept waiting 30 minutes for our table and had had to sit in the bar, so it's clear that the service is not exactly polished.

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


Bento Cafe

I've eaten here a few times and always really enjoyed the food. The menu is extensive, imaginative and good value, which tempts me into over-ordering! The sushi is fresh and delicious, while it has a few unusually good vegetarian options (for a Japanese restaurant).

Service was reasonable, although clumsy; drinks were dropped over diners at the table next to us, making a terrible mess. The staff seemed to deal with those affected directly in a reasonable way, but I was a bit disappointed that they completely failed to notice that my bag had also got quite wet.

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Artisan

This is a fantastic restaurant. I dined here recently with my husband and parents and all of us left absolutely raving about the entire experience. It was such a special meal not just because of the food - which was excellent - but the service and attention to detail. We were served complimentary canapés, mini courses in between courses, amazing chocolates as we left... it was wonderful. Pleasingly, it had been discreetly noted by the waitress who took our order that my husband is vegetarian and a veggie version of each of the complimentary bites was served to him. He said afterwards that he had never felt so well looked after as a vegetarian in a London restaurant.

Overall, the food was excellent quality, and the cheese course is worthy of particular mention. Rather than just being served with the cheese, a trolley of about 10 different types is presented and the diner chooses what they wish. It's a lovely touch, reflecting the consideration given to diners. We were in the restaurant for more than 3 hours, never hurried. I cannot wait to return.

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10


Mews of Mayfair

I had a fabuolous meal at Mews of Mayfair - this intimate, attractive restaurant is a real find. My braised rabbit starter was deliciously rich and not what I expected at all. My (self-confessed fussy) vegetarian husband loved his asparagus and mushroom first course.

I enjoyed a satisfying portion of good-quality scallops for my main course, complemented by crab cake. The vegetarian option was globe artichoke with rocket veloute, which was good - although didn't inspire the delighted rave the starter did.

My chocolate trio pudding with lavender vodka was inventive and worked beautifully. I really savoured that dish. It's a shame that the recommended dessert wine was not available that evening.

Service was warm and friendly - a delayed serving of our vegetable side orders was the only fault. With the 50% discount offered by the restaurant, I'll return.

Monday, June 09, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Metro Bar and Grill (Islington)

This is quite a good choice for a large group, as there's a curtained off section at the back of the restaurant - this was useful when I celebrated my birthday here recently.

The food was generally good, although nothing exceptional. I enjoyed my duck salad and found it to be a decent portion, and most of my companions were complimentary about what they ate. The vegetarians in the party were the notable exceptions to this - the pad thai option was horribly salty according to at least 3 of them.

Service was friendly enough, although it took a very long time to take our food and drink orders. Although we were a large group (and probably expected to be disorganised), we were ready a long time before the waiting staff.

Monday, June 09, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Terrace at le Meridien

The restaurant is really quite beautiful, situated in a giant conservatory which creates an airy atmosphere. This gave us a sense of expectation, despite the restaurant being barely half-full on a Saturday evening. This made the wait for our booked table something of a mystery, as the venue really was not busy.

Friendly staff led us to a table with both chair and sofa seating. We were initially offered cushions for the sofa - which were needed badly, given the lack of support - but these were not forthcoming and had to be requested more than once. Although the staff we encountered were perfectly pleasant and friendly, we were very surprised not to be brought bread before our first courses arrived - possibly it was an oversight, as it would be very unusual for a higher-end restaurant not to offer bread.

Apart from the lack of bread, the food was good. My foie gras starter offered nothing surprising, but was executed well. To follow, my monkfish main course was inventive and enjoyable. For my companions, the seabream was notable - and it looked delicious too. In general, all of us generally enjoyed our three courses, although the vegetarian risotto lacked inspiration. The puddings are decadent and tempting - my soufflé with passion fruit ice cream was very good.

Although the service was polite, it was disorganised. 3 requests for sofa cushions, 3 requests for a jug of water... I ended up taking responsibility for serving wine to the table as we were so neglected. The meal was good value with the a 50% deal, which would be the temptation to return - otherwise, i would not, as there are numerous excellent places to eat in London where the service is less frustrating.

Monday, June 09, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Canteen (Spitalfields)

Went here for drinks and pudding last night after walking out of Giraffe next door in disgust. It was a breath of fresh air! Prompt, courteous service, bringing us the simple things we desired. I'd return to eat a full meal sometime.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Giraffe (Spitalfields)

I can't say anything about the food, as we walked out before ordering. We were left hanging around for someone to seat us for several minutes last night, until we finally approached a member of staff. She very brusquely told us that we had to go inside, rather than sit outside. We then waited in our booth for several more minutes until we walked out. So, the service at Giraffe is both rude AND inept. I'll never bother to return.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Overall rating 0 stars
Food 0 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 0


Muhib Indian Cuisine

I've been eating at Muhib on and off for several years, and returned again last night.

It's still great value with a very extensive menu. My tandoori king prawn makhani was really good. Muhib is not the venue for a fancy night out; it offers standard curry fare, executed well. Always a reliable option for Brick Lane.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


Patterson's

Last weekend I dined at Patterson's for the third time since last autumn and had yet another wonderful meal. Following an amuse bouche which featured parma ham, my quail first course was beautiful and imaginative, served on toast, covered in a rich sauce and served with button onions and grapes.

I was apprehensive about the pork and langoustine main course, as the combination struck me as odd. However, it was fantastic. The accompanying greenery on the plate balanced the dish nicely. The single criticism I can make of the whole meal was the fondant pontato with the main course, which was a bit dry.

Balsamic ice cream Alaska rounded off the meal wonderfully - the bed of strawberries were particularly delicious. We ate under a 50% discount, making Patterson's great value for a special meal - while it's available, I'll keep returning.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Incognico

A superb deal for £25! 3 courses from the à la carte menu would ordinarily cost much more. I had mackerel and beetroot to start , which was presented really nicely and tasted good. For my main course, I requested medium-rare lamb and that's exactly what I got - the meat was delicious. A pudding of passion fruit parfait and raspberries rounded the meal off nicely. My companion was equally impressed with her meal. Incognico is an intimate restaurant which bustled on a Saturday evening. Great atmosphere - I'll return.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe

An enjoyable return to the Boxwood Café, although I wasn't blown away like last time. The amuse bouche of artichoke and shallot soup was delicious. This was followed by a ham hock and pistachio terrine, which was decent. My bream, chorizo and mash was the best course of all - well-prepared and well-balanced. Chocolate marquis for pudding - very nice. Service was very friendly, although a little hard to summon at times.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Star of India

A good neighbourhood restaurant. There are no surprises on the menu and no pretension; what's done is done simply and well - and is certainly good value. Service is friendly and polite - we enjoyed a relaxed and unhurried meal there.

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Aubaine (Regent St)

Aubaine is a small, friendly restaurant with very accommodating, pleasant staff. The menu has a reasonable amount of choice, except for vegetarians! I really liked my langoustine and asparagus salad, followed by a veal main course, while my carnivore friends enjoyed their meals. Alas, my husband was ambivalent towards his onion soup and uninspired pasta dish. Unfortunately, French food is not really geared towards vegetarians. Were it not for this factor, I'd be happy to return - especially one of their meal deals - as the layout is nice and it's suitable for a lively group meal.

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


Jai Krishna

I eat here fairly regularly - probably every two or three months. It's worth returning as it's a good local restaurant, with well-prepared food which is INCREDIBLY cheap - the cost of dining here is kept very low with the BYO alcohol policy. Jai Krishna does prove that vegetarian food can be interesting and inventive, and not just an afterthought.

However, the space is cramped and not smart in the slightest - this is not the venue for a special evening out. Diners are only allowed one plate and a fork and spoon each for the entire meal! The tables and chairs are not comfortable, but adequate for an informal meal. The service has declined notably over the years though. The indifference of the staff has descended to surliness - and downright rudeness when we turned up 6 minutes late for our table this weekend. The table had already been given away and we would have to wait for another - which we didn't mind at all, but we were glared at and shunted around. I'd always found the brusque service (from all except the older man who works there, who's always been nice) perversely charming, but it's now starting to wear a bit thin, so I'm not so keen to go back.

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 10


Salaam Namaste

After having a really good meal here a few months back, I returned last Monday for a lovely evening. I opted for a crab cake starter which was really delicious, with a good portion of flavoursome. Having enjoyed my memorable main course of chicken breast stuffed with minced lamb and spinach so much last time, I went for the same again - the first time was no fluke, this dish is ace.

My husband and I were dining on a 50% off food meal deal which offered us absolutely outstanding value: two courses each, plus poppadums and wine for under £30. We'll keep returning, Salaam Namaste is a terrific place to eat.

Sunday, April 13, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


Quaglino's

I understand that when dining on a set menu the food may not be the most exciting dishes the kitchen can offer. However, such food should be representative of the quality of the kitchen; after all, the popularity of set menus mean that many diners will judge restaurants on what they get from meal deals.

If that is true, I can only assume that the cuisine of Quaglino's - which previously had a very good reputation - has declined woefully. My first course of black pudding, chorizo, bacon and poached egg salad was far, far too salty. The egg was absolutely necessary to make it even edible.This was served on a paltry, tasteless, dried-out bit of lettuce.

This was followed by herb-crusted halibut on a bed of spinach. The herbs were bitter, and overpowered the bland fish - which was already weakened by its watery spinach base. The simple butter dressing with it was ineffectual - I gave up on this dish two-thirds of the way through.

My husband was uninspired by his carrot and ginger soup starter, leaving about half of it. Things improved a bit with his main course of a potato and chive pancake with (another) poached egg. This was also served with spinach and a butter dressing - I expect that these ingredients are particularly cheap and therefore seen as appropriate for the set menu.

We both had a pancake with chocolate sauce for pudding, which was the best course of all - a surprise to both of us, given that neither of us are pudding people, preferring the savoury options. At least we both finished that course!

I had wanted to dine at Quaglino's for a long time, but was sorely disappointed. We were offered no side plates nor butter knives with our bread before our first course - yes, it may be the French way, but it feels impolite to me to mess crumbs all over the dining table. Also, the residual butter on my knife didn't improve my awful salad starter in any way!

The venue is large and impressive - and packed with tables - with a magnificent staircase and high ceilings. Quaglino's was virtually empty when we dined early on a Sunday evening, which was something of a mercy - I imagine the acoustics would be awful when the place is full.

Service is generally good - although this was no stretch, given the lack of other diners. We found those who waited on our table to be pleasant and attentive, regularly refilling our glasses with a decent white Rioja (although not too often, as that would be irritating). Alas, we had to wait for a few minutes at the cloakroom while the relevant member of staff was in the back room - that made the service seem a little less polished.

A great shame - there seems little point in returning to Quaglino's.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 3 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7


The Athenaeum

I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Athenaeum last week - I loved my first course of seared scallops with pea puree, red wine and shallot jus. The accompaniments were just light enough to allow the delicious, delicate flavour of the scallops to come to the fore. This was possibly excelled by my main course of confit of duck with glazed onions, wild mushrooms and spinach. The duck was very slightly rarer than I requested, but the quality of meat was such that I didn't mind. The flavours and textures were balanced beautifully, while the portion size was more than adequate. My pudding of an Easter brownie rounded my meal off nicely. It was not a complex dish; I appreciated a simple - yet effective - dose of chocolate after my more complicated earlier courses.

My husband is a vegetarian and far harder to please when we dine out. Vegetarian options are often an afterthought, and can be far less exciting than the meat and fish dishes. However, he was really happy with his starter of goat’s cheese with citrus salad and orange balsamic reduction. The quality was maintained with his main meal of squash tortellini and ricotta in mature cheddar sauce. This sounds quite simple, but was presented thoughtfully and looked very appealing. It also tasted great, I understand!

Athenaeum is a very smart venue, but the service was far less formal and stuffy than I expected; indeed, it was exceptionally warm and friendly. The restaurant itself is beautiful and grand, with luxurious seating. This reflects the general comfort of the public areas of the hotel.

We were eating under a set meal deal (which included champagne and tea/coffee) and thought this was excellent value, although wine was expensive. The service charge is not added automatically, which is one of my pets hates - I wish other restaurants would take note! Overall, I loved the Athenaeum and would not hesitate to recommend it to others.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Leicester Square Bar & Restaurant

The Leicester Square Bar and Restaurant specialises in fish, which was a major factor in booking dinner there last week - as well as the fact that it participates in a discount card scheme offering 50% off food.

My husband and I arrived 45 minutes before our booking, so decided to take tea in the comfortable seating area at the edge of the restaurant. The staff were very friendly and accommodating to this request, providing a great pot of tea with some attractive crockery.

Everything in this restaurant is stylish and modern, while the seating is comfortable - particularly at the dining tables. The space isn't large, creating quite an intimate atmosphere - as there weren't many diners, the ambience would have otherwise suffered.

I had a pleasant first course of scallops, although the accompanying mash was a little overpowering. I went for a simple salmon course for my main meal, tempted by the accompanying wild mushroom sauce. This was good - and my mother, who also chose this, loved it.

My vegetarian husband lacked choice, although the menu is generally extensive, but enjoyed the limited options nevertheless. Although the restaurant focuses on fish, there are some meat dishes, and my father enjoyed his lamb. We also went for vegetable side dishes, which we were well-prepared and good portions.

Pudding for me was the brown bread ice cream, which I really liked, The cheese plate option is also impressive, as well as being good value.

A decent night out and I'll probably return if in the area - especially because of the discount.

Saturday, March 29, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


The Larder

The Larder is a great find. My husband and I really enjoyed our meal there recently - my first course of dressed crab was decent, while the calves liver with red onion was notably good. I really liked the spacious, open-plan feel to the restaurant - it's nice not to be able to hear the conversations of one's neighbours! Finally, the service was excellent; warm and attentive. When they forgot the 50% discount I had booked under, they rectified the situation quickly and apologetically. I'll definitely return to The Larder - especially with a meal deal.

Saturday, March 29, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Booth's Cafe Bar & Pizzeria

Booth's has an extensive menu, filled with the expected pizzeria fare. The pizzas eaten by our group were reasonable, although nothing exceptional. Starters were mediocre at best - both the antipasto and the tricolore salad were accompanied by some pretty uninspiring lettuce.

Booth's is a cheap local option, although not the destination for a special evening. Service is slow and informal to the point of sloppiness. I was disappointed that, although Booth's participates in a card discount scheme, they won't honour the agreement on Sundays, despite the scheme's website and literature stating otherwise. However, the low prices stopped me being too annoyed by this factor!

On balance, Booth's is a reasonable choice for those seeking an inexpensive, casual meal, but there are too many other good places in the area for me to bother returning.

Monday, March 17, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6


Hare and Tortoise (Bloomsbury)

Hare & Tortoise's extensive menu is pretty good value. The sushi is really nice and I always opt for the seafood noodles and duck gyoza too, as they're well-prepared and taste good. However, I have now eaten there several times and the service has become progressively worse - my most recent visit saw our main courses arriving before our starters!

This is a reasonable option for anyone looking for fast, well-priced food in an extremely informal environment, but not a good choice for those who prefer a more refined experience.

Thursday, March 13, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 7 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 7


Mem & Laz

A party of us ate there at Christmas and were seriously unimpressed. We had to pay a significant deposit upfront and a couple of our large group did not show... obviously, this was far from ideal (although did allow us a little more room around a very, very cramped section of the restaurant - so cramped that those against the wall were penned in by their tables and had to literally crawl under them to get to the loo), but we were told that we'd be charged full price for them anyway! It makes the concept of a deposit redundant somewhat, and we would have left had there not been lots of us - we would have had no chance of finding an alternative place to eat on such a busy night of the year. Given the situation, we then insisted on receiving our missing colleagues' pre-ordered meals as additional dishes to the table - the waiter then had the cheek to tell us that the selected starter had run out anyway! So much for their argument that the pre-ordered food had been bought and would be wasted, hence us having to pay up.

The extra dishes weren't finished by us anyway; the food is distinctly unimaginative - at least, the set menu for groups certainly is. The accompaniments of rice and a red onion salad was the same for each dish - including many of the starters! So, I basically ate the same dish three times.

The approach at Mem & Laz was really mercenary. I had a mediocre group meal there a few years back, when I was also crammed uncomfortably on to a table that needed to be at least 25% bigger for the number in our party, so I had been apprehensive about returning - I definitely won't again, our entire group agreed that it was a dreadful experience and really ruined what should have been a memorable night out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 3 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 1


House

At first glance, Mezzanine seemed as if it would be overpriced and under-impressive, thanks to its location within the National Theatre. Last weekend, 5 of us were pleased to find that this was not the case.

Pleasant staff quickly found us a table in a restaurant that was still-bustling before the final call before the evening performance, and we all ordered main courses, forgoing the starters which were expensive in comparison to the reasonably-priced main courses. I really enjoyed my pork belly served with colcannon and prunes, which was tender without being fatty. The vegetarian option of polenta with gorgonzola was reported as being very good indeed.

The restaurant emptied as performances began, leaving the surroundings unusually quiet for a Central London restaurant. If that factor doesn't prove to be a deterrent, it's worth eating at Mezzanine. I expect I'll return in the future if I'm in the area.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


Rivington Bar & Grill (Greenwich)

Five of us went to The Rivington Grill for Mothers' Day and had a reasonably good meal. The standard of the food was deemed as good overall, balancing a poor starter of Welsh Rarebit - which was overpriced and unimpressive - with main courses such as the scallops (not great value, but really delicious). The service and the ambience at The Rivington were also pleasing, but I'd probably wait for a meal deal before returning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


Dial Bar & Restaurant

Having eaten at Dial several times, the quality of the service and food has declined to the extent that I won't return.

Last week I booked a table for 4 under a discount scheme to which I belong, and in which Dial participates. The meal began quite well - we chose a pleasant wine which was priced reasonably, and we enjoyed our complimentary bread. Starters were reasonable, although I was disappointed by the hard pastry in my onion tart - it would have been excellent had the pastry been better prepared.

Things declined quite dramatically with the arrival of the main courses, however. My husband was presented with a dish which was not what he had ordered at all, so he had to wait for his meal to be prepared from scratch. During this time I ate a mediocre dish of calves' liver, which was quite tough in parts.

We had finished our main courses by the time my husband's main course arrived, some 20 minutes later. Obviously, we then anticipated a lengthy wait between our courses, as we would not be ordering pudding before my husband had eaten his dish. We expressed our disappointment with matters and asked if the replacement bottle of wine we were ordering might be on the house, in view of the situation.

We were told that this would not be possible - which was obviously disappointing - but then the waiter told that we were already on a good deal with the discount scheme!

We all thought that it was utterly appalling that the attitude of this member of staff was that poor service apparently did not matter if we were eating at a discount in the first place! We told him that his comments were disappointing and offensive, but he would not budge on the matter.

It wasn't until the very end of the meal, when we requested the bill (having pointedly refused teas, coffees and - except one of us - pudding), that the waiter made any attempt to accommodate our disappointment at all (perhaps prompted by my earlier comments to him about my being a keen restaurant reviewer); he offered my husband's main course for free. Given that this was a relatively cheap vegetarian option, and that we'd have been entitled to a 50% discount anyway, this was a rather inadequate gesture. Besides, any kind of financial compensation was redundant by this point; we'd been made to feel embarrassed, and that Dial did not deem us worthy of polite service.

Nevertheless, we accepted the offer and left. However, the waiter's attitude towards us left us feeling very negative about the whole experience; regardless of the discounts under which diners are eating, no restaurant should see this as an excuse to offend customers and offer shoddy service.

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


Cafe Espana

A cheap and cheerful option. The tapas dishes are good value and generally of good quality. The wine is fine and, again, is pretty cheap. This isn't a destination for a romantic meal or special occasion, as the decor is quite shabby and the tables are protected with cheap paper cloths, but would suit a group looking for a quick, cheap feed. The staff were friendly and prompt, and very understanding with chaotic, drunken customers seeking a late supper!

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


Camden Bar & Kitchen

The Camden Bar and Kitchen is an informal, relaxed venue that is probably best suited to groups of friends seeking a good-value venue for a sociable meal. The food is reasonable; I enjoyed my goat's cheese soufflé and jerk chicken, although neither dish was unusual or particularly memorable. Portions are very good, though; I was unable to finish all the goat's cheese in my starter, which has to be a first for me! Service is friendly, if not always efficient. On balance, I'd probably return if seeking a casual, fairly cheap meal in the area.

Sunday, February 10, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Gallipoli Bazaar

The best thing about Gallipoli is the value. It's perfectly possible to eat and drink to one's fill for well under £25 per head. Last night, 30 of us had this experience for a friend's birthday.

As there were so many of us, following the set menu made perfect sense. It was a vegetarian meze to start; normally, I love meze, but I was disappointed that every dish except one contained lots of peppers. I dislike peppers and thought it was a bit lazy to fill every dish with them - I had to do a lot of picking around them.

There was an extensive choice for the main course and I opted for the king prawns. It was a generous serving and they were nice - grilled and served simply. The prawns were accompanied by rice and salad, which was a bit bland really - and virtually everyone's plate was made up of the same rice and salad. Even if it wasn't a particularly exciting dish, it was filling and decent fare.

For pudding, plates of milk pudding and apricots were placed at points around the table and we helped ourselves. Having to share the cutlery was a bit unorthodox and probably too informal, but we'd drunk enough cheap wine (the first bottle of which wasn't chilled properly) by that point that it didn't matter too much.

On balance, the service was ok, as it's some feat to serve a party of our size. However, it was quite unprofessional at points and the tables were being rearranged before some people had finished. Then members of the group were rather abruptly asked to leave, as the next sitting was waiting for the table.

Sunday, January 27, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Morgan M

After wanting to dine at Morgan M for a long time, the occasion finally came on Friday night. The four of us opted for the tasting menus and, as our group consisted of two carnivores, a pescatarian and a vegetarian, we were pleased that we could select whichever tasting menu suited us best.

The first dish was for all of us; a mushroom beignet with pumpkin soup. It was deliciously light and creamy - a good option to begin. This was followed by hand-dived scallops, which were very nice and, again, very light. The next course was sea bass, which was quite enjoyable, but ultimately unmemorable in comparison to the other dishes. After this was a delicious venison dish, served with a bold, flavoursome hare ravioli. It was with the venison that I really felt the menu got into its stride.

Moving on to the sweeter dishes, next was rice pudding with prune, which had a pleasant strength of flavour . Finally, it was time for a pudding of chocolate. Served with Grand Marnier ice cream, the dish was visually stunning and enriched with orange flavours - including a small glass of fresh orange juice.

The food at Morgan M is certainly not cheap, but I felt that I had a good variety of dishes and flavours from the tasting menu. We accompanied our food with a decent bottle from a very extensive wine list - possibly too extensive, as selection was beyond me and choice had to be deferred to my friend.

Service at Morgan M is slick and professional, but ultimately lacking in warmth. Accusations of snootiness have been levelled at the waiting staff and, while I feel that may be a little harsh, I can understand why. It was probably the service which stopped the evening being as exceptional as I had hoped - given the expense of dining at Morgan M and the subsequent service charge being therefore very high, I think I would expect more for my money.

Another area for development at Morgan M is certainly the bathroom. The rest of the restaurant is decorated tastefully, but the lavatories really let the place down - an ill-fitting cubicle door, dubiously-chipped seat, dodgy locks... I was really unimpressed.

I expect I'll return to Morgan M at some point, as the food is really very good. However, I am not sure I quite got value for money from the experience - and there are many, many very good restaurants in London where I have felt that I have got excellent value for my money.

Sunday, January 27, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6


The Barnsbury

The menu at The Barnsbury is tempting, and I really enjoyed my leg of rabbit with pancetta, parsley & radicchio risotto, truffle jus. However, the portions are not huge and cost the same as some of the higher-end West End restaurants - but, frankly, The Barnsbury does not compare to these venues. We were seated in the pub rather than the dining room; although despite this, the service was quite attentive, even if we had to repair to the bar each time we needed more drinks. However, the ambience of a pub is very different to that of a restaurant and I think that The Barnsbury does not realise that eating there is not nearly as good an experience as dining at a good restaurant for a comparable price.

Sunday, January 20, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5


Number Twelve

Upon entering Number Twelve, the greeting from a young, smiling staff was welcoming, and we were swiftly seated in a modern, stylish restaurant which was about a third full early on a Saturday evening. Although we'd booked under the £22.95 meal deal (including a carafe of wine), we were also supplied with an à la carte menu and wine list. These looked tempting, but couldn't beat the value of a meal deal, so I opted for the grey mullet to start, while my husband selected the gnocchi - the sole vegetarian option on the set menu.

While waiting for our first course we were offered a range of different breads, including a mozzarella variety and one with sun-dried tomato. The bread was fresh and enjoyable - and I was pleased that the waiting staff noticed how quickly we devoured the pieces we'd selected and returned with more for us. At this point the complimentary wine arrived in the form of a bottle which had been priced at £15 on the menu. Although it was the cheapest the restaurant served, it was perfectly good and appreciated as decent value.

The starters then arrived and I couldn't detect much sour in my grey mullet, despite it being described as sweet and sour. However, this did not matter as it was wonderful - very rare, which would not be to everyone's taste, but I am a sushi lover. The fish was tender and delicious, accompanied by a fairly simple salad with celeraic. Nothing else was needed, the fresh fish was so good. My husband's gnocchi was served with a rich and creamy cheese-based sauce, which was declared to be very good.

My main course was corn-fed chicken with aubergine caviar and potato; the chicken was wonderfully tender and complimented by the aubergine. However, it would have been improved with more aubergine and sauce to balance it - there was a surprisingly generous portion of chicken in the dish.

The vegetarian main course was a mushroom pappardelle, which was deemed creamy and very nice. However, my husband felt that it didn't offer much of an alternative to his starter dish. Number Twelve certainly has an Italian flavour - and successfully so - but could have planned the vegetarian set menu somewhat better.

My pudding was a créme anglais with honeycomb and pistachio - it was absolutely divine. My husband opted for a filter coffee and was pleasantly surprised when it was priced at £3.05 on the bill, as it was a very good coffee that would have cost just as much in an ordinary café with a lower ground rent. The coffee was served with 8 complimentary, varied biscuits, which was an appreciated touch beyond the expected.

Number Twelve is definitely worth a visit, with generally very good food, superb waiting staff and slick, attractive bathrooms. The meal deal made it superb value - just under £60 in total for two really good meals and drinks. I hope to return, and soon.

Friday, January 18, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Lemonia

I enjoyed a great meal at Lemonia last night with a friend. Despite us being terribly late for our table, the friendly waiting staff accommodated us regardless.

As expected with a Greek restaurant, we were served olives while looking over the menu which was really extensive. I was disappointed that there was no shared meze starter available - my friend has limited experience with Greek food, so it would have been nice for her to experience a range of typical Greek starters. Nevertheless, she liked her stuffed vine leaves, while I enjoyed my chili king prawns (which weren't really that chili, but never mind) served with a rocket salad.

Our main courses were really good; the lamb with green beans looked creamy and delicious and it was reported as being very good. My portion of calves livers was generous and the meat was delicious. It was served very simply with a salsa to accompany, as well as roasted potato and a side order of mushrooms, but worked really well.

Being almost full, I opted for light pudding of yoghurt with honey and nuts, which was really lovely, rounding off the meal nicely. Overall, a decent meal complemented nicely by a bottle of retsina.

Lemonia is a bustling, airy restaurant with a neighbourhood feel. The food is quite simple, executed very well and extremely enjoyable. I found the value to be good - especially in view of its location - and the service from a full-strength waiting staff was friendly and professional. I will certainly return at some point!

Saturday, January 12, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Salaam Namaste

My dining experience at Salaam Namaste did not begin well, as we were seated right next to the door - there is no shielding interior door - and I anticipated the cold on a December night. Then, when we placed our order, we had to ask for a jug of water three times (the wine we ordered at the same time as the water came immediately).

However, after this disappointing beginning, I am pleased to say that things improved rapidly. The waiter was apologetic at having forgotten the water and, from this point, I found the service to be courteous and alert. In some restaurants, serving staff avoid the eyes of diners, particularly if they are not the member allocated to your table; this is not so at Salaam Namaste, I am pleased to say.

We were brought complimentary poppadums and chutneys... although pleasant, the poppadums had a real tendency to stick to the teeth (I could see people subtly trying to dislodge bits of poppadum all around the restaurant, whenever a new diner was seated!).

My ambivalence towards the poppadums paled when presented with our main courses. Our anticipation was building, as we waited more than half an hour for our main courses (certainly our own fault for foregoing starters, as I wouldn't want our meals to be anything other than prepared freshly). I opted for a dish from the speciality menu: a chicken breast stuffed with minced lamb and spinach, served with a mild sauce and mushroom pilau rice. It was absolutely divine. It was cooked to perfection and it was worth waiting a while for it. The description suggested it would be a mild dish and I am not sure I would entirely agree with this, as it certainly had some kick, but I can tolerate a certain amount of spice and thought it was a fantastic dish.

My husband opted for a chili paneer dish which incorporated various vegetables - he liked his dish as much as I liked mine. However, he was a bit envious of the cashew nuts that accompanied my meal and thought that his dish could also do with some! A minor suggestion though, as he really loved his dinner.

We ordered some mushrooms and a dhal makhani as side orders and ended up bringing them home with us, as we barely made a dent on them in the restaurant, thanks to decent portion sizes. They have tasted good for lunch today, though!

Salaam Namaste is a gem and we will definitely go back - even without the 30% discount which made the meal such excellent value. I'd advise anyone who goes to try the speciality menu, rather than the tried-and-tested favourites which are also available - it makes for a fantastic dining experience.

Saturday, December 29, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


Chapters All Day Dining

After wanting to visit Chapter Two for some time, I finally ate here recently, dining on the Christmas set menu as part of a group.

The interior of the restaurant is stylish and comfortable. and the restaurant clearly positions itself as a smart esatblishment. The service is slick and professional, if a little humourless at times - that said, I am a stickler for being served correctly (particularly in this age of 12.5% service charges being added automatically) and I was pleased that Chapter Two did not disappoint in this respect.

Really, the only area where I felt a bit let down was the food. My starter of a haddock and chive risotto was delicate and well-executed... it just wasn't particularly interesting. Although pleasant, the flavours were a little bland and the presentation was unimaginative. I found myself envying the more attractive (and substantial) pressed ham-hock, and the stylishly-presented Jerusalem artichoke soup (which was good, apparently).

I opted for the pork belly for my main course and was disappointed by how fatty it was. Obviously, the whole point of pork belly is that it's moist and contains some fat, but I've eaten this dish a number of times at leading London restaurants and it's always been far better than what I had at Chapter Two. Aside from the fattiness, it was a very unbalanced dish and required more vegetables than the singular accompanying potato. The vegetarian main course option was a macaroni cheese with some cauliflower, which was reported by my companion as being a bit bland.

Pudding was a definite improvement and I enjoyed the lemon posset - this would not have been my usual choice, but I felt overwhelmed by all the fatty pork of my main course, so couldn't face the cheese plate which would otherwise have really appealed. The lemon, apple compote and orange syrup flavours of the pudding were initially an assault on the tastebuds, but after a couple of bites it settled down and became a treat. I would perhaps suggest that the flavours be incorporated into a cheesecake, to stop the ingredients overpowering the diner, but it was certainly an interesting idea and I didn't regret my choice.

I felt that the 3 courses for £19.95 was really good value for a pleasant restaurant, but if I were to return I would want to sample the à la carte menu to see if the food improved at all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Sapori

This restaurant is a reasonable option for anyone looking for a cheapish meal and isn't too fussed about service.

Initially, I was dismayed to see that a £1.50 cover charge was listed on the menu, as well as the increasingly-common 12.5% service charge. Both are, in my opinion, cheeky. Nevertheless, the four of us determined to make the most of the bread and olives provided for the cover charge, requesting extra when the first portion had run out. Perhaps this practice is a false economy for Sapori, as we decided to forego the starters as we were being charged for the bread anyway.

The food arrived quite promptly and the pizzas were well-received. I have mixed feelings about the seafood linguine in a parcel - although it tasted very good initially, the paper from the parcel was evident in each mouthful of food towards the bottom of the plate, which was really off-putting.

Unlike most restaurants where diners will be served by just one member of staff, there's a more informal system in Sapori, meaning that whichever waitress was closest served us each time. This led to an inconsistent standard of service and meant that we opted not to leave the full 12.5% service charge; I felt that one waitress clearing plates across the table - rather than over our shoulders, which would be far less obtrusive - was poor form, as were her barked instructions at me to pass her various items of cutlery left on the table. In addition, we were not offered black pepper, oil or grated cheese with our meals, although it appears that diners at other tables were.

Covent Garden is horrendously busy on Saturday evenings and most restaurants are full. It was easy to get seated at Sapori - for which we were grateful - but not entirely surprising, given the inelegant experience.

Sunday, December 02, 2007
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 7 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6


Dial Bar & Restaurant

Last night was my third visit to Dial and, unfortunately, it wasn't as good as the previous times I'd eaten there.

I was pleased to see that the restaurant was half-full, creating more of an atmosphere than on my previous visits, when the restaurant was nearly empty. My husband and I were shown to our table promptly and served warm, complimetary bread.

The wine arrived and it was good - and priced decently, too. Our starters were excellent: I had a prawn and crab cocktail, which was presented interestingly and tasted wonderful, while from the reasonable selection of vegetarian starters my husband chose the wild mushrooms on toast , which he proclaimed rich and flavoursome.

It was from this point that the meal began to disappoint. Within 60 seconds of our starter plates being cleared, we were presented with our main courses - it would have been nice to have had five minutes or so to digest and discuss the first course, as the dishes really were very good and merited that.

My husband had the tomato and goat's cheese tart, as it was the only vegetarian main course on the menu - a bit of a shame given that he had the choice of about 4 dishes for his first course. He said it was enjoyable enough, although not a particularly interesting dish, and it was overly-starchy thanks to the pastry and a generous helping of new potatoes.

I was looking forward to my wood pigeon main course, but was disappointed by two gristly, indigestable lumps that had to be placed at the side of the plate. The meat was quite overdone and very difficult to cut properly. In addition, the dish contained Brussels sprouts, which I loathe - I certainly wouldn't have opted for that dish if the menu had said it contained Brussels sprouts. That was a disappointment, but probably my fault for being a fussy eater, rather than the restaurant's!

My husband decided to skip pudding, but appreciated the waitress bringing him cutlery to dip into my chocolate sponge with clotted cream. This was a simple dish and was not unusual in any way, but it was executed well, and enjoyable.

Despite the disappointment with the main course, I'd probably give Dial another try - I have a discount card which makes the visit worthwhile, and I have enjoyed my two previous meals there. I'm not sure that my husband will accompany me though, as he was uninspired and disappointed by the vegetarian main course - and the lack of choice he had in that respect. The service was pleasant, as ever - but a decent gap between courses is desirable, so maybe the kitchen could look more carefully at their timing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Patterson's

This was my second visit to Patterson's and, while the experience was not quite as good as my last, it was still very good indeed. I had the crab tortellini as a starter (after a delightfully frothy amuse-bouche), which was delicious and generously-portioned. I was disappointed slightly by my main course of pork belly and scallops - it seemed slightly unbalanced somehow. My companion had the lamb, however, and raved about it. Pudding was a passionfruit panna cotta - creamy and wonderful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Little Bay (York Rd)

I was curious about the Little Bay experience before my visit last week, having been amazed by the low prices shown on their website. The dishes looked ambitious and utilised some premium-priced ingredients, so I wondered how the restaurant could make a living charging under £3 for a starter which would be double the price elsewhere.

The location is probably a contributory factor; the rents for what is a fairly unglamorous location are presumably low. In addition, the restaurant was packed (it was a Saturday evening, though), so that factor will keep the till full.

We were greeted by friendly, busy staff and seated around a fairly cramped table. However, a lack of comfort was compensated by interesting surroundings and opulent, over-the-top fixtures. The ostentatious manner of the design was matched by the entertainment provided by a man singing opera - he did so very well, and contributed to a fun atmosphere.

We were served fresh, complementary bread while waiting for our starters. I chose the Choux de Crab, which was a better portion than I'd expected for £2.95. Although the pastry could have been lighter, it was filled well and the flavours were good.

I had the duck main course, which looked delicious, but the meat was a little underdone. A friend who had the lamb made the same comment. That said, they were certainly edible and the accompaniments were prepared well, and enjoyable.

Being quite full after two good portions, I skipped pudding, only having a very enjoyable forkful of my friend's chocolate cheesecake. Everyone who ate pudding had great things to say about their choices.

Little Bay is an excellent-value night out. The food is decent enough, the service is friendly and the ambience is fun. It wouldn't be my first choice for a romantic evening, but is a great place for groups. The only reservation I might have in recommending Little Bay is the decor of the loos; cubicles are covered in very sexually-explicit drawings. I am pretty liberal, so wasn't offended, just highly-surprised. However, I can see that it really wouldn't be to everyone's taste.

Sunday, November 11, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Ferrari's (Bexley Village)

I visited Ferrari's with my family recently, after my parents had told me of a number of enjoyable meals they'd had here quite recently. We went for Sunday lunch, meaning that the restaurant was very busy. However, there is reasonable spacing between tables, so it wasn't intrusively noisy.

Of our group, I was the only one to choose from the à la carte menu and was glad I had done so. Although my starter of a prawn cocktail might not sound particularly exciting, it was simple and delicious, with juicy king prawns. As a main course, I had calves liver with bacon and a cabbage mash. Again, this was not a revolutionary dish, but was executed very well; I enjoyed it immensely. The rest of my family opted for the set menu and, while they enjoyed their meal and thought it very good value, they didn't feel it was exceptional, and envied my choice. I sampled some of the banoffe pie from the set menu for pudding and thought it was great - as rich and sinful as it should be.

The service was friendly and prompt, although not always polished professionalism, with dishes being served and cleared across other members of the group. This was possibly due in part to unwise seating arrangements across one wall, where we did feel a bit crammed in. Also, it was quite dark - I was envious of those who were seated in view of the large windows at the front of the restaurant.

Ferrari's is definitely worth visiting. The fare is traditional Italian and the menu is extensive - as expected - although not particularly original or experimental. That said, a lack of adventurousness is compensated for by very reasonable prices. It's clearly a well-run local restaurant, valued by a regular clientele. Most importantly, the food is often exceptionally good, and it's worth eating there for that factor alone.

Thursday, November 01, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Stanza Restaurant & Late Night Bar

I ate here recently with some colleagues and we enjoyed a pleasant evening. The restaurant is smart and comfortable and was a good venue for a group meal. I chose the terrine for my starter which was really good, particularly because of the accompanying onion marmalade. The portion was a good size too. To follow this, I opted for the fish pie, which was hearty and enjoyable. However, I was a bit disappointed by the selection of vegetables which could be ordered to accompany (at additional cost), as I felt there could have been more variety. Although I liked my fish pie, I later wished I'd had something more adventurous as a main course - I am not really in agreement with Gordon's Ramsay's philosophy that every menu needs a comfort option. However, nothing on the menu had really stood out to me.

I had a discount card which gave our party 50% of the total cost of the food, which really made it worthwhile. However, I'm not sure that I would have felt I'd enjoyed such good value if I'd paid full price: Stanza has ambitions to be a higher-end restaurant, but not really the exciting vision to match.

Service was generally good, as it was so warm, friendly and informative. The only slight problems were with starter dishes being cleared before everyone had finished, and with staff being slow to notice that wine glasses needed topping up, leaving us to do it ourselves.

On balance, Stanza is a good option for meals as part of a group - although I didn't drink in it, there's a well-regarded bar attached. However, I would probably go elsewhere for really special occasions.

Thursday, November 01, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Patterson's

Four of us had an excellent meal at Patterson's last night. The food was inventive and presented beautifully. Using a 50% discount, we paid just £20 (plus a small supplement for a few individual dishes) a head for 3 exquisite courses, which I felt was incredible value. Of course, non-budget wine and water then hiked the price up! We didn't mind too much though, as it was a special night and we enjoyed our meal immensely.

The service was very good and we enjoyed the ambience of the restaurant. Some of the better restaurants in London can sometimes feel intimidating and sterile, but Patterson's lacks that stuffiness and was just full of people enjoying their food and their company.

One area for development is the vegetarian choice, which was limited to one dish per course. My husband loved his food and we'd like to go back soon, but won't until the menu changes on the website, offering him (who is vegetarian) something new!

Saturday, September 22, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


The Admiralty

Another enjoyable meal at The Admiralty. Although my gratin of Cornish crab was unexceptional, the main course of pot roasted pork belly with celeriac mash and roast pumpkin was delicious. My mother had equally good things to say about her pea soup starter and sea bass main course.

My pudding of chocolate fondant with marscapone was as rich and sinful as it should be - I was glad I made that choice. However, although my mother's passion fruit crème brûlée tasted good, it did look a little ordinary.

It was an early dinner, so the restaurant was quite empty. This ensured attentive and friendly service. I've been to The Admiralty quite a few times now and will keep returning as long as the experience remains this good (and they keep offering good value meal deals).

Monday, July 09, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


The Archduke

Six of us needed somewhere to eat in a hurry yesterday evening before our visit to the RFH - local restaurants had already disappointed with either being closed, having a huge queue or no chef(!), so The Archduke it was.

And we weren't disappointed. All of us opted for the 2 courses + tea/coffee for £14 deal, which proved to be very reasonable. I opted for the duck terrine to start, which was very nice, while other friends enjoyed their leek and potato soup.

As a main course, I was really pleased with the sea trout - although it wasn't what I expected at all, not being an eater of trout regularly. It was very similar to salmon in appearance and taste; I really enjoyed it. The bed of mash was really good and it was presented very nicely.

My coriander-hating husband was restricted to the sole vegetarian option of couscous and coriander cakes - but said he really liked it anyway, as the coriander didn't overpower the rest of the dish. A couple of our party opted for the pork dish, which was decent and looked appealing.

I would certainly recommend the Archduke to anyone seeing a performance locally. Service was really prompt - we were asked if we were seeing a performance and we were really pleased that the efficient service reflected our need to get out quite quickly. The staff were very friendly and professional. I felt that the food and wine was good value and would certainly return again.

Saturday, July 07, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Yoisho

A nice little restaurant with great food - the omelettes and the aubergine in miso sauce are particularly good. However, the prices are on the high side, even for Japanese food - particularly for the decent, but unexceptional sashimi. It's not difficult for the bill to reach £35 per head - and although this is a good place to eat, it's not worth that. Service charge is included and, although it is friendly, it is fairly disorganised.

Saturday, June 23, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5


Dial Bar & Restaurant

I ate at Dial on Saturday night with a friend and really enjoyed my meal.

We were shown to our table promptly by a courteous waitress, which set for the tone for the polite service we received for the rest of our meal. Although it wasn't so attentive that we didn't have to pour our own wine at one point, this was preferable to a member of staff hovering by our table all evening: this could have been a reality, given that we were the only diners for a significant proportion of our visit.

The food was good - I had a quail breast salad to start, which was a reasonable portion and presented well, with beans and mushrooms. To follow this, I enjoyed the Grimsby cod in a delicious broth. I chose the brown bread ice cream for pudding, which was distinctive and very nice.

Prices at Dial are reasonable (even more so with the discount card I used) and it's definitely worth a visit - it's just a shame that a restaurant in such an excellent position doesn't enjoy more custom. I suspect the fact that it's part of a hotel may be one reason, although that shouldn't put people looking for an extensive and thoughtful menu (including a reasonable wine list) off.

Thursday, June 21, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7


Le Cafe du Jardin

I am really surprised by some of the awful reviews on this site! My husband and I dined at Le Café du Jardin last week and had a really enjoyable meal on the whole. The restaurant is situated very conveniently in Covent Garden and is a small, attractive space which offers a good view of the passing world. I can't agree with the comments about feeling cramped, as we ate on a Monday night and the restaurant was not full. However, I can see that space could be an issue if every table were taken.

My crab cake starter was great, although not matched by my swordfish main course, where the flavours were a little misjudged. My vegetarian husband was cheered by the choices he had as part of a meal deal set menu ( the extensive range of dishes is commendable, and we felt it made our trip to be very good value) and really enjoyed his asparagus. There was just one vegetarian main course on offer - a pasta dish - but it was very good. Our puddings were a real highlight - my chocolate torte was fantastic, and my husband really enjoyed his lemon tart.

Although I generally dislike restaurants which include a service charge - and I felt that Le Café du Jardin's service charge of 15% was excessive and off-putting - the service was really good: attentive, but unobtrusive. Overall, we enjoyed our visit and will return.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe

I went here with my husband last month, taking advantage of a set meal deal. While looking at the wine list, we were brought some complentary warm bread with butter and taramasalata. Then, after we had ordered, we were each brought an amuse bouche of some frothy onion soup, which was absolutely delicious. It was light and creamy and filled us with a sense of anticipation for the upcoming meal.

Our starters then arrived and I had ordered the haddock salad. This also involved bits of potato, a mustard dressing and a quail's egg. My husband had a baked beetroot salad with rocket, feta cheese and pine nuts. All of this was very nice and tasted like it might be healthy, which is always a bonus. We were then brought more bread, having troughed the first lot.

Despite feeling quite full of bread, it was then time for the main course. I was sad that the guinea fowl was not available, but the excellent waiter assured me that the corn-fed chicken was served identically. So I had this. The chicken was plump and juicy and there was a good portion, all wrapped in pancetta. The dish also involved lentils, spinach (and/or basil), garlic and a creamy celeriac mash. My vegetarian husband had gnocchi for his main course, served with asparagus, a poached egg and peas. Again, we enjoyed these dishes immensely.

For pudding, I had Tia Maria crème brûlée with chocolate ice-cream. This was very rich and too much would have been a mistake: I ate just the right amount. My husband had vanilla and gingerbread cheescake with red berriesl I dipped into his dish and found it to be divine. I was sorry I hadn't ordered it for myself.

The food and service were excellent and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking for a special meal out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Le Dolomiti

I've changed my mind about this restaurant over the 2-and-a-bit years since I last reviewed it. It might still be a decent place to eat on a normal evening, but it's to be avoided on days when the set menu is in operation - such as today, Mother's Day!

The choice on the menu was uninspiring to say the least. I chose the breaded mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise; three mushrooms arrived, lukewarm. It was an edible starter, but really such a boring option... there wasn't a lot of choice, but prawn cocktail and minestrone soup were among the selection - I thought it was 1987 all over again.

The options for the main course were no better - 3 different kinds of roast, veal, salmon in hollandaise sauce and canneloni come to mind (the canneloni was the only vegetarian dish). My vegetarian husband had the canneloni and said it was 'flavourless'. I went for the veal, which was tough.

The service was also poor. It has taken far too long to be seated over my last few visits to this restaurant - diners are basically left hanging around in the bar area until they are compelled to find a member of staff. Maybe this is because the restaurant hopes that we will get bored of waiting and order an extra drink while we hang around?

Food was served without a smile, plates were passed across the table to us rather than served properly, vegetables were spooned out across the person next to us (my husband nearly got an elbow in his face as the waiter stretched across him to serve my vegetables)... the peas arrived while we were well into our main course. In addition, half the plates for our starter were cleared while the rest of us waited several minutes to have our plates taken away, we waited about 30 minutes between finishing our main course and being served pudding.... the list goes on and on. I suppose that good service was not a priority because the service charge was automatically added to the bill. I appreciate that it was a busy day, but if a restaurant is going to extract £24 or thereabouts from each diner for a mediocre, poorly-presented meal, then they need to ensure that they have adequate staffing.

Needless to say, I won't be going back... I doubt my parents will either, despite eating at Le Dolomiti many times for 20 years or so.

Sunday, March 18, 2007
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 2 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 1


Trattoria Italiana Biagio

I ate here yesterday evening with my husband and it was really bustling, which seemed promising. We were shown to our table, which was placed about 6 inches from the next table - hence a very undignified squeeze to my seat. I noticed that all of the tables were similarly uncomfortably cramped.

While ordering from the menu, we were brought some unrequested olives and a basket of 4 small squares of slightly-stale bread. Obviously, the assumption was that these would be complimentary; I was aggrieved to see we'd be charged £2.40 for the (plain and nasty) bread when the bill came. There seems to me to be something deceitful about this practice.

That aside, I wouldn't bother with Biagio anyway. Although our starters were decent enough (if poorly-presented, in the case of my paté), our main courses were, at best, mediocre. I had a seafood pasta; the portion and quality of seafood was satisfactory, but the dish was far too oily and over-salted. The chef had also been over-zealous with the salt in my husband's mushroom risotto. He proclaimed the first few mouthfuls delicious, but quickly changed his mind after a few bites.

There are too many good places to eat in Central London for me to bother with Biagio again!

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 3 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2


Ikkyusan

I've been to this restaurant about 5 times and my experience has become progressively less enjoyable. The first time I ate here I thought it was marvellous: great food, great value and a really enjoyable experience. However, in under two years, my view has changed.

Last night saw the worst service yet. My husband's eagle eyes spotted that the waitress had written down a pork gyoza for his starter - he's a vegetarian! I ordered some sushi to start, but the waitress told me that it may take some time, so would I like it after my main course! I declined this and changed my order, only to be told that the new starter I'd selected wasn't available. Fine, I ordered some Dim Sum instead... I was dismayed that this arrived 25 minutes after my husband's starter which, of course, he finished well before mine arrived.

Finally, I was tucking into my starter, (which was decent enough, it must be said) when my main course arrived, just plonked down in front of my husband! As I mentioned, he's vegetarian, so I thought that placing a pad thai with a giant king prawn sticking out of the top was particularly inappropriate! After complaining to three waitresses, finally it was taken away, so I continued eating.

Then I had finished and my dishes were cleared. A few minutes later, my husband's main course arrived - and I had to wait another five minutes for my main course to be brought back to the table! Presumably it had been stuck in the microwave, as by the time I started eating it the chicken inside was bone-dry, as was the egg wrapped around the noodles.

When the bill came, it was just a total - no itemisation. I know it will have included a service charge and if I wasn't wearied by the Ikkyusan experience and desperate to leave, I would have queried it.

Ikkyusan has run out of chances: I definitely won't be going back and I really mean it this time!

Sunday, December 10, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6


Albannach

I went here last night with friends for dinner and we all had a really good time. The food was great; the lobster and prawn cocktail I had to start was one of the most delicious things I have eaten for some time! Despite the quality, the food is a bit pricey - luckily, a discount card scheme I've joined gave us a significant reduction on the food cost, which certainly made it worthwhile.

I was impressed by the service, too. The staff are courteous, efficient and discreet. Despite our party being late and in a rush to vacate the table by the agreed time, the waiting staff did their best to ensure a relaxed meal and secured us an area in the bar in which to finish our drinks.

Finally, the decor is thoughtful and tasteful - it made me feel very festive!

Thursday, December 07, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6


Benihana (Swiss Cottage)

A bit disappointing, really. The service was pretty poor: our starters turned up after we'd been served our main course (after I had to ask the maitre d' where our food was) and it took half an hour to be brought a bottle of wine, after I'd asked three different members of staff. Benihana takes the liberty of adding a 12.5% service charge to the bill, which I certainly did not feel was deserved.

The food was reasonable, although nothing special. It is cooked in front of you by entertaining and skilled chefs, which is probably the best thing about the Benihana experience.

On balance, it's a pricey night out and not worth it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 2


Benihana (Swiss Cottage)

A bit disappointing, really. The service was pretty poor: our starters turned up after we'd been served our main course (after I had to ask the maitre d' where our food was) and it took half an hour to be brought a bottle of wine, after I'd asked three different members of staff. Benihana takes the liberty of adding a 12.5% service charge to the bill, which I certainly did not feel was deserved.

The food was reasonable, although nothing special. It is cooked in front of you by entertaining and skilled chefs, which is probably the best thing about the Benihana experience.

On balance, though, it's a pricey night out and not worth it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 2


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