All reader reviews by Helen

Amalfi

I'm not sure whether some of the staff might have come from one of those chains that encourage floor staff to be OTT friendly and jolly, but it seems rather out of place here.

I ate here on a Friday night and it was predictably busy. We sat downstairs and it was perfectly cosy, although a little too dark to read the menu!

The food isn't spectacular - the usual italian staples, but they were more than happy to modify an item to my very picky requirements, without any fuss!

I was very pleasantly surprised by the bill, too, and all the staff were very friendly. It's maybe not the swanky place for a special occasion, but I'd definitely go back again, and the location can't be beat.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Masala Zone (Islington)

As all the previous reviews have said, the food is really good for the price - I was very pleasantly surprised.

Where this branch let itself down, however, was the service. I ate here on a Monday night and the place was half-empty although I counted at least 5 front-of-house staff milling around. I had to ask three times for a glass of water - my final request was of the man who took my empty plate away! I also had to ask twice for the bill, not normally a request that restaurants are slow to grant...

The staff were very sweet and friendly, but need to be a little more on the ball!

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6


Trattoria Italiana Biagio

Leave this one for the tourists. We were hungry and tired, so figured this place would do. I wish we'd kept walking.

Service completely inattentive - had to attract attention so that we could order. I ended up helping myself to the ubiquitous Black Pepper from the waiter stand, which was the only time they reacted with any kind of haste at all! Practically had to stand up and wave my arms about to attract waiting staff at all, one of whom did not speak enough english to be able to help with my request.

Food mediocre at best. Wine nasty. Overpriced tourist trap. Keep walking, people!

Friday, August 04, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 3


Mercado

If you think that Mexican food is all burritos and fajitas, then think again. A very welcome addition to Church Street, and North London in general. Great menu, with plenty of veggie stuff, too.

There's also a great bar here, where they pride themselves on the selection of different margaritas.

Friendly service, although the speed and efficiency might depend who you get! Will definitely go back here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


Pogo Cafe

Totally vegan and mostly organic. A cafe, rather than a restaurant, run by very friendly volunteers, so very worthy!

Mains include a selection of different burgers and mexican (nachos, burrito, quesadillas), nut roast, a very tasty jambalaya, and bangers & mash. There's a separate kids menue and a good selection of cakes and desserts, all to be eaten with a clear conscience!

They're unlicensed, happy for you to bring your own - charge a small fee for corkage. Closed Monday and Tuesday, open till 9pm every other day.

Monday, June 26, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9


S&M Cafe (Islington)

A gem. The old cafe perfectly revived, complete with all the old fittings and signs, and Dandelion & Burdock on the drinks menu!

Choose any combination from a great selection of sausages (including 3 vegetarian options), add your choice of mash, gravy and side veggies. Try and leave room for some old-fashioned puds, too... and it's licensed. And it's open all the time! And the service is happy and friendly! Hurray for S&M!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Patara (Oxford Circus)

Incredibly polite and helpful staff. Great menu (they have a separate vegetarian menu if you ask for it!). We had a lovely table, but the restaurant isn't the kind of place where they cram in as many tables as possible in order to make maximum use of the space.

The food was delicious, and they were perfectly happy to modify a dish at my request. We shared starters of dumplings and spring rolls. Green organic chicken curry, duck, mushrooms in garlic and chilli with crispy basil, pak choi and mixed mushrooms. Presentation is wonderful. I can't say a bad thing about this place (and that's quite unusual!).

A great experience like this doesn't come cheap, however. Starters around £6-7, mains around £12-15. In terms of value for money, it's definitely worth it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 6


Viet Garden

The food here is really very good indeed. We had a mixture of dishes, sizzling mushrooms with spring onions, Bun Xa (noodles), tofu, chicken, beef... you name it. It was all delicious and served by very attentive staff.

However, our waiter was only interested in the man at our table. He insisted on continually topping up the wine glasses, even after we'd asked him to stop. This meant that our male companion got three full glasses of wine, and us two gals only got one each before the bottle ran out! At the end of the meal 'we' were asked "Anything else for you, sir?" and when sir didn't want anything the waiter walked away, as it was apparently not worth asking if the ladies wanted anything else. It left me wondering whether we'd have been served at all if we'd gone without a man with us!

Our irritation aside, we'd probably go back here because the food is so good, but the staff need to hear this feedback!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7


Cuba Libre

Went on Sunday night, when you might expect places to be a little quiet. Well, if the streets are quiet, it's because everyone is packed into Cuba Libre! We had tapas, which were nothing spectacular, but certainly edible. The service was great - fast and friendly, and the bill surprisingly small. Excellent value, a good place to go with a big bunch of friends. "6 tapas for £10.95" would take some beating in this part of town!

Monday, April 03, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Eat and Two Veg

I'd heard about this place and was just waiting for the right excuse to be in the area. Well-placed to revive us after an afternoon shopping on Oxford Street (closest tube is probably Baker Street?)

Very friendly and attentive service, glad to see that the waiting staff seemed to be working as a team, rather than ignoring people who aren't sitting at one of 'their' tables!

Food was great. Most of the time, when fellow diners ask me how my food is, I go "Yeah, it's alright," but I am happy to say that my Lancashire Hotpot was "really good," and my companion was equally impressed with the Chykn and Baykn Potato-topped pie. Sadly no room for dessert, but this is indicative of the size of the main courses! Will definitely be back.

Monday, March 27, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Kilis Kitchen

We went on Saturday night and the place was packed. They have crammed so many tables in that when people pass by, they nudge the diners or the food - far too cramped!

The food (we had a selection of mezes - falafel, kisir, etc) was just average. The falafel was overdone and rock-hard, the cold ones had come straight out of the fridge and were pretty tasteless.

The biggest problem was the service. I realise that on a Saturday night, the place is busy and you have to be a little more patient, but we had to chase up our order and got nothing at all for almost an hour. We had to ask 3 times for water, the staff had trouble understanding us and at times were somewhat offhand. The only request that was dealt with promptly was for the bill!

I can't remember the last time I stiffed a place on the tip but I didn't bother here, sorry. It's not like I'll be going back...

Monday, March 13, 2006
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 3 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 1 | Value for money 3


Thai Square on the Strand

My companion had the duck curry which was highly praised. Good selection of stuff for the omnivores. We had no problem at all with the service.

Unlike the branch in Islington, the vegetarian selection here is much smaller. The tofu was overcooked and frazzled, the vegetables were good but the sauce a bit bland and the broccoli in ginger tasted suspiciously fishy...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 4 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6


The Blue Legume (Stoke Newington)

This place has an extensive daytime menu, including lots for vegetarians. It's recently started opening in the evenings too, but beware: the menu is a much more restricted version, with about 5 vegetarian options, and just 2 vegan ones, including a very uninspiring veggie burger with frozen crinkle-cut fries.

A good selection of non-veggie food, though. My companion had the kleftiko and was very impressed.

I'd go back another time, but only during the day.

Monday, March 06, 2006
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 3 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Food For Thought

Perfect food served at sensible prices! The Big drawback for me is the cramped surroundings - call me oversensitive, but I actually found it a bit too stressful to enjoy my food, when the queue is snaking up the stairs right by your elbow. Maybe I'll try sitting with my back to the room next time!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 1 | Value for money 8


Mildred's

I agree with all the previous reviews - I used to love this place, but the service is now so hopeless, I really would rather go elsewhere.

They don't take bookings, so you have no option other than to wait for a table. I recommend ordering your bottle of wine at the bar while you wait, and getting stuck in. It makes the time pass quicker, and quite frankly. it's probably your only chance of getting something to drink before you finish your starters.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


Green Note

This place has a great location - up Parkway from Camden tube station but feels like a million miles away from the lunacy out on the street.

A really cosy atmosphere, great music. Friendly (if a little scatty) staff.

Food is great - the last time we went we shared a selection of their tapas which were unusual and tasty. Lots of vegan options and a good wine list, too!

The added bonus of music some nights make booking advisable.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Loving Hut (Archway)

The food can't be faulted. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and often try to recommend stuff - when you're veggie/vegan, you get very used to scanning a menu to find the One Thing that you can eat, and the fantastic choice here means it often takes ages for me to decide!

The times I've been in, it's been really quiet, and consequently rather lacking in atmosphere. This may or may not be due to the fact that it's not licensed for alcohol...

It is very popular as well for takeaway and delivery.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 10 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 7


Govinda's

Best value are the thali plates - served in an airline-style metal tray with a little bit of everything, and your choice of rice. They're only about a fiver, and you'd be hard pressed to get something so good for that price in central London! Full marks, too for leaving jugs of water available for people to help themselves, no need to feel guilty if you don't want to buy a drink! Great range of vegan puds, too. Hurray!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 10


Thai Silk (Waterloo)

The food is good, but watch out for the sassy service at busy times - it's quite apparent they are trying to turn the tables as quickly as they can, so possibly not the best place if you want a relaxed dinner.

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 6 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6


Yum Yum Thai Restaurant

Always busy, remember to make reservations for busy times - everybody knows how great this place is! Can get a bit crowded, but the food is fantastic and it's a nice atmosphere.

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Suruchi

This place is a bit out of the way, but well worth it, particularly in summer. The big selling point of this place is their a big covered patio at the back, but you will need to arrive early or book in advance to secure an outdoor table. Great in summer, and when the evenings are a little cooler, the patio heaters are out, so it's really nice to be outside.

Great food, plenty for veggies as you might expect - the dosas are good!

Friendly service, good value for money - a good place to go with a bunch of friends.

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


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