All reader reviews by Anna

Leong's Legends

Went back to Leong's Legends last night for the first time in a while. I found the food as good as ever. Xiao long bao were delicious (the nicest I've had in London, although I have to admit not up there with the best ones I had in Shanghai) and I also had the green beans fried with minced pork, which were very good, with lots of garlic and chilli. My vegetarian friend had the vegetarian 'fish' (basically spring roll type things in a spicy sauce), which got the thumbs up, and vegetable dumplings which were lacking the nice soup you get in the xiao long bao, but were all eaten with relish nevertheless. We went early (pre-theatre) on a weekday night, but the place was still pretty busy, and service was very prompt and polite. I will be back again soon, I hope.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Canton Arms

Went to the newly-reopened Canton Arms last night - and was very impressed. It was pretty busy for a Tuesday night, and there was quite a wait for the food (although service was generally very pleasant), but it was excellent when it came. I had pork loin with fennel and olives - which also included a few roasties - a filling & tasty plate of food, although the crackling was a little bit underdone. The chocolate pot for dessert was delicious, although bear in mind the cream on top is runny and not solid (friend had unfortunate spillage incident). On top of that, they serve some interesting ales on tap.

The atmosphere was buzzy and it felt as though everyone in the place was willing it to succeed. I really hope it does. We need more places like this in South Lambeth.

Oh, and the (very tasty) bread is apparently provided by Di Lieto Bakery, which has re-opened just off Brixton Road. More good news for Stockwell.

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Ba Shan

I should probably start by saying that I know nothing about Szechuan food so I couldn't tell you whether what my husband and I ate at Ba Shan last night was authentic or not. But we did like it.

I was slightly disappointed by the menu when I first arrived; I expected there to be more 'small bites' and fewer main dishes. There may have been more than I saw, though, as the menu is in large book picture format and isn't easy to navigate because there are no page numbers (something to think about perhaps?). Once over this hurdle, we found it easy to choose what we wanted as the pictures give a very good idea of what you'll be getting.

We decided to get everything together, and had the stewed chicken and bamboo shoots (with chillies and sichuan pepper), the pot sticker dumplings with pork and chives, dry fried green beans with minced pork, and the fish fragrant aubergine hot pot.

I've read a few reviews elswhere suggesting that the food here isn't hot or spicy enough. That certainly wasn't true of the stewed chicken. I don't go out of my way to eat spicy food, but I'm not averse to it - but this really, really was hot (the table next to us agreed!). It was tasty and unusual, but I couldn't possibly eat all of it, even with my husband's help. The waitress did warn us it would be hot....and we probably should have listened. The other dishes, which weren't particularly spicy, were all delicious. I particularly liked the aubergine hot pot, which had a lovely underlying sweet flavour. The pot-sticker dumplings were fresh and succulent inside.

For drinks, we avoided the wine list (a bit pricey) and had a couple of beers and jasmine tea, which went nicely with the food. Service was polite, helpful and attentive. I did like the decor, but the place is slightly strangely set out, divided up into small areas containing only a few tables each, which arguably detracts from the atmosphere.

So the really hot Sichuan-style cooking probably isn't to my taste, but I did enjoy the other dishes, and this place has something for everyone. It was, I think, a tad overpriced, but I didn't leave feeling as though I'd been robbed. We're definitely planning to go back to try some of the other "small eats", so I think overall I'd count this one as a success.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

My husband and I went here for our anniversary and had a lovely night. The food was delicious; I really enjoyed my main of monkfish cheeks with ginger beurre blanc and a watercress salad, but it paled into significance next to the nicest tarte tatin I have ever eaten. Very glad I left room for dessert.

We chose our own wine, but asked for recommendations for dessert wines and they matched our choices very well. Our waiter was very charming and happy to chat about Nantes football club (of all things!). My only slight quibble would be the wait we had before being shown to our table - half an hour, even though we had booked. We spent it very pleasantly in the downstairs bar with a drink, but don't book a later sitting if you're in a rush. Having said that, we were pleasantly surprised to get a table booking only the day before, and I suppose a half-hour wait is the price you pay if you book at short notice in a restaurant as busy as this.

So to sum up, the food, decor, atmosphere and service are all great; you may have to wait a little for your table, but on our experience, it'll be worth it.

Friday, September 18, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Lamberts

My husband and I went to Lamberts last night for my birthday, and really enjoyed our meal.

The restaurant was a little empty when we arrived but filled up somewhat as the night went on. We were brought bread and rapeseed oil (very nice!) as soon as we arrived. The service was a little slow early on, which I think was down to a new waiter (the unfortunate bloke then dropped a glass of champagne by the next table so I think his first night nerves got the better of him) but was otherwise very pleasant.

Food was very good to excellent. My first course of seared venison with pesto, white bean and aubergine was lovely - the meat was very tender, although I thought the aubergine/white bean mixture could have been a little hotter. My husband had the confit octopus with black pudding, which he enjoyed. We both thought our main courses were great - I had Torbay sole with some lovely potato things and he had the open John Dory ravioli, which he really liked. Puddings were good too, although I found the Chapel Down nectar I had with mine disappointing.

We had a very nice bottle of Sancerre, and enjoyed our evening. The slight emptiness detracted from the atmosphere a little - I would like to return when the restaurant is full and buzzy - but the food was great, and we will be back.

Thursday, August 20, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


Tom Ilic

I reviewed this place in January; I don't normally re-review but we had such a great time on our second visit that I wanted to up my marks a little.

We went to Tom Ilic last Friday for my husband's birthday with his parents. I really enjoyed the food last time I went, but this time it was even better - surprisingly so, because the pork belly and scallops that I had last time (and wanted to have again!) wasn't on the menu. I had the pigs' cheeks again, followed by roast saddle and braised shoulder of lamb, which was absolutely amazing. I am desperate to go back and try it again, but it probably won't be on the menu next time round! For dessert, I had the white chocolate and marscapone cheesecake with rhubarb sorbet, which was beautiful - much better than the dessert we had last time. The service was much better this time too, and the large number of groups obviously having a very good time made the (somewhat plain) room friendly and inviting.

I know this building has in the past been a graveyard for good restaurants which is why I'm reviewing Tom Ilic again - his food is delicious and imaginative, very reasonably priced and he really really deserves to make a success of this place.

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


Arbutus

We went to Arbutus on Maundy Thursday - we booked the day before for a 9:15 sitting as we were going out before eating. The main thing I want to say here (as the food has been done to death) is that the service was almost faultless and charming. Apart from a slight delay before we ordered our food, our waitress was helpful, friendly and efficient. Even more importantly, she was happy to bring us tap water - and refill the jug without our asking!

Our food was good but I didn't think it was spectacular. That is perhaps partly my fault as I chose the pig's head (which was a bit earthy for me - I think there was just a bit too much of it). My main course of veal was very tasty. My husband had the red mullet/octopus salad to start, which he didn't find overly exciting, then the rabbit with a side of rabbit cottage pie, which he really liked. We shared a tarte tatin for dessert which came a bit cold but was delicious. We had wine in the 250 ml carafes, which was great because we didn't want to drink loads but wanted white with the starter and red with the main - both were reasonably priced and good.

Overall, not the best meal I've had in London but tasty, good value for money and served almost impeccably.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


The Lavender (Clapham Road)

Unfortunately, the Lavender has now closed and the premises seem to be housing some kind of 'trendy wine bar'. Which I, at least, think is a shame.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Overall rating 0 stars
Food 0 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 0


Tom Ilic

I don't think there's much I need to add here as the recent reviews (including London Eating's own) have said pretty much everything I wanted to say. So, in brief:

The good

Well, most of it really. Especially the chorizo with braised pig's cheeks and garlic and something-else-I-can't remember mash, closely followed by the lovely belly pork & seared scallops with Jerusalem artichokes and hazelnuts. Very lovely, and not horrendously expensive at around 6 pounds for the starter and 13.50 for the main. The dessert didn't let the side down either (pear tart). My companions also seemed to enjoy their starters (one foie gras, one pig's cheeks) and mains (one lamb, one belly pork & scallops). The menu is short and all sounds tempting. The wine was good and reasonably priced.

The bad

There was a pretty long delay before we got served, and our bubbly came very late - as we were getting our starters. We eventually lost the 'slow' waitress for a somewhat swifter one, who made up for the delay by giving us our 3 glasses of dessert wine free, which made the bill even more reasonable than we'd initially thought.

The restaurant was full even on a Wednesday night. People generally seemed to be happy with their food and their surroundings. Lovely place, and especially good to find it in South London. Please help keep it going!

Thursday, January 31, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Original Lahore Kebab House

Went here last night with a group of friends (completely unplanned: I had been going home for an early night...). They had booked - which I think is necessary, even on a Thursday in August, as there were queues outside as we left - and I tagged along at the last minute. I was very glad I had. We ordered some mixed starters, so I'm still not entirely sure what I ate, but the dry dishes of lamb and chicken were delicious and tender, and the lamb chops were excellent as mentioned below. I also enjoyed the rolled lamb meat. Samosas were tasty and relatively light. After all that, I didn't really have room for most of my main course, but enjoyed what I could manage of a spicy karahi chicken - again, the meat was well-cooked and tender. A few of my companions had pudding, and seemed to like the rice pudding, which came in a plastic pot but was apparently none the worse for it.

We were upstairs; the decor was minimalist (someone mentioned a school canteen, and it did feel a bit like that), but the room was packed, noisy and friendly. There were a couple of small children chasing each other around the tables, which I thought added to the generally cheerful mood. It had the feel of a place where extended families and friends go to catch up and argue in a familiar setting. For such a busy evening, the service was prompt, if relatively cursory. It's a long trek over to Whitechapel from where I work or live, but I'd definitely return if I was in the area.

Friday, August 24, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


The Lavender (Clapham Road)

My husband and I go to The Lavender quite frequently as it's one of the few places open around the Oval on a Sunday night. We always look at the board of specials, but end up having pizza - it's not that the specials (on the very few occasions we've sampled them) haven't been nice; the pizzas are just nicer. Generously topped, nicely crispy - I did once have a heinously oversalted one, but otherwise, they've always been good quality. The wine list is pretty decent too.

I'd agree, though, that the service is patchy. Sometimes it's absolutely fine, but at others the staff can be grumpy. Last time I was there I had a bit of a dither about sitting outside or not; we were going to and then nearly got our heads blown off by the wind, so decided to move inside. This was not at all well received - and I do understand that my indecision was irritating, but I don't think there was any need to show this *quite* so clearly. Having said that, on the majority of visits, the service has been fine (if slow) and we've never felt hurried to get out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Michael Moore

My parents, husband and I went to Michael Moore for my birthday/their anniversary last weekend. We had a lovely evening despite the rain outside. My crispy duck starter with mango was good but a little unexciting compared with my husband's ginger foie gras (which he kept going on about for the rest of the evening) and my dad's ostrich carpaccio. My main course, however, was absolutely fantastic - melt-in-the-mouth blue fin tuna; honestly the nicest bit of fish I have ever tasted. My husband very much enjoyed the belly pork/lobster combo criticised a couple of reviews down (no accounting for taste!), and my mum was complimentary about her scallops and langoustine roulade. The chocolate dessert my dad and I had was great, but my mum was unimpressed with the size of her fresh fruit salad. We had champagne to start and a reasonably-priced Chilean Sauvignon blanc with the meal, and whilst the whole experience was certainly expensive, we enjoyed the food and the atmosphere.

Our waiter was lovely, and as always (we've been twice before) Michael Moore came out for a chat at the end of the meal.

My only quibble (apart from the fruit salad) is that we were told we could only have a table for 7 p.m. We would have liked a little later and as no-one else turned up, and we stayed until at least 9:30, we weren't quite sure why we weren't allowed a later sitting. But it's a minor thing, and certainly didn't spoil our enjoyment. We will be going back.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 7


Dragon Castle

I went to a birthday party at Dragon Castle last Saturday - I was very much looking forward to it on the strength of the various reviews I have seen and I wasn't disappointed.

As there were 16 of us, the birthday boy decided to order the #15.50 set menu, so we didn't have anything vastly adventurous, just Cantonese standards (or what pass for Cantonese standards in the UK, anyway). These were, however, surprisingly good. Very tasty ribs with a great sauce, crisp, non-greasy (a first for me!) spring rolls, tasty satay chicken and perfectly adequate prawn toast. The mains were better - big platefuls of chicken in black bean sauce (tender chicken, tasty flavours, not too overloaded with red & green peppers), beef with onions, pak choi, special fried rice, sweet and sour king prawns (I didn't try them, but apparently they were very good) and best of all, some very tasty belly pork and duck. There was far too much food for us to eat, but because it wasn't overly glutinous or chemical, we just felt nicely sated.

The service was decent, but not brilliant; the restaurant was pretty full and we were occasionally ignored for rather too long. However, the atmostphere was good and whilst others might have been annoyed, I was thoroughly amused by their jazzed up happy birthday tape (played 3 times for others and once for us!). They also brought out a little birthday cake for our organiser - at extremely short notice, which was very kind (he was extremely embarrassed). The main thing I noticed was that everyone in the large dining room appeared to be enjoying themselves.

Overall, thoroughly recommended. My husband and I will be returning soon to sample some of the more adventurous dishes on the menu. For those of you who live in the area, this is a great find. For those of you who can't bear the thought of crossing the river - more fool you, and more food for us!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Leon (Ludgate Circus)

I love this place. Somewhat embarrassingly, the staff now recognise me and predict my order (almost always the Original Superfood Salad - broccoli, quinoa, peas, mint, avocado, cucumber and feta - with a few seeds 'n' stuff chucked in for good measure). But I have also tried the Moroccan Meatballs (very good - with brown rice and home-made coleslaw) and the Chilli Con Carne, which can boast proper meat and everything. The salads and "big dishes" are reasonably priced, and you can get free pitta bread. I normally get takeaway, but it's a busy, convivial eating area at lunchtimes, if a bit packed around 1 - 2 p.m. It's a bit more laid back in the evening, when the business punters have gone home, and operates as a bar cum restaurant. Nice atmosphere and good, reasonably priced drinks.

I really come here for the broccoli, though...

Monday, May 14, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


La Trouvaille

I booked here for a "special" meal out with my husband a couple of weeks ago (part of a somewhat decadent weekend, so we wanted it to be good). I'd never been before, but couldn't get into any of our usual haunts at short notice. I'd read good reviews elsewhere (notably Time Out) but was a bit concerned by some of the comments on this side. I needn't have worried...

My husband's starter of honey roast pigeon was small but extremely tasty. I skipped starter because I had eaten too much at lunch time - but it was worth it, because my main was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Medallions of monkfish on black pudding, with mash and an exotic fruit the name of which I have now completely forgotten, but tasted like passion fruit and bitter chocolate all rolled into one. Plus a fantastic sauce. The ingredients worked perfectly together, and everything was beautifully cooked. I wasn't paying much attention to my husband's food (my mind was too taken up with swooning over my own), but he had the veal stuffed with morels, with watercress sauce, and pronounced it delicious.

Then there was pudding. I think my husband had apple clafoutis, but again, I was ignoring him and focusing my full attention on the chocolate fondant. Which was gorgeous. It's not often I'd suggest dessert over starter if you don't have room for 3 courses, but here, I'd go for the fondant every time.

The wine we chose was fantastic and very more-ish, and actually pretty good value at around £20. Dessert wines were perfectly matched to the food (they give you advice on which one to choose on the dessert menu).

The decor is perfectly suited to the Christmas season (Viennese mirrors present and correct,as mentioned below, everything pale, white or transparent), especially with the fairy lights twinking outside and the slightly-twee-but-pretty-discreet Viennese biscuit Christmas decorations (no, really) on the windows. I didn't mind the Philippe Stark chairs, but I expect they could be uncomfortable for anyone with a back problem. I didn't find the staff remotely arrogant - our waiter was lovely and very helpful. He was happy to give recommendations where requested, but wasn't excessively attentive.

Overall, certainly not cheap (£27 for two courses, £33 for three) but the food, wine and atmosphere were definitely worth it. I had a fantastic evening. We will be going back. A lot.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9


Rebato's

This is my new favourite restaurant. I have been several times since moving in locally and have never been disappointed. The tapas bar is great, but don't overlook the restaurant. The specials (my favourites - baby squid for starters and sea bass or roast suckling pig for mains) are always excellent, and the daily menu is equally good, with tasty, enormous servings of paella and a fish stew raved about by anyone who tastes it. The desserts are fine, although not quite up to the standard of the starters and mains, and the wine list is good and remarkably cheap. Service is always prompt and friendly (and the restaurant has "proper napkins", which made it an instant hit with my parents).

I'm not quite sure why I'm writing this review, because I don't want half of London to descend on my quiet corner of Vauxhall. But the owners and staff deserve recognition for a genuinely excellent local restaurant, which always provides an enjoyable, well-oiled evening out.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10


Grelha D'Ouro

A family group of 5 of us went to Grelha D'Ouro for lunch a few Saturdays ago. The cafe part out front was busy, but we were the only diners in the restaurant. Lovely bread and olives came to the table very quickly. We enjoyed most of the starters and mains, in particular the king prawns, Parma ham and melon, steak on a stone (the house speciality - but be prepared to wait for the stone to heat up!) and chilli squid. I had the squid, which was beautifully cooked and not even slightly rubbery. The vegetable sides were a little unimagniative, but portions were huge. Unfortunately, we were in a rush, so the leisurely (but very friendly) service meant we had no time for dessert, but we will definitely be returning.

Thursday, March 02, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


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