All reader reviews by Gethin

The Hat and Tun

Had my wife's x0th birthday here back in March

Great venue - perfect size for around 100 of our families and friends. The organisation was excellent - and everyone raved about the food. As other reviewers have said it's available for private hire at weekends but also seemed really busy and lively when we popped in during the weeks beforehand to sort out details.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Zoe Williams review (linked above) nails it.

The burgers are excellent, really excellent, but the less said about the house “hot” sauce, the better - a small bowl of disappointing sub-Tabasco heat-level vinegary rubbish. Finally it took us 15 minutes to pay when there was a massive queue outside, makes you wonder if they’re deliberately keeping the queues long or are just understaffed

Everything else about Meat Liquor is pretty contrived. From beer only available in cans, the wine in jam jars, the notch-too-low lighting and the several-notches-too-loud music. Trying too hard to be edgy – just let the food speak for itself

Think I’ll give Meat Market in Covent Garden a go next time – if it’s just the great burgers without the schtick then it’ll be great.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Siam Royal Orchid

Regrettably, SRO closed in November 2011 - leaving a lot of of regulars very disappointed :(

Massive thanks to Venus and Michael for over 10 years of fantastic Thai food and great hospitality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

Franco Manca (Westfield Stratford)

Having heard of Franco Manca’s reputation via a certain weekly listings magazine, but not visited their original site in Brixton - I was happy to see them in the middle of a shopping centre food court. It shows how far food courts in this country have come that it was sandwiched in between a Lebanese (Comptoir Libanais) and Vietnamese (Pho)

It’s not an enclosed restaurant, just a counter with seating shared with the other outlets and you wait at the counter for the food. That’s fine though – we were only there for a quick bite to eat whilst shopping.

It started promisingly – pizzas baked in proper wood fired ovens, prepared and cooked right in front of you. Tried some of the sourdough bread and oil they had on the side whilst waiting and it was delicious.

Turned out to be a real disappointment. Pizzas were cooked very quickly and whilst they tasted really nice and the ingredients were good quality – they were soggy in the middle. Either too much sauce or cooked too quickly.

Teething troubles? I hope so ‘cos that’s not what I’d expect from a spin off of somewhere that got voted best Pizza in London. On that showing my local pizza place (Fabrizios in Archway) kicks Franco Manca’s backside on quality and price.

Friday, October 07, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 7

Gem Restaurant

Haven't been to Gem since they gave the inside a makeover - so I guess that's over a year. Went last night with a group of 6 of us including 2 kids. The fact that it's full on a Tuesday night is always a good indication and glad to say it's still excellent food & still excellent value.

Stuffed ourselves with excellent Meze and kebabs. The quality of the lamb dishes is particularly good - the lamb chops that come with the mixed Izgara & the mixed grill are gorgeous and my wife had an excellent Kelftico style lamb shank as well. Plenty of veggie options in there as well.

Dinner for 6 with drinks came to £135 with tip. Not going to leave it so long before going back next time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

The Ambassador

Regrettably, after 5 years of serving great food on Exmouth Market, the Ambassador shut at the end of July.

I need to find a new favourite restaurant :(

Sunday, August 14, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

Hache (Camden)

Average food, below average service.

Hache's website claim that they're "Burger Connoisseurs" which on this showing is almost pretty far from the truth. We had a Reblochon (Reblochon cheese with Sweet onion jam) and a Catalan (Chorizo and chilli jam).

The burgers were perfectly cooked to medium-rare but pretty flavourless - with the "jam" on the Catalan overpowering everything - even the Chorizo. The wedges tasted like they were from a packet and the portion size of the salsa with it was tiny - a criticism you could apply to the 7 olives we paid £2 for

Service was slow, unfriendly and obviously overstretched.

Best burger in London? Would be surprised if it was the best in Camden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 5

Hana Sushi

Not eaten in the restaurant - but regularly get sushi deliveries from this excellent Japanese restaurant.

The fish is very fresh and you can really appreciate the difference in quality when it's handmade by an experienced chef. Once you've tried sushi of this quality you'll never go back to the big chain places.


Thursday, May 06, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10


Cracking little neighbourhood Italian. Excellent pizza - the best I've had in North London (miles better than Porchetta or Pappagone), good service and an owner who loves his food.

Will be back in a hurry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

North Nineteen

I really wanted to like North Nineteen, and had the food lived up to the beer then I think I would have.

As a pub it’s excellent, a good range of (very) well kept Real Ales along with a decent selection of cider. The wine list looked Ok as well but I didn’t really have a good look.

The food however is a different story. We shared a starter of Chicken Terrine with Toast. It was well flavoured but contained stringy leeks, very little chicken and no toast showed up.

We went for a couple of simple mains which should show up how good the kitchen is – a rib eye steak and a burger. The burger was nice – flavoursome but not really memorable. The steak was a big miss. Firstly I’m not convinced it was a rib-eye – and if it was they need to change their butcher as it wasn’t very good quality meat. In fairness it was cooked perfectly as requested (medium rare) but had come so over-salted I could only eat half of it.

To be fair to them, their customer service was excellent – I mentioned the problem with the steak and we were offered deserts or a drink on the house. Unfortunately we were both not really in the frame of mind to stay – but the offer was both genuine and appreciated.

I think we’ll definitely be returning here for a drink and maybe to try the Sunday lunch - but on this showing they really need to re-think their midweek menu.

Saturday, September 19, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 4 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

500 Restaurant

Probably the best value Italian meal I've had in over 10 years of living in London. You can tell these guys care about what they're doing - the food top notch - simple ingredients cooked simply and with care - and the pace of the meal is unhurried (even when our last minute booking meant we had to be done by 8.45)

We opted to start with what was billed as a plate of Anti-pasti but was actually a sample platter containing small bits of everything on the starter menu. Highlight was poached pears in red wine with Gorgonzola. The pear tasted of mulled wine and was perfectly matched with the cheese - which could have so easily overpowered it. Honourable mention to the Chicken Liver pate with Vino Santo - you've got to be a pretty decent chef to make Liver Pate interesting and they pulled it off.

Mains were Leg of Rabbit with Porchini mushrooms and Ravioli of roasted pork with a Balsamic reduction and sage butter. Incredible depth of flavour on both - and both of us fighting for bits off each other's plates. We finished with a Hazelnut Semi-fredo and home-made sorbet - perfect end to a perfect meal.

All of that, 2 glasses of Prosecco, a bottle of Red, 2 glasses of Mirto (a Sardinian Mirtle Berry digestive) and a coffee it came to £85 including tip. Fantastic value for that level of cooking. Will be back in a hurry.

Sunday, November 30, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

Bodean's (Clapham)

I've been going to Bodean's since it opened - mainly the one in Soho but we were in the Clapam area and hungry so popped in. Huge disappointment

The range of beers has gone very poor. No more Sleamans Honey Brown or Gambrinus - just a range of uninteresting generic bottled beer or almost £6 (!) for a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

The portions have gone smaller. We both ordered a half rack of baby back ribs dinner which comes with Slaw & Fries. Hardly any slaw and the chips had obviously been sat round for a while. My portion of ribs was so small I had to complain - so a few more were brought out.

Became obvious during eating them that we'd been given Beef ribs (which were dry and pretty flavourless) but by this point we decided to eat them as we didn't have time to get them changed.

Got the bill and that wasn't correct either. To be fair the manageress sorted that and knocked 25% off the bill but it's a real shame it had to come to that.

I used to really like Bodean's and I hope this was a one off. Will probably give Soho a 2nd chance but I'll be avoiding this branch like the plague

Sunday, November 16, 2008
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 1

Fire & Stone

Covent Garden needs another tourist trap theme restaurant like Jordan needs another boob job.

Having tried to get in elsewhere in the area, 4 of us settled on F&S as the wait wasn't too long. Bad move.

Whilst it gives the impression that it serves authentic pizza, it in fact tries to be global by theming each pizza around a different world city. Frankly, whoever came up with the idea of Guacamole and Black Pudding on pizza deserves to be taken round the back of the centrepiece pizza oven and given a good shoeing

The service was awful. Whilst friendly, they obviously didn't have enough staff to cope with a busy Saturday night and it took over 2 hours to serve us 2 plates of anti-pasta, 3 pizzas and a lousy Greek Salad that was ruined by being drowned in a strong Vinaigrette

All mouth and no trousers. Avoid.

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 4 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 3

del Parc

There's something odd about Junction Road. A rather ropey road connecting Archway and Tufnell Park contains the excellent (if a little erratic) St John's and this little gem.

Went on a whim with friends who, despite living nearby, had also never been there and had a fantastic meal. Whilst you could label this as a Tapas restaurant, there's actually a big North African influence on the food - in much the same way as Moro.

The restaurant seats around 30 and has only (what I presume is) the owner and the chef staffing it. Because of the nature of the food this means you get your dishes in a steady stream rather than all at once - and makes for a nice leisurely meal.

Highlights included delicately spiced lamb meatballs with yogurt and pomegranate, duck with chorizo in a sherry sauce and chilli king prawns. The bread served at the start was fresh from the oven served with a high quality olive oil.

Only "misses" during the evening were the spanish "cider" and the Fallafel which were a little too stodgy.

Meal for three came to a very reasonable £76 which included 9 dishes and a couple of drinks each

Sunday, June 22, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


To counter my review from a couple of weeks ago, went in tonight with a couple of friends and the experience was completely different

We arrived at 18.50 and were clear that we needed to be in and out within an hour. Unfortunately a different sushi chef was on and they just couldn't cope with the volume

Our two friends got what they ordered but out of two sets of Maki and one sushi selection that we ordered to share - only the soft shell crab maki showed up. Even on that the avocado wasn't ripe.

To be fair they gave us two small free dishes that we hadn't ordered - but I couldn't understand why they made them instead of just making what we asked for. In the end we had to leave just as the platter showed up - an hour after ordering it.

A huge disappointment after last time.

Thursday, June 05, 2008
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


Believe the hype! We'd never been to Kyoto before but paid a visit on the strength of the reviews on this site. Very glad we did as it was one of the best Sushi meals we've had in London

First up was a selection plate. Sitting near the kitchen we could see the chef preparing it and it was obvious that there was a huge amount of skill and care going into the preparation. We were given a beautifully presented plate of Salmon, tuna, prawn, mackerel, see eel & tamago nigiri and crispy salmon maki. It got demolished very quickly.

We followed this with a Soft Shell Crab and a King Prawn maki. They were huge - almost too big for my mouth (which is an achievement in itself!) - but once again fantastic quality.

This is a world away in quality from what you get at chain restaurants - the price however is very similar. £40 for the above plus 2 large beers and tip.

We were in a bit of a rush this time. I'm looking forward to going back when we can spend a bit of time exploring the menu. My wife is a recent convert to sushi and she raved about it - so they're definitely doing something right. A real gem in central London

Saturday, May 24, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Little Bay (Kilburn)

If you're judging a restaurant solely on the quality of the food and value for money then Little Bay would score very highly. Unfortunately it has a couple of big issues that really let it down.

The food itself is well executed, tasty and very cheap. We ate here recently with 3 adults and 2 kids – and two courses plus two bottles of wine came to only £80.

The food is mainly French influenced with a good selection of seafood and vegetarian options. Starters of Crab with Avocado Salsa, Parson’s Pastry (Filo pastry filled with Smoked Chicken in a Tomato sauce) and Moules Mariniere were excellent. Rib eye steak and duck for mains were good but over sauced.

The main reason that we didn’t stay for desert is that we were sat in one of the funky looking upstairs alcoves. What looks like a great novelty idea, especially if you’ve got kids with you, ruined the meal as it gets unbearably hot up there. Only when we asked to be moved did they turn the air conditioning on which made it slightly less uncomfortable.

Only after getting the bill did were we told that they don’t take cards – it’s cash or cheque only. This was rather embarrassing and resulted in an unexpected trip to Kilburn High Road to get some cash out. Putting a notice on the window alerting customers to this would have saved a lot of hassle.

So in summary, decent cheap meal if you’re in the area – just don’t sit upstairs and bring cash.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 7


There's a lot to like about Sabor; great cocktails, a decent wine list (mainly based round Spain, Chile & Argentina), bright decor and a kitchen that uses quality ingredients and isn't afraid to experiment with South American favourites.

Unfortunately my overriding memory was that the food was just too salty - even the home-made bread. I'm not one of these people that hates the use of salt in food but this was a little OTT and took the edge off what could have been a great meal.

That aside, highlights were one of the nicest Mojitos I've ever had, my starter of Empanadas de Cordero (Lamb pasties with a spicy, minty relish) and my wife's sorbets - made using South American fruits. Will definitely be giving Sabor another try - in the hope that the salt thing was a one off.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

La Tasca (Canary Wharf)


Slow service, overstretched waiting staff, bland unauthentic tapas. Was very glad I wasn't paying for this one.

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2

Gem Restaurant

When I say Gem's a glorified kebab house it's not meant as a bad thing. The great tasting food here is simple - but cooked with care and sold at exceptional prices.

Visited for the first time in a while this weekend and was pleased to discover it's been given a bit of a make-over. There are still the rather eccentric Kurdish farming tools on the walls and ceilings, but new furnishings and a lighter coat of paint makes the whole place look smarter, bigger and brighter.

Even though the decor has changed, the quality of food coming out of the kitchen hasn't changed. We shared Meze (the plate for 1 is plenty for 2 people) and the world's best Feta with melon to start, then followed that with a lamb stew and kebabs that follow live up to the same high standards - the chilli sauce is perfect, a nice bit of heat that doesn't ruin your tastebuds.

There's also some nice surprises - both of which are free - Qatame (filled Kurdish flatbreads made fresh in front of you) when you arrive and then Balclava with Ice Cream for desert.

Cost of all this? 3 courses for 2 came to £42 which included a tip and a £15 bottle of wine. Great value & great food. Well worth a visit

Sunday, May 13, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10

S&M Cafe (Islington)

We’d been meaning to visit the S&M Café for ages but never got round to in until recently. Unfortunately, what could be an excellent pit stop really lets itself down with the quality of its ingredients.

You’d expect the sausages to be really high quality but we found them, and the rest of the meal, to be bland. Put it this way, I found it very difficult to tell the difference between a Cumberland sausage and one with pork and cider. The pork, celery and stilton was similarly tasteless – with hardly a trace of cheese in it. You’d find better sausages in any decent butcher, even supermarket “premium” sausages compare favourably.

It’s not even that cheap, we both had 3 sausages and mash, a side (the mushy peas were excellent to be fair) and a glass of wine, which came to almost £30 with service. S&M Café was a huge disappointment - next time we want sausages we’re staying in!

Monday, January 08, 2007
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 2


If the standard of the food & service we had from a take away last night is any indication, we’ll be calling in to the restaurant for a meal soon.

I used to use Spices ages ago and remember it being good, but with my wife not being a huge Indian food fan I’d managed to lose their menu. Being in the mood for an Indian I decided to call them up anyway.

The guy I spoke to couldn’t have been more helpful – I described the dish I used to usually order and he remembered it. Unfortunately it wasn’t on their new menu but he said they’d make one for me anyway. He then spoke to my wife and described a few dishes from the menu that he thought she’d like.

Food arrived within 40 minutes and was absolutely delicious. I’m a big fan of well flavoured Indian Food rather than stuff that blows your head off – and that’s exactly what we got. Even my wife was impressed and that takes some doing with Indian

Helpful service, well priced good quality food – and you can even see the menu and order online A big thumbs up from us….

Friday, December 08, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

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