All reader reviews by Dan

St John

Much has been made of the whole 'nose to tail' eating thing, but I suspect it was much more radical in 1994 than in 2012. There is enough variety in the short menu to satisfy everyone. It's not like you can only choose between spleen or tripe. There was a tripe starter and there was a deviled kidney main, but there was also a cucumber and leaf starter and grilled brill main.

Simple cooking with only a few ingredients which may or may not be unusual, but nothing shocking in terms of combinations or techniques. We shared starters, the standouts were the famous bone marrow on toast and a salad of roasted skate with rocket and salsa verde. For my main I had snails with sausage and chick peas which was extremely moreish. I also loved the pigeon with radishes. We had a lemon sorbet with vodka after mains then shared eccles cake with Lancashire cheese, which is one of those combinations that changes lives.

Again the décor was probably a revolution 18 years ago, with whitewashed walls, industrial pendent lamps, and a shabby feel. It's still not to everyone's taste but I loved it. It was packed, obviously.

Couldn't fault anything really. Lots of restaurants now do some things that are similar, but I reckon the original is well worth a visit.

Friday, June 01, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6


Ceviche

Enjoyed everything we had, from the ceviches to the beetroot 'salad' to the steak skewers. Cocktails reasonably priced, food about average for the area. It's nice to add peruvian to the mix of restaurants in the area, just don't go expecting to stuff your face.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5


Pollen Street Social

Outstanding food. Every ingredient on the plate was there for a reason. Each dish was interesting without being unduly complicated. The squid starter was a particular hit with the four of us, but really we loved all our dishes. Of the desserts, the coconut panna cotta stood out. Great wine list and plenty of choice under £50. There were a few blips in the service -- the two steaks ordered different temps served to the wrong people being one of them -- but they were minor and everyone was very helpful. The sommelier for our table was particularly good. Our table was by the kitchen which is closed by glass and the room was full and buzzing on a Tuesday evening. We'll definitely be back and bringing more friends.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Mishkin's

Love Polpetto, love Spuntino, but Mishkins just doesn't work. Classic NY Deli FEEDS you, so the whole small portion thing just isn't right. Unfortunately, it's worse than that. Reuben was OK, but unbalanced. Onion rings were pretty good. Latkes weren't right and measly. Chips were inedible. G&T was served was a full glass of gin (great list, admittedly) and a small tin of Schwepps... but no room in the glass for it. Gin Rickey didn't taste good. Manhattan was wrong. Carlsberg the only beer. Two plates, two sides, four drinks, 60 quid. Not full. And Opera Tavern just next door? Sorry guys, not this time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


Pix (Covent Garden)

Great for what it is: a place to meet friends, have some drinks, and snack along the way. All the little pintxos were tasty, and a bit too handy. It's quite easy to get carried away. Some good cava is on offer, along with a selection of Spanish beers.

Monday, March 26, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Locanda Locatelli

Great atmosphere, busy but intimate, filled with very soft light. Service was uniformed and professional. There was a disappointed look in the sommelier's face when I ordered one of the cheapest bottles, and to his credit I should have bought something nicer. That was my only regret for the night. I'm still thinking about the special white truffle pasta. The veal loin was moist and flavorful, with a lovely jus. I was too full to fit much in but sorbet at the end, but I did enjoy something from the extensive grappa list. Great menu and first rate cooking. Expensive but I'd go back.

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 6


Spuntino

Believe the hype. Brilliant atmosphere, fun food that tastes great, good cocktails and interesting enough wines. If you don't mind a queue and you want a place with buzz, there's nothing not to like. Oh, and be sure to order the truffled egg on toast thing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Opera Tavern

We were expecting something fantastic, and that's what we got. Friendly, knowledgeable service. Buzzing atmosphere. Brilliant wines. Top-notch nibbles and good cooking. Really couldn't ask for much more. Sat at the bar, post-theatre and will do so again (and again...)

Monday, May 16, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 8


Polpetto

Sat at a cozy table for two, next to an open window with the bright sun and spring breeze coming through may have influenced our opinion, but my wife and I had a great early supper at Polpetto last night before heading to Ronnie Scotts.

The forced shabbiness isn't quite as well done as similar places in Bethnal Green. but walking through the crowd at the French House to get upstairs does add an air of authenticity!

No complaints about the service. The two on duty were good-looking and friendly, which is to be expected in Soho.

Perhaps we just ordered well, but the food was excellent. Okay, you have to like little sharing plates, but otherwise I'm not sure you'd come. Zucchini fries came in what looked like a large pile, but they were soon gone, addictive as they were. Cold meat plate included some things not to everyone's taste perhaps, including Lardo and a big pile of chopped chicken liver, but all if it was clearly good examples and we cleared the plate. The wife was particularly enchanted with the fried sardines; for me, it was the bruschetta with prosciutto and artichoke. Zabaglione ice cream and flourless chocolate cake topped it all off.

Simple wine list, with most choices available in 25cl and 50cl carafes as well as by the bottle. Perfect. We had the only rose option (I was instructed to find it and buy a case) and the Sangiovese (better than many Chiantis as the same price).

Not cheap - £80 for the above, but we had enough to drink and left full. We would happily return and pay the same.

Thursday, April 07, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


The French Kitchen (Chiswick)

Chiswick-ites must love brasserie food, because there are several similar establishments on the same street within a half mile of one another. Everything was pleasant enough at Villandry Kitchen. The menu isn't terribly exciting, but my burger was good. Not sure it was £12 good, but I wasn't paying. Decor and atmosphere isn't as cool as across the street at High Road Brasserie, but we wanted somewhere relaxed where we could talk, so it fit the bill. Short but decent wine list, if you like French wines. Couldn't really recommend the place, but nothing about it was bad either.

Monday, March 07, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5


Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

I was unsure about going here, but it seemed the right place for a celebratory lunch. In short, it was. Food was incredible. Possibly the best example of classic cooking I've eaten. Service was perfect. The table settings more than made up for the beige-ness of the room. And £50 for 3 courses of brilliant food with interesting wines is an absolute steal. I don't normally give 10/10, but it is well deserved here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10


Brawn

What an interesting place to eat! I can see how it wouldn't appeal to everyone - if you don't like strange meat products or if you don't like that east London hip sort of vibe, it's probably not the place for you. It so happens I like both, so I thoroughly enjoyed last night. Very interesting menu. I had to ask the waiter to explain what half of the meats were (unusual for me), which he was more than happy to do. He very specifically didn't oversell me anything - he warned against too many starters because they are big enough to share, and he also offered to find me a cheaper wine if his -- very reasonably priced --recommendation was too expensive. Provenance is of the utmost importance here, both for food and wine. It's a long trek across town for us, but we'll certainly be back.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


High Road Brasserie

We walked in here on a whim because we happened to be in the area. To be honest, neither of us were expecting the food to be great (places on a high street that look this nice rarely care about food) but we were both pleasantly surprised. Oysters were good, steak tartare was very good, and my wife inhaled her burger. House red was so-so, but acceptable. Service was fine, even though it was packed. Not cheap, but we'd probably go back.

Monday, October 18, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 6


Boisdale of Belgravia

Probably a bit expensive for what it is. The cheapest burger was £8, with another £4.50 on top if you want chips. It was good, but that's a lot of money for a burger. That's also off the bar menu, which we had to ask for specially. I had a couple of nice cocktails, but as usual you're looking at about £10 each. Wine ranged from £5 to £10 a glass. Service was a bit slow to start with because our side of the restaurant was empty, but once someone was over our way, they were friendly and eager to help. Drinks in the bar after dinner were enjoyable, particularly being able to have a cigar on the terrace and live jazz downstairs. Verdict? Be prepared to pay above odds if you want to eat; however, it's a great place for a huge selection of whiskeys and cigars and the right atmosphere to enjoy them in.

Monday, August 16, 2010
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


HIX Soho

My wife and I had a very nice dinner last night at Hix in Soho. We had a couple of cocktails in the bar downstairs first, where we were almost ignored by the bartender. The drinks were OK but not amazing. They were good enough to order a second round, though. Middle of the road for central London cocktail prices, which are expensive anyway. Very nice relaxed feel for the place, and a good way to start dinner. They happily moved our bar bill to our table upstairs.

Timing was a bit funny to start the meal. Starters arrived almost instantly, and we were halfway through eating them before the wine arrived. From then on, the service picked up. A dropped knife resulted in a replacement almost instantly. Discarded shells were whisked away just before the plate was full. Inside, the space is just the wrong side of canteen for my taste, but that's easily overlooked if one enjoys all the art and irreverence of the place.

Food was excellent. Cauliflower soup and Cod Tongues to start. Both flavourful and balanced. Wife had the lobster (it was our anniversary) and I had the chicken salad for mains. The lobster was expensive, but not overpriced. We saw the fellas swimming in a tank behind the bar, so we know it's fresh. My wife remarked at the end of the meal that it was the first time she's had to struggle to finish lobster, the portion was so big. I also appreciated that it came with veg and very good chips, rather than having to order sides. "Salad" does not do justice to the massive bowl I received for my dinner. There were leaves, yes. And plenty of almost confit dark meat chicken. There were also strips of crispy fried chicken skin as well as fried mini onion rings. Poached egg sitting on top of it all, and lightly dressed, with more dressing on the side if you want to help yourself. We couldn't squeeze in pudding, but we had a couple of homemade sloe gin jelly shots, which really hit the spot! Meal for 2 was £200, but that included 4 cocktails and a bottle of wine from a reasonable wine list. Considering the quality and portion size, that's not too bad.

I think I probably prefer his Oyster and Chop House in Clerkenwell, but I would not hesitate to recommend HIX for someone looking for very good food in a very not stuffy atmosphere.

Monday, August 16, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Lutyens

Lutyens exceeded our expectations. The menu isn't daring, but it is everything you want to eat. I had a very nice dressed crab, artichoke hearts, and cote de boef for two. The beef was excellent, perfectly cooked, and accompanied by some sort of marrow bone mixture and a good bearnaise. The desserts I tried from around the table were also all good. Staff were very accommodating to our group. I'd go back.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


The Albion

Sunday lunch for 15 was excellent yesterday. All the staff were sweet and efficient. All our food came out at once and everything was hot. Roast beef was perfectly rare and tender but the best dish was the venison pie for 3. We had a great time.

Monday, November 23, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


Kiraku

Might be the best sushi I've had in London. Service was typical of the Japanese restaraunts I've been used to: English not so good but very friendly and accommodating. I don't mind that one bit. The sushi was perfect. Right size, right temperature, good rice. We didn't get much of the cooked food, but I love that the menu shows pictures of everything. Not terribly cheap at £80 for two of us, but then again we sat at the sushi bar and ordered a la carte. We also went through a lot of sake. You could save a bit if you just had a beer and a sushi set at a table. Can't wait to go back, and can't wait to try more dishes on the extensive menu.

Friday, October 02, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Hibiscus

Hm. Interesting experience. I'd like to go back, but my wife wouldn't return, and I probably couldn't afford it anyway. It's not the food. Pretty much everyone thought the food was faultless, if a bit weird. The exception to this was the dark chocolate tart with miso ice cream. One person loved it, another person couldn't eat it at all. Aside from that, everyone enjoyed their meals. The winner was probably my pigeon with whispberry puree and peanut butter. For starters, the lobster raviolo took the ribbon. I thought the pork belly was lovely, but everyone who had it complained it was too small. On top of that, it was a £10 supplement to the prix fixe menu. Extra money for the lobster starter, everyone understood. But for pork belly? The only thing 'exotic' on the plate was eel, which is pretty cheap. Then there was also the fact they would not sit 8 of us together for lunch, when it looked like there was plenty of room, had they wanted to make the effort.

Service was fantastic. Smooth, effecient, but not stuffy at all. If a table joked with the waiters, they would joke back. But they were also extremely apologetic when they realized they brought someone Gordons instead of Tanqueray and immediately rectified it. However, the room itself seemed a bit lifeless. The decor was nice, but maybe missing some soul?

So all in all, I'm not sure what to say. I enjoyed the food and the experience, but there was a little something missing that kept our lunch from being truly special.

Monday, September 21, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


Le Gavroche

The £48 lunch is a super deal. Between all of us, we had just about everything that was on offer, and it was all pretty much perfect. Crackling on the pork was something special. It was a fair size group splitting the bill which can be confusing, but the servers were very accomodating with this and everything thing else. What a treat.

Friday, May 01, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Maxim

Possibly better than our favourite place in Chinatown. A tad dear if you want just a quick Chinese, but not unreasonable. Sweet and sour pork on crispy rice was very good. The sauce had a good flavour to it and wasn't just red sugar. The pork and the rice both stayed crispy. You could really taste the black beans with the beef dish as well. So much Chinese food you get has such indiscriminate flavours, we'll definitely be returning to Maxim for something nice.

Monday, April 27, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


Rainforest Cafe

I did not have high expectations of Rainforest Cafe, and we were only going there because our nephew was in London for the weekend. Amazingly, it was worse than I prepared myself for. My caesar salad was tastless, except for the chemical taste in the croutons, and the chicken that topped it was so dry it was difficult to chew. We were all starving when we got there, but no one cleaned their plate. Our nephew even left half his burger and chips. Think of the worst pub food you've had and you might be close.

The decor is pretty full-on, which is why you take the kids there, but the 7-year-old with us was not impressed. They also charge extra for an activity pack, which takes some cheek since the place is aimed at children and everywhere else you go, the kids get something for free. Speaking of free toys, when we left, our nephew said he wanted McDonalds next time he comes instead of this place. We'll definitely take him up on that, since the bill for lunch for 4 adults and 1 child was £100, with no alcohol, and not including the obligatory toy from the shop upstairs.

Monday, April 27, 2009
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 1 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 0


Petek

I've been here at least a half dozen times, most recently last week. The food has always been excellent. It's lovely inside and the service is friendly. The set menu is a good deal and the mezze sharing menus are good and plentiful.

Thursday, April 09, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9


Texture

I really like the idea and the feel of this place. Exciting wine and Champagne list, fun nibbles at the bar (bacon popcorn is a very good idea), muted decor with splashes of colour.... all good. Unfortunately, some of the food misses the mark in execution. Beetroot and goat cheese starter really came alive with the ice cream, but there wasn't enough of it. The sauce that came with my pork didn't quite work and again there weren't enough mushrooms to notice, but the pork itself was stellar. I loved the pre-dessert of rhubarb and my pear and fennel pudding was gorgeous but I didn't enjoy the petits fours at all. I was steered towards a Champagne that was actually cheaper than the one I was looking at and went extremely well with my food, so that was much-appreciated (best to ask for help when you don't know most of the wines on the list!). My wife liked bits of her starter and main but neither dish as a whole. She didn't care for the pre-dessert at all, nor the Champagne. No pud for her and disliked all the petits fours.

I had a really good night, but more for the conversation that the food inspired than for the food itself.

Saturday, March 21, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


Benares

Prix Fixe menu has a small selection, but our table tried everything on the menu and each dish was very good. Perfectly cooked and very flavorsome. Nice cocktail bar and nice atmosphere (a bit noisy actually but I like it that way). My only complaint was the very erratic service. I'd like to go back and try the a la carte menu, though it is considerably more expensive.

Saturday, January 17, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Cafe Mode (Endell St)

I've never had a bad time at cafe mode. Last week a large group of us went, and they were brilliant. The staff took very good care of us (and groups can be a bit of a pain) and the pizza was excellent. Can't beat the price, either.

Friday, January 09, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 10


Haozhan

Accidentally ended up here after deciding not to queue for our favourite place. What a find. Not what we were expecting at all, and an odd choice for Chinatown given the fancy decor. Interesting menu (i.e. not The Usual) and friendly service. We had scallops XO and Sceszuan duck. Both unlike normal Chinatown cuisine and both were excellent. The waiter recommended the trio of mushrooms to accompany the food -- along with egg fried rice -- which was a recommendation well received. What also set apart the food was that the meat dishes were all meat, rather than 70% onion and carrot. We will be returning.

Sunday, January 04, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Ealing Park Tavern

Hm. Wasn't worth £50 for lunch for two. The roast turkey was clearly from a 'loaf' and the brussels sprouts weren't clean. When we complained there was no response as to why they didn't at least peel the outer layer off the veg. The terrine was very nice but £6.50 for one thin slice with no crackers or bread? The cheese ploughmans had to be sent back twice before it was correct, although the cheese was good. The beer was in good shape, but when we asked for a wasabi bloody mary, which was advertised on the board above the bar, the one man who could make it rather persistently steered us to their normal bloody mary which he'd prepared in advance. What happened to giving the customer what they ask for? This place could be good, but they don't have it right yet.

Sunday, December 21, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 4


FLASH

Service was slow and messy to start but did improve; it was almost like our server wasn't on shift yet or they hadn't set up for dinner quite yet. My wife's crab starter was beautiful, with good balance that let the flavour of the crab really come through. She wasn't impressed with the cote de boef for £29; it was cooked perfectly but the cut is a bit of hard work. I had the steak tartare to start with, and it was good example. The seasoning was just right, it was saucy with the egg mixed in, and it had the texture of being minced finely by hand. My vegetarian main of polenta was probably my favourite, with all the flavours of mushroom, cheese, and chestnut playing around nicely. The lemon parfait and the fig custard puds were also wonderful. Worth going for the food, not just the concept.

Sunday, December 14, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Obika Mozzarella Bar

Went there with about 10 people last week for a quick bite. The manager served us and took good care of us. Nothing was too substantial, but the price was fair. Great place to go for a light bite before the theatre or whilst shopping in covent garden. I will return just for the mozzarella.

Sunday, December 14, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


Blueprint Cafe

Hm. Had I known it was a Conran place, I probably would not have bothered, since they can be a bit hit-or-miss (as the reviews below seem to indicate). However, I have to say that my wife and I were both impressed yesterday for lunch. Without a doubt, the best roast pork either of us have tasted in years, and a perfect marriage with everything on the plate. The very large portion of goose and chicken liver pate was well above par, and her 'broth' of squash and parmaggiano was heavenly. Service was fast, friendly, and excited about the menu -- which excited me as well. And £15 for two courses was the deal of the century. I only wish we hadn't been peddled extra sides because there was plenty of food without them, though they were also excellent.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Chula

What a find. Finally some place we can eat before a gig at the Apollo. Decor was much better than your average blati house (next time we'll sit in the back in the nice bit) and service was friendly, if a little disorganized. The food was excellent. Best Jalfrezi, hands down. Also the dark lentils were something I had not tried before and will get again next time we go. All your favourites are on the menu, as well as some more interesting dishes. A nice change from the usual lacklustre eateries in the area.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


XO

Special dinner for 18 downstairs. It's nice to have a private room. Complaints from the other side of the table said they didn't have enough food, but I had plenty to eat. Food was excellent. Could recommend the party menu.

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


One O One

Very good fish, well sourced. Expensive, so be prepared. I'd say get the specials rather than the "classics" but you won't be disappointed. Pudding with rose jelly was especially nice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Sushi Waka

I've been to Sushi Waka several times and have always enjoyed good sushi at reasonable prices. A group of ten of us went this week and everybody liked the food, even those who haven't had muh sushi. The hot food might not be as good as some places, but the raw fish was all excellent. We sat upstares on the floor, the service was charming, and at the end of the night, we each paid £35, all full of sushi, beer, and sake. Definitely the best sushi I've had in London without paying twice as much.

Friday, September 05, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9


Couscous Darna

We enjoyed our meal here last week, but I do think the couscous (with merguez) was better than the tagine. They did offer us starters which we did not accept, based on previous reviews here, and indeed were full when we left. Took advantage of their half price offer, so the bill was reasonable. I do think had we paid full price, we would have felt a bit hard done by.

Friday, August 29, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6


Roka (Charlotte St)

We thought we'd end up paying a bit more than £180 for the two of us, based on many of the reviews. For us, it was worth it. The setting was beautiful. The place was predictably busy on a Saturday night, but I don't think there is a bad seat in the house. Luckily, the weather was mild, so they had all the windows pulled back and we were sat right next to one, but all the places are either near a window or at the open kitchen / sushi bar or in a well-decorated inside corner.

We opted for the lesser of the two tasting menus, which included sushi, sashimi, robato dishes, and pudding. For us the best bits were the sashimi and miso sea bream, and we both thought the pudding let it all down a bit -- cloying anglicized puds don't work well with Japanese food. We each had an interesting cocktail to start, then went through two small bottles of cold sake. It's definitely worth going for some nice sake from the extensive list, and there are servers who will gladly help with the selection.

Smart service, great atmosphere, well-prepared and -presented Japanese food beyond the typical sushi... a good experience.

Sunday, July 20, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 7


Cats Cafe Des Artistes

I've had mixed experiences here, and, unfortunately, the bad outweigh the good. Tonight I had "Three Taste Squid." The sauces was similar to a sweet and sour sauce with some mild chilli. The flavour was fine, but not exciting in any way. It had the processed/jellied texture of takeaway Chinese. The fried squid was hot and crispy and tender, but it was also entirely to greasy. The pandan leaf rice was nice. Service was OK-ish until he cleared everything from the table, including my not-finished beer. Cats is fine if you live nearby or are going out with a large group, but otherwise I wouldn't travel for it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6


Big Easy (King's Rd)

We had dinner last night at the Big Easy and very much enjoyed it. The rib and butterfly prawn combo was very well done, and the king crab legs reminded me of home. Voodoo wings to start were excellent (and not your average hot wing you get here). Two good wines by the glass (a Sancerre rose and a Zinfandel from Italy). Great cocktails, in particular the fresh chili and passion fruit margarita.

Service was superb. Very attentive without hanging about, and it was packed. The kitchen brought my crab out before my wife's food was ready, and the waiter immediately rushed over and apologized. He offered to take the food back or leave it on the table, but either way our round of drinks was comped. I've never had that happen in London.

Atmosphere was loud and bustling on a Friday night. Not the place for a quiet romantic meal, but great for a good time and good food. Can't wait to go back with a big group for one of their sharing platters!

Saturday, May 24, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Acorn House

Maybe the service (not too coordinated, but efficient and friendly) and the decor (a bit like a nice canteen, though candles in the evening adds some atmosphere) aren't worth £50 a head, but the sustainable, well prepared and presented food made up for it. Whole sea bream was flavourful and the lamb was cooked perfectly and very tender. The seasonal menu was compact but had enough choice for everyone, and the wine list offered some good variety. The six of us enjoyed our meal very much.

Thursday, April 17, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


The Olive Tree

My wife and I ate here before a gig last night and enjoyed our meal. Service wasn't too polished, but it was efficient. Love the decor.

We started with a couple martinis, both of which were made well. We shared a plate of charcuterie as an entree which included a couple more interesting choices, such as goose speck (delicious, by the way). She had the ribeye for main, accompanied by excellent chips. The steak was cooked a perfect rare, and I am told the meat was a good cut. I had the fishcakes on a bed of wilted spinach. The greens were as good as the chips. I very much enjoyed the fact that the fishcakes actually tasted like smoked haddock rather than the all-too-common potato flavour with a hint of sea. They were also very crispy on the outside, which I love. I wish they were more liberal with the hollandaise because I just don't see the point of just a little of the glorious sauce, but the sauce it self was a good example.

We'll be back next time we're in the area.

Friday, April 11, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Marquess Tavern

When oxtail is braised for a long time, it's tender, flavourful, and lovely; mine was just hard work. The fried haddock -- in a place that says they champion sustainability? -- and chips was dry and very well could have been a bargain box from Iceland. Certainly not worth £12.50. We ordered a sticky toffee pudding, almost as if it were a dare, and sent it back uneaten. Pike salad? Wot??

Friday, March 07, 2008
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 3


Tom's Place

I didn't think fish and chips could get this good, honestly. She had cod and chips with mushy peas. The peas tasted like they were once peas, the fish tasted like fish but remained crunchy without the flavour of oil, and chips were chunky and crispy. My grilled mackerel was the best example of similar dishes I've tasted. I hope to return soon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6


Kathmandu Nepalese Restaurant

A friend in the area has been wanting to try this place for a while so we dropped in for dinner last night. Neither of us have had Nepalese food before and didn't know what to expect. Luckily the server was very helpful and they have a couple rather inexpensive tasting menus you can try. We each had 2 starters and a small main. I don't know how the traditional food is supposed to taste, but everything that came to the table was excellent. We then split a dessert with perfectly balanced flavours - "a harmony of five nectars." The only let down was that there were only a couple other couples dining, so the atmosphere was very quiet and the servers were left being extra helpful, but the decor is quite nice in its own right. I hope more people find this place. I'll certainly be making the journey from north London again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Les Trois Garcons

Food was better and more consistent than last time I went. The plate of pork was the winner at the table -- belly and shoulder. Service was also better. Based on that experience, I'd recommend it. Of course the decor was excellent.

Saturday, November 10, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Clos Maggiore

This is a wonderful date restaurant. The staff seemed to anticipate what sort of service everyone required and delivered just that. The table next to us wanted efficient and unobtrusive but there was a bit of banter with us. The sommelier gently steered our original choice into absolutely perfect wines for our meal (two half bottles even!) When you think of "a nice place to take a date" I'm pretty sure the Clos Maggiore's fits the image in your head perfectly. All this and great food (+ award-winning wine list). Highly recommended.

Friday, September 21, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Pizzeria Pappagone

Been going for a few years. Have never been disappointed. Some of the best pizza in London, buzzing atmosphere, homemade gelato, and friendly service. And they don't charge too much. What's not to like?

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


La Petite Maison

9 of us went and we took to the sharing idea. I probably tried about 1/3 of the menu last night, and everything was delicious. I've never had a nicoise salade even close to being that good. The blackleg chicken was indeed very good, but my highlights were the sea bream and the veal. Staff were always there when we needed them and were just friendly enough. Will be going back. Soon, I hope!

Saturday, September 15, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Wahaca (Covent Garden)

Being from California and spending a few years in Texas, I really do love Mexican food. We got a chance to eat here for lunch on the bank holiday, and I was excited. I was not disappointed. Maybe they've taken to heart the reviews of the place, but our service was great. The server was friendly, offered help and suggestions on the menu, and he did also mention that the food is for sharing and comes out as it's prepared -- probably at different times. (not for some of the other reviews here: it does also state this on the menu....)

The food was delicious and I cannot wait to go back. It's a bit different than la Perla (and was a bit less expensive for us), and it's good that we now have a couple options when we want Mexican food.

It's clear to me that this place was formed with the diner in mind.

Friday, August 31, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


The Narrow by Gordon Ramsay

Six of us went last night -- a Monday -- and it was packed. They seemed to have worked out the service. Our waiter was friendly, joked a bit, efficient, and brought everything at the same time. All of our meals were good, but the pig cheeks were probably the best. Beautiful setting and great views. A bit expensive, but we did drink a lot.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe

Ah, now I see why he gets the stars. This was my first Ramsay restaurant, and based on my experience here, I'll try another one. It's not that the cuisine is the most creative or very classic, but you really couldn't fault anything. The menu has just the right amount of choice and something for everyone. Same with the wine list, which is an easy to use format (sorted by style) and has plenty of choice by the glass. The decor is lovely and really adds to the experience (plus there's plenty of room, so you're not crammed in like at some places). And, in my opinion, the service was perfect. The staff were friendly without being familiar, everyone was knowledgeable, and they really did go out of their way and way beyond what I'd expect to make sure we had a good dining experience.

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


MonkeyNuts

Saturday was the third time my wife and I have been here, and we have not been disappointed. It's a fun atmosphere, the service is quick and friendly, and they have everything you'd want to eat at a casual restaurant. Burgers, onion rings, fish finger sandwiches, salads, and some specials. Good drinks list as well.

Monday, July 30, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 6 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Canteen (Spitalfields)

We went for dinner. I like the idea of the place- the concept, the sourcing, the menu, the bench seating and all that. The potted duck and piccallilli was excellent. The eggs benedict was quite good. My chicken salad, however, failed in execution. The roast chicken was lean and lovely; the dark and light meat made a welcome change from the normal pan-fried boneless/skinless chicken breast. The taragon sauce was lovely, but there was too much of it. Worse yet is that they dressed the cress with oil. Just oil. I couldn't finish the salad. Some lemon juice would have been perfect. Service was uninformed and very slow. Fifteen minutes to get a menu and order drinks and another ten minutes for teh drinks to arrive. The place wasn't even busy. If I'm in the area I might give it another chance, but only because of what they're trying to do, and not because of the meal I had last night.

Friday, June 08, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


Pied a Terre

Another couple picked this place to go with me and my wife as a leaving dinner for them. It has a long history of pleasing guests, wins awards, and has been recommended by friends.

The place feels very classy inside, without being stuffy or too flash. The only fault with the service is that some of my table couldn't understand those with French accents. Amusé buche were delightful (as was the Champagne my wife had as aperitif). Starters were more discreet than the menu made them sound, but that's a good thing. The trotters were nothing like I thought they'd be. The star of that course was probably the tuna my wife had. The mains were a tad on the small side, which is just fine for me, but some people should be aware. Everything cooked perfectly, from the chicken to the john dory. We had two desserts, the best of which was probably the bitter chocolate tart.

Two things deserve special mention in my book. First, I noticed that everyone in the restaurant was there for the food. You can usually tell the people who are in a place to be seen or just to say they've been, and I didn't see any there on a Saturday night. One of the benefits of going to a fine dining restaurant that's "missing" it's 3rd michelin star. We even got chatting to the table next to us about their puddings (both tables had a fair bit to drink by then). Second, if you choose one extra to go with the two courses, make it the cheese and wine. It's £24 for three wedges of cheese, some crackers, and three small servings of wine, one to compliment each cheese. An old, classic pairing, and executed with stunning effect. Worth every penny, if you are at all interested in how wine can compliment food.

French food. Done right. Not sure my pocketbook can afford to go back anytime soon, but it's a night we'll all remember.

Sunday, June 03, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6


Gaucho (Hampstead)

I've had this place on my consideration list for a while, but with so many places in London to try, the chains sometimes get bumped down the list a bit. A few of us went for a big dinner last weekend, and based on that experience, I can tell you we'll be back. I liked the decor -- modern, stylish, fun -- and our server was very helpful and friendly. My steak fared very well against the many mediocre hunks of meat I've been served, and I should add it was perfectly cooked, thank you. I had the special spiral cut and didn't need any sauce. There were about 10 of us, and everyone walked away saying how much they enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Bleeding Heart (Restaurant)

Just the right amount of light (mostly by candle), open but cozy, authentically worn-in. A great setting for a special meal. Food was as it should be. Just the right amount of seasoning on everything, so you taste all the natural flavors without anything being too bland. The Chateaubriand was more than enough food for the two of us, served with perfect chips. Shame about the service which was cold and a little clumsy.

Saturday, March 17, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Green and Red Bar and Cantina

Service was in shambles. We arrived and no one was there to take us to our table. After mulling about in the bar a bit, a man finally came, only to disappear without a word. A waitress then sat us. When we inquired about the details of the special deal we'd booked, she hadn't a clue, and she was none too friendly, either. We were having an early dinner, so I don't expect it to be lively; however, with only 4 other diners in the place, I do expect the table to be clean. She sat us at a table with an ashtray cradling a lone cigarette butt, which she didn't bother to take with her. I had remove the soiled ashtray myself! I was also rather disappointed with the decor. It felt a little cheap and plastic to me, but I didn't check out the bar downstairs.

I actually enjoyed the food. Like the other restaurant they own, Hawkesmoor (which I love), it's best to know what you are getting into before you go. My wife was, unfortunately, expecting burritos. With no help from the inattentive staff, I just figured the best way to eat was to make little tacos from the giant pork belly I ordered and the little soft corn tortillas. The salsas were spot on, the tortillas were of the real Mexican variety, and the pork belly (and my wife's lamb shank) was tender. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to sample the cocktail menu (being January and all) but it looked quite nice. I'd skip the starters, though. My chile rellano and her chorizo were nothing to write about.

I don't know, maybe it was a (very) off night, and it just spoiled the evening for us. I really did like the mains and the portions were generous, but with everything else taken into account (and £50 for two sans booze or pudding), I'm in no rush to go back.

Monday, January 29, 2007
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 4


Yauatcha

Sexy atmosphere to start off with. Not something I'd normally associate with dim sum. The food was surprisingly good, and though a bit expensive, the portions sizes meant we actually ordered a bit too much. They kindly offered to move our table when we became annoyed with the drunken revelers next to us. I'd go back if I wanted dim sum in a cool environment.

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Golden Dragon

Recommended by a woman we met in Yauatcha who was from Hong Kong. We just tried it out for Sunday afternoon dim sum. MUCH less expensive than any other dim sum I've had in London and still very good. They certainly aren't going to let you loiter around, but the service was friendly, if still a bit swift. A good bustle about the place adds to the atmosphere, but that's just me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


Satsuma

My wife and I popped in for a late lunch on Boxing Day. There are so many average places that charge too much, and people go because they recognize the name, yo. I've passed Satsuma many times and always wanted to try it.

All of my sushi was good and my wife's bento box was a great deal. The staff were very eager to serve without being intrusive. One of my orders came out as maki instead of the handroll I ordered, but the man who took our order saw from another table and immediately asked someone to take and correct it without me having to ask!

This is the first time in probably a year I've eaten sushi and been completely happy. The service, the food,, and the bill were all fine. Usually one of these is off. We'll be coming back.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Weng Wah House

We booked the upstairs room for a big group meal and kareoke. The food was excellent (with only 1 duff dish) and pretty good value. The service was swift and friendly, and the kareoke was tons of fun. I used to live near Weng Wah House and used to pass by all the time. Don't let the outside fool you, this is not your average around the corner takeaway!

Friday, September 15, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


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