All reader reviews by lawgiver


Slightly off the beaten track. If you don't live in the area, or pass through on any other business, you'll need to walk for about 10 minutes from King's Cross station to reach this address. When you do reach it, however, it's not a waste of time at all.

The restaurant itself is fairly small with a laid-back style of decor. There is a certain effort to show off art from the region, although one never feels truly immersed in it.

The food arrives in generous portions and, although I can't comment on authenticity, is very nice indeed. Those who prefer to avoid anything too spicy might want to choose carefully, however. Ethopian beers are on offer as well, which is a nice touch.

The service was very polite, although I had trouble hearing the waitress at times as she was very soft-spoken. There were a few communication difficulties, but nothing impossible to overcome.

Value is hard to gauge, as I don't eat in many Ethopian restaurants, so I don't know the normal expectations. But I felt I had reasonably good value for money. The food made for an interesting experience but I felt the restaurant was a bit bare when it was trying to be more.

It's certainly worth a visit if you are in the market for something different.

Friday, February 08, 2013
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8

Chillies Tandoori

At this time of writing, the restaurant is less than a month old and one can still smell the sawdust.

They seem to be trying a slightly different formula to a regular Indian restaurant. The changes are as follows. 1) Be a bit bolder with the decor. 2) Keep the menu to a sensible length. 3) Don't be afraid to actually put spice in a curry.

It does seem as though a lot of curry in London has lost the kick, but the chef here has put it back and at about the right level. So it's not so spicy that you'll be suffering and not so bland that you wonder when it's going to start. The flavours are all there. I can't fault the food.

And the price - very cheap. I hope they last because I think I'm going to like this place. It does seem as though they're primarly catering for the student demographic - and possibly local office workers on lunch. The evenings seem to have been quiet lately but hopefully this will pick up.

Wasn't so much a fan of the decor, but at least it's different. Personally, I felt it was more suited to something like a Mexican restaurant than an Indian one, but I suppose that's a matter of opinion.

The staff were very helpful and friendly and made us feel very welcome.

Overall this restaurant is a welcome addition to the area and I hope to visit again in the near future.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10


A very interesting experience. This restaurant seems to be modelled after the Polish milk bars (or bar mleczny) that were a fixture during Poland's communist days. As I understand it, they were state-owned and set up to provide good food at good prices. Operationally they resemble a school canteen where you collect the food yourself from a counter, take it to your table on a tray and then return the entire tray for cleaning. There is no table service; the staff operate only the tills and kitchen (although tables do get wiped down after each customer).

The restaurant is situated in the Elephant & Castle shopping centre, about 200m from the station entrance. Okay, so it's not the best setting. But it's likely to be more or less en-route for a lot of peoples' commute home and therefore provides a realistic meal-stop for those wishing to either get a quick bite or avoid doing the washing up. The decor isn't up to much, but this is a milk bar, so one makes allowances. It doesn't seem to bother the regulars, of which there appear to be many. Personally I liked it. It's a bit like being in someone's kitchen.

The portions were enormous. Starters at £3 and main courses at £5 at this time of writing. I was too full to attempt dessert, but they're £3 each. The starter was filling in itself and I'd have been quite happy to leave this as my meal. But the main sounded appealing and I'd already ordered it anyway, so I ate what I could. There are several items on the menu I'd quite like to go back for, so this looks like a place to put on the "regulars" list.

In terms of value, I can only give it a 10. For these prices you can't go wrong.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


I'd recommend anyone who's curious about Japanese cuisine to give this place a look.

The menu is quite extensive and food extremely well prepared. I ordered my favourites this time round and nothing disappointed.

Service is quite friendly and attentive, but I dropped a couple of points as there were times when the left hand didn't seem to know what the right hand was doing. Sometimes staff would approach us to ask a question that we'd already answered, or to offer desserts when we'd only just finished starters. Not a major problem, but a bit of a concern when you're trying to impress someone for a birthday meal.

I also dropped a couple of points on atmosphere. Although the decor is really nice to look at, the tables are very close together. So it's quite easy to get a posterior next to your cheek or an apron strap across the table.

Value wise I felt it was expensive for the sake of being expensive. I had unwittingly booked online which I hadn't realised entitled me to a 30% discount. But even with the discount, this place is a wallet-drainer. In my opinion, there is nothing inately special about a Japanese restaurant, so I see no reason why they should tend to be more expensive than anywhere else.

Looking back on the review, I see it looks a bit scathing, but I did have a good time here. So I'll just close by reminding that I would recommend it - mainly because the food is very good indeed.

Monday, December 10, 2012
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

Izakaya Japan

This is a new addition to Finchley's portfolio of restaurants. I'm told it opened only a matter of months (or weeks) before this time of writing. It replaces Daruma-San which previously occupied the same site.

It's all change here. Gone are the low tables and white decor. It has a warmer feel to it now. Still lots of hard surfaces and a somewhat tentative contemporary look. Sadly the use of space isn't so great. If you have a table around the edge of the restaurant, you'll probably be okay. But a couple of tables are in the middle of all the action. If you're unlucky enough to be sat there, you'll have people and objects buzzing all around you. Judging from the facial expressions of one such couple, I'd say they looked a bit hassled.

Food was excellent. I can't fault it one bit. Enjoyed every mouthful. Advice was available if required.

But the service left a bit to be desired. It was slow and forgetful. Dishes were not only brought out separately, but with significant gaps between them. One of us could potentially finish something before the other had a chance to start. It also took three requests to get the bill.

The bill itself was a pleasant surprise, though. I normally associate Japanese restaurants with being expensive. To be fair, they were running a promotion at the time to recognise that they were a new restaurant. But even with the discount removed, the bill looked okay. Overall I'd recommend it. Slow service isn't the end of the world and the food was worth it.

Friday, November 23, 2012
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 8

The Gatehouse

Part of the Wetherspoon chain, so you know what you're getting. The food is basic pub grub, but done pretty well. It's not Michelin, but you don't come here for that. You come here for a decent pub in a nice area.

Service always efficient and friendly. The pub itself has a feel-good factor and I've always had a soft spot for it.

One can't complain about the prices either.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Hi Sushi (North Finchley)

Why is Hi Sushi generating such bad reviews? Did I visit on a good day? Or are the satisfied customers simply not putting the proverbial pen to proverbial paper?

In any case, I had a great time here. I thought there was plenty of atmosphere and a veritable credit to the North Finchley High Street.

The food is either from the 'normal' menu, or from a more restricted 'all you can eat' menu. We opted for the latter. But we needn't have bothered, since we were so full after one round anyway. Sushi is a rare thing for me (no pun intended), so I can only score based on whether I enjoyed it or not. And enjoy it I did.

Sushi is a pricey business, but the buffet menu is an easy way in. One can limit the costs but still sample a wide enough variety of the menu to get an idea of what's going on.

I'd have no qualms about returning.

Monday, September 24, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Giraffe (Spitalfields)

Giraffe in Spitalfields is really catering for two markets - the office worker on lunch and the passing trade in the market. Neither demographic has time to hang around. Customers here tend to want to sit down, eat quickly and leave (after paying, of course). This restaurant manages to meet this need quite well.

I went in a group of five, which presented them with a small logistical challenge as to the seating, but they got around this fairly painlessly. Service was very efficient, even though they were packed on a Friday lunchtime.

Food was very tasty, with approval from my colleagues. I take the point about 'too much grease' from a previous reviewer. Hence 7, rather than 8. Still just the tonic to kick off a Friday afternoon of procrastination.

This is a perfect lunch venue for a group, as Giraffe basically has something for everyone. I'm glad there is one near the office.

As for value? It's just as any other Giraffe. It's part of a chain, so you know what you're getting. And this is a good thing when you only have an hour to spare.

Monday, September 24, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


This is a small though fairly intimate Thai restaurant, just off the main crossroads in East Finchley. We visited early on a rainy Sunday evening when not many people were thinking more about returning to work the next day than enjoying an evening out. As such, the restaurant was fairly empty and we had the benefit of almost one to one service.

The food was very good indeed. Certainly good enough to send back a completely empty set of dishes. I'm dropping a point due to logistics, however. The table surfaces were quite cold and, as such, the food went cold more quickly than usual. This was a shame, but not a major problem.

The service was extremely efficient and not pushy at all. Also very friendly with lots of smiles all round.

Personally I found the decor a little on the clinical side. Although there were attempts to venture into the trendy, there was still an air of canteen, rather than cosy restaurant. I'd imagine this wouldn't be a problem if we'd visited on a busier evening in the summer, but this was a cold autumn night and things could have been warmer.

No complaints about the bill. Two people eating two courses with drinks for about £30 can't be bad.

Parking is easy enough, with local residents' restrictions only in force around lunchtime. Just pick any side road.

Overall, recommended.

Monday, September 24, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9

Carob Tree

Finally I got round to visiting this restaurant! It's worth the effort.

It's only minus point is being a bit tricky to get to. You either need a car, a good pair of legs to walk from Kentish Town station or the patience of a saint to sit on the C11 bus. But if you come by car, there is ample parking in the roads nearby.

As for the restaurant itself, I'm really glad I made the effort. It's a nice spacious affair with long red punctuating drapes. It looks as though it was a pub in a former life. And spotting an old pub sign in the grounds on my way out confirmed this.

The staff were very friendly and helpful. We initially found the menu confusing, as there was no clear distinction between starters and mains. But a few words with the waitress made sense of it. The manager was also on hand to help and insisted I go to the kitchen with him to see the fish they had - much to the bewilderment of the rest of his staff. The upshot of this strange exercise, aside from seeing a load of fish, is being able to report that the kitchen is exceptionally clean.

No complaints on the food either. What this is is Greek food made from local (to the UK) ingredients. So, if you imagine a Cornish fish cooked in a Greek restaurant, that's the idea. You'll find all the usual Greek favourites here. So if you're after a culinary top-up after a Mediterranean holiday, this is the place to find it.

All in all, a great experience. This one makes the shortlist.

Friday, August 03, 2012
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9


I agree with the previous reviewer. This is a good all-rounder. You'll have a bit of a job getting to it on public transport, but if you have a car, it's not a major problem as parking is easy enough - particularly in the evenings.

The staff were friendly and welcoming on my visit too. I was meeting someone there, and they were quite happy to let me sit at the bar and chat while I waited.

The decor is very professional and polished. Think modern and you're there. There's something very "showroom" about it, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Food was quite good, though not mindblowing. Definitely good though. There's something on the menu for everyone, and of course there's the specials board. I'm not really a fan of specials boards, though. They seem to smack of running out of space on the menu and being pushed a note with corrections on it. But it's there if you want it.

Food and drink reasonably priced. For two people with three courses coming in at around the £50 mark, I'd say this is worthy of a repeat visit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Cote (Charlotte St)

Good prices, good food, good service. Generally a very good all round package that can really deliver.

In short, if you're caught at a loose end and need some food quick - come here if you have nothing better to do.

They have a special lunch menu if you're not sure what you're doing, and this puts a fixed price on 2 or 3 course meals. Handy if you're on a budget but still want good bang for your buck. But cheap quality this is not. The food that arrived was of excellent quality.

Staff were very attentive but did drop the ball once or twice. But overall very good indeed.

Can't complain about the bill, either. With 3 drinks each, two starters and two mains for somewhere around the £40 / £50 mark, this is one to come back to.

Saturday, June 16, 2012
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Wagamama (Irving St)

As always, the system is the same with every Wagamama. The only differences really lie in the atmosphere.

As with all Wagamama branches, the food is standard pseudo-Japanese fare and the service is by way of wireless handsets that communicate your orders directly to the kitchen.

This branch was unremarkable, but pleasant. Handy if you're in the area and need something to eat quickly.

As for price? As I've always said with Wagamama, it's a bit steep, but it seems to fill a hole. I don't think they really hold the trendy buzz they once did. These days, they're more functional I find; filling a hole before a night out.

Friday, June 15, 2012
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6


Situated in the dead space between Westminster and St. James's Park tube stations, you could be forgiven for overlooking this restaurant. It is a surprise to me, then, that they don't make more of a song and dance about things. The exterior is so unassuming that it looks like just another building.

Inside is very elegant, bright and spacious. It's not actually that big, but the use of space is clever and simple. I'd say there were around 20 tables down there. Possibly 25.

Service was at the formal end of the spectrum. You'll be waited on like royalty.

Food was more debatable. It's quite expensive, but the quality is very high. This is a case of 'you get what you pay for'. Portions were a little on the small side, I felt. My only bone of contention was that it was unclear that 'fine dining' was the name of the game until I was actually in the restaurant. As it's situated in a basement, one can't see inside from the street.

Prices, as one would expect, matched the quality of service and food. They also have lunch and dinner 'deals', which are very reasonably priced.

It's hard to find fault. This is really somewhere to take a client you want to impress, or a group of friends on a special night out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Haven Bistro & Bar

I found Haven to be above average at best. The food was very nice - no argument there. But I thought there was something missing to really make this place a winner.

Like some other reviewers, I have also found the staff to be on the surly side. But this seems to depend on the day. During busy periods it's more marked.

Decor is contemporary, light, slightly clinical but basically pleasant.

I thought it was slightly overpriced. Nice for a special occasion, though. I'd go back, but probably with a group. I don't see Haven as somewhere I could comfortably take a date, for instance. It's not unpleasant; just not pleasant enough.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6

Golden Villa

I don't know how this place survives! It's been in Colindale for longer than I have and recently was the first and last time I have and ever will pay a visit. I used to wonder why I'd never seen the restaurant full. Now I know.

The food is woeful. Anything on the menu designated as 'spicy' roughly translates as 'lots of pepper'. Familiar dishes are unrecognisable by any of the senses.

The service is away with the fairies. Drinks were substituted without prior confirmation - in one case through human error and another case through lack of stock. Dishes were brought out with 10-15 minute gaps between them. Very hard to get staff attention. Can't decide whether they were untrained, inexperienced or simply disinterested.

The decor is extremely tired and in dire need of a revamp. Only the tablecloths are new. Also spotted a mains electrical outlet in the mens' toilet. Is this allowed?

I can't give a high score for value. I'm glad I've tried it. I'd go again only if they refurbished and changed the management. It can only improve things. With at least two competing (and vastly superior) restaurants within walking distance, Golden Villa's days are numbered unless they change their game.

Friday, April 20, 2012
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 1 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2

Dover Street Restaurant & Jazz Bar

If you like fine food in overcrowded airtight basements then this is the place for you.

This pretty much sums it up. The food is, to be fair, very good indeed. I've eaten here a few times now and have never been disappointed on this front. And the service is usually good too. I've dropped a point from the service because I've sometimes found the bouncers to be a bit surly. Intimidating the punters can't be good for business.

Once the food part of the evening is over, tables get moved to create a dance area and lots of people pour in. This is supposed to be the part of the evening where you can really relax - crammed in among lots of bodies and occasionally pressed against a wall.

I suppose it depends on the night of the week, but I'm getting quite tired of venues packing in too many people and expecting the punters to be pleased with it. Either lower your insulting bill or limit the attendance.

As a previous reviewer quite rightly said - this is not somewhere to bring someone you are trying to impress.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 2

Le Deuxieme

I had a very similar experience to the previous reviewer, although I reacted more favourably to the decor.

As has been mentioned, the service started off a little on the cold side, but warmed up as they became accustomed to our presence. They bend over backwards, though, and were unflustered by our requests for more time to choose wine, etc.

The food is very good indeed. This must have been one of the richest meals I've had for some time. In fact I had trouble finishing it. But it was all going in, because I was not sending anything other than an empty plate back to the kitchen.

It is true the decor is essentially white walls. But it works very well and there's definitely an feeling of 'chic' when you enter.

The bill was a bit of a sting. But we saw it coming. Judging from the previous review, it sounds like they have deals at lunchtime and then bring out the 'other' menu in the evening, which is when I went. I agree 15% service charge is steep, but it is discretionary (even if it borders on embarrassing to query it). For me, service charge takes the guesswork out of tipping. But 15% is the highest percentage I've ever seen, hence 8, rather than 9.

Will I go back? Yes. But probably for lunch unless I'm feeling rich one day!

Friday, December 23, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


I can clearly see this restaurant is well-respected, but I have to put my head above the parapet as I simply didn't have a great time here!

We went for one of their set menus in order to see some variety without the hassle of choosing everything. Sadly, the portions were very much on the small side! Did I catch them on a bad day? It's a shame, since this doesn't make a great advert for a restaurant that is in a minority. It was tasty, though. But not quite enough.

Service was good, though. All the right boxes ticked in that department.

The decor is quite plain, I felt. There's nothing particularly outstanding about it. It's clean, does the job and there's a nice entrance, but the main body of the restaurant is quite standard.

And the damage? I'd say it was too much relative to the package delivered. We're not in central London here, so pull back a bit please!

Would I go back? Possibly. But only possibly.

Friday, December 23, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5

The Fox Public House

Quite a nice old-school pub, built by the old-school, for the old-school.

Downstairs it's a typical London pub. And that's 'pub', not 'bar'. There are no steel surfaces here. This is traditional wooden bar with odd tables and chairs for furniture. A good selection of real ales keeps me very happy indeed.

Upstairs are two dining rooms. One is presumably for large parties. The other is more of a private dining room. Both continue the traditional pub look with wood surfaces and strange wallpaper.

Food was okay. I was part of a corporate event, so I saw quite a few dishes arrive. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Most impressive was the service. Allowing time to synchronise dishes for 10 people, they had a great system of organising themselves. Rather than aimlessly bringing out food, they had the foresight to record names as well as orders. Being a large party, we had been asked to pre-order. So, when they brought the food out, they could address us by name. This is so simple, I'm surprised this is the first time I've seen it.

I'm glad I pass by this pub often.

Friday, December 23, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Royal China (Queensway)

I was encouraged to try this restaurant as an alternative place to get dim sum.

All in all it was a bit of a disappointment. The food reminded me of a takeaway. In fact I may have been able to find better offerings if I really had gone to a takeaway! The service is patchy at best and abrupt at worst. They may be very smartly dressed, but they didn't make me feel welcome. Yet they do seem to bring in the crowds. Perhaps they are surviving on tourist trade, given the locality of hotels in the area.

The decor is dark! I think times have moved on. In years gone by I would have probably liked this. But on my visit I simply found it too dark and oppressive.

The bill was also a bit steep for what it was. Had the service been friendlier, I'd have felt better about it. Like a previous reviewer, I also noted the 13% service charge and also queried it. For the record, I got the same answer about security. I wish I'd queried further now.

Friday, November 25, 2011
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 4 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 4

Alfresco (Whetstone)

Being a rare visitor to Whetstone, I was glad to stumble upon this restaurant. The decor is very inviting, with lots of partitions to give added privacy. It can be quite crowded, which I'll take as an indicator of its popularity. Service is a bit changeable, depending on how busy they are. But it's generally very good and one is never kept waiting long.

You need to be careful what you order here. Some things they do very well. Others not so well. I imagine we all have our favourites, but sometimes food can err on the side of blandness.

The bill is reasonable. More or less what you'd expect. Although for a good spot in Whetstone, it's probably fair to mark it down as quite good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Sfizio is one of those restaurants that looks nicer from the outside! Essentially this is a glorified sandwich bar that comes into its own at lunchtime and tails off a bit in the evening. This is somewhere to come for a takeaway rather than a sit-down meal.

The decor is somewhat reminiscent of a modern art gallery with lots of useless space and cheap furniture being passed off as trendy. It's easy to be polite and fake appreciation whilst there, but, upon leaving, the overriding thought is one of "what was that?"

Service is patchy and hard to understand but friendly. It's never clear whether one is supposed to order at the bar or wait for table service. I've been a few times and the service seems to be a strange cross of two formats.

It's a bit pricey but the food is okay. It's a tough call on how to score this one. There's nothing particularly outstanding about Sfizio, but it's convenient and there's nothing else like it within line of sight, so it survives.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Zizzi (Finchley Rd)

Cheap and convenient Italian restaurant, right next to the cinema on the upper level of the Finchley Road O2 centre.

It won't blow your socks off, but this is probably the best offering on the upper level of this general retail and entertainment venue. It's actually quite calm inside, with fairly tranquil decor and a reasonable amount of space between neighbouring diners. Service is friendly and attentive with a quick turnaround on orders.

Food is impressive enough to satisfy the cinemagoers and the bill doesn't ask too much. A typical bill here will be around the £35 mark for two starters, two mains and two glasses of wine.

Parking is by means of an on-site car park (paid), or neighbouring streets after 6:30pm (free). Watch the signs, as some roads are restricted until much later.

It's also worth keeping an eye out for special offers, as this restaurant runs promotions from time to time (usual 2-for-1 offers).

Monday, November 14, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

The Holly Bush

As pub-grub goes, this is an excellent choice.

The menu is always under review, with older and less popular options being replaced by newer ones. This makes it easy to return regularly without becoming bored. I've tried most things on their menu now and not had one bad experience. The building is as I have always known it - lots of winding passages and bare wood. The prices reflect the upkeep. This is a listed building after all, so a premium is to be expected.

My only problem was with the service. I can't get over how surly it is. All conversations with the staff are very matter-of-fact with no hint of any good mood. Everyone seems to be just "doing their job", but they don't engage with the customer. I found this quite unsettling.

But I like the building and I like the food. The selection of beer is quite good. So it will remain a favourite with me.

Friday, November 11, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Strada (Highgate)

I have just returned from Strada and had a very good experience.

The service was very attentive and not pushy or surly at all. We were even allowed to choose our table! Hopefully we didn't come across as fussy! The food came out within about 10 minutes of us ordering it and what arrived was excellent. I've only dropped a couple of points for service because we saw several changes of staff, which was a bit disorientating. I prefer it when one has one waiter or waitress for the entire evening. However, the changes were well-handled and everyone seemed friendly and even humourous.

We had a voucher, which we had forgotten about. What really won me over was that the staff reminded us about it when the bill was requested. They could have easily not done so and we would have been none the wiser. Very impressed.

I can see how the decor could divide opinion, but I really liked it. It is very modern with clean lines, but very nice use of space and colours. I found it very calming and pleasant to be in. However, it does bounce the sound around quite a lot!

Prices are as one would expect in Strada. Not necessarily cheap, but not deal-breaking either. Given the whole package, it's probably about right. Nice restaurant in a nice area. Parking can be a bit challenging, but not impossible. I look forward to returning.

Friday, November 11, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Gaucho (Piccadilly)

I've always found Gaucho a bit on a pricey side. This isn't a problem when the company is paying, but I wouldn't want to be funding this myself on a regular basis! However, it is very nice in here. If you like your meat and don't mind paying a premium for it, you could do worse than come to Gaucho.

The imposing dark interior may not appeal to all, but it really appealed to me. It seems to give a sense of privacy. It can get a little noisy, though.

The service was just as good as it's Hampstead cousin. Very attentive and not too pushy.

But the most important element was the food, which really did hit the mark. Steaks cooked to perfection - exactly to specification. I just wish it could be a little cheaper, so I could go more regularly. I know it's good, but it is a steak-house, after all!

Recommended, though.

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 6

Mr Kong

Also very surprised by the negative reviews on here. I mostly use this restaurant for lunch as they have a quick turnaround and can deliver the goods without dropping the standard.

While I've never been keen on the decor, I come here for the fast but friendly service, good menu and great value for money.

It's just a short walk from Leicester Square station and well-placed to capture the pre-theatre and cinema crowd. Recommended.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9

Bilash Indian Restaurant

This is a really welcome addition to Colindale. I've had sit-in and takeaway meals from here for about 8-10 years now and they've never dropped the ball. Great staff, food and prices make a winning combination.

My only bone of contention is the decor! It's awful in a laughable sort of way! It's in desperate need of a refurbishment. But this is not a deal-breaker. I still recommend you try it out.

I'll certainly be using them many more times in the future.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 8

Prezzo (Euston)

I like this Prezzo. And I find it to be one of the nicer (and more nicely decorated) than most of their branches. It's trying to look like a posh restaurant.

The food is actually quite well-prepared, I find! And the staff were more than willing to help with the wine order, which was not something I expected here. Furthermore, they were not pushy and there was no pressure to keep having my glass refilled, or anything like that. Quite attentive and relaxed.

Prices were welcoming too. Situated very near Euston station, this venue is well-placed for a pre- or post-travel meal, for those wanting something more relaxed than eating in the station itself.

So I disagree with previous reviewers and recommend you give it a try.

Monday, November 07, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Wagamama (Tavistock St)

You know what you're getting at Wagamama. They are pretty consistent and the only thing that really changes between them is the atmosphere of each restaurant.

As with all Wagamama branches, the food is standard pseudo-Japanese fare and the service is by way of wireless handsets that communicate your orders directly to the kitchen.

This particular branch is set in a basement in the bowels of Covent Garden. Most of the time, I'd find this interesting. On this occasion, I found myself wanting for more natural light. The decor of Wagamama can be harshly artificial at the best of times. So I like the connection to the outside world, when I'm in one.

As for price? As I've always said with Wagamama, it's a bit steep for what it is. I could go to Wong Kei and be just as satisfied. Wagamama is okay. But it's not posh!

Monday, November 07, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 5

Local Friends

Anyway, it seems to have suffered from a drop in standards in this time. I'm not sure if this could be attributed to complacency or a change in management, or some combination of the two. The food is still above average, though.

The service has become a bit indifferent, I find.

Tough call on the decor. It's had a refurbishment and the new guise is more clinical than before. Normally I'd hate this but it seems to work here. However, I do find the use of space is just not quite what it was. Everywhere I go I find I'm in someone's way. But it does look nice.

Prices are not too bad I think. I could always find somewhere cheaper, but it's still nice enough to be worth worrying about.

I still go there. It's a tradition to do so.

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

Planet Hollywood

I think this restaurant has had its day. At least it has with me. It's a glorified burger joint with lots of film memorabilia. This is somewhere I used to like in my twenties and have gradually fallen out of love with as I've grown older. I think it's fair to say that it caters for the younger crowd and I'm probably just moving out of that age group now.

The food was actually okay - for a fee! The decor was verging on the cheesy, but I think that's the point. service was pretty standard.

I think they charge a bit too much here. If they are going for the younger crowd, they should charge prices more appropriate to that demographic. So it's nothing special. But it's okay.

Friday, November 04, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6

The Grand Indian 2

It seems this restaurant has its good and bad days. This is a shame, since they have an enviable position on a busy street with as much passing trade as they could wish for.

Personally, I seem to have only visited on their good days. The food and service are always of a good standard. I find I always eat the lot, which is a good sign.

It's a little pricey, but they have so much passing trade they can probably get away with this. It's not unjustified, however, since it's still within reasonable limits.

Friday, November 04, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7

Champagne Charlies

Very nice well-established bar-restaurant hidden between Charing Cross and Embankment tube stations. You could walk past this a few times without spotting it

The whole venue is underground, possibly below the Thames water line! It's decorated as some kind of "secret cellar", with a few private rooms, different levels and passageways. They have a separate dining area and pub area, each with its own menu, but they seem to accommodate a degree of flexibility in allowing diners of different intentions to sit in the "wrong" areas. I consider this to be a good thing, since there's nothing worse than rules for the sake of rules.

But this is countered by the somewhat slow service. I see, from previous reviews, that service has a good reputation here, but I simply found it to be slow. Our mains took almost 30 minutes to emerge.

The food itself was quite good. However, I felt my portion was on the small side and that it was not made clear I should order some side dishes with it. My friend's meal was quite burnt, which was a shame. But with these niggles aside, it was generally of a high standard.

It's quite expensive for what is really a pub. Given that it's in a basement, perhaps there are higher overheads for maintenance. It's not a deal-breaker, but I could have found something similar, nearby, for less. I still recommend it. But I was looking for more of a wow-factor.

Friday, November 04, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Afghan Kitchen

If there's one restaurant in London that divides opinion, it's this one. I've had arguments with friends about this place. As with Marmite, people seem to either love it or hate it.

I think what polarises opinion so much is the expectation of a full-blown restaurant relative to what it really is when you get there. So let's set the record straight. It's a two floor canteen with, if I remember correctly, two large tables on each level. Remember I said canteen. That's because you share your table with fellow diners. People don't come here for privacy.

The menu is very limited. From a tiny kitchen they produce an endless stream of just a handful of items. In two visits you could eat the whole menu. But what they do do isn't bad at all. And that's why I've been several times. From what I can tell, there seem to be some regulars and, for that reason, combined with lack of seating, I'd recommend making a booking to come here.

The decor was a slight problem for me. While I liked the clean lines and plain walls, it can get a bit loud and echoey at busy times. This is less of an issue during the week. But I can't go there during busy times.

Prices are very reasonable. They look expensive at first sight, but one needs to remember Afghan restaurants are rare, so I allow a bit of leeway.

I'd recommend you use public transport if you plan to come here. Parking is mortifyingly difficult in this area. But it's worth the effort.

Thursday, November 03, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 10 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Cilantro (Tottenham Court Rd)

Wow - this place is taking a beating in the reviews! Did I go to the same place?

Contrary to previous reviewers, I saw none of the rudeness or half-hearted attempts at food. Instead, I thought they were slightly above average of "doing their job". The food, I felt, was just okay. They seemed quite accommodating service-wise certainly polite enough. Not outstanding, but better than average.

I quite liked the decor. Of course, Cilantro is really Starbucks with polish. Again, not outstanding to look at, but still pleasant enough. Very clean, too.

Price? Possibly a little steep relative to what you get. But it's quick and convenient. I'd say 5, but they have free wifi, so I'll give them a 6.

Thursday, November 03, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6

Wonderful Patisserie

This restaurant is quite 'bare-bones' but it has it where it counts. The mantra behind this restaurant is really to get bums on seats, but not to do anything more than required.

The food is very good. I always compare places like this to the Penang hawkers, and Wonderful Patisserie can hold its own. This I like, as it is right at the end of my road. Perfect placement, as far as I'm concerned.

It occupies the lower level of an office block. They have cleaned and tiled the inside and turned about two thirds of it into a restaurant. The remaining space is given over to a shop, which is part of the same business but allows one to buy basic supplies and a few novelty items. It's very functional to look at.

The service is a bit sporadic, but basically good. Sometimes they don't seem to stock several items on the dim-sum menu, which would be read in one of two ways. Either they're so popular that they simply run out. Or they're ill-prepared and don't stock enough. In any case, I've always left this place full, having eaten items I enjoyed.

One can't complain about the bill. It's always very low and it doesn't seem to matter what has been ordered. I'm a repeat customer - mainly because it is so local. But also because it is genuinely good.

Monday, October 31, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 10

Leon (Spitalfields)

I know Leon generally have a good reputation, but I'm going to stick my head above the parapet and say I don't agree!

In trying to recreate the continental format of eating on the street, what they've ended up with is basically a mess. And there is no service to speak of. You sort of bundle towards the tills and shout out what you want when you think someone has made eye-contact with you. Then you get served and take your own food back to your table - which is hopefully still free.

I suppose if you go in here with a good pair of ears, you're fine.

The food itself is no better than Pret or Eat. I'm giving them 5, which means 'they are doing their job'. There's nothing wrong with it. But there's nothing that makes it stand out either.

I just can't write anything particularly glowing about Leon, since, in my opinion, they just don't deliver anything that's outstanding enough to be praiseworthy. I see it as fast-food joint with a brand name.

Monday, October 31, 2011
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

Taherah Indian

You have to put in a little effort to find this restaurant as it's quite tucked away in Belsize village. Basic directions are to turn right out of the station and walk about as far as the hotel. Then turn left and walk down until you find it. It's worth the effort.

The food was very good indeed. Good-sized portions that were reasonably priced. Very tender meat, crisp vegetables. It was nice that the spinach / sag had some texture, rather than having been cooked to within an inch of its life. I did feel that there could have been a bit more spice, however, but the flavours were amazing.

Service was exceptionally attentive, friendly but not pushy. Sometimes they seemed a little shy, if anything, which is a bit unusual!

The decor is very plain with lots of new furniture and clean lines. It could use a little music though! Just something unobtrusive playing in the background.

The bill was around £35 for two drinks, poppadums, two mains, one sharer and two rice. I don't think that's easy to beat. This must be one of the best Indian restaurants I have ever been to. There is competition in the area and this venue is at or near the top.

Monday, October 31, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

Friendly Inn

Is Friendly Inn really that bad? I didn't think so! Okay, it doesn't stand out from the crowd, but it's not the hell-hole it's being made out to be! Surely?

Food was certainly better than average. We just went for a set menu for efficiency. Service was absolutely fine. They've recently(ish) had a renovation as well. I remember the old guise; it was looking so very tired, so the new look is a welcome relief and a much needed upgrade.

Prices are actually in line with the rest of Chinatown. A couple of items are more expensive, but it's certainly not a rip-off. I'd have no problem returning.

Friday, October 28, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

Sinh Le (Minories)

This is an old-school Chinese restaurant roughly between Aldgate and Tower Hill stations. It's frequented by the suits of the area, peaking in attendance towards the end of the working week. It's fairly quiet (and much nicer) at other times.

I say old-school because it hasn't gone through the Chinese-restaurant equivalent of the gastropub conversion (like Thai Square). This is as it was.

The food is actually quite good. I was with a very large party, so we ordered almost one of everything and I made sure I tasted as much as I could. And the service that came with it was of a similarly high standard.

Obviously I'm going to rate the atmosphere highly, since I prefer the old-school approach with it's soft(er) furnishings that are kinder to the hard of hearing. Lots of noise-absorbing surfaces that allow one to hear what is being said. Nice.

It's a little pricey, but only slightly. This is the City after all. But they don't seem to take advantage of this fact. I enjoyed it.

Friday, October 28, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


A very nice Indian restaurant that I'm glad to count in my (almost) local area.

I agree with the previous reviewer that the food and service were excellent. I wanted to eat everything, even though I was full. And I'd go again for more. The menu is quite standard with all the old favourites, but the quality of what comes out is very good indeed.

I only had issue with the decor. Personally I found it a bit cold and clinical. This isn't to say not to go. This restaurant is recommended. But it can get a bit loud and echoey at busy times.

Lastly it's very reasonably priced. If you're local and haven't been, you should go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 8

Giacomo's Restaurant

A great Italian restaurant to come back to again and again.

I basically liked everything I saw here. But I'm in a slight disagreement on the atmosphere and decor. I just didn't see anything special about it. Not that it's the most important point, but it needs a score, so...

But the food and service were amazing. As was the bill when it arrived. It's a shame the parking is a bit awkward, but a little effort will find you a spot. Parking is okay on side roads after 6:30pm on weekdays. You could also walk it from Golders Green station if you like long walks (it's about 15-20 minutes).

It's worth the effort, though.

Monday, October 24, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9

Corney & Barrow at Broadgate Circle

I've only ever visited for lunch as it's always been packed in the evenings, particularly on Thursdays and Fridays. But when I've been it's been fine. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's outstanding, but it's quite a nice place to relax on a sunny day. Or watch the skaters in winter.

The food is standard pub fare with a brand name on it. You're not going to see anything exceptional, but if you want some pub grub on a posh plate, then this is where you need to be.

The staff are efficient and attentive, but bear in mind I have no idea what it's like on a busy evening, when the suits come out in force.

Pricewise - what do you expect from a pretentious chain? As long as you don't mind being slightly ripped-off, you'll leave with a smile on your face. It's a name that came out of nowhere about 10 years ago and claimed it was well-established. Personally I can't tell the difference between this, Slug & Lettuce, Pitcher and Piano and All Bar One. Just pointing out the emperor's new clothes, that's all.

Friday, October 21, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

Smiths of Smithfield

I'm so glad I wasn't paying the bill here. I would have been even more disappointed if I had.

I was one of a party of about 10, so I had the benefit of overview when it came to the actual food. I wasn't that impressed. Starters were amateur relative to the price. Mains were embarrassing. I should have ordered two starters. Instead I had the fish, which had been battered to within an inch of its life and swimming in grease. Not quite what I was expecting. For dessert I ordered a creme brulee to sweeten things, but the sugar had been so burned it quite literally left a bad taste in my mouth.

The service was merely functional. There was no real friendliness or attentiveness about it. They did their job, but we had to repeat a few orders as they dropped the ball a few times. They were never rude, however, and did their best, but it left a lot of room for improvement.

As for the atmosphere? I honestly believe this restaurant should be somewhere else. As it stands, it's located in the most cavernous space possible - is it an ex-warehouse or ex-factory?

When it came to the bill - as previously mentioned, I'm glad I wasn't paying. It was too high for the experience. I can't recommend this restaurant. Too much superior competition in the area to justify returning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 3

Wagamama (Moorgate)

You know what you're getting at Wagamama. This is one of the branches in the city. It's pretty quiet on school nights, but busy at lunch and on traditional drinking nights, such as Thursday. I don't know what it's like at weekends, but I'd imagine it would be like a ghost town.

Otherwise it's a standard Wagamama setup. Good enough food to keep most people happy, possibly a little overpriced. This one isn't so aesthetically placed, however. And it can get quite noisy.

But it's convenient and, later this year, it will be on the doorstep of a Crossrail station. So it's probably here to stay. I use this restaurant to fill a hole, rather than go out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


I wouldn't blame anyone for having trouble finding this restaurant. It's hidden just near the back of Finchley Central underground station. The road it's on is a bit tight, so parking isn't always easy. But if you're coming by public transport, come out of the back exit of the station and it's just on your right, slightly up the road.

I've always enjoyed the food here, but I'd warn newcomers to be prepared as the spicy dishes really mean it. The first time I gave it a go, I left a little surprised.

The service seemed fine to me. Has it really taken a turn since the owner changed? It certainly has a different flavour, but I wouldn't say it's any worse. Just different.

Nice local restaurant to come back to.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Hi Sushi (Golders Green)

I actually quite liked Hi Sushi, but I do agree that it's expensive.

The decor is interesting in that the seats are set into the floor; the tables are more or less at floor level and each table sits in its own 'well'. So when you're sitting down, your head is about level with the ankles of people walking around. At first this made me feel a bit vulnerable, but I liked the uniqueness of it.

The food is actually okay, I find. The problem is that some of the portions are a bit small. I know this is sushi, but I wouldn't mind if certain items were a bit cheaper.

Service was friendly, polite but tended to be on the slow side.

Unfortunately I just thought the bill was a bit high for the package. I just had the feeling I didn't get much bang for my buck here. It's a shame. I'd come back for the odd revisit, but there is competition in the area and that makes a return less likely.

I hope they survive, however. The only thing I would improve about this restaurant is the price.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

Il Bordello

This is one to go back to.

The positive reviews on here are definitely on the money. I've never had any issues with the food here at all. And I've enjoyed their seafood risotto several times. If I had to find any fault, the portions are quite generous. So I struggle to finish. Obviously this isn't mandatory, but I like to leave a clean plate so the kitchen know I enjoyed it.

Service is always on the ball, but can get a bit stretched at busy times.

The decor is quite original, I find. But the lack of soft surfaces creates a bit of a din, which is a problem for me. I do like the look of it, though.

I wasn't sure how to rate the value. On one hand, this is a great restaurant, and you get what you pay for. But on the other hand, I did feel some things were a bit on the pricey side.

Getting there is easy enough. Just turn left out of Wapping station and walk along the road. Or the 100 bus from Liverpool Street. It's also possible to walk from Tower Hill station. Parking is also possible in the area after 6:30pm. It's clearly a local favourite, however, since it's almost full on most days of the week. Booking is recommended.

Friday, October 14, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8

Oriental Canteen

Great chinese food outlet for those in a rush.

I'm not sure why this place is pulling in top marks for atmosphere. It's not the Ritz, nor is it trying to be. I feel a bit guilty pulling down the average, but let's be realistic; it's a functional canteen. It works for me when I'm in a rush. I wouldn't bring a client or a date here, but it's perfect for post-museum or pre-Albert-Hall group meal with your friends.

Food-wise I have no complaints. I'd expect this sort of thing from the hawkers in Malaysia. On this front it's actually quite authentic with the plastic plates and plastic cups.

The service is quick enough. The restaurant is small, so no-one is really kept waiting.

The bill? What more can one ask? Oriental Canteen will fill you up for less than a tenner. I rarely bother with starters, since the mains are big enough that I often struggle to finish them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 9

Wagamama (Camden)

One of the better Wagamama efforts. There is a feeling of openness with the glass wall looking onto the street. This improved the atmosphere for me.

But the other aspects of the restaurant remain more or less the same. This is a chain, after all.

The service is still pretty efficient and you know you're getting slightly better-than-average food. But it's on my way home after work so it often fills the comfort-food gap. And the price is possibly a bit steep for the package, but I'm happy to be a repeat customer.

Monday, October 10, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

Da Mario

A truly excellent experience. This is definitely one to come back to.

Food - wow. I'm only dropping a point because I thought certain items were lacking in flavour. But every other aspect was spot on. All ingredients were cooked to perfection and the presentation was worthy of a Michelin star.

Their service is an example to all other restaurants. I was early for a booking but they didn't make a fuss. They just made a few notes on their sheet, gave me a table and made a joke out of it. Given that this was their busiest night of the week, I thought this was quite impressive. I would have accepted a short wait. Furthermore, even on their busiest night, they didn't keep anyone waiting. The kitchen must have been flat out.

The decor in this place is amazing! It's very modern - rather like one of those showcase dining rooms in a home improvement store, but with a lived-in look. It is a bit cramped but the use of space doesn't make you feel uneasy. You're not knocking elbows with other diners. It would be quite easy to have a private conversation here.

And I have no idea how they do all this for the price. With two three-course meals plus drinks for around £50, I do hope this restaurant will be open for a long time to come.

Saturday, October 08, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10


I'm glad I'm here, writing this review, because it means I'm not at CTV.

In trying to either cater for the vegetarian demographic, this sorry effort appears to be the result. It might look good on the moral balance sheet to be above the rest in not serving meat, but you still have to make an effort to make food tasty and presentable!

Remember you're running a business here. You can stay in denial all you want and kid yourself that you're getting some sort of altruistic kick out of being a vegetarian restaurant, but you still have to hook the customers.

I don't actually mind not having meat now and then, even though I'm the first to admit my carnivorous tendancies. But this was poor. I can cook better vegetables than this. You can omit the meat, but surely you can't omit the flavour!

There is no service here as such. This is a buffet. The staff seem to busy themselves cleaning around you all the time.

To give credit where it's due, it was very clean. But why they needed to clean so much is a mystery. The decor is so dark, it would need to get pretty bad to notice any dirt anyway!

It was quite cheap, though. Disgusting for sure, but quite cheap. So you won't feel cheated.

Clearly I will be avoiding this place from now on.

Friday, October 07, 2011
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 2 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 5

Carluccio's (Market Place)

I'm very much in agreement with the previous reviewer in that the best aspect of this restaurant is the service. They look after you as though you're the only one there. They also manage a very reasonable turnaround, even when busy.

The decor follows a semi-nautical theme with lots of blue and white. Not really everyone's taste, but at least it has a direction.

Food was nice enough but nothing to write home about. None of my party seemed overly excited about the menu or the results. And the bill was reasonable.

Great for a quick bite out with friends. Probably not somewhere I'd take a date or go for a romantic meal. This is somewhere I'd go if I hadn't left enough time to get food elsewhere.

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

Wagamama (Streatham St)

This was the first Wagamama I ever went to and hence the first time I ever saw their ordering system. I know it's been around for a long time, but it should be more commonplace in a city like London by now.

Although one of many in a chain of identikit restaurants, you know what you are getting at Wagamama. You are getting reasonably good, slightly overpriced food, delivered with a ruthless efficiency. This isn't a place to come and wait around. You're there to eat, pay and leave. But these are the terms. This is the nature of this beast.

It's easy to tire of the format, but it fills a need for when I'm late home and don't want to cook for myself. So, I'm thankful it is here!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

Tuttons Brasserie

Sometimes I do wish reviewers would take these restaurant ratings seriously. If something disappoints you, does that mean the entire restaurant deserves zero across the board? Please rate properly! People form opinions from these reviews, so be fair.

Anyway, that aside, I really like Tuttons. It hides in plain sight in the middle of Covent Garden and I overlooked it many times before its enormity was pointed out.

It's a little cramped inside, which can be irritating. But it's easy to forgive. The food itself is well above-average. The menu is ambitious enough to keep most people amused and the service, while mostly standard, is efficient and attentive enough to not be a problem. They do their job pretty well here.

This is an easy choice in a busy area, although I'd recommend going mid-week to avoid the rush. At weekends, I wouldn't try to get in here. Otherwise - recommended as a pre-theatre choice.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8

The Spaniards Inn

I'm here to defend this fine establishment!

The past reviews surprise me, but I fear this may be something to do with the phenomenon that many reviews are only penned on the back of a bad experience.

I can't drop a point for atmosphere. This place is steeped in history as a highwaymans' hideout. Rumour also has it that the gunpowder plot conspirators were supposed to come here to watch the aftermath parliament's destruction. Is this an urban myth. I don't know, but it works for me. Ghost of the past occupy every nook and cranny of this building.

The food is possibly a bit overpriced, but I'm happy to pay a premium to maintain this listed building. Besides, it's still cheaper than some modern pubs. Overall I'm happy with it. From my point of view, I get a lot of bang for my buck here. The food itself is fine too. It's good old-fashioned pub grub, but done quite well. Generous portions too. Sometimes they also list recommended ales alongside the food on the menu. I quite like this touch.

The service is changeable. Overall it's good enough. It's best when there's no-one around. But if you're there during a busy period, I can well understand customers being left out.

Bottom line, however, is that I love this place to bits. I've been coming for a long time now and will continue to do so.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9


Giraffe is trying to fill a trendy niche that doesn't exist. This is clearly an average restaurant with high ambitions.

The food is actually okay. Nothing to get excited about, however. And the selection is quite varied, so there's something for everyone. It's well presented and perfectly edible. Just the tonic for a moment of indecision when you've tried everything else in the area.

The service is very friendly. Not necessarily attentive unless you're their 'target market', but you're not left wanting for long and they don't drop the ball.

The atmosphere was my one bone of contention. In trying to pitch somewhere between an art gallery and a youth club, what you end up with is essentially a school classroom with adult-sized seats. This is further confirmed by the number of kids that seem to come here (with parents that ignore them). I know Giraffe like to sell themselves as family friendly, but there's no rule against taking kids to most restaurants. A visit to Giraffe certainly isn't going to stop anyone growing up to spray graffiti, so this contribution to society is doubtful. I'm just not sure why Giraffe can't simply be a restaurant rather than a glorified playgroup.

Lastly it's cheap enough to make an impulse visit viable. I'd pick the time of my visit a bit more carefully in future, though.

Friday, September 30, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8

Wagamama (London Bridge)

One more visit to the trusty chain that is Wagamama. This one, I feel fares slightly better in that it's in a nicer location and not quite so crowded.

Food is exactly the same as any other branch in the chain. You know what you are getting. In other words, it's good enough, but you're going to be on the receiving end of some side-orders-hard-sell and you're going to get slightly fleeced for it.

But it's not the echo-chamber that some of the others are, so hearing is less of an obstacle.

Service? Just as good as any other Wagamama.

Bottom line? A good choice when you want a quick turnaround.

Friday, September 30, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5


I'm not sure why there have been a number of negative reviews about Terra. I've been coming for a few years now and never noticed any drop in standards or service.

This is probably more of a summer restaurant, when they can open up the front on a warm evening. It creates a really nice atmosphere with the gentle music in the background. This is not to say avoid it in the winter. I just prefer it in the summer.

I've never had any complaints about the food, although I admit to having always ordered from my shortlist of about 3 items. But I would testify that it's certainly been good enough for me.

The service is always attentive and so far faultless. And efficient. I'm not sure where the 'clueless' comment came from. If they had an off-day, I must have missed it. I've been helped with wine orders, been given advice on desserts, the name of the music playing and even a glass of ice to keep some white wine cold. In short they've bent over backwards for me.

The bill won't shock you either. This is another reason I've been a repeat customer.

Friday, September 30, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10

Wagamama (Royal Festival Hall)

I think one of the best things about Wagamama is the service. It's so obvious that it's hard to see why their system wasn't invented earlier. Or why it is not more widespread today. For those not in the know, you choose what you want and the waiter writes down the menu numbers on your place mat. They also key in your order to a portable keypad, which sends the data to the kitchen. Modern by yesterday's standards. But should be old-hat by now. After more than 10 years in London, Wagamama still has the edge in this department.

They sometimes go for a bit of a hard sell, though - particularly on the side orders. I don't care if it is their policy to do this. It's what I experience as a customer that governs the score they get.

Before I go further, Wagamama is fast food with a flourish. You don't bring a date here. You don't bring a client here. What you take to Wagamama is an empty stomach and a need to be turned around within 30-45 minutes.

The food may be fast but it's reasonably good. For a hole-filler, this is one of the better choices.

Unfortunately, it is also an echo-chamber, so you need to shout to your company; thereby adding to the noise! You're just under the Royal Festival Hall here, so plenty of things to see and do before and after you come here. And it's an easy walk from Waterloo Station.

Prices are a little on a steep side. With their turnover, they could surely afford to lower a few prices here and there. Don't start getting delusions of grandeur, Wagamama! You know exactly what section of the market you command so please don't start crowing above your station!

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 5

India Raj

This is a curry house under the railway arches near Fenchurch Street station. It looks as dodgy as hell from the outside but it's really quite the opposite on the inside. This is not to say it's an unbelievable transition. It's just a relief.

The food is standard Indian fare. All the old favourites are on the menu. There are an acceptable selection of beers. And it's fairly nice too.

Service is attentive.

I can't say much for the atmosphere. In some ways it's an interesting quirk to have trains passing overhead as you eat. Some may not like this, however. I was okay with it. Someone has chosen to put a restaurant in a railway arch and this is the result!

Great value for money too. In the city one could get away with slightly inflated prices. This place makes no such pretentions. I'd go again if I were caught short in the area, though I may not make a special visit to do so.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 8

Las Iguanas (Westfield Stratford)

Situated on one of the upper levels of the Westfield Stratford shopping centre that we are being told to love, you are well-placed to both hear and see the details of the retail-carnage going on below. With all the rushing about going on around you and the mile-long queues to get in the place, one doesn't feel put on edge at all. Not one bit.

Thankfully the service was just as rushed and food was produced quickly. As was the suprisingly low bill.

But it is a crying shame that the decor looks like it has been assembled from a kit. And it is slightly odd that the toilets are the most presentable part of the restaurant.

To be fair, this place is probably easy to get to in the middle of the week. But on a Saturday afternoon, one week after opening, it takes you about half and hour to reach it from the front door of the main shopping centre - about the same length of time it takes to ride the train to get you there in the first place.

I'd say it was good for a quick bite if it hadn't taken a further 30 minutes to queue up. Good for a bite, then. But not that quick.

There are other restaurants in the world that are not located in the bowels of ram-it-down-your-throat consumerism. I'll be going to one of those in future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 3 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 6

Chu Chin Chow

Surprisingly good Chinese restaurant, right where you wouldn't expect it to be! By London standards, this probably rates with "being out in the sticks", but that's no excuse for not paying it a visit.

Being half-Malay myself, I thought I'd try the Malay signature dishes on recommendation from a "fellow countryman". They were spot-on. This is the sort of thing I'd expect to see from the street hawkers in Penang; my yardstick for authenticity. This is not the Europeanised Chinese food we see so often in London. This is a piece of the Far East on our doorsteps.

The decor is smart and clean. Not necessarily clinical, although it is somewhat brightly-lit. They have also been refurbished. At this time of writing, the frontage you see in Google Streetview is the old facade. It looks a lot more polished and modern now.

The restaurant is family-run and has service to match. Very attentive and very efficient.

Prices are about as fair as one can get. With food like this, I can't say I can complain. They charge about the same as most other Chinese restaurants but you get so much more for it.

Parking is easy enough. There are single yellow lines on the surrounding main roads and no parking restrictions on side roads at this time of writing. As is usual, busy on Friday and Saturday evenings and not so busy at other times.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10


Time to redress the balance on the reviews here! I found very little wrong with the place. For once a restaurant has dared to be different. We need to celebrate this; not condemn it.

For an exotic dining experience, this surely must be the place to go.

For those not already in the know, the menu is a variety of odd foods not usually available in the UK. But they also include some more standard selections for those not feeling adventurous. So if you fancy eating crocodile, zebra and scorpions, you can. But you can also eat tofu, chicken and ice cream just the same.

Yes, I did try the scorpions and would recommend the experience for the bragging rights alone. As for the taste - you'll have to go there and see for yourself! But it was not unpleasant. Interesting, though.

While I take the point from previous reviewers about brusque service, I'm willing to make allowances for the cultural clashes between us and the nationalities of the staff. We all need to be flexible and accommodating. Besides, our waitress (and waiter) seemed quite polite actually and offered no end of advice on the unusual food choices and seemed quite at home keeping their customers entertained.

The only reason I've dropped a point on service is because they allocate tables in time slots, which means they table-turn you. I'm not a fan of this and I wish restaurants wouldn't do it. I recognise that a restaurant is a business that needs to remain profitable, but it does spoil things a bit.

Personally I really liked the decor. It's a bit cramped and I'd normally frown on this, but it seems to work. Even the toilets are nice and presentable! Again it dares to be different and this is refreshing.

It is, however, quite expensive overall. I realise we're talking about unusual food here - and this brings extra cost with it. That's fine. However, something standard, such as chicken, need not be quite so expensive alongside zebra. Unless they need to make their pricing seem consistent. But I feel a score of 9 is fair.

All things considered, I would both recommend this restaurant and go back, myself - particularly when faced with the question "I fancy something different tonight".

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9

Azzurro (London Bridge)

Had a very good experience of this restaurant. Although they seemed to have lost my booking, they made every effort to honour it and we were seated all the same.

From this point on, the service and food were very good indeed and it was clear I'd made a good choice coming here.

I don't really think much of the atmosphere, however, since it felt like a jazzed-up conservatory upstairs and a very loud bar downstairs. While I appreciate the effort to keep the two separate, I still favour the venue that shows more consistency, rather than simply trying to cast a wide net and capture two markets. It just strikes me as a little desperate. But then I can perfectly understand that a restaurant is a business and they do need to make money. I could go on. In any case, it was nice enough.

No complaints about the bill either. With mains and desserts with a bottle of wine for around £40 in the shadow of London Bridge, I think one would be hard-pushed to find a better deal than that.

Monday, September 26, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

Gaucho (Hampstead)

Excellent - apart from the price.

As long as you're minted before you come here, you won't have a problem. But if you're planning to push the boat out, you won't be shocked either. I do have a problem with such high prices in what are essentially steakhouses, though. It's a hunk of meat, after all.

The food is truly excellent, however, and every mouthful makes you want more. And the staff are certainly attentive. They even wrote down the name of the wine for me because I made a comment that I liked it.

They've gone for a dark and foreboding decor, which works quite well for me. I've always wanted to come here and I'm glad I have.

I recommend this restaurant.

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 6

Viet-anh Cafe

This is a convenience stop. One comes to this restaurant for a quick bite, not for an evening meal.

The food is passable. I take the point from another reviewer that it's a bit sloppy but I wouldn't say it was too bad either. I've been a few times and never actually been outright disappointed. But it could be better if they tried a bit.

I couldn't really fault the service. Again, I take the point about card charges from another reviewer, but one is really expected to pay by cash in these places. Leaving any debates about consumer rights for another discussion, this is just the "done thing". I have no problem with this. And I think the prices are quite reasonable, considering there is competition in the area.

The only real complaint I have is the cleanliness. I always seem to end up with a slightly sticky table and there does seem to be a fair amount of dirt visible around floor edges, etc.

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 8


Quirky "concept restaurant".

Let's get the main point of this restaurant out of the way. This is the first (?) restaurant to use a point and click system to order one's food. There is no paper menu. The menu is projected onto your table and you use hand gestures to order what you want. The food then arrives as it is prepared. They make no effort to send dishes out at the same time - they just arrive as they are ready. But they tell you this before you start.

This actually works quite well, and the system even includes a few games, so you can play battleships with your friends while you're waiting.

Food-wise I was slightly less impressed. I was expecting seriously authentic food for some reason, but what arrived was quite "Europeanised". It was still very nice, though, so it gets an 8 in any case. Some of the portions could have been more generous.

The decor is very plain but it gets away with this since the table projection system has most people staring down all the time, so you don't really notice anything else!

Service is a little on the plain side. To be fair, they are only really there to complete the missing link in the ordering system (you can order from the interactive menu, but the food still has to be carried by hand). So they don't really communicate with you. This is fine, but I'm not sure how they'd cope if there was a problem.

And the bill? Not too bad. Probably about right. You're paying for pretty good food and the menu system works quite well. It's fun. I don't mind paying a little extra for the novelty.

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

The Rotisserie (St John's Wood)

Great food, for sure, but not the friendliest service!

While I enjoyed every mouthful of my steak, I wasn't too relaxed about the somewhat brusque manner of the staff. Maybe they were having a bad day, but they weren't exactly busy at the time. There seemed to be a lot of stressed rushing about and, above all, stamping! Yes, stamping. They were quite good at it.

Otherwise, the meal was really tasty. They've done a really nice job with the decor as well. It's faux-rustic and very pleasant to look at. But the experience was a bit expensive for what it is. At the end of the day it's a steakhouse, so I'm not sure how they justify these inflated prices for what is essentially a piece of meat.

By all means go - if just to try it the once. I probably won't rush back.

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5

Zizzi (Finchley)

Nice, pleasant, Italian-style chain, but nothing to blow you away.

The plus points first: It's convenient, the service is great, it's pleasant, the food is nice enough and they always seem to have some offer going (try Google).

The minus points? Not many. The menu is a bit unclear in places. That's really about it.

Would I go again? Probably, yes. It's convenient if car + cinema are featuring in your evening. Or if you live nearby. I wouldn't cross London for it. It's a chain after all, but this is one of the nicer outlets.

Thursday, June 09, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Palms of Goa

I can't see what's not to like about this restaurant. So the decor might be a bit cheesy, but everything else delivers. Actually, the decor isn't that cheesy!

But the food was really flavoursome and filling. Not overpriced. Attentive and friendly service. I can imagine this place being very busy during office lunches, so I was grateful to pay a visit during one of the quieter times.

I'd recommend this restaurant.

Thursday, June 09, 2011
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


Finally a decent Mexican restaurant! It might be slightly out of the way, but it's worth the effort. It's about 10 minutes walk from Mornington Crescent station on the Northern Line.

You'll need to spend a bit of time poring over the menu because there's so much on there that's unusual. Where other restaurants entertain with the tried and tested, this is much more in the domain of the unique. And there are several Tequila-based cocktails to keep you amused while you choose. The food, when it arrived, was amazing. Really rich flavours and impressive presentation were the order of the day.

I loved the decor. Understated but striking at the same time.

The only thing that let them down a bit is the service. It's not actually bad, just a bit flaky. In the main, it's just a bit slow. But also there seems to be some confusion about which staff are looking after which table! Finally, they said they might be a bit slow because they were busy. But less than 50% of the tables were occupied. Everything came together at the end, however. But there were some cracks showing.

And the bill? No complaints. I'd say it was about right, even if the cocktails were a bit pricey.

Thursday, June 09, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Bonds Restaurant

I booked this restaurant on the back of reviews already written and I'm glad I did.

In agreement with previous reviewers, the food really is delightful. We basically ordered items we couldn't cook ourselves and were blown away by them. Whoever is working in the kitchen knows what they are doing. I'm only knocking one point off for bits of shell in my crab salad. Otherwise perfect.

Personally, I loved the atmosphere. It's grand without being intimidating. It's spacious without being distant. It's very city. I could imagine this being the sort of place where business deals are struck. I'd like my dining room to look like this one day.

The only downside, again as some other reviewers have alluded to, was the service. Although never really a problem, it was a significant niggle. The waiters were perfectly friendly and well-informed, but they seemed to be lacking co-ordination. We received someone else's starters. Then someone else received our mains. Finally our coffee was delayed - and then doubled! In each case, they realised their mistake and corrected it within the minute. But I'm marking down heavily on this score because this restaurant wants to be top of its class.

This would not stop me going back, however.

Value? It is expensive. You know this before you go in. But you get a good package for what you pay. Remember you're in the heart of the city when you're in Bonds.

Bottom line: Most definitely recommended. Good for business meetings and impressive dates.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9

Mediterranean Cafe

Quite an interesting restaurant in a location you would not expect.

I had no idea there would be any decent restaurants on this side of Soho. At first glance, the street looks like something London forgot. But, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that someone has been busy. And no, not in the way that you think!

Mediterranean Cafe appears to be a family run restaurant, focussing mainly on Greek dishes, punctuated by occasional offerings from other countries in the area.

Service was friendly and attentive and the food was very well prepared. Atmospherically cosy, albeit oddly placed.

I would go back to try some other items on the menu!

Monday, February 07, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Bento Ramen

I'm not surprised this place pulls in good reviews. I tried this place on the offchance and I'm glad I did.

It's easy to forget that you're in Camden when you're here.

Staff are polite and attentive, food portions are most definitely on the generous side. I don't know if I could physically eat a starter and a main in here. But I'd like to try because the main I had was definitely very tasty!


Monday, January 24, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10

Da Franco Restaurant

Really really good. This is the sort of restaurant that should be in the West End in the middle of Theatreland - exactly as it is right now.

There's not much I can add to the previous reviews. The service really is good. So is the food. You really are made to feel welcome. As far as I can see, what's been written previously is accurate.

Five people eating three courses plus (soft) drinks for £27 per head can't be bad. I would have liked to have tried the wine list if I wasn't driving.

Bottom line is I'm glad this restaurant is near me, so I can easily go again.

Parking is easy enough - use local roads after 6:30pm.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10

Thai Pepper

Surprisingly good Thai restaurant in a slightly odd location. Precariously perched at the end of a parade of shops on a busy junction, one could be forgiven for overlooking this gem. But you really should pay a visit.

Staff attentive and pretty efficient, great food, cosy atmosphere. What more could you ask for? On many occasions, this restaurant has served as a great stop for a quick bite before going to the cinema across the road.

Parking is a bit of a pain, but possible. Plus it's conveniently outside Swiss Cottage station, so still easy enough to get to. At a push, one could park in the Finchley Road station area and walk down.


Thursday, October 21, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Le Pain Quotidien (South Ken)

Very nicely decorated pretentious outfit, a stone's throw from South Kensington Underground Station.

With such a nice location, so close to the station and the museums, it's a real shame they don't actually serve food. Or even their customers. We waited an inordinate length of time to be shown to a seat. During this wait, we made numerous attempts to make eye-contact with the members of staff. Each time this eye-contact was broken. Eventually we were shown to a table, after which we were effectively left to our own devices.

No-one came to take our order, even though we were playing the eye-contact game again.

Eventually we left. Not one member of staff challenged us or even noticed our departure. There were 5 staff on the floor. It's not a big place; 5 is plenty. We walked directly past 2 of them on our way out.

So I'll give credit where credit's due for atmosphere. But the food never came, so the only score I can give it is zero. As for value for money, I can extrapolate from the prices I saw on the menu and affirm that you're basically paying Kensington prices here. The fact that there's a creperie just across the road that charges about half as much seems immaterial.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 0 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 4

Gerrard's Corner

Very nice Chinese restaurant that suits many different occasions.

There is something for everyone here. Gerrard's Corner offers a tried and tested formula of doing simply things very well. You could come here after work, bring a friend, a date, your parents - just about anyone.

Food is of a very good standard. Service is sharp, but friendly. Atmosphere is a bit 80s, but nice. Carpet and soft furnishings make conversation possible. And the bill is quite reasonable.

What more could you ask for?

Thursday, October 07, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

The Coffee Cup

Strange but quite nice cafe / restaurant in prime location in Hampstead.

This restaurant is not trying to be anything other than itself and hence not pretentious in any way. It's straight out of the 50s with its decor and presentation.

Food is nice but nothing to write home about although the portions are quite large. Service can be a little scary at times (or is that efficient?). Not sure which way to call it. In any case, you won't be kept waiting long.

Value for money? More or less what you'd expect. I'd have preferred a slightly updated decor to rub down some of the rough edges, as this would have improved the experience. But overall, I was happy.

Bottom line is that this is a convenient place to know about if you're after a lazy Sunday in Hampstead. It's near the tube station. It's near the shops. It's near lots of pubs.

Monday, October 04, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7

Satay House

Great food, but only if you have the time.

The food aspect of some of the reviews on this restaurant seem to be a bit mixed and I sit on the "good" side of the fence on this one. I was impressed. The flavours and presentation of what arrived really reminded me of my days in Malaysia, which was what I was hoping for.

However.... The staff are quite slow. There is the impression that they run the restaurant in a somewhat ad-hoc fashion. For example, we were shown to our seats but then had to wait almost 10 minutes to see a menu. Times between courses were between 20 and 30 minutes. Attracting attention in order to get or pay the bill was similarly tedious.

I'm really not a fan of the new and trendy look of this restaurant. Malaysian food, as far as I'm concerned, is either cooked in the street or cooked at home. Since cooking in the street is inadvisable in London, the home look is the one to go for. The gastro pub look just doesn't suit the purpose. Sorry.

We were very happy with the bill.

Some points that may come in useful: 1) Don't even think of parking in this area unless you live here. Unlike other parts of London, it is not legal to park here after 6:30pm. It is residents' parking only. Take public transport or park somewhere nearby and walk. 2) This restaurant is a member of the "Malaysia Kitchen Dining Card" scheme. You can find out more about this through Google.

I'd go back for the food, but be prepared for the slow service.

Friday, October 01, 2010
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 8

Il Castelletto

I recommend this restaurant.

Great food, great atmosphere and a great price. What more can you ask for?

Any quibbles? Well yes, but very minor. First of all it was very quiet. I know I don't like loud places, but this was like a library. It was mid-week however, so it might be more lively at other times. I'd need to go back to check. Second was that the service was a bit scatty. There were some long delays, but given the extent to which the owner was chasing the kitchen, I believe this was a blip on the day (he was very embarrassed and gave some complimentary drinks - we didn't chase him at all - this was spontaneous).

However, I'd go back just for the food regardless. Like I said - recommended.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Fire & Stone

I'd say this place is middle of the road at best. I'm not into marking everything down as zero, simply because one aspect of the restaurant disappointed me.

I do agree (in principle) with what the other reviewers have said about this restaurant, but I'm not sure I can go the whole hog and be so venomous about it. It's very rough around the edges, but you still get a pizza and a drink and a reasonably inoffensive bill at the end of it, which is basically what one goes in for. Some of the pizza toppings are a bit weird, but the pizzas themselves seemed "okay". I wouldn't write home about them, though.

Decor might have missed the mark a bit. It seems to look quite nice on the outside, but not so great on the inside.

Service was perhaps a little inattentive, but it's not too hard to wave someone over.

I'd say if you're after an easy choice in the middle of Covent Garden, give it a go. Don't expect the Ritz - this is more like a posh or trendy Pizza Express.

Monday, September 13, 2010
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

Cafe Sol

First Tex-Mex in a while and glad I tried it. The format is very much like a Chiquitos, with the table organisation at front of house and a fairly modular menu with normal table service thereafter.

I loved the food, and my first taste of fajitas. I seem to remember ordering a few cocktails as well, but this memory is suspiciously hazy. Basically I had a really good time.

Atmosphere - very much as you would expect. Like Chiquitos, but different colour scheme. Very busy (both in decor and with people). Clearly very popular.

Service was very good, considering the juggling they were having to do. I was impressed. And they kept all this up with a smile on their face(s).

Finally it wasn't too expensive at all. Two people ate two courses and an undisclosed number of drinks for around £35 / £40. I'd go back if it were more local. Next time I'm in Greenwich, I probably will.

Monday, August 23, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Tai Won Mein (Greenwich)

For the love of all that is holy - please avoid this place.

What you're getting here is a cheap Wagamama. And if you come here, you'll probably wish you'd spent the extra £1 and gone to Wagamama instead. It's rare that I go to a restaurant, wishing the experience to end, but this was one such occasion.

Let's get the one good point out of the way: Big portions.

Okay, let's continue... Service is actually not so bad. It's along the lines of Wong Kei's abruptness. But whereas Wong Kei seems to have an underlying humour to the performance, this staff will leave you wondering if you've been understood.

Atmosphere... what do you expect? It's like Wong Kei's but cheaper. Slightly humid inside, but not necessarily unpleasant. A little uninviting perhaps.

Food was truly terrible. So terribly bland, that is. I found myself adding salt, way beyond government recommendations, just so that my taste buds didn't feel left out of the eating experience. Worst of all, some elements were uncooked. We didn't challenge anyone on this. Perhaps we should have. But we didn't want to hang around any more than we wanted to simply leave, which is what we eventually did.

Monday, August 23, 2010
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 1 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 3

San Miguel Tapas Bar

Fairly average tapas bar - sadly not authentic, but still reasonably nice.

I was actually quite happy with the atmosphere / decor. There was a nice buzz to the place and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

On the food side, some of the other reviewers may have a point about authenticity. But I didn't think it was that bad. I probably wasn't in a very fussy mood at the time, but it seemed more or less okay to me.

Service was fine. Nothing outstanding. Friendly enough, but just "doing their job".

Value for money - a little on the steep side for what you get. I'd have been happier if the food had really hit the spot, but this was "just okay". I'm lukewarm about going back. If friends were going, I'd go with them, but I wouldn't be the first to suggest it.

Monday, August 23, 2010
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6

Beachcomber Seafood

Confident seafood effort in the middle of Greenwich. As far as I can make out, there are no similar restaurants in the area, and (luckily) this one has not let its unchallenged position lead to complacency.

No major complaints about the food. Efficient, friendly, service.

Small and cosy, but still possible to have a conversation without being deafened by everyone around you.

Enjoyed and would recommend!

Monday, August 23, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


This is one noisy, crowded place! But you must surely know this before you set foot in the door.

If you go in thinking "club not restaurant", you'll probably be fine. The food is terrible. If you're starving, drunk, or both, it will fill a hole. But it's not going to get your taste buds leaping in joy over the subtle flavours.

Service was okay. I take the point about rudeness that several other reviewers have mentioned. It's true. But I do like the way one can order drinks to the table. That worked quite well. But not being herded out of the way.

Atmosphere? Well, they're clearly going for the Mardi-Gras-Every-Day angle and, considering they're in a room in the middle of London, it's not actually that bad. Normally I'd complain about the noise, but I can't really do so, given that I knew full well this was going to be an eardrum-basher about two weeks in advance. I had a great time.

Value? Too expensive. I've never liked club prices and I doubt I ever will. At £3.70 for a bottle of beer, I might as well go to Iceland - and I don't mean the supermarket.

Monday, August 16, 2010
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 2 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 3

Villa Bianca


Having the fortune to have been dining with an Italian food connoisseur, I can rate the food as a straight 10. I was unfamiliar with some of the flavours I was getting, but she was impressed. Despite the discrepancy of opinion, I enjoyed every mouthful and left nothing to waste. This applied to all of the starters, mains and dessert. We simply couldn't leave anything on the plates.

Service was really very good. But I've dropped a couple of points for two reasons. First, they are table-turners. To be fair, they did tell us this when we made the booking, so we went in with our eyes open. But it was always on our minds that we needed to be out by a certain time. The time they had allotted us was two hours, which turned out to be enough. The second reason was that they gave us the wrong bill. They did correct it, but it was a slight chink in the otherwise foolproof presentation. Otherwise very friendly and efficient. Wine waiter was very helpful.

Atmosphere was spot-on. Really nice decor. Probably mid-90's-trendy-black-and-white effort. Piano (and pianist) upstairs as well. Do note, that there was a wedding reception on at the time, so I can't say whether the pianist is always there, however. Ask when booking (if you're interested). Really nice use of space and not crowded.

Also very good value. Considering two people ate three courses plus wine for less than £100 in a reasonably posh restaurant, I'd say this is one to come back to.

Monday, August 16, 2010
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

Ping Pong (South Bank)

This isn't such a bad place, but it's not that great either. If I were to be fair, I'd say it's just above average, but enough to be reasonably happy about going there.

I like my dim sum, but I agree with some of the other reviewers in that you're not that far from Chinatown, so why not go there? Personally I felt that the dim sum was more authentic at the New World restaurant, but that's just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

The service was fine if not a little confused. I certainly didn't see any of the rudeness that some other reviewers have mentioned. If anything I thought they were quite friendly - and also quite flexible. For example, I mistakenly placed an order with a waiter who I didn't realise was carrying about 20 plates at the time, but he handled it, rather than try to pass the buck.

I wasn't too keen on the atmosphere, despite the fact it looked quite nice. It's all hard surfaces, which creates the ultimate echo chamber. From the outside it's the height of cool. But on the inside I really had trouble hearing my partner.

Value-wise, it's not a bad deal. We ate pretty comfortably and spent around £30. One can't complain.

Remember, this is a quick stop and go place - you don't come here for the long haul. It's "bums on seats, eat and leave". If you keep that in mind, you'll have a great time.

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

Jamie's Italian (Canary Wharf)

This place really seems to be taking a beating and I can't see why! Is it so profoundly bad that it deserves the flaying that seems to be coming its way? I'm not sure I agree.

The service was the best part of this outing by far. Everything was delivered in a timely manner. Everyone was friendly. I couldn't fault it.

Food was very good. I had an authority on Italian food with me. While some dishes were, admittedly, a bit of an oddity, many others were most definitely authentic. I did find some of the mains a bit small, or lacking in ingredients. But my only real gripe was that I tried the chips with truffle oil only to find there was not much truffle taste.

Atmosphere - bit of a sticking point for me here. It was a bit loud and echoey. I don't like echoey. The ceiling was the usual "keep everything bare and expose the aircon ducting" approach, which I feel is getting a bit old. And I really wasn't keen on the chairs! But the overall visual experience was positive. An interesting mix of rustic and modern which, mostly, worked.

Value - I'd have given more points if the portions had been more generous, but we were very full by the end of it anyway. For two people we had wine, cocktails, 3 starters, 2 mains, 1 side and 2 desserts for just over £60. I don't think that's too bad at all.

Good job well done.

Thursday, July 08, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

New Saigon

I basically agree with the previous reviewer, although I'm prepared to give a little more credit where I think it's due.

For my thoughts on the food, read the review below mine.

However, I did feel that the restaurant had some atmosphere and charm, so I'm prepared to give a few points in that direction. Also service wasn't actually that bad. Better than average, I'd say.

While the bill wasn't that high in terms of monetary value, the quality of the food is part of what "value for money" is considered to be. So not a great score on that front I'm afraid.

Sorry. If you want food from the Far East, opt for Thai and walk up to Pad Thai (towards the station, then about 200m more along the same road).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 3 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

Puji Puji

A couple of points before you come here: 1) Bring your own bottle. 2) No credit cards

Okay, now that's out of the way, this is a great restaurant. I agree with the other reviewers here. The food really was quite close to the real thing. Satay was excellent. Mi Goreng too. Only observation was that the beef rendang was a bit tough, but the taste was right there.

The interior reminded me of a couple of restaurants I've visited in Penang, so I was quite taken in by the theme. It's a bit small, though. Not that this is anyone's fault. I hear this place can get quite crowded at the normal busy times. I went on a school night, so this wasn't a problem.

As for value - given that there are basically no drinks charges, you get a pretty low bill. The fact that you can take your own bottle is both great value for the customer and very flexible. If you forget wine, there is a shop just outside that will cover you.

The lack of credit card facilities is a bit annoying, but not a major problem, as there is a cash machine just outside.

I wish this restaurant were closer to me, as I would go back very soon. Regardless, it's on my shortlist. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

The Good Earth (Mill Hill)

Pretty average restaurant with good food, high prices and the most awkward parking in the world.

I liked the food. Honestly. I thought it was really nice. Some of the portions were on the sparing side, which was a shame, but what arrived was nice.

Service was the best aspect in that it was attentive and courteous. It was never difficult to get anyone's attention and all queries were answered promptly.

The decor was pretty standard fare. Nothing particularly outstanding, but quite nice. Very very clean.

The only real disappointment was the price. I felt it was too steep relative to the size of the portions.

Lastly, if you're driving here, consult the map before you leave, park on a backstreet somewhere and walk. Don't do what I did and circle the roundabout a dozen times, wondering what to do!

I wouldn't avoid this restaurant. But I wouldn't make a bee-line for it either.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


A credit to Finchley.

Very friendly, efficient and courteous staff. Fresh, tasty and generously portioned food.

Slightly odd location, though. But then options (for businesses) are somewhat limited in Finchley. One can't complain.

Sometimes they open the front of the restaurant during good weather, which I think is a nice touch. It's a pity we don't have more of a street dining culture in this country. This restaurant looks like they would want to take advantage of it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

The Kensington Creperie

Excellent experience overall. Quite rare to find a creperie in London.

Hard to find fault with this restaurant. Very authentic European experience and very friendly service. Very nice atmosphere. Very nice prices.

Only (very minor gripe) was that it was a little cramped, but this isn't really a problem.

It's a little out of my way, but I will go back next time I'm in the area.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10

Feringgi Bay

I'm so glad this one is a local for me. This is a relatively new restaurant that came to the area shortly after Oriental City closed down. And I'm glad they did.

Having eaten from the hawkers in the real Feringhi Bay in Penang, Malaysia, I'm happy to say that this place does deliver the authentic goods. I've just come back from what I think is my 8th or 9th visit in about 10 months of knowing this place.

I'm always made to feel welcome here, whether on my own or with a friend and I've recommended it to several people now.

The price is always very good indeed. You can eat yourself full here for around £10 a head.

It's not very atmospheric though. But it isn't trying to be. This is a hawker stall in the middle of Colindale. Hawker stalls don't have decor. Neither does this place. But everything else is spot on and delivered just like it is on the other side of the world.

I'm certain to be going back.

Monday, June 07, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10


It's rare to find a Malaysian restaurant in London, and, owing to my Malay heritage, I was naturally curious.

It's not bad. But I didn't think it was *that* good either. As I type this review, I'm wondering how fair it is of me to compare the food here to that found at hawker stalls in Malaysia. But then what other basis of comparison do I have? By what other standard can I judge this food as authentic?

In any case, they definitely do a good job. In a city that seems to lack Malaysian restaurants, you could do worse than come here.

The staff are really very good and appear at all the right moments. No-one is kept waiting.

The restaurant itself is very clean-cut and smart. Noise levels are fine, so conversation flows easily. The location seems a bit remote, however. Not that this is a major problem. It's within reasonable distance of Farringdon station if you don't mind walking a bit.

It's not cheap, as I think one other reviewer also remarked upon. The bill won't shock you, but I did think it was a little on the cheeky side. We didn't order much that strayed from the middle of the road, so we were expecting a different monetary result, that's all.

Otherwise recommended.

Monday, June 07, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Galvin at Windows

I don't understand why this place is taking such a beating! I really liked this restaurant.

I went with a large group as part of a workplace outing. Despite the size of the group, they managed to get us served very promptly and efficiently. Food was very good indeed and everything fitted nicely into the lunch hour that we had.

Service is somewhat on the pompous side, as some have mentioned. But, if you walk into a restaurant in a Hilton, what do you expect? In fact, I'd go so far as to say that, in the same way as some would go to Wong Kei for the rudeness, some would come here for the pomp and ceremony. It's part of the experience.

Great views of London in a great venue.

Money-wise... small confession. We'd booked under a special offer, so were shielded from the normal price. However, looking at the prices listed on the menu, I'd have still been happy to have paid.

Monday, June 07, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Smollensky's on the Strand

Lots of hype, but the reality is somewhat mixed.

Food was somewhat disappointing. This is one of those places that seems to do a few things very well but struggles with the rest of its own menu. My food came out a bit dry and overcooked.

Otherwise, everything else is fine. Service is great. Very polite. Atmosphere... a bit loud, but not too deafening. I thought the bill was a bit steep, but they do have a (bit of) a name to speak of, so one can't really complain.

I was hoping for a more polished experience, but this was a bit rough around the edges.

Monday, June 07, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Pretty good Indian restaurant in a good location. It's in the middle of Kentish Town with about 5 pubs (possibly more) within walking distance. If you like your beer and curry combination, this may be for you.

Service very efficient and courteous. Standard curry menu. Good food coming out of the kitchen. What more could you want?

Decor was a bit cold and soul-less, but it probably doesn't matter! If you're from (or moving onto) the pub, you're probably not too bothered by this!

Food is a little more spicy than the Bengal Lancer, down the road. Just so you know...

Friday, June 04, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

The Ottomans

I agree with the previous reviewer. It's an alternative to Durum, across the road.

The atmosphere is more relaxed though, in that you don't feel the place is ready to explode at any moment, so this allows one to enjoy the meal a bit more. But, as has already been said, it's not cheap. Not too expensive either.

In this restaurant's case, I'm happy to say that I've tried it once but I doubt I'll be going back unless a group of friends want to go.

Thursday, June 03, 2010
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5

Oriental Star

This is a very convenient place to get a quick bite of oriental food.

Don't expect a restaurant with all the trimmings, though. This is more of a canteen. You do all the running around. They just cook the food. The system here is that you place your order at the counter and pay on the spot. In return you get a ticket. Then you sit down and wait for your number to be called, at which point you go and collect your food.

Standard of food is pretty good. It won't be winning a Michelin star any time soon, but it will keep most people happy. Portions are basically on the generous side.

There is no atmosphere. Like I said, this is a canteen in the middle of a busy street. It caters for people in a rush.

Prices are wallet-friendly. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 03, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 9

Man Chui III

I have to disagree with the overly positive reviewers here. Don't be fooled by the Emperor's New Clothes. It's good. But not that good.

The food and service are great. That much is certain. But you do pay through the nose for it. As much as I try, I can't justify the price against the experience.

Personally, I'd say the service might even be a little too much for what they're serving. Taking a step back, there is little to separate this from other Chinese restaurants I've been to. Still, it does improve the experience.

Wait until payday to come here. Or make sure you can split the bill! This one is steep.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5

The Bengal Lancer

This restaurant has changed a bit over the last few years, most notably in that it's lost it's former front entrance and bar area. This is fine, since the seating area is unaffected and, from a customers' point of view, that's the important bit.

It's possibly a little over-staffed, but at least you know you won't be kept waiting during a rush. They're very attentive; perhaps edging towards pushy, though. But if you keep a cool head and know what you want, you won't be pressured into ordering things you don't want or need.

I've always liked the food here, but lately I've noticed a marked drop in spiciness! They shouldn't worry about offending local palates. Most Londoners can handle most things and know what they're getting if they walk into an Indian restaurant!

As for price - no problems here. They're also quite generous with special offers, if you have one. There has never been a problem having one honoured and indeed they appreciate the increased custom.

I look forward to going back.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Green Cottage

This is a great place for a quiet dinner or a family outing. It really does cater for all.

Service is attentive and the food is always of a high standard. Personally, I do find the atmosphere a bit tired. It has definitely had at least one refit since the 90s, but I think I preferred the old look. That's just a matter of taste though.

And when the bill arrives, you'll be happy.

It's about half-way between Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road tube stations and I'd advise you to reach it by tube, as parking can be a pain unless you're lucky or don't mind a short walk.

I'll go again. It's on my shortlist.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9

Butlers Wharf Chop House

I was expecting a lot from this place, having walked past many times and been recommended many more. It's not Mayfair, but it thinks it is.

My main gripe was with the service. At times pressure-driven. At other times non-existent. This was mainly evident in the bar area, as the restaurant area was run very differently. But, as it's one business, it's one team, so one player spoils it for the others, I'm afraid.

As we arrived, we were asked if we wanted to have drinks at the bar and take them to our table. We declined, only to be asked again. This is unacceptable. When a customer gives you a response, it is your job to go away and respect that response - not to question it and apply pressure to get an answer more to your liking.

After the transfer to the restaurant section, everything went a lot more smoothly. It's just a shame that the food wasn't quite up to the standard that the price implied. Sirloin steak should not be such hard work on the jaws as this was. Furthermore, their chips were most decidedly undercooked. Wine is vastly overpriced. If they want to price themselves squarely in the corporate event bracket, that's fine, but don't expect me to appreciate it. And for the love of.... please find a better cut of beef.

Atmosphere? Yes, fine. You're on the river. You can see the bridge. I was too annoyed by the staff by this point. Have a 6.

Lastly, as we left, we couldn't access the cloakroom for lack of staff! We must have waited between 5 and 10 minutes before we were noticed.

Interestingly, my partner had no problem with anything described above. So do bear in mind that what you've read is only one person's opinion.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 6 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 4

Belgo Noord

I find myself in agreement with the previous reviewer. This restaurant differs vastly from its Covent Garden cousin in many ways. For a start, you're actually welcome here. Their customers are their friends!

Service is quick and efficient. They don't seek a rapport with the customers; they're simply after doing their job in a no-nonsense fashion. But this isn't unfriendly. It's just very quick. They will take the time to help you through the drinks menu, though. Fruit beers, as is the norm with Belgos, are available here and always keep me happy.

The atmosphere is totally different from that of Covent Garden. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was a different chain. This is pure Camden. Relax and enjoy.

I don't think I'm imagining this, but the food was definitely better in this branch! As always, I went for the mussels. This is, after all, what Belgos is all about. From my point of view, a choice to go to Belgos is a choice to eat mussels, chips and strange beer.

I'm looking forward to going back! It gets quite popular at the usual times of the week, so you may want to book.

Friday, May 28, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


What an overrated excuse for an Italian restaurant! Something is telling me that their long-running success is causing them to get complacent.

I simply can't say much for the service. At best I'd say there has been an enormous transfer of effort from the staff onto the customer. They seldom notice when anything needs to be done at the table; the onus is on you to point it out. Furthermore, there is something of an air about the staff - something between arrogance and self-importance comes to mind. I'm not sure why. This is, after all, a restaurant under a railway bridge in Golders Green and not the Ritz!

The food probably wasn't so bad but it was sort of drowned out by the attitudes and egos of the others in the restaurant. Despite this, I have to say it was unremarkable. I finished it, but mainly because I was hungry.

Too expensive for such a lacklustre experience. If you're in London, there are thousands of restaurants to eat in, so you need not worry too much if you omit to try this one.

Friday, May 28, 2010
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 4 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 1 | Value for money 3

Pad Thai

This is a much-needed Thai restaurant for Finchley!

I've tended to visit on quieter nights, since the place can get a bit echoey, which I'm not a great fan of. It's quite cavernous inside, which is nice in some respects, but can also make you feel a bit small!

Always liked the food. I've probably been through most of the menu by now!

Service is very good! They can be so polite it borders on embarrassing! But I keep going back, so it must be a draw.

Value-wise, it's a breath of fresh air. This is a decent restaurant that delivers the goods for a fair price. It can get quite busy at the social end of the week, so book a table if that's when you plan to go.

Friday, May 28, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9

Two Brothers Fish Restaurant

Pretty dated restaurant serving great fish!

Service is of the family-run kind. In fact, as I think back to my visit, I'm quite sure it is. Certainly very friendly but with a quirk here and there.

You could probably order just about any fish cooked any way here. But I prefer to stick to the menu! As long as you like fish, you'll be fine here. Drinks were a bit limited, but I suppose this is really just a jazzed-up fish and chip restaurant.

I do wish they would redecorate though. I know we've just come out of a recession, but please? They've been around for a long time now, so there must surely be something in the kitty.

Value? Well, possibly a tad more than I'd like to spend on fish and chips, but it is nice and everything is very pleasant.

I'd go here on a family outing, but probably not a date.

Friday, May 28, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Blue Pacific

I've been visiting semi-regularly since this restaurant's inception. After a slightly shaky start, they have managed to mature and find their feet. These days you can be assured of a decent meal done well.

I agree with the reviewer who said that these staff don't know how to be rude. The word probably doesn't enter their vocabulary. They might make a few mistakes out of naiveté, but there is no arrogance or intent to speak of.

Food-wise I love it. Being half-Malay, I disagree with the reviewer who remarked on the lack of authenticity. I've visited (Blue Pacific) recently with this comment in mind and can't see what the problem is. Bear in mind that we're not actually *in* Malaysia and certain ingredients can be hard to source. So you make the best job with what you have. As I've not been disappointed, I give a high mark.

Personally, I've never really thought highly of the restaurant space. It's very smart and clean-cut, but there's a feeling of being crowded and in someone else's way all the time. Plus, every table seems to be too close to something else - the door, the bar, the loos, etc. So everywhere is a high-traffic area!

As for the price - pretty standard fare. You won't be too shocked and that's why I'm a regular customer.

Friday, May 28, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

Matsuri (St James's)

Let's be straight about this: You go to this restaurant to see food being cooked in front of you. It's part of the show. What arrives on your plate is perfect, but you may need to take out a loan or be the owner of a small TV company to pay for it.

Food-wise, it's quite obvious that everything is fresh. Given that you see raw ingredients turn into cooked ingredients right in front of you convinces me of that fact.

The service is second-to-none. From the waitresses that manage the tables to the chefs that prepare the food, everything is delivered with a flourish - sometimes literally (we saw steaks somersaulting on the hot-plates at one point). Best of all, this is not packaging without substance; what you get really does taste quite good.

I find the place very atmospheric. Some might regard it as slightly spartan, somewhat reminiscent of the interior of a Star Trek conference room. But I felt as though I was in the middle of a Tokyo restaurant, which is what this place is all about.

My only gripe was the bill. It was far too much I'd say. This is obviously not a problem when the company is paying, but if you're using your own funds to foot the bill, you might feel a bit of a sting.

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 5

Las Iguanas (The O2)

Did I go to the same restaurant as the reviewers before me? I'm pretty sure I did! Come on, people, it wasn't really that bad, was it?

I went for my usual fajitas and found there was nothing wrong with it. It all arrived pretty quickly and tasted just fine. I'm thinking quite hard as I write this, so as to be sure I wasn't looking at the place through tinted glasses.

The layout is far simpler than its south bank cousin and this worked a lot better for me. I didn't like the echoey acoustics of the other venue. At least in here I could hear myself think.

Service was above average but not exceptional. Nothing wrong with it. They came across as new to the job and doing their best and I'm sure most people can be sympathetic to that.

It's location is a little odd, being in an artificial "street" under the old millennium dome. I'm not sure what will happen to it after the dome is decommissioned not that long from now. But, today, it's standing and serving perfectly reasonable food for a reasonable price.

So if you're on your way to a gig, you could do worse than stop here for a bite to eat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

Pizza on the Park

I think I was trying (very hard) to convince myself I was having a better time than I actually was. The Pizza on the Park isn't actually that bad. Personally, I quite liked the food, but the service was, as one other reviewer quite eloquently put it, fatigued. And I think they might need to work on the correct way to bring wine to a table!

The restaurant itself wasn't bad at all though, although I did mind the somewhat lengthy trek to the loos!

I know this is in Chelsea, but I'm not sure I understand why that means I should pay over the odds to eat bread, tomato and cheese! It was tasty though.

Not sure I'd go back. As I said, it's not that it's bad, it's just that I don't feel the need to trek across town when I know it's not going to be an outstanding experience.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 4

La Porchetta (Camden)

Yet another decent restaurant on Chalk Farm Road. One day I'll have reviewed all of them!

It's simple, but it's done very well. And with just about everyone selling you pizza these days, that's quite a tough mark to hit. Being well-placed between a few pubs and near a couple of tube stations, all this place had to do was a good job. Given that it does exactly this, it's little wonder that it's popular.

I had a great time here so I'm keen to go back.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Marine Ices

Slightly offbeat ice cream outlet that also serves food. Don't let the name fool you. It may be called Marine Ices, but you don't just have to come here for dessert. They'll cover you for the main course as well.

Although I feel this place could do with a fairly radical refurbishment, it still serves great food at a great price with pretty good service. They've been making ice cream since before many of us were born, so they're quite good at it these days.

Parking can be a bit of a pain, as they are located on a junction with lots of yellow paint, but they are right outside Chalk Farm station, so it's still easy to get to.

I really like the Chalk Farm area in general, and I'm pleased to say that this restaurant adds to it. Recommended.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8

Auberge (Waterloo)

Average restaurant that doesn't fail you and is conveniently located.

This French / Modern European eaterie clearly has aspirations to be the hub of modern eating in London, but I'm afraid it's not quite hitting it. The service is a bit too rough around the edges and it simply lacks the atmosphere to make it the draw it should be. With an abundance of competitor Modern European restaurants in the same city, this one suffers next to them.

It's not bad, though. But it's probably more of a stop for passing trade than it is for regular diners.

I've been here a few times now and been satisfied every time, but I've never made the effort to travel across town for it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

Al Parco (Highgate)

Even after having eaten here, I'm not entirely sure what this place is called. Is it Al Parco? Or is it Bistro Laz? As I sit here, typing this review, I have two business cards in front of me, both for the same company address. I've been to a couple of places that seem to think there's some advantage to be gained by inexplicably confusing the clientele, but I personally find it neither big nor clever.

That aside, the restaurant itself is actually quite charming and the food is enough to impress. It's also lucky enough to have a reasonably good spot although you probably need a car to get to it.

The service was a bit lacklustre, but they got the right things to the table. There was little customer-waiter/ess interaction. This is not strictly necessary, but it does add a nice edge to an evening.

I went to this restaurant as a concerted effort, with a table booking, etc. However, I feel this is really aiming at those who have just stumbled off Hampstead Heath and need an easy meal before moving on.

It's middle-of-the-road, but seems to harbour aspirations to be much more. You should go and form your own conclusions by all means!

Monday, May 24, 2010
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

The Oxford

I really like this pub. I'll declare that now. It's a nice balance of Camden Town eccentricity and suburban mellow. I spend a lot of time in here. But I don't always eat here.

Basically, I wasn't disappointed with the food. The portions were enormous and took me some time to get through. In fact, everything seemed to work rather well apart from one thing, and that's the service.

It's hard to articulate on this point, but what I essentially found was that the restaurant seemed to be at the far end of a complex network of rules and attitude problems. Some examples:

1) They start serving dinner at 6pm on a Saturday. I was there just before that time and asked if I could just take a seat and wait for the kitchen to fire up. This was met, not just with opposition, but quite severe opposition - the kind I thought I left behind in primary school.

2) When I got my seat, I was told that the kitchen was running a bit late by about 15 minutes. Not a problem. But I jokingly said I didn't need a menu as I'd already chosen. Rather than invoking the sort of banter I'd hoped it would, I was told, again quite severely, that they still wouldn't be taking orders before 6:15pm. Why do this? There really is no need. Just chill the hell out for the love of....

Other than that, the food is good, but I might try a few other places, next time I'm in the area. I will go back one day, though. But next time I'll take a cane so they can flog me as well.

Monday, May 24, 2010
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 8 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Belgo Centraal

Tough call this one. I basically like Belgo, but there is so much room for improvement. For some reason, the Covent Garden branch suffers from the "you're lucky to be here, now spend lots of money in our bar before we allow you to sit down" mentality. Not acceptable. We're doing *you* a favour by turning up. Remember that.

Now, everyone knows the mussels are a bit bland. So you go here informed. I know they're bland, but I'll still order them and try all the various flavours of blandness as I do! That's really what this place is about: mussels, chips and beer.

As for the service, I think my opening gambit conveys my general feelings...

As far as atmosphere, I'm afraid it's a bit of a noisy hell-hole. I've never been a fan of this sort of environment, but I know some people subscribe to the notion that they're not having a good time until they can raise their voice. So that's why I'm justifying my decision to give a 3/10 on this point.

As for value for money. I'm afraid I just want a much better overall experience to justify the cost. The bill is never that expensive - that is if you don't drink as many fruit beers as I do.

Bottom line - you know what you're getting. It's not a strictly memorable experience, but not necessarily a bad one either. Great for corporate nights out, though.

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 4

Ciao Bella

I was sold the idea of coming to this restaurant by a local regular but I'm having trouble saying I liked it - because I didn't.

The best part of the visit was the food, which wasn't too impressive. The ham was clearly from a supermarket packet and the cheeseboard was more board than cheese. It filled me up, though, so in one regard I can't complain.

Service was brusque, though brisk. Throughout the meal I felt as though I was being rushed through. But I also felt I wouldn't be kept waiting. I'm trying to allow for the fact that I was unfortunately seated in a high-traffic area, but I still felt a few cool heads among the staff would have been of benefit.

The atmosphere was my biggest bugbear. We were seated downstairs where the acoustics were so terrible, I was having to lipread my company. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there were moments the ambient noise reached nightclub levels. Too much for me.

I felt the bill was a little steep for what we had. Probably fine for a corporate event. But I wouldn't bring a date here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 5 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 3

The Alice House (West Hampstead)

I'm quite keen to go back to this place. While I find it a bit too much in the evening (too much buzz isn't great for everyone), I find it really hits the spot during the day. If I worked in the area, this is where I'd go looking for lunch.

The staff are very engaging and actually stop to talk to you, which is sadly rare these days.

Food - no complaints. I particularly like their full English breakfast on weekend mornings! Enough said!

It's hard to describe the decor. Partly escapist, partly trendy. Very nice to look at though. Definitely very modern. Definitely appeals to me.

Possibly a little more expensive than I would have liked, but not a deal-breaker. As I've already said, I'm looking forward to going back. Recommended.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 8

Muang Thai

Having visited this restaurant several times now, I felt it was about time to write a review and it seems I'm in agreement with the positive reviews here.

It's easy to miss this restaurant, sitting as it does, quite modestly on Chalk Farm Road, somewhat dwarfed by the nearby Belgos, but you could do far worse than wander inside. The portions have always been generous, authentic and delivered with some of the best service in the area.

When I've been at a loose end in the area, this has been one of the first restaurants to come to mind. I recommend you try it.

Friday, May 14, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Med Kitchen (Covent Garden)

I'm somewhat surprised by the negative reviews on this restaurant. I was there recently and found very little wrong with it.

On this occasion, I had been walking for hours, so was pretty tired and achy. I asked if we could be seated at a booth with sofas, rather than hard chairs and the staff were more than happy to oblige. Nothing wrong with the service there. Nor was there any problem with the ordering and speed of service.

Food-wise I felt the portions were slightly on the small side, but I still ended up nicely full. I did feel things were slightly on the bland side, but this wasn't a major problem and certainly not enough to complain about.

I personally liked the atmosphere. It's very similar to other Med Kitchens, as one would expect. Not exactly full of soul, but very pleasant nonetheless. As with all chains, you know what you are getting and this isn't so bad at all.

Price-wise a little expensive for what you get, but, again, not enough to complain about.

The bottom line here is: It's available. You know what you are getting. It does a pretty good job. If I'm at a loose end in the area, I would visit again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Durum Ocakbasi

This is a kebab shop with seats.

I've visited this establishment a few times now and I've done my level best to like it. But I really don't.

In the first instance I find it intimidating. The staff do shout at each other, as I believe at least one other reviewer has also mentioned. There are too many tables around, which is understandable, but not pleasant for the customer. The speed of the service isn't actually that bad, but I find myself on edge, as though I need to watch my back. And my mouth. It's just too tense.

The food is actually okay and, as such, have enjoyed the consumption element of my visits here, even if I am doing so out of fear.

Can't really give much for atmosphere. It's a bit loud and echoey and there is not much in the way of ventilation. With the open barbecues at the front it can get quite hot. Not so bad in the winter, but a veritable sauna in the summer. Wear light clothing if you go.

Money-wise, it's reasonably cheap relative to other restaurants but not when one considers what it really is. Think kebab shop that lets you sit down and you're there. So, if you add about 75% onto the price you would normally pay for a doner or a shish, you're on the right lines.

Not sure I'll be back. If I'm going to buy a kebab, I'll get one from the takeaway and go home with a beer.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 4 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 4

Strada (Richmond)

Keeping up the general high standard of Strada, this member of the chain won't let you down.

It's set slightly away from the main Richmond High Street, so it's not immediately obvious, but if you happen to be strolling past , you could do a lot worse.

The staff are incredibly friendly and efficient. Service is fast. Pretty good food. What more can you ask for?

The atmosphere is a little on the spartan side, so may appeal to your tastes... or maybe not. At the end of the day, this is a chain and they're doing a pretty good job at it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Strada (Camden)

Come on, people - is this restaurant really so bad? To survive in Camden it has to reach a certain minimum standard, and this place, I think, is above that threshold more than comfortably.

So it's not Michelin-starred, but it turns out more than adequate service and food and is perfect for winding down after a stroll around the nearby Regents Park. Or gorging out after a workout at the nearby gym!

Atmosphere is nothing to write home about but it's been pleasant enough for me to make a couple of visits now and I would have no qualms about making a third.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Savoir Faire

This is a truly outstanding restaurant. I'll start my review by recommending that you pay a visit.

Everything about this restaurant is absolutely on the ball. It might look like a quirky Parisian hideaway, but it's actually an efficiently-run independent restaurant in our very own West End.

They have special 2-course deals and pre-theatre menus that are surprisingly good value and leave enough room in the wallet to fit in a dessert as well! When 2 people can eat 3 courses, decent wine and a digestif for £60 in Central London, there's not much that can be said apart from "is that right?" And it was right. That was the correct price.

Most reviewers seem to have covered the atmosphere already, but I would state that one should really aim to sit *downstairs*. That's the atmospheric bit, so you might want to be specific when making a reservation.

Service could not be faulted and we were even exchanging a few rounds of jokes with the staff. They did bring one wrong dish out, but corrected it pretty quickly, so top marks for that.

On the food front, what can I say? This must be the best French food I've had in London, so I can't see any reason why this can't be a perfect 10.

I'm looking forward to going back as soon as I can.

Monday, April 26, 2010
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

The Lord Palmerston

I had been meaning to visit this venue for some time and finally managed to do so.

The interior breaks down into roughly three areas. There is the main bar area, the conservatory and the lounge/library. At the back, there was a garden, but, given the time of year, this was not an option! I had pre-booked and was placed in the lounge/library area. As far as I'm aware, one is able to specify which area they would like to sit in when booking, although I think the bar area remains unreserved.

The lounge space was really quite nice and created a perfect atmosphere for a romantic setting. The staff were very friendly and very flexible about the arrangements. When we initially entered the building, we managed to order some pre-dinner drinks and put them on the bill for the table, which made things a lot more convenient.

Food wise we had no complaints and decided to stay for dessert. Everything arrived at just the right pace and there was no sensation of being rushed nor of waiting too long.

I would like to return in the summer to see the difference in atmosphere. What I saw was winter cosiness.

Financially, the bill was not a great surprise. We did order everything under the sun, but it still didn't break the bank. Quite reasonable, I would say. This venue definitely gets my recommendation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Piccolo Diavolo

I paid a visit to this fine establishment recently and was not disappointed.

This would be a great pre- or post-theatre restaurant, being situated within walking distance of several theatres.

Atmospherically, the place is cosy and family-run. It's a little on the bright side, so not so good if you're looking for something intimate, but if you actually want to see your company, there's nothing wrong with it. Everything is nicely spaced, so there is no feeling of being crowded.

The waiter who served us was just on the sociable side of insane. He practically sang the menu to us, and just about everything thereafter. It was a nice touch, if not subtly alarming. And worth going back for!

The food was actually very good, but I've dropped a couple of points because, like the other reviewers here, I also found it arrived somewhat on the lukewarm side. This didn't prove to be too much of a problem, however. But I would have preferred to have been higher up on the temperature scale. The menu is enormous and it can take a while to whittle down to a final choice, but the staff were patient on this front and were happy to offer a few pointers.

Value for money? No complaints. It's neither a deal-breaker nor a bank-breaker for this restaurant. Standard fare for central London I found.

This restaurant is on my list to revisit. I enjoyed the experience and would encourage others to do so too.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 6 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

New World

Why are people leaving such poor reviews for this restaurant these days? Could this be a case of "only review something when you have something to whine about"?

I decided to pay the New World a visit very recently and found absolutely nothing wrong with it. I tend to go for the dim sum because I still like the novelty of the trolleys bringing food to the table.

The only negative comments I'd make are that the decor might look in need of a lick of paint (or maybe a new carpet), and perhaps the staff look a bit bored. But the team works well and the food tastes good. And the bill never breaks the bank.

Such is my confidence in this restaurant that I'd go so far as to say it's a safe bet for a second or third date.

Monday, March 08, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

La Brocca

This restaurant is a winning combination. It's tucked away in a basement / conservatory, away from the noise of the main road and placed somewhere between a family-run establishment and the Italian peninsula.

Do not mistake this with the bar upstairs. The bar upstairs is, well, a bar. The restaurant is downstairs. The two are very different, so do make sure you enter the right one!

Once you're downstairs, you're in a charming venue in which you're made to feel very welcome. The staff are very friendly, as well as efficient and always happy to help out if you're unfamiliar with anything on the menu. They were also quite forgiving of us almost setting fire to the tablecloth.

Food portions are definitely on the generous side. After our starters, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to make a dent in the main course. They had an unusual item on the menu, which was a pizza for sharing. When it arrived, it was only slightly smaller than the table itself.

Wine was a little steep, which was a shame, but there are always house options. And they didn't make a fuss about tap water vs bottled water, which was definitely a Good Thing.

The whole experience was unrushed and relaxed. It's definitely a place to which I would return.

Monday, January 04, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 8

Wong Kei

Wong Kei is a force of nature. It's a law of physics. It's a... well, you get my drift.

I don't know how long this place has been existence, but it's possibly longer than I have been. I've been frequenting this place for over 15 years at the time of writing this and intend to continue doing so. All through this time I've not once had a bad experience.

I've marked this place highly for the very simple reason that I'm reviewing it for what it is. The staff only say two words to the customers - upstairs and downstairs. And since they do this quite well, I can only say that the service is therefore very good. They're not trying nor intending to be polite, so there's no point reviewing them on it. I've never had the words "upstairs" and "downstairs" spoken to me in quite the same way as in Wong Kei. They really do it quite well.

The food is great. I'm half-asian so feel qualified to make this statement. And if that's not good enough, the place is always full of Chinese people, so conclude from that what you will.

Atmosphere... well the roof doesn't leak, but it hardly has an ambience. A fair 5, I think. But then one doesn't go there to look at the place. One goes there to order food, eat and leave.

Price-wise I feel they will continue to be among the cheapest in Chinatown for some time to come.

Although I recommend Wong Kei's, I acknowledge it won't be to everyone's liking. It is, however, to mine, which is why about 10% of my body weight was gained here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 10

Water Margin

I thought it was about time I reviewed this restaurant. I've been coming here since I was little.

This was probably one of the first oriental restaurants in the area and I'm not surprised it's lasted this long. To me it's something of an institution these days. And their chicken and cashew nut dish is just as good now as when I was 5 years old. Basically I like their food and always have.

Not sure what to say on the atmosphere front. It's not really changed at all since the 80s. It's had the obligatory licks of paint and changes of carpet over the years, but the look of the place is just the same as it was back then. Smart and clean, but not outstanding. Understand I'm giving it a high mark because of the personal nostalgic value for me. I don't think I'm too far off target, though.

Service is very friendly and right on the money. Enough said.

And lastly, the prices are just as great as they've always been. Sure, I wasn't paying the bill at 5 years old, but ever since I've been old enough to, I've had nothing to complain about.

I think I've now lost count of the number of times I've been here. Well done, Water Margin. I wish you the best for the decades to come!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10

Khoai Cafe (Crouch End)

This place pretty much achieves what it aims to be. It's quick and easy oriental food. It's a little echoey and roomy, but this is not a problem. I went when the restaurant was near-empty, so I can't comment on the speed of the service, as I nearly had the place to myself. However, the staff were polite enough and attentive.

Food portions were perhaps a little smaller than I expected, but not necessarily a problem as I left feeling quite full.

I don't mean to sound lukewarm, as I basically quite like this place. I will be back. It's not outstanding, but it's worth a second visit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

Goldfish (Hampstead)

Before I say anything else - a quick warning. You *will* pay for water here. You don't get a choice about whether you want it or not. We were led to our table and, as we sat down, the supplied bottle of still water (that was already on the table) was opened and poured without asking. The implication was that this was simply tap water. But it was not. They charged £3.50 for this alone and it was not even 1 litre.

The best facet of this restaurant is the atmosphere / decor. It is quite unique to say the least. Think trendy art deco with an 80s undertone and you're there. They've made very good use of the space, as there isn't very much of it. This part of the job was very well done.

The service was also quite sharp. Generally non-intrusive and present without being pushy. Also very friendly. As well as efficient. Again - job well done.

The menu and the food were strange to say the least. I'm not used to seeing items like "The Pheonix of Thai". Furthermore, I found the menu quite hard to navigate in that it wasn't always clear which were dishes to be shared and which were complete meals. The food, when it arrived didn't actually impress me too much. I can speak from ethnicity on this point. What arrived was an interesting experiment in trendy oriental cooking, but it didn't appeal to my palate. That said, it was definitely very fresh. I don't think anything that arrived had ever seen a freezer.

The bill? Well it was a bit steep, as I believe the other reviewers have also found.

Overall, I'm not sure I would recommend this restaurant. It's probably quite an interesting experience for a family outing, or a group of friends. But if you're on a one-to-one date with someone special, there are plenty of other choices in Hampstead.

Friday, September 11, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 4 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5


Colindale needs a good restaurant. This is it.

Although Colindale has been my home of 7 years, I'll be the first to admit it needs something to fly the flag. Fortunately, someone has seen the sense to put this restaurant here. A welcome addition.

I can speak from ethnicity that the food is close to authentic and leave it at that. Particularly their curries. I order them whenever I can. Their menu is extensive and offers a range of dishes from the South East Asian region.

The staff are not pushy and appear at all the right moments.

The atmosphere didn't overimpress me, but it is very welcoming and most definitely a cut above the average. Acoustically it's actually very good, despite the tiled floor and hard(ish) furniture. This may be down to the approximate 1:1:2 form factor.

Particularly noteworthy was the bill. It is exceptionally good value relative to the quality of the experience delivered.

I realise this establishment is off the beaten track for many, but it's worth a visit if you're hungry and in the area. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 04, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

The Wells

There is an unfortunate facet to our culture: "only review something when you've had a bad experience". I think The Wells is suffering, unfairly, from this phenomenon. This may be something to do with the fact the locals, while probably a nice bunch, seem to be inclined to complain when the slightest thing does not go their way. Grow up, people. Why don't you stop being so childish and learn to be a bit more flexible? Perhaps you could try running a place like this and see how you manage. It's a pub, not a palace. So I'm writing this to defend this fine establishment.

I adore the decor in this place. It's offbeat but done very well. If you've only visited downstairs, try eating upstairs. It's like a posh restaurant up there. As far as I know, the same menu applies on both floors. Even the toilets are upmarket.

Food has been far above expectations on every visit. I may be wrong here, but it seemed as though the menu changed slightly each time. In any case, both the food and the choices seemed to be quite fresh.

The bill was a little steep for a pub, but I do feel it is justified in this case. You do get what you pay for. It won't break your bank, though, so don't be afraid of going.

As for the service, I can't fault it.

The only genuinely disappointing aspect of this venue is that the drinkers have been squeezed into a tiny area of a few sofas so that the restaurant area can be expanded. This becomes less of a problem late in the evening, when most people are drinking anyway, but it can be an issue in the middle of a hot summer's day!

No-where is perfect. But this place does come quite close. I'll be there again soon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 8

Las Iguanas (Royal Festival Hall)

This place wins on its atmosphere and convenient location. If you're after a place to meet a few friends after work or if you're at a loss as to what to do in the area, this is the place to come. If, however, the occasion is more important; like a first date, look elsewhere.

There's nothing actually wrong with the food as such. Only that it's not particularly authentic and some of it doesn't seem to be particularly fresh. But it won't kill you and I'm grateful for that.

The service was really not that great. My main gripe was the entry into the restaurant. People were just milling about in a jumble, so there was no clear order about who to talk to to get seated and who were simply serving drinks. I had the impression that this was one of those places where you needed to know (yourself) where to stand and what to do. The staff guidance simply wasn't there.

Beyond this, the food arrived within reasonable times and staff waited on the tables at all the right moments.

It's convenient. It's reasonably quick. But it's not outstanding.

Unfortunately the bill was a bit on the steep side relative to the overall experience. Not a major problem, just a tad disappointing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5

The Gun

This is a truly outstanding pub serving food. Other pubs suffer by it. I can only hope this place never closes down in my lifetime.

What can I say that the other reviews do not? I have been here several times and always thoroughly enjoyed the experience. On every visit I learn something new about it.

There are two main serving areas: one inside, serving modern European food and another terrace outside with a Portuguese flavour. I have only eaten inside. Come any season and the place always manages to deliver superb quality food in a cosy atmosphere with fantastic service.

It is true that the wine is on the expensive side but I am willing to overlook this in the face of the overall experience.

When your meal is over, why not stay and sample some of the dessert wines on the terrace overlooking the river?

I thoroughly recommend this venue. I will certainly be going back!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

Zuccato (Finchley Rd)

Average Italian outfit on Finchley Road.

This, slightly claustrophobic, black and steel echo chamber sits on the upper level of the O2 Centre in Finchley Road.

Overall, the place isn't so bad. I can't speak for the decor, which is a euphemism for 'I don't have many nice things to say about it'. But at least it's clean.

The food is average. Think Pizza Express or Prezzo and you're there. But it's tasty and it comes to your table on time. There have never been any long waits here.

Service is all over the shop. They're friendly and courteous, but hopelessly confused! Ironically I've always had trouble getting out of this place. It's very easy to get in. Very easy to get served. But a bit of an odyssey to pay and leave. How sweet!

To be fair, it's competitively priced. The bill will not shock you and has always been in line with the overall experience. Very handy as a pre-cinema stop.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9

Cottons (Camden)

This place seems to be taking a real beating in the reviews and I honestly can't see why. When I went I thought they had their act together quite well. I was hungry when I entered. I was full, and emotionally content when I left. It was a good evening.

I will concede their service was a bit on the slow side and perhaps a little rough around the edges, but it is possible to overlook these things if nothing is offending you. Just leave a smaller tip. Or none at all if you feel that way.

There was nothing wrong with the food we ordered. In fact, it was rather nice and I found everything to be pretty flavoursome and generously portioned.

Atmosphere is a tough call. It's multi-level, quirky and interesting. But it's also a bit tightly packed and close. It sort of works but it's touching on awkward.

I would go back. I don't think it's the hell-hole other reviewers are making it out to be. Granted it's no paradise either, but I would encourage others to give it a chance.

So I'm giving it a lukewarm review with the recommendation that you try it out when you're at a loose end.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Gourmet Garden

Someone needs to write a positive review on this place. There is nothing wrong with it! If you come here expecting the Ritz, then of course you'll be disappointed. Review it for what it is (yes, I'm addressing the previous reviewer). This is a suburban restaurant on a high street in Hendon, not a 5-star on a rooftop terrace in Monaco.

I've been frequenting this place almost since it came into existence, some time in the mid-90s I think. It has changed hands at least once in that time but I have never known the standard to drop below par.

It is true it is not exceptional, but it is also true you will not be disappointed. You will be waited upon with courtesy and be served food that will satisfy. The wine list could be a bit more varied on the reds and perhaps one or two of the dishes were a little different to what I would find in the Far East, but I always enjoy my experiences here.

The atmosphere is "just okay" - not terribly inspiring, but it's smart, comfortable and clean.

It is very normal to find this place fully occupied and by many members of the Chinese community, who clearly give it their stamp of approval.

Recommended. I will certainly be continuing my repeat visits.

Friday, August 14, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


I was suitably impressed by this restaurant. It's situated in a residential area within walking distance of Chalk Farm tube station. And it seems to have a dual identity as an eating establishment and off-licence!

The interior is multi-level, with a few tables on the ground floor and many more downstairs. I had hoped I'd be seated on the ground floor, but downstairs, I felt, was just as welcoming, if not more. The impression I had was one of a welcoming, cosy space. The tables were perhaps a little tightly packed but I find I don't mind this so much.

Foodwise I had no major complaints. It is true that some of the dishes are a little over-salted, but not to the point of suffering. The standard was very high and the portions were generous. Those who feel the portions are too large should not feel obliged to eat everything if they wish to leave room!

The service was just right. The only thing that knocked it down for me was that the proximity of the tables presented something of an obstacle for the staff! Otherwise, if you're looking for attentive, non-pushy service, this is the place to be.

Contrary to other reviews on here, I actually felt the bill was a little steep. Not so much that it was a problem, however, but steep nonetheless. However, I reminded myself how great everything had been and how much I'd enjoyed the experience and suddenly the price did seem somewhat justified.

This is a place to which I would very much like to return.

Thursday, August 13, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

The Green Room

This is a lovely little restaurant restaurant, tucked away in a secret corner of West Hampstead. It bills itself as Modern European and one can say it does the job very well.

The service was very attentive, contrary to some of the other reviews here, although there were occasional lapses of concentration, so I will concede it's quite possible they could drop the ball on a busy day. But I went mid-week and all was well.

The standard of the food was very high. My company and I had no complaints on this front.

The decor and atmosphere were fine, but... it was a bit too echoey for my liking. To their credit, they refrained from playing loud music, as this would have added to the din. I went on a mid-week summers day, when there were few customers and the front windows were open. I would imagine the acoustics to be quite different on a Friday in winter!

Pricewise, I felt the bill was a little steep for what it was. Not so steep as to cause a problem, however, but still on the surprising side! I have ordered more in seemingly "posher" restaurants and been charged less.

However, I do recommend the Green Room. And I will most likely return as it made a good impression overall and falls well within my usual stomping grounds.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

Pho (Great Titchfield St)

This restaurant is average at best. I have to echo the sentiments of the other underwhelmed reviewers on this one. So I'll make this a quick coup de grâce, unlike their service.

Food is average. The dishes on the menu repeat down the page, subtly changing one ingredient here and there, so there are, in practise, only three significantly different choices. The fruit juices were very nice though.

Service is painfully slow. My party was there during lunch and, yes, I know it was busy, but one should reasonably expect a restaurant to predict the rush and make plans to cope. We were there for 2 hours for 2 courses. Empty plates and drinks were left littering the table for inordinately long periods. The staff are authentically non-Vietnamese, which fits absolutely perfectly in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Atmosphere. Well, we could all breathe I guess, so that counts as atmosphere in one sense of the word. But it's otherwise a fairly soul-less affair that comes across as a restaurant under construction. If they got around to finishing it, it might be quite nice. Some might think it's arty, though.

Value for money.... overpriced but not breaking the bank.

If you're into being seen in a trendy venue, you'd better hurry down there before it becomes a has-been. Otherwise I'd say it's a case of emperor's new clothes.

Friday, October 17, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 4 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


This review is being written to keep the average up. I would like to echo the sentiments of the previous diners by stating that this family-run restaurant is an excellent ambassador for Hellenic cuisine.

There are actually two Lemonia restaurants on the same road, roughly opposite each other - the large one and the small one. We ate in the small one. Initially we were disappointed to be away from the buzz but what we ended up with was something of an indoor taverna.

The food was the real thing and the service was attentive without being pushy. In fact the owner(s) came to chat with us between courses, which was a nice touch.

Worth a visit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10

Fogg's Restaurant

This one pulls in a high rating on many levels.

When you visit Fogg's you are letting yourself in for two hours of culinary pampering for the discerning palate. It is located on Chalk Farm Road, nestled among the many trendy bars and restaurants of the area.

It is an ideal place to unwind after a mooch around Camden Market or even just to catch up with old friends in a cosy setting. I'd say it's worth a special trip to visit, even if you only go once.

The staff are very professional and, when I visited, showed an impressive focus given the venue was completely full. Our food arrived well within a reasonable time and we did not feel rushed to vacate the table.

The experience was extremely positive and I'm glad to have found such a place within my usual stomping grounds.

Saturday, August 16, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9


I'd rate this place as slightly above average. It tries so hard to be some sort of concept restaurant but it's all too easy to see past the gloss and realise what's beneath is in fact little more than pizza in a pub. A very loud pub. And a very echoey loud.

Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the place. I'm just saying the wool wasn't pulled over my eyes on this occasion. And I felt it was trying to do just that. I went in for food more than beer. We were shoehorned into a table that wasn't quite the right size for my party and thereafter found that service was only provided if you could get the staff's attention.

Now the operative word there is "if". They seemed somewhat adept at avoiding eye contact and the acoustics were so bad that even the most carrying voice was lost in the cacophany. I would have given the service a 5, but they were doing a good job on a busy evening, so it's worth an upgrade.

The food was good, but that was about it. Oh and it's not too expensive. But, for me at least, it ends there.

I'd go again, but probably only if someone asked me.

Friday, August 15, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

40 The Hill

This should be quite an easy review to write. Just need to keep the scores up.

Everything (positive) that needs to be said about this restaurant appears to have already been said. Food - excellent. Good enough to warrant a repeat visit. Definitely good enough to point out to the staff.

Value for money was remarkable. With generously-sized portions such as these, coupled with the level of service received, one would be expecting to pay significantly more. That's not a cue to raise prices, by the way!

Our visit took place on a Saturday evening around 8pm, but the restaurant seemed to be a little empty for that time. This is not to say it was completely empty - but there were just a few more vacant seats than one would normally expect for the time. This isn't a major point, however, and may be down to the fact it was January.

All in all it was worth the trip to Wimbledon and I have no qualms recommending anyone to stop by.

Monday, January 28, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


At this time of writing, I feel Quaglinos is taking something of an unfair beating. I went in a party of 6 and found that the service was, on the whole, quite good. Now I'll repeat "quite good". I do agree it's not the mindblowing experience you would expect with the reputation it has. But it's certainly not awful either.

My only complaint about the place was a sensation of being herded around. We were ushered into the bar area at first because our table was not ready (even though we were on time). But they didn't track where we were. So, when our table did become ready, they had to hunt around the bar area looking for us. Then there was a moment of disorganisation in the dining area as it had not been made clear which table we were supposed to sit at.

The acoustics are a little echoey, but this is not at the expense of being able to hold a conversation. The space is nice, but I'm wondering if it's had its day. Although I found it a pleasant place to be, there was something nagging inside me that felt the place could do with an update.

Aside from the disorganisation, the service was very good. The waiters saved the day with their promptness, efficiency and knowledge.

We generally felt the food was very good although not quite excellent.

Overall, I would stand up for Quaglinos and say it's worthy of one's patronage. But I do agree they should rethink a few points. They definitely need a system of tracking where they are with the customers in the bar. They also need to improve the interface between the bar and the dining area.

Would recommend it.

I would go back. Probably not immediately, but I'd have no reservations about it, either.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7

The Freemasons Arms

Since the renovation, this pub has gone the way of many of the butchered atmospheric pub to become..... the same as everyone else. Don't get me wrong, it's very nice to look at and it's all very tasteful. But it's not unique. There is no soul - only pastel.

I took my parents here for my mum's birthday and, thankfully, the food was spot on. I won't go into details about what was ordered, etc - only that we were happy in this respect.

So where did it go wrong? Well, it started with the table booking itself. I was told no table was available at the time I requested, so I took an earlier table. At the time I requested, only 2 or 3 of the many tables were occupied, so I'm not sure what they were talking about there.

At the end of our meal, we were asked to leave the table as they needed it for the next set of guests. Many of the tables around us were still unoccupied.

Then came the gobsmacking moment. When paying the bill, they asked me directly if I wanted to leave a tip. This is no-one's place to ask but I decided to leave one anyway. Then they took 6 (yes six) attempts to process my card, making me enter my pin each time. When the payment was finally processed, I noticed I had been subtly overcharged. For this, I obviously demanded a refund and return of my tip for being so cheeky. The refund took two further attempts. The manager was very blasé about the fact that my mum's birthday was being run into the ground on the final hurdle.

So I give 1 point for service because they did bring the food out.

When we left about 15 minutes later, the table we had occupied had still not been taken by the next guests. So there was no need for us to be moved on in such a hurry after all.

The following day, my credit card company confirmed the bill, but no refund. Several emails later, the management of the pub had chased the refund but said I needed to wait up to 14 days for it.

No compensation was offered for the time I had to spend chasing this up or the fact that this ruined a special occasion.

By all means go here, but please please please use a credit card. At least that way you have greater protection from any unfortunate "sleight of hand" (or what they like to call "genuine mistakes") when it comes to paying the bill. Oh, and have a thick skin for the prospect of being bullied off your table.

Otherwise, the food's good.

Monday, November 19, 2007
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 9 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

The Magdala

We visited this place last October and plan to return. Their starters were perhaps a little lacklustre but they redeemed themselves from that point on. We both ordered their steak, cooked to varying degrees, and nothing failed to disappoint.

We also added a late order of sides, which they handled speedily and professionally.

They even remembered us personally from the time of having made the table booking. A nice touch.

All in all, this was a really solid night out. Their wine list was extensive enough to have something for everyone and we had no trouble choosing something to go with our choice of main.

Dessert was enormous. We had to leave it unfinished.

The place has a great atmosphere and evidently many repeat customers, judging by the first-name terms many of them were on.

Monday, November 12, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Mimmo La Bufala

Why is everyone leaving such unfair reviews about this restaurant? Time to redress the balance.

Last time I ate here, I was not disappointed. It is true that the food can take a while to arrive, but is this such a major problem? I don't think so. We're not talking cripplingly long waits here - just an extra 10 minutes or so. Let it go.

I do agree there is something missing with the service, but I'm not sure I could possibly describe it as rude, as others have. At the very worst it's indifferent.

So what of the food? I say all in all not bad. Our mains and sides all arrived together, cooked to specification and exactly as described. Portions lean towards the generous side. Possibly slightly lacking in flavour, so I'll drop a point.

Personally, I really liked the space with it's plain walls and strange art. The ability to view the kitchen is always a plus for me.

So what's wrong with it? I can't think of much. I genuinely believe certain past reviews have shown this restaurant in an unfair light and urge everyone to give it a chance.

Monday, November 12, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Great Nepalese Restaurant

I'm really only writing this review to keep up the score of the other reviews. This place is great! Some of the decor is starting to date but who cares when the food is this good?

This is the sort of food that you want to take slowly, to make it last longer. But you can't, because it's so tasty. You end up cramming it in your mouth like you've never eaten before.

The service, we felt, was spot on. It was non-intrusive and staff appeared at all the right moments.

Then the bill arrived. Only £50 all in. That was for two people ordering two starters, two rice, three main dishes, two drinks and two desserts, all of which was at a very high standard. Beat that.

Saturday, August 25, 2007
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10

Locanda Ottoemezzo

I have to be brutally honest on this one. I felt it was a tough call.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great time here and the restaurant is a gem. The food was some of the best Italian food I've had in a long time. The service was, for want of a better word, charming and the various nooks and crannies of the venue gave the place a very cosy feel (even if the plastic chairs were a bit odd). My only gripe is this: I personally think it's too expensive relative to what you get.

Yes, it's trendy and yes, it's in the middle of Kensington, but £50 per head for a standard 2-course meal? I thought that was a bit steep.

So enough said on that. I DO recommend this restaurant because I don't believe the cost should be a barrier to a pleasant evening out. Just be aware, that's all. Well worth a visit.

Thursday, July 26, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5

Bengal Spice

You will be made to feel welcome here. We came to this restaurant blind, in that we did not read any reviews beforehand. And we can now confidently state that nothing has changed in the standard of this restaurant since the last few reviews were posted here.

The main element that struck me was that it was incredibly good value for money. We ate until it was physically impossible to continue and the bill came to £18 per head, including drinks and tip.

There's not a lot to let this restaurant down. If you're at a loose end in the area, you won't feel disappointed here.

Monday, July 16, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

La Piazza (Villiers St)

This restaurant is very much like a breakfast cafe with the decor and atmosphere. But they're trying to be much more. And they're not.

The starters were fine. We went for their garlic mushrooms. All good so far. But the pizzas were extremely chewy, like rubber. We decided to tolerate it. Then the cracks appeared. First, they removed our plates while we were still chewing food. Is this right? I don't think so.

Second, two customers, who were leaving before us, pointed out they were not happy with their food or the service. The manager responded with a "tough luck" answer. They left. Lastly, the staff allowed a rose-seller into the restaurant. Not a bad move in itself but I reserve the right to ignore these people. They do not have the right to place a rose on the table if I haven't asked for it. So I admit I lost my rag with the guy. The staff should have intervened but only did so when I asked them to. Up until this point, they had merely been looking on as if the incident were some kind of spectator sport (as opposed to them actually doing their job).

I refused to pay their service charge on the basis that the rose seller had been allowed to harrass us. They obliged but what followed should have been a feedback-giving exercise. It evolved into a full-blown argument. In short, the restuarant refused to acknowledge their wrongdoing. Unbelievable. In front of the other patrons I was called a bad customer and told I should be ashamed of myself.

Avoid. There are other Italian restaurants. I lost my money. Don't lose yours.

Friday, June 22, 2007
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 4 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

First taste of Ethopian food and not disappointed. This is somewhere I'd easily bring a few friends for something different. The format is one of a very informal family-run restaurant.

The food was very interesting - we opted for a mixed platter (because we didn't know what to choose) and it was a visual and gastronomic feast.

Service was a tough call though. We had some frustratingly long waits. 30 minutes per course wouldn't be an exaggeration. But they clearly took a pride in their restaurant and this showed.

We'll be back, but probably earlier (in the day) than before, to account for the waits involved.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Bengal Quay

This place needs to be shouted about. My partner and I visited on a Saturday evening and were not disappointed. I will agree with the other reviews in that this restaurant is oddly-placed, away from the central buzz of Canary Wharf. However, on talking to the staff this would not seem to be a problem for them with their Friday nights routinely seeing just about every table occupied.

The food and service are second to none. This is *the* team. They work flawlessly. And enough people have commented on the standard of the food, there's little point repeating it.

I've dropped Atmosphere to 8 because it is right next to the DLR (practically under the track). While this was a novelty at first, it did start to get a little long in the tooth towards the end. But not enough to spoil the evening.

This restaurant is definitely on my shortlist.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Little Bay (Kilburn)

Have been to this restaurant a couple of times. On entering, it is a very charming venue with tables on the ground floor being set into their own alcoves and split-levels. Downstairs is a larger area where most diners will end up.

We found the food was above average but not mind-blowing. However, for the price one couldn't complain. One minor point was that the menu was a bit confusing. Some of the main courses come with vegetables. Others do not and require side dishes to be ordered separately. Some clarification!

Atmosphere - a point of contention here. It's loud and acoustically bad! But this is an opinion. Some like it loud. I like to think and take it all in. Okay for some.

Service was okay - no fancy trimmings but no complaints either.

Would go back as it's great value for money, but not top of my list.

Monday, April 16, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 9

Le Cellier du Midi

This restaurant does well at what it's trying to be. It's trying to be a family-run business with a cosy atmosphere.

Yes, it could be said that the decor is slightly dated but I wouldn't go so far as to call it depressing. It's just a little dark. However, I feel this is more than made up for by the general ambience and location of the restaurant. Where else can one feel at home in a basement? They've done the job well.

Food was second to none. My party ate just about everything that was put in front of us. The waiter had extensive knowledge of the food coming from the kitchen and sold the specials so well we all went along with his suggestions.

Only downside is that they were a tad clingy as we were leaving. Yes we will go back. Probably soon. This place is worth a visit for a special occasion. Parking is a bit of a pain due to local restrictions (relaxed on Sundays), but if you're coming on public transport, it's within short walking distance of Hampstead tube station.


Thursday, April 12, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


This is an old-school family-run Italian restaurant. The staff really engage with you and make you feel welcome and the excellent food comes from a chef with 30 years of experience. The whole place makes you feel as though you have been welcomed into someone's home.

From the outside the place may not look like much but it is a gem albeit it very oddly placed.

We felt it lost out on atmosphere with the somewhat dated decor but did not want to mark it down too much given that there is a very strong following at this venue with regulars very much in attendance. The staff were on first name terms with many of them.

Bottom line - we are very glad we went. We had been planning it for a while but the location might prevent us returning soon.

Monday, February 26, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

St Germain

This restaurant is truly outstanding.

The staff were attentive and efficient from the start but were not pushy. The whole team were working seamlessly.

The venue is amazing. You may be aware it is an ex-printing press. Many of the original features remain. There is a dramatic black and white scheme throughout with atmospheric lighting to complement.

Lastly the food was spot on and at the right price. We only had room for 2 courses as the portions were on the generous side.

One of my favourite London restaurants.

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

The Grange Pub and Dining Room

My partner and I went for the three courses with wine routine in here. We were not disappointed.

It's definitely above-average and certainly a pleasant place to be. But we felt it fell down on the atmosphere somewhat. There is something missing from the soul of this place that makes me wonder if it was built for the summer.

There is a conservatory area which was closed off (we visited in winter), forcing the drinkers into a smaller area and hence making the dining area nosier. I think that warmer weather would really open this place out, so we will visit again.

Thursday, February 08, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

La Menara

I booked this for my partner's birthday and it was faultless.

Watch the mezze. It's big. Really big. It will feed about 4 people easily.

Cleveland street seems to have a few gems on it. It's underrated. Go there. Go. Now.

Sunday, January 28, 2007
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10

La Cage Imaginaire

You won't be disappointed. This is a charming restaurant tucked away in a secret corner of Hampstead.

It has a kookiness that appeals to us.

Anyway we thought the food was fantastic and the service could not be faulted.

We plan to go back.

Sunday, January 28, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


My partner and I visited this place in the middle of summer and the whole place was opened up like a Greek taverna (as much as is possible in London)!

We went for the works, three courses, bottle of wine and a liqueur to finish.

The service was top-notch all the way through, despite the venue being quite busy.

We have a lot of experience of Greek food and felt this place was serving the real thing. So it's authentic. We appreciate some of the reviews here are not so complimentary but we beg to differ.

The owner of the restaurant engaged his customers and made us feel very much at home.

We stayed all evening from about 8pm until closing time. The owner was in no rush to move us on. It was all very relaxing.

So top marks. We will be returning. Recommended.

Sunday, September 24, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Zizzi (Charlotte St)

I'm going to talk about the service in this review. Something has gone badly wrong at this restaurant.

For a start, I would appreciate it if the staff could wear something other than jeans when on duty. I had trouble identifying them among the customers.

Secondly, it would be nice if some of them could be around when you needed them - like when paying the bill. Here I kid you not. I actually had to phone them from my table to ask them for the bill!

I spoke with the manageress prior to leaving. She was surprised that I'd made this phone call, but not fazed in any way. I know if I were in her position, I'd be surely embarrassed. She did not offer to put things right, although she had ample opportunity.

Not sure why I left a tip.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 5

The Yellow House Restaurant

I went to this restaurant with a party of 6, two of whom were staunch regulars. So I'll write this review based on what we all said on the night.

It's simple food with very good ingredients and presented very well. Everybody has had mushrooms on toast for instance. But not like this. At home it's a snack. Here I wanted more.

It's ambitious. The head chef has an impressive CV, having worked for a big name or two in his time.

The staff are friends as well as colleagues. This comes across in the service. Everything is very relaxed and not pushy in any way.

It's also worth noting that the menu changes on a weekly basis, so there's always a turnover of courses.

I recommend this restaurant. If I lived more locally I would probably come here regularly.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

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