All reader reviews by Gareth

Murano

My wife and I had the set menu lunch on Wednesday. It was the first day of the changed set menu and it was brilliant. We had two amuse bouche, the first as best as I could work out was deep fried risotto balls made with anchovy and truffle oil(?). The next pre-strater blew us away as it was a rustic platter of salami and I guess Iberico ham served with some outstanding breads. By the time we had eaten that I was concerned about being able to finish the meal. The starters were excellent especially my mackerel "tart" that was exquisite, my mains of calves liver was perfectly seasoned and served with a delicious jus - a little more on the medium than on the medium rare but as I said, the flvour was awesome. We were then served a pre-dessert which consisted of 9 different sorbets served on an cooled tiered cake stand. Desserts were great too although how my wife managed to finish her Pimms trifle is beyond me. I saw the cheese board and it looked impressive. The coffee was excellent and we couldn't physically finish all the petit fours. All this (bar the coffee) for £25! The best meal I've had since Le Gavroche and a gulf in class compared to Wild Honey (don't go there) and Bath Priory where the service (in both cases) was shambolic. Can't wait to come here again. Final note - predominantly suits which is maybe why the service we had was amongst the most attentive I've ever had as it was clear we were there for the experience. Better here than when we ate at Angela Hartnett at the Connaught a few years back. Lovely dining room too.

Sunday, June 07, 2009
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


Wild Honey

I ate here on Thursday lunchtime with 7 guests expecting good food and good service but was greatly disappointed. The service was churlish in the extreme, and the food "thrown" at you and if you were lucky the right person got the right dish. The set menu option wasn't available for groups over 6, but if you insist on people eating a la carte, at least provide some of the extras such as an amuse bouche for example. There were no petit fours served and at £80 a head this is without doubt the worst Michelin starred restaurant I have ever eaten in both in terms of the quality of food, but most especially in tems of quality of service. The upshot of this experience is that I will not even bother to try Arbutus which has long been on my hitlist, and will certainly discourage anyone who asks me for my opinion on whether they should try Wild Honey (or Arbutus for the same reason). Every one of my friends, all of whom are experienced foodies, were of the same opinion. Desserts were especially poor. Michelin and Giles Coren - take note.

Monday, April 27, 2009
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 3


The Westerly

Ate here with wife and two children having heard excellent reviews. Overall I was somewhat underwhelmed both with the food and service, and actually felt we were there under sufference. This may have had something to do with the fact that my infant daughter was kicking off which affected my enjoyment of the meal. On the other hand, on the two subsequent occasions I have tried to eat there I was unsuccessful, on the first instance because they had a Christmas lunch booking, and the second time because they claimed they were full for lunch even though there was plenty of tables available. Good luck if you think that's an acceptable way to treat your customers but I won't be trying a third time when The Dining Room (Tony Tobin) is 50 yards away and offers better food in a more comfortable environ and is not significantly more expensive.

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


Tom Aikens

Took a day off work to meet up with a friend for lunch. Have eaten Tom Aikens before but this time was a little disappointing. I had a four course set fish lunch but the two main dishes, salmon on scrambled eggs and lemon-soaked leaves(?) had been overdone on the lemon front so tasted bitter to the detriment of the fish and egg. The pollack dish was more like it if more of an amuse bouch, but the following small fillet of pan fried red mullet was overwhelmed by the accompanying green (pea) purees.

The set menu lunch constitutes two choices per course but the starters were uninspiring and for some reason my friend's mushroom starter was overlaid with thin gelatin slices that tasted of nothing. His lamb mains was probably the best of the various starters/mains we were served. The desert was more gelatine gone mad. A nice blood orange sorbet and an accompanying cream and segmenty dessert was messed about by wrapping it in an orange coloured gelatin coat. This was served on a thick green mint flavoured gelatin slice. Way too complicated and bordering on laughable. The coffee, petit fours, one more desert, madeleines and tuiles were terrific. A glass of wine and out the door for just over £100 for both of us. Not the usual standard of cooking but I'll probably give it one more go before calling it a day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Bibendum

Went for lunch on Saturday with my son and 15 month old daughter to the main restaurant. First impressions were great - lots of room and loads of light even though it was grizzly grey outside. Although what appears to be the only highchair was in use (let's hope no-one has twins), the wrap-around seats meant my daughter could sit in comfort and enjoy trying the different dishes. My rabbit and wild mushroon lasagne was packed with flavour and my daughter loved it. My son's squid was fresh and perfectly cooked and his main of Gloucester Old Spot chop was, dare I say it, more flavourful even than one we were served at Midsummer House a few years back. My onglet, which I'd never tried before, was delicious and quite unusual flavour-wise. The desserts were by comparison a little unimaginative but were nonetheless well executed and tasty. The service was friendly and unobtrusive and as my daugher fell asleep half way through the meal this was a bonus. At effectively £30 for the set menu lunch I thought initially that it would not represent good value for money the value for money, but based on the choice of dishes available and the way they managed to get the flavours to shine through means it gets my vote and I would probably prefer to return here than Chez Bruce where I ate some very nice food the day before.

Monday, November 17, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Lots Road Pub & Dining Room

This place seems to have had mixed reviews and indeed my email enquiry regarding a high chair was duly ignored but nevertheless my son and 15 month-old daughter visited for lunch this Sunday and I have to say our experience was excellent. We arrived bang on on midday to a staff who were friendly and smiling and even had a highchair! My son's fishcake starter was hot and full of fish and my daughter enjoyed it to. The roast beef mains was excellent especially the vegetables which were exactly right and I have to go some to get my daughter to eat brocoli but she did, along with the Yorkshire pud, and carrots, and roasties - you get the picture. Also - homemade horseradish sauce - yum. Desserts were also delicious and well suited to the pretty cold drizzle. My rhubarb crumble was served with an lovely hot jug of creme englaise. Finally, the carbernet sauvignon we had with the mains was only 5.25 and smooth as anything. Although there is no view to compare with Aquasia at the Wyndham Hotel Chelsea Harbour, I know where I will be eating next time.

Monday, November 17, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Chez Bruce

Visited on Fri lunchtime with friends and my 15 month old daughter. Dining room decor was unremarkable but was quite hectic and not a little cramped. My foie gras terrine starter was excellent (and very illing) and the smoked haddock with peppers, and fishcake and poached egg was also beautiful. They even did an extra serving for my daughter who loved it. The mains were also of a high standard, I particularly liked the cod with ratatouille and mash - the mash was top notch. The salmon and pork belly were apparently very good, and the cheese board got top marks (there is a supplement). For £25.50 this food represents tremendous value for money and I would go back. The only slight negative was that the staff seemed a little unfriendly but this may be because they were too rushed to give good eye contact.

Monday, November 17, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Le Gavroche

Visited with three friends and my teenage son specifically to try the £48 set menu lunch which included half a bottle of wine and half a bottle of water per person as well as coffee and petit fours. Now - where to start. In brief, the best of the London two Michelin starred restaurtants I have eaten in (although to be fair I haven't tried The Square yet). Unobtrusive but superbly well drilled service. Beautiful food that included canapes and amuse bouch. Dessert included access to a stunning cheese board that Le Manoir should take note of and learn from. Perhaps Le Gavroche would rather I didn't mention this bit, but they even offer you more coffee! If this really consititutes set menu dining it is the best quality and value I have ever come across. I should return and do the menu gourmand but when the lunch is this good it probably won't happen any time soon. Only slight embarassment factor may be that if you don't wear a jacket you will be given one, and once it's on, it stays on.

Saturday, October 04, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


Marco by Marco Pierre White

Visited on business with 3 guests on a Friday lunchtime. Extremely quiet (other than ourselves only one other table of two was occupied) but excellent service and food. My scallops and black pudding starter was superb, perfectly cooked on a pomme puree bettered only by one I was served in Maze a couple of years ago. My guests had the tuna carpaccio with avocado, foie gras terrine, and herring with a beetroot salad - all of which were good. The mains were of similarly quality, especially the halibut and my lambs liver, although it was served medium rather than medium rare but still perfectly acceptable. Desserts were good and decent selection of cheeses although no cheese board as such. The waitress was delightful, if a little lacking in knowledge on the food & drinks side. Overall a really enjoyable way to spend three hours and despite its location, not at all difficult to get to - it took us less than 30 mins door-to-door from Westminster. Deserves to do well and fill a few more tables and it should have a good atmosphere. I will definitely bring my family here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

Took my wife and infant daughter this weekend. Had the menu decoverte which was showed accomplished cooking but lacked a dish that gave it a wow factor; the closest this nine course menu came to red meat was pigeon. However the halibut was the freshest I've ever tasted and the sommelier did a good job with wine pairing by the glass although I was surprised there was no accompanying pairing to begin with.

Service was good to start with but began to fall apart during the second half of the meal (I think we had about 5 different staff serving the meal) and my request for a cheese course seemed to be forgotten about for 20 minutes which is not what you want when trying to keep your child occupied for over four hours. The cheese board itself was disappointingly lightweight and our subsequent coffee order was incorrect and took nearly 30 minutes to arrive.

Of the six or so 2* restaurants I have eaten in over the last few years this was probably the most disappointing. If you know you're going to be in the area it's worth booking a table, but it wasn't worth a 3 hour drive and the B&B option that we went for. There is also a gulf in quality of cooking and service between Le Manoir and GR's 3* Royal Hospital Road. If you're looking for a short break experience, the Vineyard is a much better option with its excellent spa facilities and infinitely superior cheese board.

Monday, August 25, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Pied a Terre

Took my wife here for her birthday last Thursday. We had the menu gourmand which in my case was accompanied by the accompanying wine selection. The staff were happy to replace the meat dishes with fish for my wife. Each course was on the money; the lamb was a particular highlight and along with a rack of lamb at The Capital, probably the best I've ever had. Service was very good and the courses nicely paced - they even asked us if we were OK with the pacing which is a first for me. The only negative was that we were sat in what I presume used to be the old reception area just inside and to the left of the entrance rather than the main restaurant that I would have preferred. A key comparison though is whether this is as good as Royal Hospital Road or The Capital - probably not in my opinion but had we been sat in the main restaurant it would have significantly improved the £260 value for money factor.

Monday, December 10, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


The Cinnamon Club

Took 7 guests and my infant daughter here for dinner on Saturday night. Expectations were high given previous reviews but despite a decent start with a pleasant table in the "private" dining room the meal went rapidly downhill from there. The quality of the cooking varied from very good (swordfish starter, lamb mains) to mediocre (king prawn mains and the chicken breast with fenugreek sauce) and shockingly poor in the case of the sides which were a disgrace. The game mince tasted like chilli con carne out of a tin, and the dall was barely distinguishable from the mince. The most frightening course was my dessert comprising a "selection" of English cheeses which included an rectangle of plastic Red Leicester straight out of the cellophane. The waiter couldn't tell me what the two other cheses were. It is clear that this restaurant has scant regard for its customers and any chef that would allow my "dessert" across the pass should look for alternative employment. I couldn't get out of there quick enough and I certainly won't be back.

Monday, December 10, 2007
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 1


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