All reader reviews by Beakster


I had the recent pleasure of a weekend lunch at Maze and it was superb.

The two of us ate a range self-selected small dishes (five each) plus desserts (two each), so were completely stonkered by the end. My dining companion was impressed (perhaps slightly

perturbed?) by my stamina!

Among the myriad of delights upon which I personally feasted were tender Orkney scallops, roasted quail with foie gras (shame on me, but it was a

first and came as part of the quail dish, so what's a gal to do?) and spiced

pear chutney, braised Pacific halibut, potato (shavings, not cubes) and artichoke salad with truffle mayo, and Partridge.

I was a teeny bit disappointed with my desserts: the ice cream and sorbet selection came without sorbet, and the chocolate option didn't seem to be quite chocolaty enough, but this mainly points to careless ordering on my part – my companion's rice pudding with maple syrup certainly looked divine.

And I washed down with a spicy bloody mary and a cappuccino. Yum, yum.

Stunning attention to detail and unobtrusively attentive and well-informed

waiting staff, completed the exquisite experience.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

Browns (Islington)

I'm sad to say that I must retract my earlier praise. Browns of Islington was decidedly disappointing tonight. The menu had some unidentifiable crusty matter (food?) stuck to it, the service was rushed and brittle, instantly destroying any relaxed vibe, and the food was disappointing: call me stingy but I resent paying £3.50 for a side of overcooked asparagus, and I was thoroughly unimpressed when a bowl of half melted of ice cream was shoved before me for dessert. I didn't get the chance to complain – the waiters had disappeared to the next table of customers by the time I turned around. Clearly they were short-staffed, and maybe it was a one-off, but I'm not sure I'll be hurrying back.

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4

Browns (Islington)

I began frequenting Browns when I lived in Oxford (not initially realising it was a chain), and it was a civilised yet affordable place to go for a pleasant meal and a natter with a good friend. Browns in Islington offered much the same qualities. It is the sort of Pret of evening dining (though not nearly so ubiquitous) – the menu doesn't seem to change all that much but what it does, it does well, it's welcoming, it's affordable, and you still feel like you went “out” for dinner. A summary of our Browns Islington experience: we had a fabulous booth table at the front overlooking the green, my mojito was on the expensive side but delicious, the fish pie with potato crust and French beans was hearty (as always – it's my evening equivalent of Pret's brie, tomato and basil baguette), the ice cream was gorgeously rich and accompanied by a to-die-for home baked cookie of the warm and chewy variety, the restaurant had a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere, and the waiter was friendly and helpful (although the service was perhaps a little too swift – we were a group of four settled in for the night and would have appreciated a bit more time and space between courses). All in all the standard Browns experience: familiar menu, comfortable surroundings, tasty, and reliable.

Friday, September 29, 2006
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

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