All reader reviews by Beff

Zucca

Lovely stuff - rammed on a Friday night at 9pm, the only booking I could get 4 days in advance. The special of clams was great, and generous sea bass carpaccio with flecks of red chilli was gorgeous. Pasta with brown shrimps and courgette was delicious, though the pasta with mint and peas could have done with more pasta and less pea. Prawns with rocket salad was messy, chargrilled goodness and the veal chop, though gone up in price since opening, was well cooked and juicy. Desserts were less inspiring; I enjoyed my almont and cherry tart well enough, but needed some ice cream.

Staff were friendly if a bit flustered, and looked genuinely concerned when my companion accidently smacked the door into my head as we were leaving... Excellent value for money too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


Cantina Laredo

Horrible place. The mole looked like awful and tasted of dry, sweet chicken, once you've sawed through the taco. Cranberry and pecan salad for a whopping £12 was all leaves and was overtly sweet. Prawns with a spicy cheese sauce was ok, but served bafflingly with a lettuce carrot and mango salad. Do yourselves (and your wallet) a favour by going to Wahaca, or Dishoom two doors down. At £50 a head, it would be an expensive mistake. Service good though.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 1 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 0


Navarro's

Contrary to what everyone else thought, I thought the service was quite good. We came here at lunchtime. The Pulpos was a touch on tha salty side; big bits of rock salt were a bit too liberally sprinkled over it, but that was the only gripe I had. The squid dishes were delicious, as were the meatballs, and patatas bravas (although it could have been a little spicier). It was a nice atmosphere, busy and lively.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Bouga Restaurant

Rubbish. We came in here and were told that we would have to give the table back in an hour and a half. Fine, it doesn't usually take longer than that to have a leisurely dinner for two people. We ordered, and literally 5 minutes later our food was brought to us. If this doesn't make you feel rushed, I don't know what does.

The lamb tagine was passable; slightly on the salty side. It was served as just a lamb shank with prunes and a small bowl of cous cous, nothing else, no vegetables etc. The Mixed Grill, however, was laughable. One skewer of chicken, one skewer of lamb and a tiny sausage was all you got, for the £12.95 price tag. Oh, and a quarter of a tomato and a little side salad. We left hungry.

The waiting service was terrible. We were given menus after we had ordered, I was given the wrong dish, we were served our drinks when we'd almost finished our meal. The mixed grill also comes on a big metal grill with charcoals underneath it; this was unceremoniously dumped in front of my boyfriend, with smoke billowing in his face. When we moved it to the table next to us, we weren't given a hand with the (hot) handles. That's another gripe; they packed in so many tables it was hard to move.

Basically, this restaurant is trying to make the most money (eg. lots of tables uncomfortably close together, small portions) they can. It left a sour taste in my mouth. Even when I told them to take off the service charge they didn't ask why (clearly couldn't care less) and I was met with a dirty look. Avoid.

Monday, July 07, 2008
Overall rating 1 stars
Food 5 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 0


Patara (Soho)

Lovely food, however inauthentic (lamb shanks, wild boar). The spicing was just right and there weren't any over-powering flavours, and it was all very well presented. Highlights were the Thai Beef Salad and the Black Cod. Service was inobtrusive and pleasant.

Friday, July 04, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Launceston Place

We came here on saturday night as a party of 6. It was lovely - we were incredibly well looked after. The tasting menu was fabulous and well matched with the wines, although we weren't sure we agreed with the duck foie gras in rhubarb paired with a sweet white wine. A definite highlight was the Tamworth sucking pig, I still drool over the thought of it.

Service was unobtrusive and friendly. The tasting menu was incredible value at £48 - Go, before they start charging Michelin prices.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


Sapporo Ichiban

We came here on a Friday night. We managed to get a table at the back, a sunken one which was infinitely better than the other tables.

We went for the set menu as we couldn't decide what to have. This consisted of nigiri, some deep fried prawns, salmon and other bits, then king prawn yakitori. It was very good value for money, and tasty too.

The service left a lot to be desired. It was painfully slow, even though the place wasn't even half full. Although we weren't in a rush, the heating was on full pelt and subsequently I became very thirsty, but i couldn't get a glass of water for at least 20 minutes. When it came to leaving, I had to leave the table to ask for the bill, and then do the same again to hand in my card. Very annoying.

I also found it a bit disconcerting that all the staff were Chinese and they were playing Cantonese pop as background music.

Thursday, April 17, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 6 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 7


Fish! Kitchen (Borough Market)

We came here as a party of 5, and we were treated well by the waiting staff. Some of us had menus where a certain type of fish was available but it didn't show on other menus, which was a bit frustrating.

I had oysters, which weren't the best I've had. I had the kingfish (the daily special) as the main, as it was something I hadn't tried before - this, grilled, was meaty and tasty.

I found it a bit of a shame that they had the 'build your own meal' option - obviously it was good to have a choice, but it confused some of our party as to which sauce to have (tuna with hollandaise sauce, anyone?) etc. Also the veg accompaniments were small, and all exactly the same. Some variation would have been nice.

Desserts looked tasty, but I was much too full for one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


Hungs

The branch of Crispy Duck doesn't serve Dim sum (the gerrard st one does) but what it does do is great. Crispy belly pork noodles and ngau lam ho fun (beef brisket noodles) are favourites of mine, and the stuffed bitter melon is also great.

Clarrisa Dickson-Wright is also a regular (I've seen her in there twice) and I've seen her request a special menu - something I haven't been brave enough to do.

Atmosphere is that of a cafe - the service is also nothing fancy but for great, authentic chinese food at really good value this place is a winner.

Monday, February 25, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10


El Faro

We came here on Valentine's evening, which perhaps isn't the best time to visit a restaurant for the first time - nevertheless, El Faro treated us well.

There were many starters that we wanted to try, and nothing on the mains list that particularly stood out, so we just got a selection of starters to share.

The Jamon de Jabugo was delicious. The fat was melt-in-the-mouth and so tasty. The ham was sliced to perfect thinness. The tuna tartare marinated in Fino sherry and sesame seeds with rocket was definitely the highlight of the meal. Generously portioned, super-fresh tuna.

The squid was very tender with a lovely accompanying sauce, and the galician octopus came surrounded with a gorgeous, fruity olive oil. Sadly we didn't encounter any hot padron peppers, but they were well cooked - no grease, and well seasoned.

The last two dishes were king prawns in a sizzling dish with plenty of garlic, and confit pork belly cubes with rosemary. The prawns were great - cooked perfectly with a good garlicky hit. The pork cubes were the only dud note of the evening - dry, not enough of the sauce. They could have done with being cooked a touch longer.

The serivice was good - although I was declined when I asked to change table (we were right in the middle of the restaurant) so when you book in advance, ask for a window table.

All these dishes, 2 glasses of cava, 1 bottle of rioja, and a coffee came to just under £100. Unfortunately we were too stuffed for dessert. Definitely recommended, we will return to try the mains.

Monday, February 18, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Soho Japan

I've only ever come here for a takeaway, but I ate in for lunch the other day. Gorgeous food - I had the sashimi lunch. A bowl of steamed rice, miso soup, and a great platter of sashimi with big slabs of tuna, salmon, snapper, red mullet (i think) and a scallop. Service was fine (there's a little button on the wall to get the waiting staff's attention). I finished off with a green tea and red bean ice cream which was also good. The only dud note was the cold spinach side - it tasted like it was dressed with a thin peanut butter which wasn't to my taste.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Vinoteca (Farringdon)

Food was gorgeous, wine was brilliant, waiting staff very accomodating. Atmosphere (though the place is cramped) was 'buzzing' too.

Friday, January 11, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Tito's Peruvian Restaurant

We came here after all the rave reviews. The decor was a bit shabby, there were renovations going on downstairs, and we had a wobbly table.

The portions are huge. The ceviche was lovely, and once I'd ploughed my way through that, I had a spicy prawn and rice dish. None of our party could finish their starter and main course so I suggest you share between yourselves.

Friday, January 11, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 5


Dim T (Charlotte St)

I came here one lunchtime and it was absolutely heaving - obviously the punters like this place.

I know its meant to be fusion, but it was confusing. Dim sum with wasabi? It went from Chinese to Thai to Japanese so fluidly that it just left me bewildered.

I did a DIY option - tom yum base (dumbed down for the western palate, I feel - I didn't even break a sweat) with some sort of meat and some noodles.

The meal took over an hour and a half - not really acceptable for a couple of dumplings and a bowl of noodles.

Distinctly average, and quite forgettable.

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


Busaba Eathai (Store St)

I came here at lunchtime and ordered the jungle curry with steamed jasmine rice.

The curry was horrible. I had to send it back. Full of woody bits of lemongrass, it was fiery yet tasteless. It also had goose-pimpled pieces of chicken skin floating around in it and it was throroughly off-putting. I know that often cheaper cuts like thigh and leg which have skin on it are used as they have more flavour, but the ratio of the skin and the meat was disproportionate.

When I told the waiter I couldn't eat it, he gave me a withering look and said "Maybe I should have told you that the jungle curry comes with chicken skin and is quite spicy".

Err - yes, perhaps they should have told me that it would be garnished with flabby skin. But they didn't.

Everyone else declared their mains as delicious.

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 0 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 2


Taro (Brewer St)

The salmon maki I ordered was fresh and well made. However, the spicy fishcake ramen was not spicy whatsoever. It also had a mere 2 slices of fishcake. I found this to be rather mean - after all, surimi fish cakes are hardly expensive. I shant be returning because of this.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 5


Wahaca (Covent Garden)

We came here early on a Friday night around 6:30 and the place was almost full. Tellingly, there was a queue going out of the door by 7pm. Be warned, you may need to share a table - this is not for romantic dates, but perhaps a group of friends.

I agree when another reviewer said the staff are somewhat over-bearing - They do that irritating kneel-by-your-tableside which embarresses me.

I have never been to Mexico, but found the food great and not at all like the ubiquitous branches of Chiquitos et al. We ordered the sharing platter from the street food for £19.95, with the lighter pork scratchings and guacamole. The pork scratchings were great - light, puffy, porky and the guacamole was delicious too. We were also given free refills.

The platter was ample for the two of us. The chorizo quesadilla was fantastic, and something I'll be giving a go at home. The chicken taquitoes were tasty too. the spicy slaw, however was not spicy whatsoever.

As good as the street food was, halfway through the meal I did start to have an overload of the corn tacos, tacquitos, and totopos. I wasn't a fan of the steak taco - the filling was lovely, but the taco itself was flacid and greasy.

Speaking of greasy, don't come here if you're on a diet unless you're a salad lover.

I would definitely go again to sample the big plates.

Sharing platter for two, pork scratchings and 2 x beers with service came to £33 which I consider to be very good value. We were fed to the brim and out in roughly an hour later - the food is very quick.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Khoai Cafe (Crouch End)

I went to Khoai Cafe in Crouch End at the weekend. We started off with some spring rolls, which were pleasant enough. The Nuoc Cham wasn't nearly spicy enough, but more like a sweet chilli sauce which isn't really what it's meant to be.

For mains we had stir-fried beef in chilli and lemongrass (chilli? What chilli?) and we also had minced prawns wrapped around sugar cane, with some stir-fried veg and steamed rice.

That, along with 2 beers and service came to £37.

The food was quite disappointing. The minced prawns and sugar cane was certainly delicious, but the rest of it seemed like it was dumbed down for the western palate. Try the noodle soups though, it seemed to be what a lot of people were ordering.

Service was quite slow too - the restaurant was fully packed out on a Saturday night, but the only time we got any attentive service was when they came to take our money.

Monday, November 12, 2007
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 4 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 3


Cattleya at Chu & Cho

We came here as a party of nine last saturday.

The decor is bright and the restaurant is well lit. The staff (all in t-shirts with "I love Charlton" emblazoned across them - nice!) are very polite and friendly.

The menu is split in two - one half for the more traditional Spanish tapas, the other half of the menu with Thai food. A strange mix; we stuck to the Spanish dishes which were very good. Pickled spicy mussels and garlic prawns were a highlight, as was the aubergine dish.

Food for 9 people (there was a lot of it) plus 5 bottles of wine, and service came to £170 each which was fantastic value.

I will definitely be returning to try the thai food - the Spanish is definitely worth it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


Patterson's

We dined here on 50% off. I found the restaurant to be rather lacking in ambience, especially as we were sat at the back in close proximity to a group of loud and very obnoxious pensioners.

The food was very flavoursome. However, the lamb I ordered was meant to be lamb 3 ways, one of them being a stuffed saddle of lamb which they replaced with a lamb chop and didn't tell me about it. Very naughty of them. Unfortunately I only noticed when I thought back to it the next day.

The waiting staff were very professional, if a bit cold.

Monday, October 29, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 9


Wong Kei

I cannot understand what the below review is saying when it says "if you want authentic chinese food do not go here". Clearly, they haven't got a clue as to what authentic chinese food is.

The best things to go for at wong kei is the noodle soups, the singapore fried rice or the barbequed meats with rice. Heavenly!

AND very authentic. 10 years in Hong Kong can vouch for that.

What's more, the waiting staff have improved, and its cheap as anything. Oh, and apparently they are one of the only places in soho that ahsn't been given a warning / fine for hygiene standards.

Winner.

Monday, October 16, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 10


Ten Ten Tei

This place is really good if you're looking for a non-conveyor belt restaurant. The waiting staff are helpful, the food really good. The mixed sashimi and the california hand rolls really stood out.

A meal for two without beer or sake cost us £50, and we were full to the point of having to roll home - and we can really put sushi away in large quantities.

Very good value for money.

Monday, October 16, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10


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