All reader reviews by Gekko

Brasserie St Quentin

I had lunch here recently and it was as reliable as always.

For the first time I had a corner seat and got to enjoy a view of the room - previoulsy I've only eaten there at a table for two and sat in the non-banquette, wall-facing seat.

Don't come here expecting fireworks from the kitchen. Straightforward but high quality brasserie cooking is their thing. I had a mushroom tart as a starter and lamb as main course. Both were very nice. My only complaints are that one of us asked for rare lamb and another for medium but we received two medium. A bit more care with the cooking time is needed. Also, we would have liked mint tea made with real mint (good for them too as mark-ups on this are always healthy).

For London the prices are reasonable and they also offer a set-price lunch menu. Wine prices are also reasonable for London. Two of us opted for sparkling water and the other two for tap water. A nice touch in these eco-conscious times is that they have pre-prepared jugs of iced water - a change from the usual restaurant mineral water-pushing, profit-margin scam.

Service was fine - there when you need it but no pointless interefernce.

Pop in next time you're visiting the V&A or Natural History Museum. You shouldn't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7


A truly dreadful restaurant.

I ate there recently with a friend. We had the Tasting Menu at £37.50 a head. For this we received one of the worst meals I have ever eaten.

Let's start with the ok point (I would write "good points" but nothing at Amaya managed to clear that hurdle): the naan bread was ok.

And now for the bad. The Tasting Menu involved a variety of small dishes, "Indian tapas" I suppose you could call them. These included:

Pickles - frankly I'd rather take the usual yoghurt, lime pickle and mango chutney combination at the Star of India down the road. Here we had some kind of plum chutney (didn't taste of anything), something else tasteless and two pots of dust, one yellow and one pink. Who knows what we were supposed to do with these - mix them into a paste like mustard powder?

Smoked piece of fish and smoked piece of chicken - bearable but nothing better.

Potatoes - these came decorated with yoghurt and sweet tamarind sauce as if a 99 ice cream. Imagine a plate of bad patatas bravas you might get in some cafe in Spain.

Broccoli with yoghurt - yep that's it. Just broccoli with some yoghurt on top. We ate about a third of this. The broccoli was barely cooked.

A venison kebab - a very small tube of meat with some grotesque orange paste running through the middle. It looked like a small dog's penis.

Piece of chicken in green marinade - this may have been ok, I don't know. As it was red raw I barely tasted it.

Service was friendly, but none of the Poles and other Eastern Europeans working there had a clue what any of the stuff they were serving was supposed to be.

Expect to see this place featuring in the next series of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

Monday, December 24, 2007
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 1 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 0

Il Convivio

Visited for dinner recently and had a so-so experience. Service was fine, wine list not too badly priced for London and food was also fine (although they need to go easy on the salt shaker).

Two problems however: firstly the deal here is that you pay for the number of courses, rather than per dish. Normally I'm a big fan of this, but it's not so good when - as at Il Convivio - the restauarant slaps a hefty supplement on anything slightly out of the ordinary. Here we have £4 extra for lobster, £5 extra for veal, etc. meaning that the final bill is likely to be a bit of an uplift compared with what you were expecting.

Secondly they have crammed in far too many tables, so that when the place fills up the noise levels beocme unbearable. Not so bad if you're on a round table for 4 or 6, but if you are on a table for 2 separated by a mere 6 inches from the table alongside then you can forget about your privacy as soon as they seat someone next to you. Great if you have a morbid interest in the minutiae of strangers' lives; not so great if you actually want to hear what your fellow diner is saying and want to be able to move your arm without elbowing the person next to you. So what's the excuse for this? Well there isn't one - more covers equals more profit, so it's down to pure greed.

Monday, May 21, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

Via Condotti

Food o.k., not pricy by London standards but would be anywhere else.

Service is pretty useless; you have to ask for everything (bread, water, aperitif, wine list etc.) twice before they bring it.

For some bizarre reason they also squash everyone into the back of the room, leaving all of the tables at the front empty. Maybe they want passers-by to see that there are tables free. What they in fact see from the street is an uninvitingly empty restaurant.

I wouldn't hurry back.

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6

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