All reader reviews by MarkD


We arrived at Bar Shu at 7.15 for a 7.30 booking, hoping to get the most from our allotted 1 1/2 hours, having been politely told on making the reservation that the restaurant would need the table back by 9.00. The table was free, so we took our seats in the stylish downstairs restaurant.

What followed was more akin to speed eating contest than a relaxing and pleasurable meal. As soon as we sat down we were asked for our drink orders; we asked for 5 minutes to consider the wine list. 5 minutes later the waiter was back for our drink and food order. Feeling a little harried, we opted for a selection of the tempting Szechuan appetisers and mains, and a bottle of red.

By 7.30 the drinks had arrived, along with the appetisers and mains courses. At 8.00 a waiter came over and began to clear away the dishes, despite the fact we hadn't finished eating. 8.05, the bill arrived, unasked. 2 minutes later, one of the army of waiting staff who had been progressively hassling us throughout the evening came over to check if we had paid. At this point I complained. After brief mutterings behind me, the floor manager sauntered up, apologised, and offered us a complimentary glass of rose and box of tea each. Apology accepted, we left Bar Shu at 8.45, 15 minutes before our 9.00 deadline.

There's no disputing the quality of the food at Bar Shu, although a much cheaper and possibly more authentic taste of Szechuan cuisine can be had at the excellent Angeles in Kilburn. But while harrying service may be par of the course in neighbouring Gerrard Street, it is not what you expect from a restaurant charging upwards of £25 for many main dishes. We won't be going back, despite the box of darjeeling.

Friday, December 21, 2007
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 4


Our own road to Mandalay was far from promising: at 7pm on a Saturday evening we were sat in an empty and rather dingy restaurant overlooking a tatty section of the Edgeware Road, wondering whether we should have stayed at home with a take away.

But we were glad we stuck it out. On the evidence of what followed, Burmese cuisine might be classed as a satisfying if undistinct hybrid of Thai and Indian influences. The starters were the most memorable: a toothsome raw papaya and cumumber salad; and a shrimp and courgette fritter held together by a light and crunchy batter with a lipsmacking tamarind chutney to dip. The mains were good but not outstanding: my twice cooked fished curry consisted of fine, crunchy fillets of fish with a moreish coconut milk sauce that hit all the right sour notes; but a king prawn and lemongrass curry was a bit too oily and could have done with a more subtle and aromatic spicing.

Overall, an enjoyable meal, and the chance to sample some intriguing and unusual dishes from a largely unknown region. The number of regular punters who eventually joined us - many veterens of the Asian hippy trail, judging by the long (male) hair and sandals - suggested we weren't the only ones who thought so.

Sunday, July 08, 2007
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7

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