All reader reviews by David Henderson
I don't normally review restaurants unless I've eaten there recently, but since its revamp I haven't been tempted to go back at all .
This used to be a place with some aspirations towards preparing interesting , even on occasion a little unusual food. It was certainly on our radar for a saturday lunch a few times a year, and frankly we enjoyed every single time we came, albeit it was best part of an hour to get there from Berkshire. When the same team revitalised 11 Abingdon Road into Kitchen W8 they did a great job and we hoped for the same here.
So what have they done? Well from what I can see they've truned it into an upmarket burger bar/brunch place and the sort of food we went to eat has disappeared without trace . What they serve now wouldn't be worth driving from Chiswick for (as you can find this sort of food locally anywhere) never mind Berkshire. Totally confuses action with progress IMO. Sorry but they've messed up. They couldn't even get a website online for ages after the refurb.
The scores are simply because the site requires them. The review is there in the hope that someone sees this and decides to do it over again.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5
Just a quick top up to the review below. We've been back twice since, and each time the food's been better than before. Today's partridge with creamed parsnips, wild mushrooms and pearl barley in an intense madeira reduction was excellent, to be equalled by a tender slow cooked beef en daube. All else as before. It really was difficult today to see what they might have done better if it had been a 2 or 3 star restaurant a much higher prices. Really good.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9
We've eaten here a few times - always when its been busy not long before Christmas. On this occasion I felt that the experience wasn't as good as it has been in the past. The service was just fine-smiley and timely even when the place was full. The premises are good- a complicated, characterful old house with smaller dining rooms.
The thing that I thought let them down was the food. My starter of mussels was pretty good , served with a fine bread. But frankly I expected that- there are a lot of restaurants that can serve a decent plate of mussels. I followed with pork belly- a dish that I'm finding is often poor in restaurants, and this one was par for that course, looking and tasting like it had been pre-cooked and then finshed off under a hot grill. This seems par for the course these days and frankly doesn't produce a good dish. Vegetables were very conventional, served as sides and rather uninteresting. Dessert was a very hard shortcake topped with a firm creme patissiere and some blackcurrants in syrup that tasted a bit like pie-filling though I'd bet it wasn't. No expresso, just cafetiere coffee.
So all told, a little underwhelming , and at £100 per pair for their set meal , a bottle from the cheaper end of the list and coffee, not inexpensive either. I do think they need to step up their game on the food front - I thought the days of mixed boiled veg served up in little bowls had long gone.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5
First visit today in response to Matthew Norman's review in the Telegraph and because i can't resist thin crispy pizza. On balance we came away disappointed and thinking that Oliveto is not good value. The place doesn't have a lot of character, and the tables are tightly spaced. Staff were frankly a bit glum and made quite unnecessary attempts to place us right next to a noisy child, albeit that there was lots of room elsewhere- using the argument that the place was going to be full of them quite soon (it wasn't).
We both chose a lentil and carrot soup that was competent but not very interesting, and then our pizzas came. They were indeed thin and crispy though I have to say that I've had thinner and crisper. I've also had pizzas with a lot more flavour- these seeme singularly bland. Two soups, two pizzas, two coffees and the cheapest bottle of wine on the list (£21) came to £75 with service. The place looks and performs like a slightly upmarket Pizza Express without the pushchairs (they have to remain outside).
Go again? Don't think so. Simply not quite good enough and not good enough value to rise to the top of the list again. Must stop reading Matthew Norman's reviews.
Saturday, December 08, 2012
Food 5 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 4
We'd intended to eat in Soho, but my wife pointed this place out as we walked along Long Acre and we decided on an early lunch here.
Two courses for £14.50 /three for £16.50 is always going to be good value if the food's decent, and on balance I'd say the food here was better than that . Its not a gourmet restaurant- personally I couldn't give the food here 10/10- but that doesn't mean that it isn't very competently conceived, cooked and presented. My penne with taleggio, rocket and butternut squash was nicely combined and easy to enjoy, and the steak frites was as good as I'd expect from say a Chez Gerard.
The service was initially a bit off hand though it warmed up, and the wait for the main course was a few minutes longer than we'd expect. There isn't much atmosphere because the furnishings are unremarkable and the walls just white. You'd go here for the food and for the value- and clearly many of those who came in after us were known to the staff- always a good sign.
Finally the service charge at an admittedly discretionary 15% was IMO higher than it should be. I mentioned this and got the impression it might be causing the staff a bit of hassle.
Monday, December 05, 2011
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 9
A very welcome recent addition in an area where we have struggled for years to find good, affordable food. All the food we ate was nicely cooked and presented, and interesting enough to keep one's mind on it. Service pleasant and efficient, but whether it was that we had an early booking in a restaurant that was almost empty when we walked in, there did seem to be an inordinate amount of water topping, wine pouring and bread offering going on which fortunately stopped just the right side of irritation. The waitstaff should learn not to take their boredom out on the customers when the restaurant isn't busy.
Portions about dead right, Prices about right for the quality of food offered - our bill for 3 courses , a bottle from the lower end of the list, coffees and service came to £104.
We enjoyed our visit and we'll go again, I'm sure. But I can't agree with some others rating the food as 10/10. There are twenty or so restaurants in London that serve better, more interesting and in particular more intense flavours than Medlar. But I enjoyed, it I rate the cooking, and its a venture that deserves to succeed.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
First visit today at lunch which is just as well since they don't reserve tables in the evenings and I'm not good at waiting uncertainly. It was quiet when we got there which was just as well since the tables are close enough together to give "sharing plates" a whole new context. As it happens we were unable to really test either the service or the kitchen and the flow of our selected courses was pretty much uninterrupted.
The food we ate was enjoyable- good white pizza, skate cheeks, octopus & potato salad, and ham hock with veg, accompanied by some tasty shoestring fried zucchini and a plate of "new seasons" borlotti beans. Everything decent, nothing really memorable. Decent value too we thought- the above with a half a litre of decent Italian white and service was £50.
Service was smiley and helpful and timely, though as intimated whether I could say the same at 9pm on a Friday night is a matter of conjecture, I can only speak as we found. I'd go back, but only at lunch so I could reserve and only early because i value a little space. Personally I prefer Bocca di Lupo, but then that costs quite a bit more.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8
First visit on Saturday lunch with a vegetarian daughter who probably hadn't been to a restaurant where she could choose from absolutely anything on the menu for a long time, so I guess thats why we went. Note that the restaurant doesn't seem to serve fish either.
The restaurant has been converted to look like a veggie restaurant on a budget and it really does. It is pretty cramped and is narrow enough for passage to the back of the place to be difficult if people are sitting either side. Sit on the benches if you don't like people brushing against you on their travels. The food was decent and both of us had main courses that could easily have been on the menu at the old Signor Zilli. My wild mushroom and truffle oil risotto decorated with asparagus was very good, and substantial. We both had quesadilla to start and that was, well, quesadilla and nothing special.
My daughter enjoyed it and that was the main thing ; I couldn't help thinking that if it had been Signor Zilli I'd have enjoyed my starter better. But hey, as a meat -eater I have had worse. Value wasn't really a strength of Signor Zilli and prices haven't changed much.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6
First visit at lunch yesterday, and quite early so a pretty quiet restaurant. I probably eat in a Cafe Rouge once a year and perceive trends downmarket and away from authenticity in their ambiance and food. My Salade Nicoise and omelette frites were both pretty mundane but I couldn't fault the service or indeed the value in the context that I chose a two course lunch for £8.50. I guess I'd rather pay another couple of pounds and eat food i positively enjoyed, in all.
Oh, and if you describe a dish as containing anchovies, its not OK not to put them in.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Food 5 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 7
Our first visit here at a busy lunchtime today, and though I often like Pizza Express, todays visit was spoiled by the number of not so quiet infants. Seriously it was like having lunch in a creche , with pushchairs blocking the aisles and a regular stream of mums heading for the loos to change nappies. It was unpleasant to be there to be honest and I did feel for the staff having to deal with that presumably every day. I'll take a very careful look around if I walk into a Pizza Express in future.
Personally I wouldn't return to this restaurant , not because of the service or the food but because of the clientele who seemed to display no recognition whatsoever that they have a responsibility to other diners . Clearly the restaurant has decided what sort of customers it's happy to take, and thats clearly the manager's right.
The food was not as good as I recall. My choice of pizza was extremely spicy ( and I like spicy food) and the italian sausage was very thin on the ground. Prices seemed high for the quality and the balance of ingredients.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Food 4 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 1 | Value for money 4
This is an OK restaurant., serving decent but unexceptional food at very good value prices especially if you take the lunch menu as we did. Our starters ( the list seemed to have more "assembled" items than cooked to order) of eggs benedict and a "Spring Roll" of bacon and mushrooms were both tasty enough, as were the mains of pork belly and confit of duck. What the food lacks is a spark of creativity and intensity which separates the accomplished from the just ok. I did read on another site that someone considered the food to be of "Michelin standard". Well not in my book anyway.
The service started off a little slowly- we were left a little too long without menus and then asked immediateluy what we wanted to drinl before I'd had time to even glance at the wine list. Bread didn't turn up until the straters were served which isn't the way I prefer it. After that though the food arrived nicely paced and served politely.
Its a long, narrow place divided into sections by net curtains - which I hadn't seen before. It isn't particularly plush or atmospheric, but then its not uncomfortable or unpleasant either. The whole thing's a bit middle of the road really, but strong on value for money.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 8
A repeat visit today to this restaurant near Windsor which gastronomically seems to me to occupy a territory closer to a bistro than to the Modern European classification it has on London-Eating. When you pull up for the first time, you'll think "gastropub" but it's distinctly better than that.
We've generally had pretty good food here and today was certainly no exception. Three dishes stand out for special mention. My wife rated her onion soup as superb, almost creamy. We then tried their home made Bresaola with rocket, which was really tasty and a lot different from the supermarket product. But the thing that really struck us was the excellent "Sticky Orkney Beef" main course served with a much reduced gravy with some beautifully flavoured root vegetables. In particular this last was a seriously fine dish, perfect for winter, which would not have been out of place at some much better known and higher priced restaurants. Very good cooking indeed.
The service is generally pretty good here, smiley and engaged, and today was no exception despite the place being quite busy.
There is a sister restaurant, the White Oak, at Cookham with similar food and wine and similarly good standards.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
Second visit today since the rebrand, on a quiet Saturday lunch- so quiet initially in fact that we asked why, hoping that their other trading was going better, which I'm pleased to say it is and indeed the restaurant was busier rather later . We had a really good meal today, served by pleasant and efficient people who have their timings pretty much spot on.
Our first course was an excellent butternut squash veloute poured over tihy tortellini of wild duck. Mains were a tasty large ravioli of veal with wild mushrooms on a bed of spinach and topped with slices of roast veal rump. Dessert was a delicate caramelised tart of creme fraiche served with a beautiful lemon curd ice cream. So three winners we thought and for a set lunch price of £19.50 there can't be any complaints about value. Good bread and coffee too, and a selection of their wines are available by the 250ml carafe at prices comparable with full bottle prices.
Frankly I've eaten in some Michelin starred restaurants in London recently that haven't turned out food as good as this. Apparently they're pretty full in the evenings so advance booking is necessary, and on this form quite right too.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9
My third visit, and on a wet Tuesday the place was full at lunch and from what we ate, deserved to be so. There's a huge gulf within the One Star category, with places such as Murano, Tom Aikens and Maze eons ahead of their so-called peers.
Our starters today were a smoked tomato soup with basil, and a hand-made linguini with clams and a tasty broth. Both excellent. Then a very rich risotto milanese with truffled cream and an interesting dish of pollock with lentils, lardons and baby onions. For dessert we both enjoyed a nicely textured but beautifully intense lemon parfait with an accompanying cream which tasted of concentrated lemon meringue pie. But here its not just what you order its what you get. Great breads with a wonderful grassy olive oil; little canapes; a salami and pieces of ham on a board. A pre-dessert of eight flavours of ice cream and sorbet in bite- sized balls, and finally with the coffee, macaroons , nougat and tiny nuts in a salted chocolate caramel. We enjoyed everything we ate today, and indeed everything was cooked and presented very well.
Murano doesn't offer the cheapest set price lunch in town, but considering the quality and what you actually receive, its exceedingly good value.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9
We've eaten here a time or two before, though not for maybe a couple of years. Turning up today (Saturday) at 12.30 with no reservation we were offered a small, somewhat cramped table , though to be fair upstairs at least space isn't this restaurants strong suit.
I think my overwhelming memory of this restaurant is having two courses and coffee and being back out again inside 45 minutes! Frankly there wasn't time to draw breath, and it seemed that the second you put down your knife and fork then they and your plate disappeared. Otherwise the service was pleasant and smiley enough, but the impression we left with was here was a restaurant where the main aim in life was to get as many people through the doors as quickly as possible.
And whilst the food was perfectly decent , if rather expensive for a quality that isn't terribly hard to find, one does wonder quite why so many people show up here. I've never eaten anything out of the ordibnary here, its not a bargain, and its not a relaxing experience, with plenty of kids, fast-moving wait-staff and not a lot of space in an area where there's a lot of places to choose from. A charming little extra is to charge an extra £1.50 for having a pasta dish for main course, even when the pasta was £13.50 to start with
Will we be back? Don't know. There's lots of other places to choose from round here and whilst Osteria Basilico is competent its not an experience to remember.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5
Our first visit in maybe a year to this normally excellent pub restaurant just west of Windsor, on a very hot and quiet Saturday lunchtime.
Eating from the menu, my wife chose Prosciutto followed by Pork Belly, whilst I ate breaded scallops on pea puree , followed by a "special" of pollock on a bed on crab risotto. We both felt, me in particular, that the quality of food fell well below the standard we'd enjoyed here before.
In particular the shellfish was poor- not so much the cooking but the ingredients. My breaded scallops had nothing of the flavour and sweetness that you normally enjoy with these. At £9 for three scallops I was kind of hoping to be able to taste them! There was a little crab in my risotto but either the quantity or quality meant that I couldn't taste it at all and I had in essence a plain risotto with a few peas in combination with a plain piece of white fish- not terribly interesting. I did bring up the complete absence of crab taste in the risotto, and whilst they did tender apologies and a discount (which we declined) I wasn't offered any reason why the food today was sub-par. If there wasn't anything awry in the kitchen then maybe they should take a look at their shellfish supplier, as what I ate today was dull.
If this were our first visit I'd be tempted not to return; but it isn't ,so we'll go back and hope for a return to better food in future.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6
We've eaten here a lot over the years , though this was our first visit for several months. Clearly the fact that we keep coming back indicates that we might just be enjoying ourselves here.
The Boudin Blanc serves traditional French bistro food, and it does it very well. Nothing cutting edge here, but good fish soup, moules, confits, steaks and so on. So nothing particularly innovative, just very good examples of exactly the sort of food that best typifies France. At lunch today it seemed to us that half the customers, and all the staff , were French speakers. This gives a certain tone to the service which some people will find less good than others. In no way have I found the people here rude, its just a case of being less deferential and more businesslike than you'd expect in say an Italian restaurant.
Value is ok- its not a cheap restaurant , but today's two courses, a few sides , a half litre of house wine and coffees came to under £80 , which isn't a wallet -buster by any means. It would be very easy to inflate this a lot from the wine list, which to me at least seems somehow out of kilter with the way the place looks and the sort of food served . A few more bottles at the cheaper end would not go amiss. The house wines are good and not expensive.
We enjoyed our lunch. People we've taken there enjoyed it an now use the place independently. We'll go back.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7
Most of the reviews I write are of fairly highly rated restaurants, yet we do eat just as often in places such as this that we've used regularly rather than frequently for some years.
Lunch today was pleasant enough; starters, pastas, a glass of wine each and coffees for £40, and whilst nothing was memorable there was nothing that didn't taste good either.
Service was smiley and quite brisk, though the young lady concerned had obviously graduated very recently from the school of upselling.
What happened to the tuna crostini? Are people confusing change with progress here?
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Food 5 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 7
Our first visit this week for lunch, and one of those pleasant occasions where you enter a restaurant with high expectations and leave it feeling that they have been surpassed. Whats more, considering what we paid for a well thought out and beautifully cooked set lunch, and what else came with it, it was great value too.
Sensibly there is a strong seasonal component to the menu we chose, with our chosen starters being an interesting pasta and italian sausage dish and a wonderful pumpkin soup. Mains were an extremely tasty ravioli of beef cheek and a tender roast guinea fowl that I might say was a tiny bit bland. Desserts were a baked apple in a sea-salted sauce with ice cream , and a delicious array of cheeses which looked Frech but turned out mostly to be English. Truffled risotto balls, some fine breads and salumi, a tasting plate of ice creams, and good petits fours with coffee came along whenever there seemed an opportunity, so leaving hungry isn't an option.
Whilst I love Italian food, and probably eat it more often than any other cuisine, I've always had a view that it isn't really fine dining- and theis after visiting some of the more prestigious establishments. Murano firmly challenges that view, and we'll be back. Indeed I have already reserved again.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10
Our first visit today at lunch and our feeling as we left was that this restaurant is just not a two star establishment. We both had a set lunch and whilst the food was adequate it simply did not excite or excel. Mostly when we eat at rated restaurants we get the impression that whatever we choose we get the flavour of what the restaurant can do. Not here, I'm afraid , and when I think of meals we've enjoyed this year at other two star places such as Marcus Wareing, Arbutus, Tom Aikens, Hibiscus, The Square; the Vineyard is not at all a close competitor. Restaurants such as Bocca di Lupo, Roussillon, Daphne's, Sonny's that are supposedly inferior, all turn out food that we think is better.
To be specific the food lacks intensity and the hallmark of fine cooking. It is not bad food at all- its just food you can get anywhere. To offer three main course choices at lunch and for all of them to be bland is unnecessary ( roast chicken, sole, and herb risotto) . My cauliflower veloute was nicely creamy but didn't taste much of cauliflower. The dessert of rhubarb presented in several different ways was potentially interesting, and some parts very nice; though a bitter herb seemed to get in the way a little. It would be interesting to know whether the real chef took a day off today, for if so it might be worth another go, but otherwise its not a strong competitor the market it finds itself in.
Redeeming features include an interesting wine list, and well paced, polite service, though its all a little stiff and humourless. The premises did nothing for me- its a middling modern hotel and the restaurant looks like a modern hotels dining room. If all this is a bit critical bear in mind that this place has two Michelin stars, and so it should be amongst the best dozen or so restaurants in the country and its been assessed on that basis. If the Michelin inspector ate what we had today he may well have been asleep before his coffee.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6
First visit here since it was Petrus, and I guess we were wondering whether it would live up to the reviews. The answer, for us at least and based on today's meal, is that it does. And whilst I may not feel that its better than Gordon Ramsay at RHR then it's pretty close and I suspect that for many the choice between them may rest on their particular selection and individual dishes rather than an overall clear advantage one way or the other.
My wife and daughter chose the set lunch and came away with the impression that their meal (£35/3 courses) was a fair reflection of what the restaurant was capable of. This is becoming something of a rarity for many "lunchtime menus" we've had in the last year have borne little relation to the style and quality of the main menu. The food? well every single item they brought to us -(and with two amuses bouches, a pre-dessert, and chocolates there were in effect seven items for each person) was positively enjoyed by each of us. No misses. No "okays" No "fines" One simply can't take issue with the quality of ingredients or cooking. The breads are good, the coffee's decent; there really wasn't anything to whine about at all.
The premises look different from most of the other highly rated restaurants we've eaten at in London. Darker, clubby, more male than the current fashion I think. The staff were pleasant and attentive and the meal was timed pretty perfectly. A couple of timy comments concerning the wine list . The list itself is a big heavy book. Its like choosing wallpaper-not comfortable to use. The second is that the wines themselves are a bit expensive- little under £40 . But the overwhelming feelings here are positive and they can be sure that we'll be back
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9
First visit today and we were pretty impressed. My wife's set lunch of sweetcorn soup and courgette risotto were very good and my tortellini and grilled squid from the main menu were excellent . Good breads too, and the service was timely and pleasant throughout. I might query value for money on the add-ons a little, with coffees at £3.50 a time and very few wines below the £20 mark -though the one we chose was pleasant enough. We'll go back
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6
Visited twice, maybe six months apart. The first time was much better than the second in our view from a food quality perspective, and we found it quite expensive for the quality offered on the second visit.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Food 5 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4
First visit today and I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing you notice is that the place was packed at 12.15 pm and is apparently so every day. Now I do appreciate that the choice is not unlimited in Canary Wharf, but still this can't be a bad sign. My proscuitto and venison torellini were both at least as good as I expected and whilst the service wasn't rapid, they seemed to be coping with a full restaurant pretty well. Prices were about average for this type of food.
I'd certainly go again , hoping only for a waiter who han't obviously just been on the in-house "upselling" course!
Friday, July 17, 2009
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6
A repeat visit last Saturday lunchtime confirmed our previous impressions that this is a pretty good restaurant and decent value. There was a lot on the menu I could happily have eaten, but settled for a small portion of a very good broad bean and pea risotto followed by excellent pork cheeks with maybe the best mash I've had anywhere. My wife's meal was equally good though she'd make special mention of the Banana tatin with Marscapone cream she had for dessert. We've had a few meals here, all at least decent and this possibly the best. We do tend to go when the place is very quiet, so I can't tell how the kitchen and the waiters would respond to a rush, but I can only speakas I've found,
Monday, June 22, 2009
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8
My first visit here on a quiet Tuesday evening, but I hope it won't be my last. Overall if this isn't the best Indian restaurant I've been to in the UK, it must be close. Everything we ate was very nicely prepared and even with the hotter dishes the taste of the underlying meat was still evident. simple items like Poppadoms and pickles were discernably better than the average and indeed its good to taste a lime pickle that isn't too hot to keep using. At just a little over £50 for two including lager and coffee, but excluding service, its very good value for food of this quality
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9
Our first visit at lunch yesterday. We expected a good meal and attentive service and we got it, in a fairly busy restaurant. The breads and Amuse Bouche ( a layered construction of asparagus mousse, softly cooked duck egg and topped with a mushroom foam) were both of very high quality. The courses we ordered were well presented and tasty without reaching the intensity and clean flavours I'd expect at Gordon Ramsay, or Maze for example and on the evidence of this meal I'd suggest that The Square is a very good restaurant without quite reaching the very peaks. That said there were no disappointments either in the food or in the perfectly decent "by the glass" wines. I'm sure we'll go again. The restaurant itself is a pleasant environment without being terribly exciting or innovative. It's kind of smart and reliable- much like the food I thought.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7
Most reviews seem to rate this restaurant quite highly, and after our first visit, so do I. The menu is imaginative and versatile- you seem to be able to have most of the dishes in starter or main course sizes, and if you wish you can make up your meal from a series of starter dishes. There was a lot of dishes on there we'd like to have tried. The quality of cooking and presentation was never less than good on the four dishes we tried today, and the service was pleasant and efficient. Seems to me that they have the knack of presenting imaginative Italian food and prices notably lower than you'll pay at Locanda Locatelli or Assaggi. I must confess a certain difficulty in seeing Italian food as a real gourmet experience and therefore paying top end prices for it, but these people have it about right for me, and the fact that the restaurant was almost full at lunch today seems to bear that out. The bill does kind of creep up on you though- the menu dishes are decently priced but as with many places its the add ons that mount up. Still overall we weren't unhappy to pay the £90 we spent on two course, wine and coffee today, and we'll surely be back.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7
Looks like a gastropub, performs like a good restaurant. We've been here three times and have yet to be disappointed with any course. And we like the menu- traditional bistro food like Coq au Vin, Stuffed Confit, Pork Belly etc all done well. Its frankly been a great find in an area where you can get great top-end food but the standard or restaurants at the more everyday/dinner with friends end of the spectrum isn't always very exciting.
The service is good here too, smiley, knowledgable, timely.
Nothing negative at all. I hope they keep this up- it really is quite seriously decent.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8
Our first visit for several years, and in my view this place isn't what it was. Now admittedly we had the "deal" set lunch, with three courses and wine for £34. We do this often, and its fair to say that most times we come away thinking that the food we've eaten could easily have come from the regular menu. I didn't get that feeling here. The starters were all things that could be prepared in advance. The main courses seemed well cooked, but well- a bit dull. Frankly having eaten at a fair number of starred restaurants these last few months I can't imagine that what we ate today would excite a Michelin inspector very much. If the purpose of the set lunch is to stimulate a return visit , or to give a value for money impression of what the restaurant can do, then I think its not succeeding. The fact that there were two tables occupied might indicate that I'm not alone.
Service was uniformly pleasant , polite and timely though I might be asking why they didn't bring bread around with the first courses which were soup, but did offer bread with the main course. Seems odd.
The other thing I wanted to say concerns the wine. I'd consider both the white and red we chose from an understandably limited selection today to be pretty poor stuff. Now I know that they are only charging a fiver extra for a half bottle, but I really can't understand a restaurant of this stature being prepared to have its customers leave whilst thinking they've been served wine that wasn't a decent example of what is was supposed to be. I mean what are they setting out to achieve here? Trying to make as mucgh as they can from a mid-priced menu? Or trying to recruit new customers/recommendations. Intentions aside they are effectively doing the latter.
But let me be clear, the food here isn't bad; its just not very good and its not interesting or exciting or innovative. Its in a pack with twenty other restaurants in London and IMO not offering any reason to be considered better than any of them.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Food 5 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 5
My first visit to this pleasant modern Soho eatery last week. Its quite an interesting, buzzy environment and the food is certainly decent.
The one thing that would stop me visiting again ( and as I've said, i enjoyed my food) is the very high prices for anything "extra" . £5.50 for a bottle of mineral water for starters. A wine list that starts over £20 and with higher than average mark-ups. £4 for a portion of spinach--- comeon folks, these prices are beaten by places affering food much more exciting and innovative than yours. Surely you can't expect people to fall for the "good value menu, horribly expensive add-ons" routine for ever, even if the food was competent and tasty - which it was .
Service was pretty good throughout , and pleasant too, though to be honest the place wasn't heaving and so it wasn't much of a test from that perspective.
Would I visit again? Well theres a lot of competition in this area, and when you consider that I can walk to Arbutus, Hibiscus, Semplice within ten minutes- all Michelin starred and all much better value, you have to wonder. And if I do I'll ask for tap water, have a glass or two of the best value house wine, and avoid side orders.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 3
Our first visit today, on a busy midweek lunchtime, resulted in a good meal and a view that we shall probably go again.
From the outside you could be forgiven for having low expectations. It looks like an office and there's little going on in this fairly nondescript area that gives the impression that there's a starred restaurant here. Indeed it so low -key that I walked past it twice . Inside the situation improves with a modern decor that whilst not over-endowed with character, is certainly comfortable and pleasant enough.
I found the food variable. My dessert of yellow lime pie, served as a hot creme brulee and toppred with clove icecream, was very good indeed, and my companion was equally effusive about hers. We enjoyed our main courses of veal faggot and pollock with an excellent pomme puree and rice respectively too, though I felt that there was insufficient sauce on the plate to add anything whatsoever to the experience. My starter was a strange mix of rough textured goat and smooth foie gras, which just about worked., though again the advertised octopus was cut so thin that it was esentially a taste free experience. I should mention that the bread and butter were very good indeed - better than I often get in restaurants twice the price. The amuses bouches seemed to be a mix of lightly poached egg and a veloute served in an eggshell. The first couple of mouthfuls were very impressive but when I came across some undercooked egg white, that was it for me. Lesson here, if you're going to serve up something before people are served what they'd paid for, better to get it right or else it works against you.
Service was perfectly pleasant and proficient throughout, perhaps if anything it might have been a little quick. Good value for money too. The £33.50 package includes 3 courses, a glass of decent wine, coffee and some very good chocolates masquerading as petits fours.
All told, not perfect cooking, but preety good we thought, and I'd certainly look forward to eating there again
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 9
We'd been really looking forward to eating here , and brought along a guest as a belated birthday treat, but sadly we were to be very disappointed. The food was uniformly mediocre. The vaunted three times cooked chips a non event , tasteless sausage, pretty average steak with an unexciting sauce. Little flavour in the pate though our guest said he enjoyed his powdered goose. I left half of the banana Eton Mess.The house white we started with was extremely odd, thin and too much fruit arriving later, and our £23 bottle of Cotes du Rhone tasted like no Rhone I've drunk before- not "off" just odd and not in a nice way. All told we felt that we'd recently had better food at Chez Gerard and a couple of much cheaper local pub restaurant competitors at very much lower prices, so value for money is not a strength here. at £160 for 3 . Service was perfectly pleasant throughout and whilst it could maybe have been a little quicker, it was a busy night.
All of which is a pity, because the Windsor area is short of interesting middle ranking restaurants , so its a pity we won't be going back to this one.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Food 3 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 2
Our first visit on a Saturday lunchtime in December , and they squeezed us in without a reservation and whilst the restaurant was virtually empty when we arrived, it was full when we left. Service was friendly throughout and whilst not rapid was certainly nothing to complain about.
We both had mains of wintery beef daube -type dishes ( cheeks I think) in a dark flavoursome sauce, which looked similar - though not identical- when you consider one was from the menu, one form the prix fixe. Regardless , both pleasant. Kale soup good too.
We enjoyed our meal and we'll certainly return, though depending on if we had others with us, we'd need to keep an eye on the changing menu. We won't struggle here, but I had to cancel a table for 6 a week later since the choice available to a fish eating vegetarian who doen't eat mussels would have been very thin- and it was her birthday.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6
A lunch visit from four of us on a quiet and very cold Saturday. And speaking of cold, the restaurant wasn't terribly warm itself. My fish soup strater was fine, though my hopeds that it would reflect the main menu item of up to a few years ago were to be disappointed. Steak Frites pretty good, Goat cheese tart pretty good, Beouf Bourgignon maybe a touch dry, but tasty enough. Service brisk and businesslike- poor girl was probably trying to keep warm!
As with another recent visit to another branch, no surprises, and we'll go again.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 6
Six of us one busy Saturday lunchtime, to celbrate a daughter's birthday. Overall pretty good, all seemed to enjoy their French onion soup, and the steaks were cooked nicely to the extent requested. Service wasn't quick but was very pleasant. Not much to say really- perfectly adequate, no surprises bad or good, we'll go again- in fact did go again (well to another branch) ten days after.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6
We visited for lunch , having recalled that we'd eaten there before several years ago and both seemed to recall enjoying it. Sadly not so this time. We were shown initially to the worst table in a nearly empty restaurant, before settling on another. The service throughout was polite and well paced. But the food wasn't good. My grilled calimari starter was a little underdone and not very warm. My wife's onion soup contained a lot of onion skin. My Beouf Bougingon main course tasted just like the beef stew I used to get at school. and my wifes vegetarian tart was full of peppers that hadn't been cooked through. Not quite bad enough to complain , but on the other hand certainly not good enough for us to go back or recommend that others do. With all four courses less than good, its difficult to avoid the conclusion that the chef isn't up to it.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Food 2 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4
Over the years we've been coming here (and thats a few, since we much enjoyed Pierre Koffman's Tante Claire when it occupied these premises before) this is quite simply my favourite restaurant. I. my wife and family have tried pretty much all the restaurants that some guide books say are better, or have now surpassed this place. But they just don't. Not in our view anyway. And certainly not over a few visits.
In what must be fifteen to twenty visits I can't think ofone occasion on which I have become even momentarily anxious about the service- polite, timed pretty perfectly, and unobtrusive. Certainly not snobby. The restaurant is nicely decorated though I find the current incarnation after its refurbishment a couple of years or so ago to be a little bland. That seems to be todays trend and though this style wouldn't necessarily be my choice, I could not quibble with the execution. There are no bad tables.
I can't remember any single dish that was cooked less than very well, or presented badly. Whilst obviously one enjoys certain dishes more than others ( the ox-cheek has been a standout for me) I've never had a dish I didn't finish or didn't appreciate, even when I've been looking across at my wife's choice and feeling envious. The thing that marks this restaurant for me is the combination of the intensity of flavours and the fact that you get this without overpowering the other items on the plate. Everything really tastes. Its how food should be. I might have seen this combination elswhere from time to time, at Petrus maybe, or Tom Aikens. But there its a pinnacle. Here its the norm.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8
First visit with my daughter a week ago. Overall it was decent but not spectacular and I'll try and explain why. Food first.
Everything we ate was carefully prepared and presented, so I have no debate at all with the cooking. But some of the dishes we ate didn't work terribly well, and its difficult not to conclude that what we have here is a good chef who needs more help in deciding what to cook. Our amuses bouches looked like a small dish of ski blackcurrant yoghourt from the 1970's. This was (disconcertingly) warm and turned out to be a red cabbage soup. The scallops and squid ink sauce in my starter had flavours that totally lost an uneven battle against a mix of unnecessary spices and flavours, and the choice of a slippery orzo as a resting place wasn't inspired either. After this things improved dramatically and my main course and dessert were very good indeed and much more in-line with hopes and expectations.
Service was timely and pleasant throughout but we could not understand why we were left without menus for ten minutes after seating when there were lots of staff simply standing around unoccupied. It turns out that giving out menus is someone else's job and he came when he could. Never mind.
We expected more from the restaurant itself. The only reference to foliage we could see was a large leaf under our plates. Otherwise its a modern, fairly characterless place with few distinguishing marks. The view across South Carriage Drive to Hyde Park is exactly what you get driving along the road behind the hotel. Why they didn't put it on the top floor I don't know.
Will we return? Dunno. Even at these good value prices the competition for lunch in London at this level of cooking and price is prolific. There's a lot to try. If all the meal had been of the quality of the beef main course I ate, I'd be back soon.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8