All reader reviews by Anonymous


I wnent to L'Escargot with a couple of mates a couple of Thursday's a go and had an excellent evening.

The room is quite brightly lit and stately on a compact scale. We were given a good table which was roomy and comfortable. The restaurant was busy without being packed. A nice lively hum rather than buzzy. The difficult to achieve ambience of relaxed but formal dining was achieved with ease. The staff were absolutely impeccable. From the cloakroom girl, to the waiters, there was style and. Timing was perfect. Service was respectful without being stiff. The sommellier was outstanding. We wanted great wine at credit-crunch prices and he delievered every time - a subtle, low-acidity Gavi kicked things off nicely. We then had an excellent bargain Italian red with our mains (can't remember what it was though!) followed by a perfect Alsace Gerwurtztraminer with the cheese.

The food was precise and well executed. It was classic French, without frills or pretention. It wasn't stellar but it was very good. The menu was short but packed with dishes you'd want. We had the lamb, cod and duck for mains and none dissapointed.

We lingered at our table and were left to it.

I really enjoyed L'Escargot and will be back.

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


I think at 35 I'm too old for this place. I just don't really get it. I can see how, when I was 22, I'd have thought a huge night-clubby restaurant was good fun (eg: the Atlantic). But is it really a place for a self-respecting grown up?

The food is a slighty bizarre but not displeasing greatest hits tour of the east. It's pretty well cooked and presented too. But is it actually any better than really good bar snacks and decent takeaway food?

The place itself: it's a massive temple to fakery, pretension and nonsense - fine, if you like overblown, bolt-on ethnic. Did someone say tacky?

The mainly young crowd there did seem to be genuinely having a great time - because they were young and the place felt, to them, exciting. As I say: I'm too old for this and I'm gald they get it, but I don't. Not cheap either.

Oh, and the staff on the door seemed to think they are the gatekeepers to paradise, and treat customers with a lofty disdain. Get a life guys: you're bouncers not St Peter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 3

The White Swan

I've been to this place for lunch several times and I like it a lot. The food is straightforward but always good. What is lacked in variety and flair is made up for in quality and deftness. The waiting staff always do well and willing to make sensible suggestions from the wine list. It's a lovely, light, first floor dining room with windows on three sides - ideal for lunch. I do think it could do with a few quid spent on recarpeting and repainting, but that's just being picky.

Friday, August 22, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7

The William IV

I agree with all the good things that have been said about this place. The food punches well above it's weight. This place would hold it's own in Spain. The atmosphere is great and the wine list, though short, is well selected and reasonable. The bar used to get painfully smokey - much better now. The waiting staff were brisk and efficient, though I agree the bar staff seem to be pretty into themselves. I got the feeling they did a coolness assesment on each punter before deciding whether they were worthy of half decent service: sort it out you muppets! You're barstaff not extras in an arthouse movie for heaven's sake! The restaurant is pretty basically laid out and decorated. The place for lively meal with friends rather than an intimate romantic dinner. Could do with a right good deep clean and a lick of paint.

Overall: this place is brill and worth a trip.

Friday, August 01, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

Gracelands Cafe

Definitelyh more cafe than restaurant Gracelands is an excellent local eatery. The customer base is dominated by slightly jaded coolish young mums and their ankle biting offspring, with a smattering of hung-over looking homeworkers with their laptops. The food is generally excellent. The quiche is homemade and nearly always fantastically tasty. The salad selection is also very good - really fresh with loads of variety. Not too right-on for a decent full English breakfast either. I agree with comments by others that the staff can be a bit hit and miss. If you don't "get" their rather self conciously laid back vibe you may have a frustrating time of it. Our order was quite obviously completely forgotten on one occasion - when we gently reminded them of it after half and hour, we were scowled at and made to feel it was our fault! You are made to feel a bit as though the whole service thing is an awkward inconvenience imposed by a square society on a too cool for school venue. Don't take it personally is my advice. Take a chill pill - you'll need it to cope with the nippers all over the shop anyway. The prices are utterly fair.

Friday, August 01, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

St Alban

I took my wife to the St Alban for our wedding anniversary and loved it. I can see that the decor may not be to every taste, but I actually liked it. I thought it was glossy, modern and interesting. We were given a great table with panoramic views across the bustling, lively room. The atmosphere was good - laid back but maintaining a sense of occasion. I found the service to be excellent: effortless, helpful and never instrusive. The food was very good. No dishes were a let down - some were first rate. The wine list is good and not as unfairly priced as many. We had a great, memorable evening and have recommended it to several friends since. One word of caution: go elsewhere for a pre-dinner drink. The bar definitely has the feel of a fairly plush waiting room at a mid-ranking advertising agency's Birmingham office.

Friday, August 01, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Restaurant

Had a lovely lunch here last week.

It's a bright, light room perfect for lunchtime in Spring.

We took our 4 month old daughter - which didn't phase them a bit. The staff could not have been more cheerful, accomodating and professional. Brilliantly well run restaurant. The amazonian Irish lady who appeared to be running front of house was a joy to behold. Many a stuffed shirt maitre'd could learn a lot from her capable, smiling efficiency.

The food from their set Spring menu was very good. Portions are small but adequate. Excellent presentation matched by wonderful flavours.

The wines by the glass are well chosen. The white house burgundy set off the menu very well (as did the Gavi).

House Champagne is too expensive. Had I not been driving home I'd have had a go at the "unlimited house wine" option, and had a bit of a long one...perhaps another time (without the 4 month old!).

Friday, May 23, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

The Green

Hmmm. Great shame.

The Green opened up about 5 years ago - like an oasis in the midst of the horrible shabby pubs in Willesden Green and was instantly very popular. It was run (and owned?) by a Carribean chef. Despite an apparently unpromising location on the ground floor of the Conservative Club, it's a nice pubby room, with a spacious restaurant at the back. It's bang opposite the tube which I'm sure helps, as does it's beer garden at nthe front. It went down a storm with the locals and the restaurant was always booked up busy at the weekends, with the itinerant SANZA population of Willesden giving the bar a very international feel.

The menu was basic and short, but with some great West Indian twists.

I thought this place would go from strength to strngth - but it didn't.

I don't know if management changed, the chef lost interest, or they decided they were maming enough money in the bar not to bother with the restarant, but each time I've ben back over the last few years the restaurant has gone further and further downhill. The menu never (NEVER EVER) changes. The food is sloppily cooked. The wine list is rubbish. The service is, at best, haphazard, at worst rude and incompetent. It's neither cheap nor expensive.

This restaurant has the feel and smell of a 1980's carvery restaurant - stale cooking oil and complacency. The restaurant is, as a consequence, often deserted.

A terrible waste of a great opportunity for this place to become a local legend. I won't go back unless it's taken over by somneone who cares.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 4

Shish Willesden

Shsih is one of the very few good local restaurants in Willesden Green. I've been going for the last five years or so on a pretty regular basis. It's fairly reliable, though it seems to have a reasonably constant turnover of kitchen and serving staff, meaning that both food and service are a little variable.

The ground floor restaurant: At it's best: good fresh ingredients cooked simply in a zesty healthy way. It used to be nearly all seating at the bar overlooking the kitchen which was great. They knocked out the old "s" shaped bar to fit in many more tables - not as good as it was and means you are less involved in the charcoal grill cooking.

It's almost cheap - the lunchtime deal in particular is very good.

Order mixed hot mezze when you arrive with your drinks and a shish for main (Afghan chicken may not be very recognisable to a Pathan, but it's very tasty).

Always a good mixed crowd of locals.

The recently refurbed bar is a good place to spend an evening with friends. I only tried the second floor restaurant (more involved menu, higher prices) once a few years ago - and was disappointed. I believe it has been done up since then.

This is not the place for a gastronomic extravaganza, but it's a very welcome local.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Great Queen Street

I liked it here when I went for dinner a few Fridays ago.

The bar downstairs is great. The chap serving did so with a relaxed but efficient panache that reminded me of a good party host. There was a pretty unpretentious crowd down there without any attitude.

The dining room is pretty poor. It's long and narrow with a noteably low ceiling. The furniture's pretty drab and the lighting was set on sodium streetlamp glow. Nevertheless, we were given a good table in the window and the food and service made up for the disappointing surroundings. The room was busy and had a nice laidback atmosphere.

Service was friendly and swift. Food was from a straightforward menu: great meat well cooked. The food's not cheap, nor is it as over-priced as some reviewers would have you believe.

I thought the wine menu was modest though adequate in choice and reasonable in price.

Don't think I realised the chef was uppity about his steak cooking - how annoying of him. Seems entirely at odds with the otherwise sensible approach of the place.

Go for dinner with friends - it's great for that, but not the place I'd choose for a romantic dinner with my wife.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

Portal Restaurant & Bar

I went to this place with a couple of friends yesterday evening. We ate tapas in the bar. It's a lovely place and I'd definitely return.

The bar is relaxed and convivial. Nice, low profile, unselfconcious buzz. The staff were very pleasant and friendly - and efficient enough (the rude sloppiness experienced by other reviewers was nowhere to be seen). The wine list is interesting and very reasonably priced, encouraging adventure and over-indulgence. The food was good - fresh, simple and nicely done, and fairly priced.

I'll definitely be going back. It's nice to stumble on a place that I reckon I will become a regualr at.

Friday, October 12, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


I went to Benares last night for a friendly business dinner. We were a group of 7. A lovely restarant to walk into. The decor is sylish. The layout intimate, but with good sight lines reminding you that you're in a bustling busy resaurant. They've created a distinctive Indian feel.

The bar is a nice place to start - though the chaise longue I sat on could do with new springs. One of the false notes struck on the service front was when the waitress serving drinks in the bar said that our second bottle of champagne was finished - would we like another one? I said we'd have the half bottle remaining first and insisted she check - I was right and she brought the half bottle out!

When we were shown to our table we were taken to the wrong one - we'd specifically booked a table in an alcove as discretion was important. We had to force the issue which was poor.

Insofar as service during the meal was concerned this was excellent - the staff are well trained, courteous and numerous - though we didn't see anything of the sommelier, which was curious.

We ate the Fennel menu. The starters were excelent. Very interesting flavours and combinations. A trio of monkfish tail, prawn and oyster was the highlight of the meal for me.

The main courses were what I would expect from a very good high sreet curry house, and hence a little dissapointing. I'd expected more imagination and artful creation and presentation. The noble exception was the sea bass.

The wine list was dissapointing in it's depth (particularly the dessert wines) and shocking in it's prices. It's worth noting that their website gives no indication of wine prices - I can see why now! The wines were marked up by a good 15-20% beyond other Michelin starred restaurants in London. This might have been excused if the food was reasonably priced - it wasn't.

Although the wine flowed all evening and we didn't stint on our selections, I was staggered when the bill came to almost £1200! Yes, that's almost £170 per head! The only poor flavour all evening was my Jasmine tea. It was undrinkably bitter, and quite literally left a sour taste in the mouth - matching the feeling the bill had left nicely.

I wouldn't go back here, which is a shame. A little less greed on the mark-ups, and a bit more effort with the main courses and this place would have been spot on.

Friday, September 21, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 3

Clos Maggiore

Ate here last Wednesday - have been a couple of times before.

It's a very sound restaurant - much better than most of it's Covent Garden rivals.

We were a party of 7 and started with a couple of bottles of house champagne - quite good, but pricey.

We had the tasting menu which was nearly all very good indeed.

The service by a battery of smiley young French sorts was good, though not especially professional (which I didn't mind a bit - quite endearing really).

The young female sommellier was knowledgable and helpful, though she had her work cut out as the winelist is badly overpriced in almost all regards.

The atmosphere was delightful.

The value for money - not too bad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7

Club Gascon

I liked this restaurant.

The food tended a little towards the fussy end of clever, but it didn't obscure the fine ingredients or basically well-crafted cooking of, at times, intriguing dishes.

The atmosphere (it was a Saturday night) was very good.

The service was very attentive (sometimes too much so), and at times bizarrely amateur (one dish slid off a serving slate onto one of our party's jacket! More apologies would have been nice - even a complimentary glass or two - even in the face of his gracious deprecation).

The wine list was excellent. A good range of reasonable stuff.

They fairly pack 'em in here - but that added to the atmosphere in my view, though it may have challenged the waiter!

It's expensive but not at all bad value for money.

A very memorable meal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7

Electric Brasserie

Had a great meal here recently. I too had been appalled by some of the reviews I'd read before going (my wife had booked it).

True, the bar was RAMMED, but getting a drink wasn't a problem.

We were given a nice table and served well throughout the meal.

The food was excellent: hale, hearty, unpretentious, interesting and well-cooked.

The wine list was fine.

The prices were fair.

The atmosphere was great: lively and vibrant. Romantic, if you like your love to swim in the midst of life sometimes, which I do. I'll be going back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8


Did I have dinner at the same restaurant as the other reviewers?

I found Bibendum to be a huge dissapointment.

We arrived a few minutes early and were served drinks huddled around cruddy 1980's MFI furniture in a poor little area just inside the door (more Travellodge than Conran), with some of our party of 6 left standing. A bad start.

When we took our table I found that the look of the whole place was very much what you'd expect if you allowed a 54 year old lady from Berkshire called Barbara, with a taste for tweed suits and good value Marks and Spencers trousers, to design a restaurant. Not chinzy, but decidedly sensible. The place was full but lacked any discernable atmosphere.

The service was good, not great.

The food: the same. Nothing to write home about on anyones plates. One expects more at these prices and with this reputation.

The winelist was heavily biased towards the heavyweight, £50+. A great range at the top end, but I wouldn't want to spend like that on wine to go with average food.

This place badly needs a shake up (prefereably not by Barbara from Berkshire).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 4 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 3


I ate here with some friends at the end of June 2007.

I had high hopes. The atmosphere was lacking - more like the restaurant of a decent hotel booked up by sneior busines types than a characterful restaurant. It is over-lit, and the furniture has the suprisingly tacky feel that I'd encountered at Bibendum (also over-lit and lacking in atmosphere as it happens).

The service was excellent. Our table was more lively than the quiet tables of oreintal business suits surrounding us, and the staff took this well in their stride.

The food was good (almost very good) but certainly not excellent. Overpriced therefore.

The sommelier was attentive and helpful. The wine was good and not too ludicrously expensive.

The cigar bar was in its last gasp before the ban bit. A great shame because this is a lovely little room, well suited to the indulgence of cigars and brandy after dinner.

I wouldn't rush back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 5

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