All reader reviews by Davey

Ciao Bella

Despite misgivings I agreed to visit this restaurant with some friends who were keen to go. Sadly it lived down to expectations. The waiter service was arrogant and dismissive - do they actually want anybody to pay a second visit. The food when it eventually came was lukewarm and flavourless. My risotto di mare was appalling and so oily I wondered if the seafood had been the victim of the Rena oil spill! Never ever again!

Saturday, March 03, 2012
Overall rating 1 stars
Food 1 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 1

The Three Horse Shoes

Now closed - allegedly after trading as a pub for a short while.

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5

The Class Rooms

Northcliffe House Restaurant that previously occupied these premises suffered from a severe dose of arrogance. The Class Rooms suffers from a degree of arrogance but not to the same level. Whilst I do not like to be rushed I do hate waiting for ages. Everything here seemed slow – being greeted, being seated, taking your order, etc. On to the food. This was rather average and did not really reflect its relatively high cost. Also the mains are not really mains as to make them so you have to order extra vegetables that are ridiculously expensive. Two portions cost the same as a full Sunday roast in my local pub and that comes with very generous potions of seasonal vegetables. When will restaurants learn that a good portion of vegetables should not be extras but part of the main course. The desserts were more reasonably priced and quite good. One of my friends had some delicious cheese but at a price! Wine also highly priced for what it was. We won’t be going again!

Monday, November 29, 2010
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 4 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 3

The Three Horse Shoes

I often think you need to visit a restaurant more than once to get a true impression of a place. This I found to be particularly true of this one. It is a former pub and although they serve a few excellent real ales the impression I got was that you would only use it as a pub when out for an evening walk or cycle ride when you could sit in the garden.

The first time I visited was a few months ago with some friends who live in the area, Although we had not booked this was not a problem as it was only half full - it was lunchtime. They have a selection of lunchtime specials and these are what we went for. As mentioned earlier they have some well kept ales and for those who prefer wine a large range available, in most cases, by the glass or the bottle. The food was excellent and stood apart from most pub lunches by its quality and flavours. This makes it more expensive than most pubs but combined with the excellent service we received worth the premium.

On the strength of our previous visit my friends booked a table for a special occasion, and a larger group, a month later. When we arrived we were seated quickly and given menus, and then we waited! Over 30 minutes later after my friend had started gesticulating they came and took our orders. Our drinks arrived fairly quickly and then we waited! Over an hour after arriving we received our starters. We ate these, ordered more wine and waited! About 40 minutes later we received our main courses. We skipped the dessert and settled for coffee, asking and paying the bill at the same time. The food was excellent, the beer and wine excellent but the service, although polite, was far to slow! This has affected my scoring. Subsequently my friends found out that it now belongs to the nearby Bean Tree restaurant. This restaurant is noted for excellent food, minute portions, staggeringly high prices and poor service. At least here the portions are just right. Let’s hope they get their act together as there was no shortage of staff to account for the appallingly slow service.

Friday, April 09, 2010
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 10 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Cheyenne Spur Steak & Grill (The O2)

A group of us visited the O2 at the weekend. All of us, bar one, had eaten together there some years ago and had had an enjoyable meal. We could not remember the name or location and so had a look around the various eateries. The decision came down to two; Spurs and one other. In the end we decided on Spurs as it was busier suggesting better food/value for money. They were operating a queue and we had a ten minute wait for a table. The queue grew whist we were eating and must have been 30 – 60 minutes half an hour after we were seated. Menus came and we ordered about ten minutes later.

The drinks came quickly and then we waited. The two on wine had finished their first bottle by the time the starters came! A few nibbles would have been appreciated. When the starters came they were huge one person had “nachos and chilli” – a full size plate so heaped up it would have been too much for a main course. Another person had the calamari – this came with about four pieces of calamari and a pile of chips! When the main courses came they were even vaster. They seem to love heaping on the chips and onion rings. This was despite one person asking for no onion rings.

The menu has a 64 oz steak that is free if you can finish it! However one person did order a somewhat smaller steak and when it came it had definitely shrunk! Now I know there is a difference between cooked and uncooked weights but this was rather unbelievable. They also commented on how it was done. It varied in thickness by a factor of two, which suggested poor butchery skills, and as a result was somewhat variable. Everybody was so bloated in the end we decided to skip the desserts and go for liqueur coffee. The choice of liqueurs was minimal – no Tia Maria, no Amaretto, not much at all in fact.

I, and most of the others, are unlikely come here again. Quality has fallen by the wayside and quantity does not balance this out. So near yet so far!

I have now read a review of the restaurant we did not go to and it does not fare well either. Maybe the O2 restaurants have a captive audience which stops them upping their game?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 3 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 5


A group of us dined here combining it with a visit to the theatre. As it the theatre tickets had been booked well in advance one of the group managed to book their meal deal – three courses (off the “a la carte”) and a glass of champagne for £27-50. We were quickly and efficiently seated with our champagne and menu. The deal is good as the individual prices are quite high! In addition to our meals we ordered some extra vegetables (noticing other people’s portions were quite small), water and wine. What a couple of us noticed was that despite being crowded it did not feel cramped and that the noise level was quite subdued –a combination of people not taking at high decibels and fittings and furnishings that absorb the sound somewhat.

The service was good with neither long waits nor a feeling of being rushed. The only slight irritation was that the wine was topped up after you had taken a few sips. The food was excellent in both presentation and flavour. Only one person had a slight quibble in that they felt the pork was a bit fatty. Others had duck, sea bass and lamb. The desserts were equally good.

To sum up excellent food and service. However despite the meal deal I feel I have to mark it down on value. Without the meal deal, in fact, I would class it a prohibitively expensive. The fact that the extra portions of vegetables were £4-50 each gives you some idea. It is a lot of money for relatively small portions – I would have classed the potato as expensive at £2-50. The wine was also rather more expensive that bit should have been. I would eat there again with the meal deal – without it only if someone else was paying!

Monday, October 26, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 4

Strada (St Paul's)

Having spotted this restaurant on a visit to St. Paul’s we thought we would give it a try. It is an excellent location with pleasant views of the area if you are facing the large windows.

We found this a restaurant of both positives and negatives. First the good points. We were seated quickly and the waitress returned to take our drinks order a short while later. When she returned she took the food order. The food was far superior to the other chains like Ask and Carluccios, piping hot rather than lukewarm and just right in portion size.

Now the bad points. The bottled water was at room temperature and we had to ask for ice which when it came averaged two cubes per person. It soon melted. The restaurant was also very crowded and noisy. The back part was closed off for no apparent reason (less walking for the staff?). The noise level was such that the waitress struggled to hear and I could hear some other people over my companions for the evening. The large windows obviously reflect a lot of noise but appropriate covering on the walls and other areas would help tremendously. In fact we saw people come in and decide to leave because of the noise level. The extras were also rather expensive compared to the cost of the main courses.

Would I go again? The quality of the food is good enough to warrant this. However, there is one proviso – I would check first to see check that it is not to busy.

Friday, October 02, 2009
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 7

Tartufo Trattoria

Because of one thing or another it had been many months since I last visited Tartufo. Despite it having been some time we were greeted like old friends. The food and service were fantastic as usual – the chef even came to see if everything was allright as one of our party did not finish their main course (they were full up). The comment by Anon (05/03/2009) seems very odd and I strongly suspect it is imaginary and made up by a rival or someone with a grudge. I cannot recommend Tartufo enough!

Friday, October 02, 2009
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

Bistro 1 (Southampton St)

Little did I think when I was in Convent Garden about 10 days ago I would be back so soon – usually it is six months or more. Anyway I met up with a small group of friends a couple of evening ago. As it was early and the weather pleasant we had a stroll around and came across Bistro1. The prices looked attractive at £9-90 for two courses and only a £1 more if you went for three. We went inside.

Although it was crowded we got a friendly greeting and were soon seated. The menu is quite varied and the wine list varied and not too expensive. The starters did not take to long after ordering and were of better quality than expected. I had feta cheese salad – the salad was really fresh and there was a generous portion of feta (in some places it is more like a trace element). The others were equally happy with smoked salmon and avocado, soup of the day and the meze. The quality of the main courses was equally good although they had sold out of a couple of the dishes (always a good sign I think). I had the lamb steak, one friend had the sea bream and I forget what the others had. By this time a number of customers had left to go to the theatre and it felt less crowded. There was a good choice of desserts – apple tartin, ice cream, etc. The liqueur coffees for those that had them were inexpensive.

Overall just about perfect. Polite friendly staff, and excellent and really fresh food. I will be going again.

The only reason I do not score Bistro 1 the perfect 10 was the initial feeling of overcrowding and the fact that the bottled water was not particularly cold!

Thursday, May 28, 2009
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10

Pizza Hut (The Strand)

I met a group of friends for a meal in Convent Garden last week. The restaurant we intended to eat at could not fit us in for an hour – Mr KnowItAll had said we did not need to book midweek! Anyway the next restaurant had special occasion prices so we decided to try Pizza Hut.

It is irritating that as a restaurant it is near and yet far from being ideal. The service was enthusiastic but the timing poor! We were seated quickly and given the menus. A few minutes later the waitress appeared not to ask what we would like to drink but to take our order. No one was near deciding at that point. Once the order had been taken we waited and we waited. Finally the starters arrived. We had only just finished eating them when the pastas and pizzas arrived. Far to fast as you do need a few minutes between courses. Indeed they were so fast the people at the next table got their pizzas when they were halfway through their starters! At the end of the meal the coffees and bill were both quick to arrive unlike the hour plus I experienced rather too often.

The food was just short of being good. A couple of people felt their pizzas were rather bland and my own lasagne, though tasty, had only a few traces of beef and far too much béchamel (?) sauce.

I suspect they need a good head waiter to organise things a bit so that you do not alternate between bored and rushed! Also a bit more effort is needed to get the food right. If these things were sorted it would offer a real value for money dining experience. As it is it disappoints by being a so near yet so far experience!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6

Casanova's Treats

What I find! I discovered this small tucked away café restaurant last autumn and enjoyed a coffee and cake outside in the late autumn sunshine. You can hardly believe you are in the middle of London. It was some months before I got a chance to visit again. This time I had an excellent (and obviously home cooked) moussaka. I have only been able to go back a couple of times since. Each time I have been spoilt for choice by the selection; stuffed vine leaves, meat balls, pasta, etc. – all with a Mediterranean flavour. The food and service is always excellent. The pity it closes at 4:00 pm. as I usually eat early evening when visiting London to avoid the crush hour!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

Casa Mamma

I was rather surprised when I read the somewhat variable reviews for this restaurant. In the eighteen months I have visited it about half a dozen times. It is very convenient for St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations. Each time I have found both the service and the food excellent. They could teach the Italian in St Pancras International a thing or two. The food has never had cause for complaint, be it a pasta or a meat/fish dish – it always arrives hot and is never bland. Whist it is not quite up there with my favourite Italian (Tartufo in Red Lion Street) it is very close. Recommended!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Carluccio's (St Pancras)

This was the second time I have visited this restaurant. At the moment I do not think I will be visiting a third time.

The first time was around November. We were seated, had our orders taken quickly and did not have to long a wait for our food to arrive. After that the service fell apart. At different times one of the group had to go “waiter hunting”. Parmesan was not offered automatically, the empty bottle of wine was not noticed, etc. It took longer to order coffee and pay than the rest of the meal! The food was rather average. I had the special of the day, risotto, which was mainly memorable for its oiliness!

Five months on I visited again. The service was somewhat better but still lacking. This time I had a pasta dish. Most pasta dishes use basic ingredients so how they get it so wrong is puzzling. It was bland and not particularly hot. We did not bother with coffee and went to Starbucks instead!

Like other braches of Carluccios this one fails to deliver in most respects. You do not need to walk far to get a decent Italian in Kings Cross. Maybe the difference is that the independents add “care and love”, which reflects in both the food and service! Most disappointing is that St. Pancras is promoted as a destination and not just a station. Sadly this restaurant and the very average pub do not make this beautiful station a destination. Come on Mr Carluccio get this restaurant sorted or send for Gordon Ramsay to do so!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 3 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 3

The Trading House

Alas it seems to have stopped trading! It shut for a refurbishment at the start of the year with a re-opening bash planned for the start of this month. This did not happen and there is no sign of activity behing the papered up windows. Another victim of the credit crunch maybe? Points based on a visit 18 months ago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 8

Ciao Bella

Reading my previous comments and other reviews I felt my comments may have been a bit harsh. As I had said I would visit again I did so with some friends nine months after my first visit. The service was reasonable enough but the staff had an air of tiredness and boredom – a sort of been there, done that, got the tee-shirt. Last time we had the feeling the usual chef might not have been on duty. The food was better this time but for the money nothing special. The restaurant does seem to have potential but seems to need an injection of life and energy. If John Major ran a restaurant I think it would be like this. There are better restaurants near by so I will give this one a miss in the future.

Friday, July 11, 2008
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 4

Tartufo Trattoria

There are not enough superlatives to describe this restaurant! I visited for the first time in January after a business meeting. The three of us were made most welcome. Because of time constraints we only had time for two courses and had to skip dessert and coffee. The food was fantastic – freshly prepared and full of flavour. And for central London the bill was not unreasonable. We went back for an evening meal four weeks later. This time we met the chef. He is enthusiastic about cooking, food and flavours. It tells as every course was immaculately prepared and presented. The flavours are both simple and fantastic – how true Italian food should be. I have been back a number of times and it never disappoints – be it pasta, or meat or fish. Combined with the brilliant service it is potentially one of the best restaurants in London!

Friday, July 11, 2008
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

Northcliffe House Restaurant and Bar

This restaurant closed over a year ago. By the door is a Valentines Day menu and a long dead rose. I have no idea why it closed. Early last year I went there with a group of friends and the arrogance and rudeness of the headwaiter was such that we left before ordering! Marks are therefore estimates.

Thursday, July 10, 2008
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 5 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 3

Fryer's Delight

Christmas seemed to drag on for ages but I had to go down to London for a meeting in those dreary days at the end of the second week. As I did not finish until 7:30 I decided I would get a bite to eat before joining the bargain hunters and day trippers on the train home (and maybe avoid them!). It was not as easy as I thought as many places seemed to be closed until the 6th. Yet again I found pubs advertising ‘Food – All Day – Every Day’ bar today, not after 5:00, etc. Totally frustrating. I then saw bright lights shining from the Fryer’s Delight.

It was busy and I had to wait a short while to for a place (shared tables when busy). Once sat down my ordered was quickly taken. My mug of proper tea was brought virtually immediately. A few minutes later my supper was in front of me. The chips were fantastic; chunky, well cooked and not greasy. The cod was also excellent – a thick white piece of fish, beautifully cooked and covered in a ‘moreish’ batter. It was the best ‘Fish and Chip’ supper I have had it a while.

The next week I decided to write a review. When I looked at the comments I thought I had the wrong place (no pun intended). I decided it would be best to check it out the next time I was in the area. There had been no mistake! A colleague was with me and he thought the same as I. The gherkins one (pickled cucumber) had looked delicious when I was there last time so I decided to try one. They serve them on a separate plate – ready sliced for you. The texture was wonderful unlike the awful soggy ones served by most take-ways. I cannot recommend Fryer’s delight enough.

Thursday, January 24, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10

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