All reader reviews by benscaro

Nakama

reasonable enough place for lunch. attentive staff, place was pretty empty.

good sashimi and sushi plate and decent ramen. tempura pretty good, great batter. lunchtime menu with decent prices.

Saturday, June 07, 2014
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Firecracker

a mixed bag.

very nice decor. food was good, standout being the belly pork. the house red is notably good, £18 a bottle.

lots of younger waiting staff who seemed in need a bit of 'direction', i suppose is the word. seemed to be a few minor squabbles and 'demarcation issues' among them, though they were nice enough to us. maybe management was having a night off.

portions were very small considering we had a party of ten ... we had gone for an evening of karaoke and a birthday celebration.

it's ok for the atmosphere and food and wine quality, but not sure i'd say it was great value for money overall.

Monday, May 06, 2013
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 4


Dojo Noodle Bar

side street, reasonably modern noodle place.

i don't think it's quite sure whether it's malaysian-chinese or japanese, with a bit of thai thrown in, so there's a bit of a clash in some of the dishes having the wrong sort of noodle for the soup.

other than that it was all right, if not particularly memorable.

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5


Zizzi

not much to say other than 'see the review below'. i'd agree with the last poster.

for a chain, it does very good pizzas that hit the spot at a reasonable price. the pizza dough they use in particular is excellent.

anywhere else, this place would be in the B list.

but in cambridge, it's streets ahead of most everything else.

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Tatties

getting a good breakfast in cambridge is a trial at the best of times.

this is average at best. serves big but disappointing.

prices were a bit higher as a result of the central location. food had not kept pace, and you wonder how long a cafe like this can last in this prime location.

try it out if you're 1. in the area, and 2. starving to death.

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 3 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 3


Bella Italia (The Watermill)

very average chain italian place. everyone racing round, not a lot of food happening.

when it does come, it's reasonable at best, ineffectual at worst.

nice location though.

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5


Le Gros Franck

old cambridge favourite. a bit past its prime, i think it's fair to say.. heavy and rather fatty things involving sausages, meats and cheesy sauces. i had some kind of tartifllettte and pork which was good but very salty and you could feel the fat dripping down your arteries as you ate it, i swear.

all in all it's OK, particularly if you are cold and looking for a helping of stodge.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 5


Zhonghua Traditional Snacks

don't let the rather modest size of the place fool you. this is an excellent little place that does steamed buns, lamb, chicken, pork etc ... also good noodles and soups. traditional northern chinese.

i notice that there's a steady stream of locals from the housing estate over the road popping in here for takeaway ...

we come here about once a fortnight and always leave full.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


Cote

pretty good place, actually. large restaurant set over about three shop spaces. painted in muted sepia tones so you feel a bit intimate, particularly in the cosy tables against the back wall.

notably competent service; they get the little details right. the waiting staff here strike that fine balance ... they aren't hanging round your table too much asking how the meal is going every five minutes - which i hate, but neither does it take ages to catch their eye if you want a bit more mustard, for example.

i have seldom been in a chain restaurant where the staff carry it off so well. hats off to them.

very good wine list.

the roast chicken is tasty and worth returning for.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Satay House

god-awful malaysian restaurant in a paddington side street.

we were three and they seated us at a table for four. five minutes later the waitress tried to move us to the table near the door. as i had a cold and it was a cold and wet night, i wasn't having any of it. she muttered something about a booking and 'having to check.' this seemed unlikely as the place was less than half full and still had plenty of room by the time we left which was about 8pm.

we started with the satay chicken, which was insipid.

ayam masak lemak cili api consisted of a few bits of strangely flavourless and rubbery - microwaved? - chicken in a hot but otherwise tasteless yellow sauce.

mutton mysore was probably the worst attempt at this dish i've ever had. too sweet, a real clash of flavours, and not in a good way. overcooked, tough meat, and i'd have to concur with other comments on here that the sauce most likely came out of a tin.

ikan assam pedas was probably slightly better than the other two but again the fish was overcooked and wasn't much to write home about.

really overpriced for what it was.

and the terrible thing; the place was almost half-full.

just shows how bad the mid-range london restaurant market must be, when a place this cruddy can do good business on a wet sunday night.

Monday, October 22, 2012
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 1 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 1


Westminster Noodle Bar

hand pulled and knife shaved noodles, whisked off by a thuggish looking chinaman who really knows what he's doing.

apparently he's come all the way from china to do it specially. and the results? to die for, honestly. absolutely fantastic.

ambience is non existent. but you aren't there for that.

one bowl of their chilli beef soup with knife shaved noodles and you'll forget about pho in an instant.

this, my friend, is the duck's business.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 9


Fu Zhou

i've always liked this place for the double cooked pork ... i've not had better anywhere.

so this is a bit of a one trick pony as reviews go, but i'd certainly like to commend fu zhou for this reason.

the place struggles with the ambience a bit. long tables and a bit old school on the decor side.

mainly attracts chinese. i'm told the western themed menu is a bit dire, but i have never ordered from it. and i always come back to it ... for the double cooked pork.

worth mentioning twice, it being double cooked and all.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 6


Leong's Legends Continue

i have always preferred this version of leong's legends because it's a bit dark and tucked away in lisle street. and what a good secret it is.

standard of the food, including favourites such as the pork belly and oyster omelet, beef tripe and crispy turnip cake is consistent and the service is reasonable, unlike the similarly named place a block away.

prices are fine.

it can be a bit cramped, if there's a downside.

certainly a good enough place to come back to. which i do.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6


Corean Chilli

we had two bowls of mool naeng myun, a cold beef soup with a few stray bits of pickled veg and pear. came with two slices of flavourless beef.

they added a 12% surcharge without asking, despite having provided indifferent service.

really just not a very good restaurant.

i have no idea how it manages to survive in this busy location on charing cross road. i guess there are a lot of people around who haven't had good korean food.

Friday, August 10, 2012
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2


Inamo

what can one say that hasn't been said?

not much, really.

the gimmick of online ordering is cute, but only the once.

the portions appetising but tiny and overpriced.

i don't think i'd hurry back.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 0


Coquine

coquine is a nice looking place, with interesting chairs moulded in clear plastic and done out with blue tiles.

as others have said, it missed its vocation ... it should be a bar.

i don't know what coquine thinks it is doing in the restaurant business, but from the befuddled staff through the uninspired menu to the mediocrity of the food itself, you quickly realise ... neither do they.

the suspicion of low budget origins were first aroused with dodgy prawn tempura that i had as a starter, quite evidently frozen and i'm not even sure it was real prawn. my dining companion had some lacklustre kebbe ... you'd do better buying it from a kebab shop. the meatballs were very dry ... he asked for a sauce to go with it ... the waitress went off after giving a panicky, kind of pathetic look that over the course of the evening, seemed to be the signature expression of most of the staff ... and a small bowl with a dollop of, umm, yoghurt arrived.

a steak ordered medium rare came well done, and pretty much flavourless, with french fries that looked like they'd come straight from the supermarket deep freeze, and accompanying small bowls filled with, er ... ketchup. classy, indeed.

we had the 'new york cheesecake' which again looked like it had come straight from ASDA.

in essence, unless you're going there on a voucher ... and most everyone eating there seemed to be ... you'd be paying expensive restaurant prices for a meal you could have ordered at wetherspoon. this is unfair to wetherspoon of course ... they do decent chips.

avoid.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 1 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 0


Shanghai Blues

not a badly presented place, but seriously underwhelming food, for the price.

i assume it's largely aimed at older, middle class english people who are not particularly adventurous or knowledgeable about chinese food not much of what was on the menu really seemed to have much to do with shanghai, either.

in all, very tame. there are many more interesting places one could eat, especially for the prices they charge.

Monday, May 07, 2012
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 3 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 3


Yipin China

a fine restaurant.

i agree with the comments on the stewed belly pork with marinated vegetables, it was delectable, melt in your mouth with a wonderful flavour.

the sea bass slices in a pickled mustard was also scrumptious.

the old standard kung po prawn was done accurately and well here.

place was not particularly full and it deserves better.

i agree that the 'anon' review below sounds like a competitor trying to get in an early free kick ... or someone who's mistakenly gotten the wrong restaurant, as his/her description doesn't tally with my experience ... even slightly.

staff were attentive and polite.

got to be a bit more adventurous next time as i have a thing for fried intestines; which are nothing anyone who has eaten pork scratchings should be surprised about, when you think about it..

i commend this place highly.

Friday, April 20, 2012
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7


Wulumuchi

something really different, for london's chinatown anyway. xinjiang or uighyur (weeg-er) cuisine from western china.

being western chinese, this is a halal restaurant and you'll note the cleanliness. ... not that i mind the glorious pork-laden grime of the rest of chinatown, but it is a change!

therefore evidently no pork here, but they do chinese and a couple of euro beers and have a wine list as well.

lamb is a feature here and it's done well. dumplings were succulent and tasty.

the aubergine, which is marinated and stirfried comes with fresh coriander, bits of shallot and chilli and was the standout.

the £16.50 plate of chilli chicken, a xinjiang speciality, comes with chicken on the bone, just like it should be, though i think it could have been a bit juicier. comes with potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and chilli with a gravy that's not as hot as it looks. that is the medium size ... a warning that if you order this between two, don't order too much else ... you'll struggle to finish it. there is a £25 larger version which would be a meal for four, by the looks of it.

salted yak's milk was a very different and refreshing drink. agreeable after a few sips, though not all will agree.

the waitresses are in the habit of changing your plates when they fill up with bones from the chicken platter, so be prepared for them appearing and whipping it away... they do immediately replace it with a fresh one.

my companion who is chinese commented that they don't do this very skilfully, but i'm willing to overlook it for interesting food that arrives promptly.

they are starting out and i have to say there isn't really a 'must have' on the menu that i've tried so far, but it's a decent enough place and worth a try. the two of us were well fed for £35 though we didn't really get into the alcohol other than one beer.

Monday, April 16, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


Nusa Dua

seems to be a bit of an old soho reliable ... reasonable prices and good food.

favourites are the kambing bakar, the king river prawns - udang belado and the fish in coconut curry - sousi pa (?) were all spot on tonight. and the wine was decent. desert took a bit of time to arrive, but not too long. staff are attentive.

never too crowded, and part of me likes it better that way!

not too many soho places are relaxing to go to. nusa dua is one.

maybe it's the indonesian wood carvings that give a kind of slightly daggy ambience ... though i'm sure the owners -who go to indonesia to choose them especially -won't like me saying that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8


Sticky Fingers

Went last night, a quiet Sunday night. The food arrived fast but was nothing to write home about, but, well, let's try . . .

I had the fajitas which was essentially little more than a sizzling plate of some stir fried peppers and onions adorned with five small pieces of steak, along with four small fajitas to assemble it with and some condiments. I've made better Tex-Mex at home.

My friend had the peri peri chicken and chips and said he'd had better at a fast food chain. While large, it looked very dry and unappetising.

They seemed to have massive problems going and getting some mayonnaise for the fried mushrooms; the staff member explained that this was due to their having one large table of people in the restaurant. My response was - well, not my problem, hire more staff. The fact that they had staff milling around doing nothing didn't add much support to his poor excuse. Seriously, if a place like this can't cope when it's only 25% full, I'd hate to be there on a really busy night.

Keep your fingers clean, is my advice.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 2 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 2


Thanh Binh

I've eaten here once and was impressed . like another reviewer suggested, if you stick to the vietnamese basics, pho, cold spring rolls, and the like, it's among the best of these standard vietnamese cheap-n-cheerfuls. The vegetables they use are particularly fresh.

We had a BBQ pork thing that was also pretty good- again an old Vietnamese standard, that took me back to my roots in Little Vietnam in Melbourne. Good atmosphere and the lady running it (I assume the owner) seems to be something of a character herself. Well worth the modest price.

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9


Wong Kei

I've never gone to Wong Kei expecting much, but I've always gotten what I paid for, large generous serves of basic Chinese food for a fiver.

Yeah, the waiters can be hustly and rude, but that is part of what you expect, and I can be fairly surly myself at times. No complaints at all about this place.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 8


Melati (Peter St)

I've been going here for years, based on the same good reasons listed here in the favourable reviews - cheap, unpretentious, generous serves etc. Lately, though, this place has hit the skids.

They tried to serve my Penang Chinese friend some kind of omelet tossed with what looked like two-minute noodles as Hokkien noodles . he was very unimpressed. The waiter just lied and insisted we had ordered something else.

The last two times I went there the curries were small and disappointing, with way too much oil, and potatoes that had obviously been microwaved and just added to the mix later.

The attitude was dismissive and surly. The Windmill Street branch of the Melati 'empire' has been fine by comparison, but the Peter Street restaurant is now crossed off my list of favourites.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 2


Pasha

Three of us went on Saturday night. The atmosphere is very good though there seemed to be some sort of scent – incense? – that was a bit overpowering. The staff are very attentive, there’s no doubt of that. We were moved into one of the little alcoves which contributed to the atmosphere. The only downer is they wanted us out by 9.00 and the place frankly wasn’t that busy.

The food . . .Well, it was a bit plain and ordinary, to be frank. The starters didn’t have much impact on me. One of them was some cold tuna thing in a small pile, tasty but very small.

The mains seemed to have been toned down a lot on the flavour front. Without a decent whack of spice, a tagine is really, umm, well, just a stew. The snapper was a very small portion. They also charged a £6 ‘cover charge’. I have no idea what for, so I decided that given the food wasn’t anything special, I’d dispense with the hefty discretionary tip.

They seemed a bit crestfallen at that, but I go to restaurants for food, not scattered rose petals and belly dancing. So, we all considered £40 per person more than adequate recompense.

With so many nice little Iranian places around the nether end of Kensington High Street offering much the same at half the price, I doubt we will be back.

Monday, May 19, 2008
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 2 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 2


Thai Square (Trafalgar Square)

I’d been here a few years back when Long Yang Club used to have their meetings there, and they did an excellent buffet dinner of curries.

Went back last night and not impressed at all.

Duck stir fried with pepper was OK but honestly not that exciting. A prawn and scallop hot pot was cold, dried out, and the fish was overcooked. Ditto for a rather dry and uninspiring Pad Thai. If you’d only paid £6 for each dish you would have thought it was average and forgotten it.

But at around £13 a dish, to eat food you could cook better yourself . . . well, I won’t be going back.

Friday, May 02, 2008
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 2 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 0


Taiwan Village

Can’t add much to the comments here except to add that I can but agree.

Letting the chef decide proved a good choice, and at £21 per person, very reasonably priced for all that lovely food.

What a great little restaurant.

Ben

Thursday, April 03, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9


Kingly Court Brasserie

More of a cafe than a restaurant feel.

We sat downstairs in a dark dining and lounge area which had pretensions to intimacy .. . which were never quite realised as two doors leading to the kitchen door and another brightly lit service area were always ajar, so it wasn't as cosy as it might have been.

An odd sort of place, i can see where they're trying to go decor wise, but not sure it quite gets there.

The serviings of food are in tapas style, slightly larger, and are not bad value for money. Some jerk chicken in a kind of salad and a white fish in a soy based sauce was very nice.

The service was pretty lacklustre. The manager brought the wrong dishes twice and had considerable difficulty actually seeing what they were in the muted light. One was totally wrong, so he ended up giving it to us for free.

When the bill came, a bottle of wine we had not ordered had mysteriously managed to appear. I knocked most of the tip off because of these foul-ups, the waitress managed to be polite about this . . .

I suppose one has to put the error down to accident . . . I may not be as polite if it occurs a second time.

I might try this place again but they have got to sort out their slipshod management.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 7 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 3


Blue Elephant

I don’t suppose anyone really goes here just for the food. And eating in the midst of an indoor jungle beside a stream is something everyone should try at least once in their lives.

Blue Elephant is gloriously overdone, in all respects.

It reminded me of Thai restaurants in Sydney in the 1980s. You half expected to see a cop from the vice squad canoodling with a ladyboy in some be-fronded nook, with a Mai Tai on the table and a brown paper bag under it.

The food was passably good, and well presented, but came across as being more than a bit over-hyped.

Foie gras with tamarind was excellent although the portion could have been bigger. For some reason it comes with a dollop of sweet potato. I’m not quite sure they’d really worked out any way to marry the two- the potato loitered implausibly beside its more ostentatious companion, something akin to seeing Liberace breakfasting with rough trade on Sunday morning . . . just slightly off-putting.

The Som Tam again was significantly over-hyped, and surprisingly lacking in flavour. Adddies’ at Earl’s Court has this simple dish down pat, by my reckoning, and Blue Elephants’ was not a patch on theirs.

The Chiang Rai, a dish of spicy stir fried pork with chillies, garlic and green peppercorns was good though workmanlike as a main . . . my partner’s black tiger prawns were nearer the mark.

One major annoyance. The waiters at Blue Elephant do need to learn that ‘no’ means ‘no’ when it comes to insinuating their wine list onto customers. In this endeavour, they employ a curious mixture of whispered Chinglish, Thai and darting bedroom eyes that I assume works well on first-timers in Bangkok, but which quickly goes stale on seasoned diners.

I do not mind being harassed at dinner-theatre calibre restaurants to buy a bottle. But Blue Elephant allegedly aspires to more than this. So if I don’t want a bottle of wine, and make it clear I don’t, then a good waiter would know when to leave off, already.

I had to call the manager over and ask him to dissuade our waiter, as by the fourth time, it was becoming annoying and distracting us from our meal.

That sense of being overdone extends to the bill, but I assume you would realise that . . .

Word within the trade is that Blue Elephant is well past its prime. I’d have to agree.

Friday, November 30, 2007
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 3 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 1


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