All reader reviews by William

Juniper Dining

It's a few months since I last went to Juniper, but on the strength of last night I'm pleased to say that it's still a gem of a local restaurant, specialising (although by no means exclusively) in fish. It was a (very) quiet night but we still had an excellent meal. Coconut chicken was beautifully crisp with a refreshingly spicy salad, and was followed by beautifully cooked skate served simply with excellent hollandaise. The smoked salmon hash brown and sea bass were also declared excellent.

In general the food here is unfussy but imaginative, and always (in my experience) expertly delivered. There are always fish specials depending on what is available on the day. Nice informal atmosphere, good wine list and friendly service top things off. Memo to self: come back sooner next time!

Friday, January 25, 2013
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 9

Charlotte's W4

Lunch at Charlotte's Bistro was superb value for food of this quality - very imaginative food very well executed. Although the menu descriptions sometimes sound like a random selection of ingredients, the combinations are carefully thought through and work beautifully. If Charlotte's continues at this level a Michelin star can't be long in coming.

The room itself is long and narrow but nicely done with a large glass roof at the back (can get a bit hot here on a sunny day!). Solicitous service. Good selection of wine by the glass/carafe as well.

Go soon!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

Le Vacherin

Slightly puzzled by some of the really bad reviews here, as the food here was very good - excellent ravioli to start, perfectly cooked duck and then a great tarte tatin to share straight out of the oven. Competent, pleasant service as well.

The food is relatively simple "classical" French cookery, well executed. My main criticisms is that for food of this level the prices are relatively high, even by West End standards, and that the tables are too closely packed together for a restaurant at this level - it shouldn't be necessary for the waiters to have to squeeze between tables.

A perfectly pleasant place for a meal, though!

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 5

The Cut Bar & Restaurant

Booked a pre-theatre meal here. The tables are slightly squashed in between the bar and the front of the theatre, but the atmosphere is lively. Service was a little slow - in spite of booking 90 mins before the show a longish wait for the mains meant there wasn't time for more than one course.

Burgers (a speciality) were OK. They were served well-done with no choice offered so were a bit dry and tough. Chips were average, and served with comically small paper containers of ketchup and mayonnaise which just felt mean. If burgers are a speciality then do it properly and put bottles of Heinz ketchup and Welch's mustard on the tables a la Byron and elsewhere.

Overall verdict on this basis - OK for one course pre-theatre, but needs some tweaking to be a "destination".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 6

A Taste of McClements

Definitely not a routine meal out! Of the 16 small dishes on the tasting menu, only one didn't quite hit the mark (a somewhat oversweet crab custard), and perhaps violet ice-cream is not to everyone's taste, but the highlights included a perfectly cooked piece of salt-marsh lamb accompanied by a wonderfully flavoursome pig's trotter sausage, a clever "self-assembly" bouillabaisse combining perfectly cooked pieces of halibut, cod, mullet and a scallop with a deeply flavoursome fish broth, and a gorgeously rich but refreshing beetroot soup with vodka. Superb petits fours as well.

Service was excellent, and with only a few tables the restaurant feels wonderfully exclusive. £45 is excellent value for food of this quality given what one pays for similar menus in the West End. Go for a stimulating and slightly out of the ordinary meal.

Sunday, November 01, 2009
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8

Quo Vadis

Four of us generally enjoyed our meal here - the atmosphere is nicely "clubby" (lots of suits the night we went), and the food included an excellent fish soup, perfectly cooked lamb and very well-received skate. The summer pudding was one of the best I've ever had - perfectly balanced between sweet and sharp, and lots of juice.

However, I would agree with other reviewers that the service still needs sharpening up. It's not that it was exactly bad - just rather disorganised and consequently a little slow. There didn't seem to be a single waiter responsible for our table, which would tighten things up quite a bit. At the moment perhaps best to avoid if you need a meal in a hurry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Overall rating 7 stars
Food 8 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6

Caldesi in Campagna

Three of us came here for lunch after giving up on trying to get a table at a more famous restaurant nearby, and we were very glad we did - it's hard to think of a more pleasant way of spending a spring afternoon. The restaurant is set in a handsome house slightly away from the centre of Bray, but 10 mins taxi ride from Maidenhead station, so an easy trip out from London.

We started with a glass of Franciacorte in the restaurant's pretty and peaceful walled garden, then moved inside to the nicely understated restaurant for lunch.

The set £25 lunch is something of a steal for food of this quality. Excellent rabbit ravioli, nicely cooked tagliata (steak), a lovely mediterranean stew of monkfish and shrimp, and excellent puddings including a very superior tiramisu. Our bill came to £70 a head, but we didn't stint on the wine, and it would be easy to spend quite a bit less and still have great lunch.

Service was excellent - friendly and knowledgeable, but more than happy to leave us to finish our wine and coffee back out in the garden afterwards.

The only mystery about this place is why there were so few people there for lunch on a sunny May Saturday. Go!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

Wild Honey

Having read some of the reviews below, with some trepidation, I was on the lookout for lapses when I made a return visit to Wild Honey last week. I'm happy to say that the service was competent and friendly, the food remained excellent (a wonderfully tender haunch of venison, and the wild honey ice cream stick in the mind particularly). There was occasionally evidence of a slightly heavy hand with the salt, but this isn't necessarily untypical of French cooking.

I personally like the slightly "clubby" but still lively atmosphere, although if I was being pick I would suggest that a some tweaking of the lighting could make it feel more welcoming. This probably isn't the place to come if you are looking for gastronomic perfection served by faultless automata, but it stays high on my list for an unpretentiously good meal out at a pretty reasonable price for London (we paid £50 per head including wine and coffee).

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

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