All reader reviews by Forth Bridge
I visited with a friend on a week night and was told on arrival that they had a problem in the kitchen and would not be able to serve the full menu. However, the menu they did offer was sufficiently extensive.
My foie gras terrine starter and rabbit mains were both delicious. My friend's oysters followed by ox tongue were also a hit, partly due to the relative cheapness of those choices (£8 and £14 respectively), but mainly because they were cooked well. Venturing further up the price scale on the menu showed some £25+ dishes, while the wine list was also overpriced, with very little under the £35 mark.
On the plus side, the atmosphere was lively without being overbearing, and the service was fine. Overall, the charge levelled at Boundary being 'all style and no substance' was in my experience unfair and untrue. Do give it a try, but make sure you're feeling quite wealthy when you go.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 5
Went with some friends on a Saturday evening. It was quite quiet but the cosy layout of the restaurant meant that it didn't seem at all empty. We stuck to some basic Polish fayre - sausages and pierogi, all of which was delicious and also great value. I could have eaten what I had all over again, and if that's not a good advert for a restaurant then I don't know what is.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10
I visited with a friend on an early weekday evening, expecting that it might be quiet, but it was rather busy and seemed lively enough. Maybe it was the superb Zinfandel addling my brain and making it seem noisier than it was, but I would have no complaints about the atmosphere.
The food was right up to the mark too. We stuck to fairly standard fare and were rewarded with a great dining experience. My smoked salmon starter was tasty and importantly they did not skimp on the salmon, while my friend was very happy with his oysters. We followed with chateaubriand, which was cooked to our liking. The only quibble was that there wasn’t enough béarnaise, although I’m sure if we had asked for more we would have got it, because the service was fine also.
While I wouldn’t describe the prices as stunningly good value, this was overall a worthwhile meal and it’s good to see the simple things being done well.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6
I went with my sister on a Tuesday evening, and Snazz was fairly busy with a reassuring number of Chinese diners. As neither of us are at all versed in Sichuan cooking and went following a recommendation, we had little idea what to expect. However, we were prepared for something different, unlike many of the negative reviewers of the restaurant. It’s certainly a far remove from your typical Chinese take-away.
The waiters were friendly and offered guidance on the extensive menu, but we ploughed on, sticking largely to the dishes that were indicated as less spicy. We enjoyed everything we chose, which might have been luck rather than judgment, although we did avoid the more outlandish options such as intestines, pig ears and “strange-flavoured rabbit”.
Instead, we had the shredded chilli chicken, warm aubergines, twice cooked pork and gong po chicken. This was tasty and delicately flavoured yet at the same time fairly hefty food, so we weren’t able to clear our plates. However, it was an experience I would recommend. Next time I will be more adventurous with the chillies too
Monday, March 02, 2009
Food 8 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 7
We visited the Hinds Head on Sunday lunchtime, a time at which the traditional English pub should be at its very best. Given the shift in emphasis among foodies recently to uncover cheap but tasty eats, it would be interesting to see how paying well over £15 for a main course in a pub stands up to scrutiny nowadays.
The atmosphere at the Hinds Head is perfect: traditional, welcoming and exactly what you would expect and hope for. Staff were helpful and charming throughout.
If anything, though, the food was the weak link in the chain. ‘Powdered duck’ was little more adventurous than duck pate, and the pheasant terrine I started with was just fine. It took a long time to bring out the mains, although we were forewarned. When they did arrive, they were largely underwhelming. My roast pork was cold, the meat not particularly tasty, the roast potatoes not sticky or crunchy enough and the crackling downright weird – more like a big quaver than pig skin. The highly vaunted ‘triple cooked’ chips were just chips, and laughably expensive at £4.40 for a small bowl. The vegetables on the side were good though.
Most of us were too full for pudding, but one treacle tart was ordered, which was said to be excellent. Coffees arrived late and cold too – we were told it was a ‘bit backed up’ at the coffee machine…
Overall, a bit of an anticlimax. Given Bray’s reputation as a food mecca I’m sure the Hinds Head will continue to draw the punters, but I can easily think of several alternatives for Sunday lunch where the food is better and the prices are more realistic.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Food 4 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 2
Frankies more than hints at the seedy mafia glamour made (in)famous by the movies. Located down a dark stairwell with lots of round tables, blaring rat pack music, a family-friendly vibe, it even has a don sitting in the corner lording it up. From his seat near the door, MPW casts his eye over patrons entering and leaving this lair. It’s shame that there’s no-one on the door to take coats, nor soap or paper towels in the toilets. It’s a shame that the steps down to the bar area are in total darkness causing guests to stumble in clumsily. This is hardly the welcome you were hoping for, but maybe it’s all you should expect.
On the other hand, the food was great. Massive portions for starters that would almost do for mains. Very cheesy pasta with a distinctive home-cooked stickiness. Slice after slice of prosciutto and salami. Perfectly cooked burgers, simple tasty fries, and all for very attractive prices. Money was saved on desserts too because we just didn’t have room for them. Would definitely go back, even if service was a bit on the slow side and they had run out of chicken by 6:30.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8
I went with some friends for dinner, slightly nervously given the reports of costly dinners but also with the expectation of a fine culinary experience.
The menu, while varied, has a common thread of using some of the more overlooked cuts of meat. The cooking leans towards haute cuisine, however, and appeared adventurous for that (as opposed to somewhere like St. John where they call a spade a spade). Virtually everything read well, including the starter of tripe gratin, which one of our group had and thoroughly enjoyed. My own pig cheeks were fantastic, as was the main of rabbit saddle with shepherd’s pie (almost two meals for the price of one). I followed that with a faultless crème brulee.
The wine list was quite short but prices rose in small increments from £15 providing options across the range – we didn’t stray too far from the bottom end and enjoyed with a very good Argentinean red.
My only gripes would be that the food was if anything slightly over salted, and the service a bit on the slow side especially between main and dessert. However, we probably needed the breathing room as portion sizes for all courses were more than sufficient.
By taking the cheaper cuts and turning them into such delectable cuisine, Arbutus’ chefs are not only creating tasty food but also providing inspiration. It’s a kind of reverse aspiration. Showing it is possible to scale these heights in the kitchen while reaching down to the parts of the animal usually eschewed in fine dining should provide comfort in this current economic environment. And the bill? £45 per head for three courses, wine and service – worth every penny.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 8
I've visited this Chez Gerard several times, both at lunch time and in the evening. I've always considered it to be a fairly good if relatively expensive back-up plan when I can't find anywhere else to eat in this part of the City - a fairly dead part of town in the evening.
Because of its rather quiet location, the atmosphere inside is hardly upbeat, but this should not come as a surprise. I went with two friends one evening recently and we ordered starters followed by steaks.
While we were still eating our starters (I had some rather tasty gravadlax) I noticed a tray come out from the kitchen that looked suspiciously like our main course order. It was left on the side while we finished, our plates were cleared and then for a little bit longer.
By the time the main courses were brought, they were mostly cold. Is this not a basic mistake? Why call the mains away in the kitchen before the starters were finished?! The bearnaise sauce (a £1.50 extra on top of a £15 rump steak) should be singled out for criticism - it was tasteless and too gelatinous. It's always disappointing when you know you could do a lot better at home. Amusingly, the menu proclaims that bearnaise is " [a] simple, classic sauce that takes years to perfect". It doesn't, it just takes a modicum of care and attention.
As I went with fairly low expectations, I wouldn't usually grumble - I only have myself to blame for not being more organised and finding somewhere better. However, at over £40 a head for two courses and one bottle of the cheapest wine on the menu shared between three, it's easy to feel a bit cheated.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Food 5 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 2
The Gunmakers has come under new management in recent months, and the standard of food is certainly better than the previous review suggests.
I have eaten here on a couple of occasions, and found the burger to be particularly delicious. I wouldn't say that The Gunmakers pitches itself as a 'gastropub', merely as a pub that happens to serve very good food.
The quality of the ales on pump is noteworthy too; I haven't tasted a better pint of Landlord.
Overall, well worth a visit. It's a good, friendly and busy boozer with decent food.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
I was browsing the 'top tens' list of this website, and was amazed to see The Gun appearing so high up the pecking order.
I have visited The Gun on several occasions; the first time was shortly after it opened. What a stir it caused when it burst onto what was at the time a windswept and barren Docklands eating scene. No longer would we limited to The Gaylord Tandoori on Manchester Road.
The Gun's location down a residential side street doesn't look too promising, but the USP is of course the river-side terrace. I still remember devouring the comforting, homely and tasty bar food served in tapas-sized portions while watching The Thames race by.
Susbsequent visits were less impressive, however. Service standards slipped significantly; we have had to enquire about the delay to our food on more than one visit. The menu also changed for the worse - less quality, more money.
Importantly, the atmosphere degenerated too. Gone was the friendly neighbourhood pub at which you could happily while away a lazy brunch. Instead, the dreaded office party crowd had begun to haunt The Gun, which is great if you're part of the braying mob, but rubbish if you're subject to its boistrous boorishness.
In short, we've stopped going, and would advise anyone else to do the same. There is no way that The Gun deserves its place near or at the top of so many of the top ten lists on this website.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Food 3 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 1 | Value for money 2
Restaurants these days can be complicated affairs, often to the point of pretension. It was therefore refreshing to visit Quo Vadis one evening last week. A simply yet tastefully decorated room greeted us on arrival, and the welcome from the staff was pleasant and friendly without being cloying.
The simplicity continued with the extensive British-leaning menu. While some menus harp on for page after page in florid prose about the provenance and accompaniments of the food, Quo Vadis instead opts for a straight forward list of what’s on offer. And everything looks tempting. It is taken as read that it will be quality ingredients that will be used in creating our dinner.
I started with the no-nonsense steak tartare, which was as good as it could be. The pigeon main was cooked to perfection, and was sufficiently meaty as well. My friend’s veal kidneys were similarly impressive; once again, simple food but cooked with skill and care.
The wine list was a little more confusing and continued with the general theme of ‘quite expensive’, but we managed to dig out a very tasty red from the lower reaches of the price scale.
It is difficult to find any fault with our evening at Quo Vadis, which is testament to the daring of the Hart brother’s enterprise. It would have been easy to hide behind style and reputation, but that would not have endured, and haven’t we seen enough of that? Instead, the restaurant is very good at serving delicious food in a great setting. This is real, visceral and lasting entertainment.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
Franco’s is a rather odd place. It certainly looks the part and the price list is in keeping with the Jermyn Street location. Service is efficient if rather lacking in bonhomie or much interest in the clientele. It is the food that is the biggest let down though.
I visited as part of a group on a busy weekday lunch. My starter of parma ham with buratta was simply bland; the milkiness of the cheese was overpowered by balsamic vinegar and the ham was little better than that sold in the supermarkets. For main, I had the pasta of the day. The pasta itself was fresh and delicate, superbly cooked, and the sausage meat sauce was tasty if a little underwhelming. The greatest disappointment though was the portion size – it would have done as a starter but to serve as a main course was verging on robbery. I stocked up on bread to see me through the day.
Finally, the air conditioning was broken, which meant the door had to be kept open, allowing an unpleasant pong of cigar smoke from the tables outside to drift into the dining room. Overall, the oddest thing about Franco’s was how busy it was given the insipidness of the cuisine.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Food 4 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4
This was my third visit to le Café; previous occasions have been corporately funded, whereas this was a social event. Unfortunately there wasn’t any dinner jazz on the evening we visited, something I was certainly looking forward to. However, the quality of the food and the charming service just about made up for that.
My starter of French onion soup was close to perfection, although I was a little disappointed with my own choice of main course of gnocchi. I only have myself to blame; the steaks were the obvious choice in hindsight, while the fish of the day won plaudits from others in our party. I do wonder though why a restaurant that is so overtly French would stray from the food for which it is recognized and visited. Another anomaly was melanzane on the starter menu. I would also echo some of the criticism of other reviewers regarding the supplementary charges on the ‘best’ things on the menu.
These are minor quibbles, however. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would definitely go back, but will be sure to check the musicians are in before I book.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7
With many of the reviews suggesting poor service standards at Yauatcha, I visited for lunch on a Friday with some trepidation. I made my way downstairs into the stylish restuarant and had time to review the menus before my friend arrived.
The food menu is extensive and virtually everything looks appetising, while the wine list was refreshingly biased towards whites, as well as being very helpfully categorised. There is also a tempting sounding cocktail list and a range of teas that would surely slake the cravings of the thirstiest tea maven.
We ordered a range of dim sum and cheung fun that included fresh water prawn, pork and sea bass. All were superb. I am not a dim sum afficiando, but I find it hard to believe that they could be bettered elsewhere in London, and were certainly leagues ahead of what the admittedly cheaper Ping Pong offers.
We followed this with stir fried mongolian beef and noodles, which was a further delight: the beef was tender and accompanied by a fantastically rich and tasty cream sauce.
Meanwhile, service was polite and unobtrusive. We were not hurried nor were we delayed, and the restaurant was busy. Perhaps when they try to squeeze more than one sitting into an evening things can go awry, but my experience couldn't be faulted.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7
We popped in for a quick lunch, and therefore only had one course.
I ordered the 'special' automat burger from the (rather sparse) lunchtime menu, which was supposed to come with artichoke and mozzarella. Unfortunately after ordering we were informed that the artichokes hadn't come in to the kitchen yet that day (it was nearly 1pm!). So it would just be mozzarella that made this burger truly 'special' and worth the extra four pounds on top of the standard automat burger (which can also come with cheese).
What a shame then that the mozzarella was nothing special at all - I'm sure the stuff they sell in supermarkets tastes more exciting than this did. Furthermore, the burger itself did not really stand up to scrutiny. While cooked in accordance with the medium-rare instructions, it was frankly bland and forgettable, and the chips were similarly insipid.
Contrary to some other reviewers, we found the service to be problem-free. And the toilets were first rate.
For the money (£16 for a burger!), though, Automat really doesn't warrant another visit.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Food 4 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 3