All reader reviews by delmontebanana

Cafe Nem

If you're a regular Vietnamese foodie and have been to Vietnam and Kingsland Road/Mare Street/Old Street to enjoy the wonderful restaurants there, I'd urge you to stay well clear.

The staff and owner are NOT vietnamese, I believe they are Chinese and evidentally have little knowledge of vietnamese cooking. Unfortunately the owners have opted to cater for the local population (larger number of vegetarian/halal) which is fine, but seeing that a BIG range of vietnamese food is pork based, this creates a massive gap in vietnamese cooking.

I'll go into some detail: Our mixed banh xeo was the size of my palm and there was 1 half prawn in there, soggy as hell too... Banh cuon was microwaved (the plate was hotter than the food and the food was obviously nuked as it broke apart when we tried to pick it up!). Quails were soaked in sugary water - tasted like I was eating candied poultry.

Again as there's no pork, we couldn't order any thit nuong or cha nem.

Onto the mains... So if you've eaten pho before anywhere else, I can guarantee you that this place will serve you the thickest cut pho in the west - we are talking borderline chow mein style noodles. The meat is clearly used for take away purposes (roughly mass cut mediocre meat and stored in the fridge for a few days until its used). One word of advise - DO NOT go for the curry pho. Grossest thing I've eaten in a while.

So in summary if you are local, vegetarian/eat halal, need something quick and cheap then this is a good bet for you.

If you're the kind of customer who likes to order seaweed/sesame prawns on toast/aromatic duck claiming that its authentic and oh so oriental (ie. you will order that in any of the following types of restaurants: Thai, viet, Chinese, Malaysian, fusion Asian) - this place will be ideal for you.

If you like Vietnamese food steer clear to avoid disappointment. (For a decent north London vietnamese, search for Vy Nam cafe).

Sunday, June 02, 2013
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 2 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6


The Village Greek

Christ, what can I say that's not been said already below in the two 10 star reviews, apart from this is one of the few restaurants you come across once in a lifetime that you cannot fault any element of - quality, value, service, atmosphere and of course QUANTITY!

Took the family (missus and child) here to try it last week as it was both local and well rated. The restaurant itself is located in a dingy  side street in Barnet where there's a few other restaurants/takeaways and a convenience store, in all honesty a bit dodgy looking. Nevertheless we persevered and found the village Greek restaurant which really did stand out like a sore thumb on that street. Simple, clean, wooden panelled interior, unpretentious deco and very homely feel with ambient lighting - enough so to work as a romantic dining experience too. 

Upon entering (although I booked a table for 8pm the place was quite empty on a Saturday night, that sent alarm bells for me)  we were swiftly seated and given a walm welcome. I already had the Meze meal for 2 in mind but asked the manager anyway if it would be worth ordering anything extra for the child and he quickly said "no no no it will be enough" with a big grin on his face :). I (very pigheadedly in retrospect) ignored his advice and ordered some extra side of home made chips which I asked to be served along with the main meal. 

So the banquet commenced with 4 dips and some potato salad and olives. The taramasalat, my fave, was oddly White in colour instead of pink but tasted very nice - just the right amount of salty sour I like :)  tzantziki, tahini and hommous were good also and this was all served with a huge bowl of warmed pitta (also delicious). The chips came afterwards and it was the biggest bowl of side dish chunky chips I've seen in my life! Imagine a fruit bowl full of fries and you won't be far off. Obviously little boy was happy with his mountain of fried potato goodness. (I also helped him out of course but we didn't even get near finishing it with the rest of the meze arriving!)

To be honest by this point I was actually quite full and would have paid the full £18pp price just for the starter but then came ham and halloumi cheese, 2 giant grilled mushrooms, some mini salami sausages, pastroumi, courgette omelette. That was Allll fantastically seasoned and tasted great but Ladies and Gents, this was still the starters. 

So, after Undoing my belt, then came the main fish course - fried calamari (light and crispy, no greasiness), garlic prawns in a risotto like dish (this was my absolute favourite of the mains, very very tasty, the other half said it was nice but perhaps a bit salty), bbqed red mullet (grilled to perfection - the meat was juicy and slid off the bone easily meaning well cooked, seasoning was a simple mix of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper). 

Top button of my jeans pops off and the next main arrives - mixed platter of chicken, pork and beef cutlets on a bed of grilled vegetables (peppers, onions) and again a fruit bowl full of greek salad with a generous bar of feta cheese on top. 

If I'm honest I didn't even touch the salad as I think I fell asleep at the table from overindulgence-poisoning, but the missus rates it well with fresh mixed salad leaves and light lemon juice/pepper seasoning. I did try the meat (although literally 1 piece of each meat to try for flavour - again fantastic) but could not physically stomach another bite. 

The waitress, spotting our table that was littered with half finished plates of Greek goodness and top buttons of trousers littered all over the floor, kindly asked if we wanted to takeaway the rest to which I shouted YES PLEASE perhaps a little too enthusiastically. 

So out came, and I joke you not, 5 big containers of takeaway Greek food or 1 supermarket carrier bags worth of food. 

Waitress jested if we wanted dessert to which there was a collective exclamation of 'no thanks' as we refastened out belts. 

Now onto the bill. For such a large assortment of high quality authentic Greek cuisine I was astonished that the bill came to below £60 including a bottle of wine and drinks. There was no service charge attached so I more than happily gave the smiley waitress 15% of the bill. 

Overall a highly recommended outing for a wide variety of audiences - family, couples and gluttons (like myself). I may however opt to try one of the reasonably priced main courses next time. Or maybe just starve myself for a week before I come back. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10


Banyan on the Thames

Hmmm... Banyan on Thames restaurant... a hard one to rate.

I took my other half to this restaurant having purchased the TravelZoo voucher (£35 for 2 3course meals, fantastic deal btw). On arrival to the hotel Rafayel at 8pm, the sun still shining and slowly setting which made the hotel look really really beautful. We walked through the hotel lobby to the restaurant (very odd deco tbh, kind of a mish mash of monuments from different cultures across Asia) and into the Banyan restaurant.

The restaurant's atmosphere and design was very stylish, a tad smaller than what I was expecting but nevertheless very nice and definately looked like a 5* hotel restaurant. We were quickly seated by one of the senior waiters (or perhaps manager?) who forgot how to smile but was very professional (too professional?). I quickly forgot about that when I saw the view of the river and sunset from our seat right next to the window. Fan-tas-tic.

First thing I noticed on sitting down was the cutlery and wine glasses... they were still a little bit dirty looking. I dont mean with morsels of dry food still attached, but tarnished with water spots making them look out of place in this divine looking restaurant. Anyways onto the food ordering: So for starters I ordered the Foie Gras and my partner ordered the Crab Salad. My Foie Gras was OK, it did taste a little bit too cold and harder than expected (I imagine it had just been taken out of the fridge not long ago) but the texture was very smooth and light. The little triangles of toasted bread were very tasty and morish! :) The blackcurrant sauce was a nice touch too, not too sweet and just sour enough to complement the paté. I only managed to steal 1 mouthful of crab from the missus, but the taste was very fresh and seasoned well. She gave it her approval so I'm assuming the dish was good.

For main I went for the pompously named "Mongolian Warrior Lamb" and the other half went for the Fillet Steak option (costs £4 extra with the voucher). I'll start with the steak as that was one of the highlights of the evening - perfectly cooked, and every mouthful was an absolute melt-in-your-mouth experience. It was complimented with some green beans and a creamy potato sauce (my terminology does the dish no justice :p) as well as a jug of sauce made from the steak's juices I believe. By warrior arrived in a small pot that looked like pretty standard Indian curry dish next to an even smaller pot of coconut flavoured rice. The rice was very nice, aromatic and the coconut flavour was subtle enough not to overpower. The warrior however was OK. Felt more like a Lamb (on the bone) Rogan Josh with ginger. It was tasty, but just a bit underwhelming as I was expecting, I dunno, maybe like a huge hunk of leg of carcass with a name like Mongolian Warrior Lamb.

Onto desserts. I went for the "Opera cake" with coffee sauce and coffee icecream and missus went for "creme brulee citronelle". This time round, my one was nicer :) 4 precisely cut square segments of cake beautifully presented next to a scoop of ice cream and stylishly drizzled with the choc/coffee sauce. Taste was absolutely fantastic. If you're a coffee drinker you will enjoy this doublely! The creme brulee was a bit of a strange one. Brulee at the bottom of the bowl, followed by a layer of berry fruits in sauce finished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Taste was OK, just not very excited or well presented. The bowl was pretty cool however as it was a normal looking bowl but made so that it stands crooked :)

Servicewise - this is where it let the experience down. Our waiter/manager did not smile once. It got to a point where I was starting to think whether he was trained to specifically not smile or whether he'd just been dumped by his girlfriend that morning. Who knows. Another lady waitress who served me my Asahi beer did not crack a smile either, so I thought perhaps it was just a "cool nuevo fusion restaurant service look" that they were brandishing. Strangely however, the 1 waiter who took our bill was the friendliest, all smile's and thank you's so I imagine it was just the first 2 waiter/waitresses who were having a bad day. Maybe they were seeing each other and had a tiff?

Also it does need to be noted, that there was a genuine feeling that we recieved a second rate service due to the TravelZoo voucher. I could see that 2 other tables (drinking Veuve Cliquot, ooh la la!) were being looked after much better than us. So much so we had to physically wave down our waiter to come to us so we could order more of our poor people's drinks.

Price-wise, (ignoring the voucher deal) I think Banyan is fair. Starters are around £8, Mains £12-28, Desserts £7.50, beer £4, cocktails £9 and wine ranging from £20 and above.

Would I recommend this restaurant? As a regular place to fine-dine possibly but there are better places. As a one off experience to sample the beautiful view and good food, definately.

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7


Imperial City

Being Chinese myself and never being a fan of Chinese food outside of Chinatown or my mother's house, I cringed when my boss suggested taking a client out to this local plush restaurant for a spot of lunch.

If I'm going to be honest, i was taken aback by the deco when I first walked in. It was genuinely well designed and hid the fact that it was probably an underground wine cellar or some sort of bunker years back, with the ambient lighting, spaciousness and the table layout.

The food was disappointing. We ordered the mixed starter to nibble on first (for around £10 per head) and out came 3 ribs, 3 fish cakes, 3 veggie rolls,3 butterfly prawn, 3 chicken satays drenched in peanut satay sauce. My parents used to run Chinese takeaways (one of the better ones I'd like to add! :p) so I guess I had a benchmark. To think that this set starter was 300% more expensive and giving you 300% less food than in a takeaway, it was greasy as hell. Let's put it this way, none of us finished our food despite the "wannabe-minimalist"/tight cooking.

So onto the main course (that was interluded by 4 different waiters/waitresses coming to ask us if we wanted another drink...) Blackbean Chicken, Oyster SauceSirloin beef, Garlic Brocolli, Garlic Sugarsnaps, Chilli Prawns and boiled rice.

The rice was OK but considering the price they stamped on it, I felt somewhat cheated as it ended up as a very small tired looking pathetic pile on my extremely large plate.

Main courses? Well, not bad, but not fantastic. All I could think about was the price hike they had on these dishes when there was clearly nothing spectacular about it. I could probably cook these dishes with very little difficulty and I'm not the greatest of cooks. The ingredients were fresh, but I'm 90% sure the sauces came from a jar they probably bought wholesale from WingYip/SeeWoo supermarket (look them up if you want to start cooking Chinese Cuisine at home ;) ) as the flavours were a little too familiar to the ones I had at home.

Anyway, after the fifth visit of "do you want any more drinks" we paid the over-inflated bill and left.

I suppose if you're an overpaid banker in the city and fancy a spot of lunch in a pretentious overpriced Chinese, this place is perfect. But if you enjoy your Chinese food are looking for something more exotic steer clear - this is a pretty restaurant with takeaway standard food.

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 3 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 0


Thai Thai

I can't comment for the dinner experience here, however I'm a regular diner during the lunch hour as they have a fantastic deal (£8 for starter and main). Couple this with the excellent quality of Thai food (try the green curry, it's pure yum!) and the entertainment and you have a satisfying lunch right there!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


Burrito Bros

An absolute gem for anyone looking to induldge in a tasty, cheap and filling lunch.

The service was quite good but upon ordering some nachos they seemed a bit confused as to where to find them! In the end they went downstairs to get some. On the burrito side however I have no complaints whatsoever. For £6 (50p extra for guacamole - various degrees of spiciness you can pick from!) you will be full 'til dinner time and beyond. Copious amounts of fresh salad, dollops of refried beans, rice and a good sized helping of meat of your choice (pork, chicken, beef or vegy) topped up with sour cream, spicy salsa in a soft tortilla wrap.

I read the reviewer's comment below and sampled Luardo's burrito van on Whitecross St and to be honest, I prefer Burrito Bros (although there's a really fit blonde girl working at Luardo's...)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10


K J Restaurant

Being a Korean food fanatic, I was very excited about trying out KJ with my girlfriend, having passed it several times to visit the Korean supermarkets along the high street (and the big Korea Food store along the A3).

Parking was ok on Sunday evening, but I would imagine it to prove quite difficult on weekdays/Saturdays.

The menu (from the window) seemed quite nice, quite a large selection of authentic Japanese and Korean cuisines, both cold and hot dishes.

So in we went. First thing you will notice is the 3 large, curtained cubicles on the left for private tables of 4+ people, then you have the main area which is a good size and relatively spacious. The deco seemed a little plain with barely anything on the walls, quite a few of the lights had blown and not replaced which seemed to make the place slighty dreary and uncared for. I also thought the private rooms ought to of been put at the back of the restaurant rather than the front as there was a group of noisy, and evidentally drunk, Korean chaps singing at the top of their voices in the box.

Service-wise was excellent on first impressions. We were greeted and seated with minimum fuss and maximum smiles and speed.

We ordered the mixed Tempura (prawns, various vegs) and Yuk Hwei (raw beef sliced, sliced pear, raw yolk!), Kimchi for starters.

The tempura was amazing, in fact I could even say one of the best I've ever had. Very light, fluffy and fried to the perfect crustiness outside and softness inside. The Yukhwei was quite good as well (my gf tried some for the first time as well and thought it was ok :p) however not as good as HanKang of TCR. The Kimchi seemed a bit of a let down. Considering Kimchi is probably the cheapest and easiest to make, the portion size was pitiful.

For main course we had Ox tongue and Bulgogi (beef strips marinated) for barbecue and 2 bowls of rice. All was excellent and perfectly cooked by yours truely:P If you're scared of cooking on your own, the waitress will happily cook it for you by your table.

Warm sake and green tea for beverages. Both excellent, however the sake needed to be reminded as I think the waitress left it on the bar and forgot.

Other comments would be the cutlery didn't match at all which was quite strange and they have very cute little cat Soy sauce pots. :p

Monday, February 11, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Hungs

I've been to Crispy Duck pretty regularly for the past 8 years and they haven't let me down once! Top quality food, very friendly waiters/waitresses (watch out for the not so friendly spikey white haired old man with glasses on the top floor - I dont like him) and top value.

The menu is relatively simple, but you can guarantee for the price you pay (£5-10 per head) you won't be disappointed with the great taste and portion.

By far the easiest place to get good nosh after a bar/club crawl as well, since they're open til 4am! :D

Friday, September 21, 2007
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


Baburchi

First thing you would notice when you go into Barburchi is the deco, which is pretty outstanding with nice lighting and good use of the narrowly shaped restaurant. The service was ok, nothing spectacular, as the waiters did not seem too over-friendly nor unfriendly.

I was particularly amused at the prices on the menu considering the fact that Leytonstone is one of those East London towns where value for money is definately something shop-owners concentrate on to beat the competition. For a standard dinner set with drink I was looking at £15-25 (per head), this would include 1 rice, 1 curry, 1 nan and a bottle of beer. Next door you could have a meal for 2 for that price.

By this point of the review, you probably think I'm a scrooge or something, but I just believe in value for money. If a restaurants meal, service and atmosphere all went nicely then I wouldn't mind taking/prying out 100 quid from my wallet (even though a few flies would flutter out first). BUT, the food was very average. I had the Rogan Josh which was in a very small portion (just less than a handful) and all my collegues dishes were a similar size. Taste-wise, they got all the flavours right, but I've definately had better for cheaper elsewhere.

All in all, I feel that Barburchi probably belongs in the City of London where the richer people could pay more for less and probably still write good reviews for it.

Monday, September 25, 2006
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 3


Gili Gulu

I've been here on several occasions over the past few years and have never been let down by the food, however the service has always been average at best, since the waitresses/waiters there really couldn't care less whether you enjoyed yourself or not.

I found out that they have stopped serving sashimi with the buffet menu on my last visit which was dissapointing, but the tempura soba and noodle dishes were still included.

For the price you have to pay, especially for Japanese cuisine let alone a buffet, Gili Gulu is truely remarkable for. Just don't go there expecting top class service and you will enjoy yourself.

Oh and starve yourself for a meal beforehand so you can eat more ;)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 10


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