All reader reviews by Frostie

Don Fernandos

I love this place.

I had the good fortune to work in Richmond for 6 years and this place was never far from my lunching list. The food is simply brilliant. The prices are reasonable and I cannot fault the huge choice. Favourites are chicken in garlic on the bone and squid in its own ink (I have it every time - it's delicious). They also make the best tortilla I've ever had.

About a year ago the expanded the restaurant space and the new bit is a little souless but I expect when it's full it's a lot more buzzy. The only other people in this bit when we went (7pm on a Thursday night) were a young family and a wailing child who clearly needed the toilet is never the best accompaniment to good food and conversation. The desserts are a bit bland but the cheese board is good (nice figgy chutney type stuff), and who goes to a tapas bar for cake?

It's not a fancy place. It's pretty traditional but the smell as you approach the restaurant from outside alone is enough to get you drooling.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8


Asia de Cuba

I agonised over whether or not to try this restaurant given the very mixed reviews but I thought I had better find out for myself so I booked for last night. It was the boy's birthday so I was full of anticipation of the "massive" portions and funky atmosphere.

We were guest listed in the Light Bar so had two drinks each to start off with. Bill = £53. Not extortionate for a trendy London bar admittedly but far too much ice was used (which to me smacks of a rip off on the spirits). Anyway, onwards to the meal. The dining room itself is odd. I liked the contemporary white and the bare bulb lighting but I'm not sure what look it's going for with the bookcases and family portraits. They seemed to jar with the very obviously design conscious furniture and decor. The tables for two are also rather long and I strained to hear what the boy was saying half the time - I didn't want to shout because the next table wasn't too far away but this is an irksome thing. It also meant that I was leaning over alot which isn't that comfortable when trying to hold a conversation.

I ldid ike the Mojito that the boy ordered and then rejected (he doesn't like mint - doh!), but again tons of ice. I suppose I could have asked them to make another with no ice but somehow I don't think that would have gone down very well. Now to the food. My expectations were high and indeed the staff were very courteous, advising that portions were about half a size bigger than a usual portion for one person. We ordered two starters and one main as per the waitresses advice. LOVED the crispy beef dumplings (3) and liked the steamed beef dumplings (2 - why?). They were a little salty but all in all a good choice. We also chose the ribs (6). The meat was so tender it fell off the bone but it was a little dry. Didn't bother me but the boy does like a rib (preferably covered with goo) so he marked that one down. Main course was the Wagyu beef (a colossal £40!). I don't mind paying for good quality food and I've had Wagyu at Zuma where it was exquisite. Here it was almost flavourless. I usually hate fatty meat and although it wasn't fatty per say, the marbling IS supposed to lend a lot of flavour. Frankly it didn't. I would guess there were about 12 slices of it in all - roughly that of a reasonably sized rump steak. The mash that accompanied it was delicious - I could have eaten a bowl of that and not bothered with the meat quite easily. The steamed veg (£6.50!) was pretty bland although nicely al dente. There was a distinct lack of seasoning on everything - both the veg and the meat were crying out for salt but there were no condiments at all on the table. The portions are not enormous but they are probably just what the doctor ordered for two fairly hungry people. I know that the boy and I eat too much so although we did have room for pudding we chose one between two (the Brownie). It was a tenner but it was the largest brownie I've ever seen. The caramel crisp topping was avoided (gets in your teeth!) but the caramel/chocolate sauces were lovely. Not sure what the ice cream was but it was very icey (ie bits of ice in it which was strange and not that pleasant). Totally stuffed by now we decided enough was enough. We'd had two starters, one main, one dessert, two bottles of water, one Mojito and one Bellini. With 15% service (added on automatically), the bill came to £142. To be honest I would not return. The food was good (beef disappointing however), but not amazing. For £40 for a main I expected great things but I know from other reviewers that the beef does not meet expectations which is a shame and I probably should have heeded their comments a little more.

A nice restaurant if you want a treat. Expect to pay a lot (we didn't have wine but lord alone know what the bill would have been if we had!!), but keep your expectations reasonably low (particularly if you are a regular in good London eateries). Some will love it, some will think it's a massive rip off. I sit in the middle but I can say that the service was excellent so I didn't mind the 15% "discretionary" tip!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6


Foliage

We went for a birthday weekend which we rather spoiled for ourselves by getting rip-roaringly drunk in the bar before our meal! We noticed lots of wealthy looking arabian gentlemen with blondes hanging off them...clearly it's a place to be on a Saturday night. The valet didn't bat an eyelid when we arrived outside in a rubbish strewn Micra (bloke's car in the garage), and was as gracious as if it had been a Rolls. We were upgraded to a Queen suite free of charge which was rather nice too. So to the food. As mentioned we were a little sozzled when we finally sat down to dine. The bloke opted for Foie Gras 3 ways which was accompanied by 3 glasses of sherry. Not a good starter for a man on the edge of drunkeness but he pronounced it very fine. Can't remember what I had to start but the seabass was my main and lamb was his. Mine had a red wine risotto with it that just tasted a little strange and wasn't to my taste. The seabass although perfectly cooked was the tinest portion of fish I think I've ever seen. Clearly not the whole fillet which was a shame considering the price was so inflated. Ok so my views are coloured by alcohol but I just wasn't blown away by the food. Perhaps in my case a kebab would have been more appropriate!

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Overall rating 4 stars
Food 5 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 2


The Ivy

Not really worth the hype but then how many "top" London restaurants actually are? We had the shepherd's pie and bangers and mash....both very good and VERY filling. No celebs unfortunately, which my friend was most irritated by. They were hardly likely to turn up on a Saturday lunchtime I suppose! I had the sticky toffee pudding which to be honest although good made me feel quite sick as it was very rich. My own fault I guess for stuffing my face. Go if you want an ok meal at a fairly high price. Midweek seems to be the celeb-tastic time to go. It's not as nonsensical as Sketch Gallery at least!

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Overall rating 6 stars
Food 6 | Service 5 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 6


Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

Not sure what I can add to the highly complimentary reviews about Manoir, but we went just before Christmas for the set lunch menu at £45 a head. Drinks in the lounge, brilliant service, magnificent food and fantastic wine with mouth watering post-prandial petit fours. Just very very good. Spent £300 for 4 people and frankly it was worth every penny (most of that being on the booze!). Not for every day usage but if you want somewhere special go to Manoir. I've yet to eat anywhere in the UK that has matched this place.

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7


Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe

We went for Saturday lunch expecting great things from the man Ramsay. The only comments I would give this place are: 1. Too many screaming kids 2. Totally bored, ignorant waiting staff. I had deep fried oysters which were ok and then pork which was salted and unfortunately not to my taste. Decor is also really naff. Perhaps it gets better in the evenings? Not a credit to Gordon's empire.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 3 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 1


Zuma

I went to Zuma just before Christmas with my company. We had the private dining option which although carries a minimum spend of £700, is private yet still part of the restaurant. To be honest, with 12 people you can rack up £700 in about five minutes if you drink wine! We opted for the Kino-Kotatsu set menu which was huge. The portions came quickly and were plentiful and showed huge range (even pleasing those in the party who were not prepared to try anything even vaguely raw). I cannot compliment the food enough. It was fresh, hot and served by three highly attentive waitresses. Some highlights were the black cod, crispy lemon sole, fried squid, ultra fresh sashimi and the positively ambrosial wagyu beef. I haven't eaten so well in a long time. Yes it's not cheap and I have no idea what the main restaurant is like in comparison, but if you like Japanese food or want to try it for the first time I'd suggest this place. The wine is very expensive (at least a 50% mark up on everything), but if you're not much of a drinker you'll do ok. The service charge nearly made me choke as I don't think anyone's time is worth over £300 for essentially 4 hours (yes they were attentive but come on!!), but this is London and that's what you pay. I'd go again but would exercise a little more restraint with my own money!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8


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