Posts Tagged ‘covent garden’

Resto 7 Lao Café, Covent Garden

March 6, 2019


The first birthday dinner of 2019 was a leftfield choice. Lao Café is the only Laotian resto in London, possibly the UK. One of us had been to Laos (not me) so knew what to expect – leaning more towards Thai food than Vietnamese but quite distinctive. I was happy to try it out.

Lao Café’s interior is refreshingly modern and zappy with a great big mural on one wall. We had a table in the window. In fact we’d commandeered two tables to cope with the amount of food that we’d ordered, so I felt a bit guilty since there was a queue at the door by the time we left but the owner didn’t seem to mind.

I sucked on a glass of wine while perusing the menu – my interest was immediately piqued by ant eggs. This was a new thing to me. I’d have them as part of a Lao mushroom curry. Alongside that we took a Lao papaya salad and a fish dish for two with some grilled sticky rice.

“You want that spicy?’ enquired the owner. ‘Yes please.’ She looked sceptical. ‘One, two or three chillis?’ I looked at Karen for guidance but she stared back inscrutably. ‘Three, why not?’ ‘You’re sure?’ I sensed a challenge being laid down. I nodded resolutely but ordered a beer just in case.

I definitely needed that beer! The heat was slow to arrive but ferocious when it did. In a good way. At least that’s what I said in between glugging down cold booze by the brace. The fish was excellently cooked – meaty and bony so requiring delicate knife skills. Ant eggs were less of a delight, although the curry they rode in on had an excellent depth of flavour with a high mushroom content that would make it a good lunchtime option. The Lao element to the papaya salad appeared to be hard-shelled baby mud crabs, which I was happy to deposit alongside the fishbones uneaten. I was also less than enamoured of the grilled sticky rice, though that may be due to the fact that I’d had a tooth extracted at the weekend and the hole in my face rapidly turned into a sticky rice mine.

Despite ordering less than the recommended amount of two salads and two mains we still couldn’t finish everything that was brought to us. The service was outstanding – really friendly and quick. I especially liked the feller with the low slung jeans who brought us the wrong bill (lower than we expected) and quite happily admitted his own doofishness about it. Even at the higher rate the bill was reasonable for this part of town for the amount of grub/drink we’d got.

I’ll be back to Lao for curry but without the ants or crabs – this is a place where it’s good to know your way around the menu.


To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap …

Resto 34 Rosso Pomodoro, Covent Garden

October 14, 2018


Having been to the extraordinarily good Mantegna-Bellini (I’d say it’s a must see) the previous Friday we returned to the NG for the Courtauld Impressionists. This too is an impressive show. If you haven’t been to either the Courtauld or the National Gallery before. If you have there is literally nothing new to see save for a fancy book created by Mr C to show off his impeccable taste. Since we have a membership for the NG we didn’t have to pay for the tickets (although in a way we kind of had as part of the membership).

There’s a questionable morality around making people (i.e. the British public) pay for something they already own and can usually see for free. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an upside to the sectioning off of these masterpieces behind a pay-wall. Seurat’s Bathers can be revelled in in all its glory without the usual accompaniment of tedious selfie takers and listless tourists getting in the way.

Bringing the two collections together also allows for excellent juxtaposing of works in fresh ways. I was especially struck by two Daumier illustrations of episodes from Don Quixote, especially as the Courtauld’s picture is usually rather inaccessibly hung high up above a chimney breast. But the fact that major paintings like ‘Bathers’ (and many others) are not available to the public throughout the year sticks in the craw somewhat.

So I consoled myself with pizza. Rosso Pomodoro I haven’t been to for some time. They pride themselves on being a Neapolitan outfit and so it was satisfying to get a round of fried stuff to share up front. According to my son Naples is the Glasgow of the south, a place where they’d deep fry their own offspring if they could sell them through a hole in the wall.

The calamari was excellent – squid rings and octopus childers in a fluffy batter. Less enjoyable (though very tasty) was the seaweed croquette. This was more croquette than seaweed. Delicious and fluffy but definitely bringing to mind the potential implications to my arteries of eating so much fatty food.

It was a good job I was hungry as the quattro stagioni that followed was a generous chunk of pizza that overflowed with high quality toppings, especially in the cheese department. The dough is fermented for 24 hours and this tells in the finished product – it’s not often that I want to eat every last portion of a pizza crust but on this occasion I did. Even if ultimately I didn’t manage it; it was with regret that I had to call an end to my struggle.

The service was very good throughout and in seats with a view of the misguided fools queueing to get into Dishoom we were in an admirable place to people watch the parade of human traffic through Covent Garden of a Friday night. It’s worth giving RP a go if you want a change from PExpress.


#Food #London

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

Resto 55 Dalla Terra, Covent Garden

October 8, 2017


We were fortunate enough to have had tickets to Michel Hazavanicius’ latest, Le Redoutable, on Saturday. Contrary to what Jonathan Romney insisted on saying time after time in the Q&A with the director afterwards the film is not a comedy. It has plenty of comic moments (and I mean plenty, though the scenes of Godard repeatedly breaking his glasses, while funny, brought back some painful memories) but at its core it is a tragedy. It describes the quotidian tragedy of a marriage breaking up.

The radical politics of May ’68 in Paris act as a backdrop to the couple’s growing apart but it is gender politics that inform the moral of the film. Godard’s wife, Anne Wiasemsky, realises that the revolution that would enable her to attain personal autonomy is not Maoist but feminist. She isn’t oppressed by the capitalist system exemplified by the movie business in which she works. Rather she’s oppressed by a husband who while seeking to liberate himself from that system acts as just as much of an authority figure as the despised CdG when it comes to the domestic environment.

So we had a lot to discuss as we searched for somewhere civilised to eat in the West End on a Saturday night. Italian, French or Russian (that came out of nowhere!) was the request and we wandered up to Covent Garden and took a chance on Dalla Terra as it didn’t look too busy. Giving the eyeballs to a sharp elbowed couple who tried to jump ahead of us it was gratifying to see them stuck on high stools at a sharing table while we got a more lizardly spot by the window.

Geoff reflected on the fact that there’s no elegant way to eat on a high stool and then peered at Denize through the gloom of the restaurant. He wondered if she too was finding it difficult to read the menu in the stygian darkness. 

‘Yes’, said Denize, ‘It is a bit dark isn’t it?’

‘And the music.’ ‘Too loud.’ ‘I agree.’ ‘It’s like a nightclub.’ ‘Full of old people.’ I thought they were young.’ ‘It’s relative.’

We looked at the menu, which wasn’t extensive but did have what we were looking for – a high quality planche of meat ‘n’ cheese. We got that with a bowl of very, very good olives alongside. In the glass a bottle of Pinot Grigio (for a whiff of Venezia) that was rou. 

The service was excellent given that they were pretty full and we got stuck into the bits. Meat in a satisfying range of varieties, one of them good and spicy. The cheese was outstanding and for roughage there was a rather meagre slathering of sun-dried tomatoes and aubergine. No salad. Always a controversial issue.

Geoff surveyed the plate and realised that there was not to be any salad. The last time he’d been to a restaurant with Denize and there was no salad it had caused a minor breakdown in marital relations as he really likes La Fabrica and knows that they give you plenty of vegetables even if there’s no salad per se on the menu.

You know Geoff thinks that I’m obsessed by the salad but in fact he’s the one who brings it up every time there’s no salad on the menu, and even sometimes when there is. And is it unreasonable to ask a restaurant to make a small salad when you know that they have the ingredients in the kitchen?

‘It doesn’t look like we’re going to get any salad.’ ‘ …’ ‘I’ll go to the loo.’

The big drawback to Della Terra is that it’s severely underbogged for a busy Saturday night. There was already one feller waiting for the sole trap when I got there and I think whoever was in there was squeezing out a dead otter so I thought it best to hang on till home and return to collect the bill.

It wasn’t an awful lot of food for thirty quid a head and the music made it quite difficult to talk to one another. However, I reckon it’s worth returning to Dalla Terra as a daytime venue as the wine and food was excellent and would be ideal for when you’re pooped from artlooking/shopping and wanted an idle hour chatting or reading a book. 


#food #london

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 35 The Oystermen Bar & Grill, Covent Garden

July 21, 2017

Oysters are attractive. Not in an aesthetic way (although I’m sure there are those who would disagree) but rather as an idea of what it means to live in London. So I was very happy the the Oystermen were laying on Essex oysters straight out of Maldon. Maldon is a town that recalls deep English history and also personal memories of long car journeys on crap Sundays to see people I still don’t know who they were/are. I’d arrived at the OB&G from the Summer Exhibition where nothing to my untrained eye had the emotional power unleashed by the simple scrawl Oysters from Maldon £2.00.

So we ordered six. Which on arrival turned out to be twelve, I guess they’d assumed we want six each. It didn’t matter, we had the capacity between us for a dozen of salty slithers seasoned with a bit of onion relish. We munched them in the window, observing the passing trade of tourists, workers and a curiously shaped man much gutted, not unwealthy and certainly confused. He passed by a couple of times yet did not seem to have reached his destination. The window of OB&G is a good place to sit and stare and I’m glad that we chose there and not a table.


Two diners enjoy London’s brilliant parade.

The staff are friendly souls, friendly enough that I didn’t umbrage at a pat on the shoulder but instead reflected that I should be able to cope with physical contact from strangers after four decades of walking the earth. Plaice was next, simply grilled in its entirety (head and all) with samphire, butter and capers. Who couldn’t enjoy that? Chips on the side and a splash of Muscadet in the glass made for a good combination and having gone this far we decided to speculate on dessert.

Dessert was ganache or cheese. Ganache then, I was feeling quite full. Yoghurt ganache but too much of that for someone without the sweet tooth; strawberries and basil leaves worked well though. Did we want a digistif? Yes we did but we also wanted to get on with our evening.

It is a good place. The waiter/manager told me they’d been open for three weeks and I hope they make a go of it. Covent Garden has an awful lot of crap but the Oystermen aren’t involved in that scene, they cook straight up good food and serve it well  at a reasonable price for the area. I hope they thrive.


#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 26 Bhatti, Covent Garden

May 28, 2017

Half three in the afternoon is a bit of a weird time to go to for a curry but we’d been to a concert and hadn’t had lunch. On our way to Dishoom (which we knew would be open) we were surprised to see that Bhatti, which screams trad Indian, also had its doors open. So we took a punt.

Two other diners and the waiter were the only other souls in the room. Most of the other restos on this stretch of Great Queen Street have gone upscale but Bhatti has stuck to it guns and retains a whiff of the 1970s in its décor. The menu is solid British Indian staples at pretty reasonable prices for this location but how was the cooking?

Mixed. My starter of aloo chat was some watery spuds and lettuce in an insipid sauce. Reports from across the table on the state of the onion bhaji were not encouraging. However, the main of a chicken jalfrezi delivered the required heat if not being altogether a taste sensation. Good naan bread and okra compensated slightly but it was rather disappointing that two chilled mugs couldn’t be wrangled for our Kingfishers – I had to settle for the warm one.

Service was good and it was obvious that they only had a skeleton crew on for the afternoon crowd. I would hope that things improve once the evening session gets started but if you want the trad Indian in this part of London it’s a better option to hang on if you can till The India Club starts cooking.


#Food #London

Review #95 Amphitheatre Restaurant, Covent Garden

November 13, 2016

Eating at the opéra, in my limited experience, is always expensive and often a bit of a shot in the dark. And I mean that whether you’re getting some sandwiches and a glass of wine or going for the full gut-busting blow out with gallons of booze on the side. This time we strayed more towards the latter option but hoped to lock in value and convenience by choosing our menu in advance of arrival at the Amphitheatre Restaurant at Covent Garden.

We’d booked the table from 5 o’clock and with show time at 6.30 I thought we’d have ample time to get in the first couple of courses before heading to our seats. The room was buzzy with a good cross-section of your average Covent Garden crowd. The solid suburban middle class who would be hurrying for the train when the show ran late, the rich but not super-rich (they get their own rooms), tourists of various ages and origins (some unlikely couplings amongst them), and the odd normals out for a treat (like us).

Service was super friendly and super quick. Champagne was delivered almost instantaneously and swiftly followed by the starters; obviously it helped that they were both cold. Crab was dressed in its own shell. One was tempted to ask them to wash it out and let us take it home it was so decorous but then again no one wants a jacket stinking of crab. I had a sea bass ceviche which delivered on the heat and tang. A good start.

Next up was red wine. Now I’d ordered a wine from Oregon simply on the basis that I didn’t know that wine was even made in Oregon. This one was a pale red, almost towards the rosé end of the spectrum (although rosé – good rosé – as I once learnt in Quag’s, has an enormous variety of thing going on), and very refreshing. So not exactly perfect to go with the steaks that we’d ordered but in and of itself a dose of pure joy.


The steaks, frankly, took an age being delivered about half an hour before kick off. And as the waiter began to unload sides of salad, chips, kale and celeriac I realised that I’d over-ordered on a vast scale. Although I tried to relax about facing this kind of stuffing with the bell imminent I found it hard to forget that we were against the clock. But the steak was perfectly cooked and sides all good so I’ve no complaints about the food. But it was with a guilty conscience that I rose to go to the auditorium leaving acres of uneaten veg behind me.

I’d seen Les Contes d’Hoffmann at ENO a few years ago in a spectrally sinister modern production (as I remember it, any memory of opera that I have is filtered through a fair amount of booze) but this one was a straight meat and potatoes, feel the quality of these sets and cossies style thing. Which I was quite happy to roll along with. Of course it helps when all of the singers are outstanding and although no expert I can confidently predict that I’m unlikely to see a better acting-singing tenor than Vittorio Grigolò in my lifetime. He was good.

At the first interval we had autumn fruit and a Beaumes de Venise. Now, dear reader, when you order autumn fruits what do you expect? I’m thinking berries, apples and pears with possibly grapes at a stretch though by November that would be very late. Well, the ROH has other ideas. Autumn in the UK is pineapple, mango and pomegranate. Slight category error there though all tasty. And I wish I’d gottle a bottle of Beaume because one glass wasn’t enough.

Back to Offenbach for Act 2, which came in at a brisk 30 minutes. Poor old Hoffmann gets blown out yet again and it’s back on the sauce for him. As it was for us with cheese, good generous lumps of it in four varieties with a bit of the red held back to wrap it up. I have to admit that the final act of an opera is often a bridge too far for me but not this time, I was eager for more.

So would I recommend the opera? Undoubtedly. Would I recommend the restaurant? Yes, but not unreservedly. It’s great to have your own space to retire to between acts although you do miss out on the people watching to be had if you’re perching with a glass in the Floral Hall. The food is very good for a mass catering experience and the lateness of our steaks may have just been a glitch. It’s not a cheap night out but why should it be when you’re seeing a collection of the best singers of their generation in one of the finest theatres in the world?


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap


Review #16, Lima Covent Garden

February 19, 2016

So the eldest child was back for reading week and by way of a little get together we decided to do a little eating ‘n’ shopping in Covent Garden. Our rendezvous was at the Lamb and Flag (top pub, recommended if you don’t know it already) and not being in the mood for scouring the area for food we went to literally the nearest restaurant.

This meant Lima (not Lemur, arf), a short stagger out the back in Floral Street. Having never been to a Peruvian restaurant in my life before 2016 I’ve now been to two in a few weeks but this was a totally different experience to that to be had in Tito‘s. While Tito’s is at the cantina end of South American dining Lima is definitely at the the opposite end of the scale of sophistication.

The food and ingredients are basically the same however – ceviche, seafood, meat, maize, exotic spuds and sour/sweet heat. But at Lima the food is exquisite both to taste and to look at. Each plate was a picture, and the refined nature of the food is only enhanced by a similarly elegant room. We had a Peruvian Chardonnay and were soon hit with the two bottle conundrum – three people and one bottle doesn’t work but two bottles seems a bit much. Being on holiday the next day we went for broke and got a second. What we should have done of course is had a pisco cocktail to warm up and then supped one bottle of white. Which goes to show that in Peruvian dining I may be learning rapidly but have yet to turn pro.

All this good stuff comes at a cost – Lima is not cheap. But that’s okay if the product is good; compared to most places in Covent Garden Lima delivers value for money.


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

%d bloggers like this: