Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant’

Resto 27 Assaggetti, Haymarket

June 14, 2017

On a sunny Monday lunchtime we strolled to Assaggetti tempted by their lunchtime offer of two courses for £16.95. It was a good choice. The room is massive and a trip to the loo can add significantly to your step count if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. Fellow diners were sparse (there’s a lot of competition in this part of London), being mostly office workers as far as I could tell.

The food was good value. Smoked salmon to kick off was a generous enough portion with a drizzle of balsamic and some shavings of sweet onion. The spicy tuscan sausage pizza was delicious and big enough for a larger appetite than I possess. I tried to finish the lot because the crust was delicious but I just didn’t have the capacity. The house white at just over 21 quid a bottle was fine and helped the conversation along.

The one downside for a musically sensitive soul like myself was their decision to play Sting after Sting after Sting. For me a little Sting goes a long way. I didn’t like it. The service however was excellent so if you want a quick cheap lunch around here, and you can tolerate wanky Geordies, Assaggetti isn’t a bad option.

#Food #London

7/10

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.

5/10

#Food #London

Resto 25 Searcy’s St Pancras Grand Restaurant

May 9, 2017

I’d often wondered, as I hurried along to get a Midlands train, who dined in Searcy’s trackside at St Pancras. It seemed a halfway house between the luxury of the Gilbert Scott and the midbrow convenience of Carluccio’s et al elsewhere in the station that couldn’t really work. The door is narrow and you can’t really see inside to get a handle on who your company might be once you’re inside. So we gave it a go at the weekend.

The room is tardis-like, much bigger than you expect, and pleasingly appointed. There are big tables, proper nappery and good, brasserie-style décor. The food is standard bistrot fare too. However, there’s nothing to mark out the restaurant as worthy of note, from food to service. It’s all competent without making you think you must go back so it’s noticeable that most of the customers (on our visit at least) appear to be out of towners who are indeed less than likely to need to go back again. And alas the prices reflect the location rather than the value of the experience. It’s all a bit soulless.

#Food #London

6/10

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

Resto 24 Saki, Crouch End

April 30, 2017

Opposite the now defunct Ohba Leaf Saki is maintaining a solid Japanese option in Crouch End. The elimination of its rival has obviously not harmed business for we were lucky to get a table even at around 6 o’clock. People arriving after us without a reservation were being turned away.

The menu is standard sushi/sashimi, bentos and curries but no ramen as far as I remember. Which was good as it made me try something different for a change. We took a range of appetisers to share which arrived as they were cooked. Duck dumplings were excellent – crispy and squidgy – while the octopus balls (‘When was the last time you had octopus balls?’ badinaged across the table) were okay but not especially life-enhancing. Best of the three was the squid; fluffy batter sweet and hot chilli sauce, made for not sharing, you’ll want the whole plate.

Big food was eel on rice. How I love eel! This was well cooked in a tasty sauce on sticky rice. I wish I’d got some veg to go with it but apart from that it was perfect. Asahi on the side worked fine and for about twenty quid a head this is a good option in a fiercely competitive N8 market.

#Food #London

8/10

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

Saki

Resto 22 Dragon, Crouch End

April 15, 2017

IMG_0835.jpg

A Chinese restaurant isn’t the traditional venue for a Good Friday dinner I guess but when you’re in the grip of the perma-hang it’s  a good option. The last time I was in Dragon was at least twenty years ago but it’s a good sign that in a place like Crouch End it still exists. Few other restos in N8 have such staying power.

We got a mixture of starters and then a main each with some mixed vegetables. All of the starters were piping hot and cooked fresh – definitely a good sign in a genre of dining that too often (in my experience) relies on the reheat. We should have got two soft shell crabs as between four of us I was lucky to get a crabnail.

My main of sizzling Szechuan prawn arrived suitably spectacularly and had a good kick of fresh chilli. I should have had a beer but my mind said I’d had enough so we had wine. It wasn’t the best wine but it was quite cheap. In fact the whole meal came in at under 25 quid a head for plenty of food and drinks each.

The room was quiet for a Sunday evening and this is a shame when other places around here are bursting at the seams. The décor may be old-fashioned but the atmosphere was pleasantly calm, and the service was excellent. I think it won’t be two decades before I visit again. For a trad Chinese Dragon does a good job for which more ‘designed’ places in this area would charge you a premium.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Restaurant 19 Galette Café, Paris

April 8, 2017

IMG_0809.jpg

We wanted a quick lunch on the way to the Louvre and galettes (or Breton pancakes) seemed a good option. Half empty when we arrived the room was soon full with students, local workers and a few tourists like us. The seating is tight with individual tables around the fringe of the room with a communal table in the middle. This gave the space a nice, informal vibe that was just right for our mood.

The menu has a good variety of galettes to suit most tastes. I had a mushroom and chicken with a Grimbergen on the side. Being Breton they go big on cider so I felt a bit guilty at not trying some (especially with pictures of the producers smiling rustically down at me from the walls) but I lost the need for cider when I was about 16.

The galette was delicious – chunky and rustic with a good helping of mushrooms and chicken on top. I think double up the carbs by adding potato to the mix was a bit unnecessary but it didn’t diminish from the tastiness of the dish. A highly recommended non-touristy spot close to the d’Orsay or the river for a quick bite.

8/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 18 Goppa’s, Hackney

March 28, 2017

Killing time before heading to a gig at MOTH club (one of the best ever!) we were looking for quick food. I couldn’t be tempted by a steakwich at The Globe, even though the company was charming, so we pressed on to Goppa’s, lured by pizza.

On an unprepossessing (but is anywhere in this corner of Hackney prepossessing?) stretch of road Goppa’s is alluring from the outside. A warm room, rough and ready seating and a nice bar with Italian pop tunes on the stereo. I liked it immediately.

The menu is more sophisticated than expected with the usual pizzas but a great variety of pasta as well as a good range of smaller dishes. We went for calamari up front followed by Tuscan sausage pizza with a green salad. The calamari were great – light batter and straight from the pan. I was wondering where the aïoli was but actually they didn’t need a dip. With a squeeze of lemon they were absolutely perfect and I wish I’d had a whole bowl to myself.

The pizza had a good base and plenty of sausagey-mushroom topping. A large one was enough for two to share. The salad was a slight let-down after all this excellence with a bit too much salt in the dressing for my taste but others may differ. With a cheap bottle of white the whole thing came in at about 30% less than you’d pay at a medium-level chain so it was great value too.

Business was slightly slow on a quiet early Monday evening but I expect it’s busier later and at weekends. The staff were really friendly and if I’m back in the area I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again.

Recommended.

8/10

#Food #London #Hackney

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 17 Brasserie Blanc, South Bank

March 19, 2017

Prior to a bout of Norwegian angst at the NT we were looking for somewhere that wouldn’t be too busy on a Saturday night on the South Bank. In the old days Chez Gérard/Brasserie Blanc would have fitted the bill for it was always in my experience the least favoured of an eating venue around those parts. However, that has changed. It took a while for the maitre d’ to wrangle us a table, for which I was very grateful as I didn’t fancy traipsing any further.

IMG_0668.jpg

The change of fortune must surely be down to the revamp of the whole outfit. As you can see from the illustration the entrance is now a rather noir-ish yet welcoming prospect, a vast improvement on what was there before. While I liked the old room, especially the booths, it was starting to show its age. Now they’ve stuck a bar at the front (a good move for the casual pre-theatre drinker who doesn’t want to go elbow to elbow with the English middle classes) and opened out the room at the back. The only mis-step for me was the music which was too loud for my liking (but nothing like as irritating as the gratuitous use of Cohen’s Hallelujah in an otherwise excellent HG. If I could have Townsended the guitar the minute the opening bar was played I would have.) . Otherwise the designers have done a good job.

The menu is pretty much the same, which is no bad thing. Classic French dishes, maybe a little less focus on the steak side of things. I had a G&T (a good one) while we mulled over the menus. The prix fixe is good value but we went à la carte. A shared charcuterie board did the trick up front – enough for two if neither of you is a gannet though maybe a bit more bread would have been nice. For main a big helping of moules frites was good but took a lot longer to arrive than the seared trout across the way, which was a shame as that was the only blemish on what was otherwise an excellent service. Cabbage as a side was just my thing too.

So l’empire Blancais has definitely raised its game and a chain that I once used as a last resort has restored its reputation. It’s nice when things get better.

7/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 16 Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly

March 15, 2017

My birthday and a lunch en famille. With a visit to Paris in view I thought I’d pay Zédel a visit to have something with which to compare local fare with that. from this side of the channel. Because Zédel is a simulacrum of the classic Parisian brasserie in a cavernous room beneath Piccadilly Circus. Dark wood, linen for miles, gilded fittings and formally dressed staff. I like that shit so it made me happy to be guided to a table by someone who appeared to be genuinely French – but in such a hall of mirrors one couldn’t be absolutely certain.

iur.jpeg

Enter a caption

The menu is classic stuff – right down to frogs legs and snails in the starters. No, I didn’t partake, I always think that one should be more ambitious when dining out than to consume something one could find in the average suburban garden. I had an endive salad. I could eat endives all day and it didn’t disappoint. A bit more sauce wouldn’t have been bad but they were very generous with the Roquefort. Fish of the day was hake, grilled perfectly on a slick of spuds and crunchy broccoli.

Happy Levett looked at the desserts and it being An Occasion devoured a mandarin sorbet with champagne. The room wasn’t quite as busy as when I last visited but was still full of atmosphere. If you’re watching the pennies Zédel has nothing excessively priced on the à la carte for the standard of service and food (which were both excellent), and it does a good set menu too.

I could feel myself putting on another chin as I downed the last of the wine and slithered up the stairs to the pale March sunshine.

8/10

#Food #London #Piccadilly

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 14 Bill’s, Holborn

March 4, 2017

Is Kingsway the most functional eating street in London? It has all the chains in a relentlessly mid-range bracket and in the mid-range of the mid-range sits Bill’s. Bill’s I think has some kind of history attached which means than technically it’s no longer Bill’s (or at least not the chainy bit) but someone else’s. But ‘Someone Else’s’ wouldn’t be such a snappy name as ‘Bill’s’ would it? So I reckon whoever bought the right to Bill’s (Hedge fund? Lottery winner? Shadowy drug cartel? I could find out but life’s too short to worry about such things as long as it isn’t O****r. But then why would he purchase the ‘Bill’s’ name when he has a name of his own to push.*).

So yes, Bill’s. A safe bet on the food front covering as it does a gamut of bases from your carnivore to your vegan, from your lactose intolerant to your gluten free. Some sections of the menu read like the key to an Ordnance Survey map with the cutest symbol not referring to dietary requirements but rather to Bill’s Heritage items. Which made me sigh.

But still they wouldn’t be there unless the marketing people hadn’t drilled down precisely into how much extra spend they would get out of pitching 10% of the food to the kind of people who think, ‘Hmmm, I was going to have the sea bass until I saw that the felafel burger was one of the original lines sold in Bill’s back in the day when Bill’s was Bill’s rather than someone else’s so I’ll have that instead.’

Which cynicism on my part makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy Bill’s. I did. Putting aside the guff around the faff the product is solidly reliable. A good range of food executed well in a pleasant room with good service. Not everywhere manages to do one of those things let alone all four. My fillet steak was tender enough but had a little too much fat around the edge for my liking. Although this was forgivable as it came in at around half the price of say Hawksmoor’s steak. With a decent glass of Merlot for a fiver I had no complaints when it came to coughing up the cash. And the atmosphere was calm – enough room between the tables to not feel hedged in and the music pitched at the right volume to allow for normal conversation.

It just seemed that the package as a whole was the exact opposite of the vibe that they’re trying to sell. And they’re trying to sell a lot – food to eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner), food to take home, aprons, in fact anything that isn’t nailed down seems to be for sale. Well, not the staff I’m sure. Which kind of makes it difficult to take Bill’s seriously as a happy go lucky, stretch out and relax kind of place. You can’t repackage an atmosphere as a heritage item, as anyone who’s been to Beamish would know.

7/10

*Prick’s, in case you were wondering.

#food #london

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap


%d bloggers like this: