We have just been to this restaurant and it was awful. I ordered squid with garlic and lemongrass which turned out to be a tempura (no mention of that on the menu, quite stale tasting too).My boyfriend ordered beef satay which looked and tasted like black bean sauce.We sent this back and received the same thing again which I refused to pay for.We ordered mixed vegetable which had an msg sauce.Made a very quick exit from a disappointing meal. My boyfriend had to find something else to eat after.Really bad value for money, as the portions are tiny.
I love going out for dinner and unfortunately have been spoiled in the past because I lived abroad and on my expatriate wage, I could afford to (and invariably did) go out for dinner several times a week. Then I came back to London, where I earn not very much over and above basic living costs, and so sadly had to say goodbye to my going out to dinner days. Luckily though, the reason for coming to London was because of my partner's job, so occasionally I make him feel guilty about the fact that I'm now not too well off and he takes me out for dinner. However, the rare time that I do go out, I do expect to get good food and service for my money (or rather his money) and so am always delighted to find somewhere such as this restaurant, where not only is the food delicious and the service good, but the price is not too bad either!
The restaurant is located in Pimlico, within walking distance from both Victoria tube and train station and Pimlico tube. It is also very near to Vauxhall bridge and therefore the Tate Gallery. It is on a fairly quiet street, so you will need a London A to Z to find it. The address is:
46 Churton Street (off Belgrave Road)
Tel: 0207 834 6896
If the décor of a restaurant is more important to you than the food, then this may not be your cup of tea. The ground floor area is fine, light and airy, with minimal decorations - brick walls painted in rose pink and green. Downstairs though, are two other rooms, both quite small and of course under ground, which makes them a little claustrophobic. Tables are packed in fairly tightly, so you do tend to overhear your neighbour's conversations, particularly if they are noisy. Again, the walls and painted in rose pink and green, with some paintings, but it is clear that decorating is not the owner's top priority. Having said that, I don't think that this is important - the good things about this restaurant more than make up for the lack of interior design.
This is the best bit. The restaurant is Vietnamese, but also serves Chinese and Thai cuisine. I know very little about Vietnamese cuisine, but I do know my Chinese, having lived there for many years, and I can categorically say the Chinese food here is not only delicious, but is far more authentic than any other Chinese restaurant I've been to in London. The only thing missing is the monosodiumglutamate, which can only be a good thing. I've been to this restaurant twice now. The first time, my partner and I chose a set meal for two, which cost just £13 per head. This included spare ribs, meat wrapped in rice pancakes, spring rolls, three main dishes (including sizzling beef), rice, a desert and coffee to end. There are three other set meal choices, ranging from £15 to £17. This last time, we had hot and sour soup, made the proper Sichuanese way (although there were peas in it - I've never come across a pea in China!), Saigon chicken (not too hot), sizzling beef with lemongrass and French beans cooked in a garlic sauce, accompanied by egg-fried rice with spring onion. All was fantastic - fresh and mouth-watering.
There seem to be only three people waiting on - the owner and two young girls - yet the service is very quick and polite, and we were asked during the course of the meal if they could do anything else for us. I noticed a number of people coming into the restaurant that the owner clearly knew well, again, the fact that people come back must be a good thing.
I think for food of this quality, the price is excellent. Both times we have paid no more than £35 for a filling meal and a bottle of white wine. There are few places in London where you can get food and service of this quality for less than £50. The restaurant has apparently been praised in Time Out's cheap eats.
As you can probably tell, I love this place. Luckily my partner lives very close to the restaurant, so I am hoping to become a regular. Highly recommended if you like authentic oriental food for a good price and aren't too bothered about the décor.
Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen was eagerly waited for, after we'd all seen the effort, stress and money that went into developing it in the TV series 'Jamies Kitchen'.
Jamie opened the restaurant as a means of training young people in London who wanted to be chefs, but had not had the opportunities in life to help them realise their dreams. Every year 30 new trainees are selected to train at college and with the man himself, and in between that work at Fifteen. All this is funded by profits made in the restaurant, which is run by Jamie's charity 'Fifteen Foundation (formerly Cheeky Chops).
There are two parts to Fifteen - Fifteen the restaurant itself which is on basement level and the Trattoria upstairs at street level. This review concentrates on the Trattoria.
Being a big fan of Jamie I decided to take my friend to Fifteen last autumn for her birthday. We went on a Saturday lunchtime in early November, booking was not essential for lunch, we had been told but we did anyway - just to be certain that we wouldn't have a wasted journey all the way from Yorkshire!
Out first contact with the staff of Fifteen was with the friendly and helpful girl working on the reception. She immediately showed us to our seats and took our coats to the cloakroom. There seems to be a good staff to customer ratio and there was a server on hand immediately to offer a bottle of water whilst we perused the menu. We were not hassled in any way and were given time to decide on our choices from the menu. All of the staff were very knowledgeable about Jamie and his recent activities and all were happy to talk about them. One girl even humoured us at the end of out visit and took our photo outside the restaurant as a memento of the day.
The menu in the Trattoria changes on a daily basis. The lunch menu for the day we visited was full of choice. There were 2 starters (or Antipasti) priced at £3.00 each, then approximately 8 Primi, which seemed to be main courses on a slightly smaller scale, all priced between £8 and £14 depending on the size of the serving. Then came the Secondi, which was the selection of about 6 main courses all priced at £15. And finally the Contorni, which was the selection of side dishes, all priced at £3.
As we were looking at the menu, we nibbled on freshly baked bread dipped in oil which was so nice we couldnt wait to try something else. We both chose a main course from the Secondi section of the menu. I had Pan Fried Sea Bass with Baby Beetroot and Horseradish Crème Fraiche. My friend had Lamb Shank, and we shared a portion of Roast Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic from the Contorni. The sea bass was beautiful, the skin was crisp and the flesh was tender and juicy. Combined with the Crème Fraiche and the baby beetroot it was a delicious meal. The lamb shank was enormous; it came in gravy with vegetables, and was a hit with my friend. The roast potatoes that we shared didnt last very long as they were divine! We argued over who should have the last one! After this excellent food we were literally stuffed, we were so full we couldnt even entertain the idea of a dessert.
The décor of the Trattoria is very neutral and natural and leads to a relaxing dining experience. The atmosphere is very laid back and we felt comfortable in our surroundings even though we had not dressed up.
As I described in the menu section, the prices for each part of the meal are pretty standard. I think that £15 for a main course in a popular good quality restaurant in central London is very reasonable. All in all our final bill came to just under £50.00, that was for a bottle of water, two main courses, a side order of potatoes and a tall Archers and Lemonade. It also included a 15% tip. At £25 per head I think I can say that we had good value for our money.
All profits from Fifteen, including tips, go to Fifteen Foundation. This charity pays to train 30 lucky young hopefuls every year. For more information go to:
So not only do you get a good meal you know that you are helping to train the next generation of top chefs!
A lot of people go to Fifteen in the hopes of meeting Jamie Oliver, but are sadly disappointed as he is so busy with other commitments he is not always there and when he is he is usually extremely busy. To make up for this the restaurant has his latest books for sale, sometimes there are even signed copies. For those of you who already have the books, or havent got a spare £25, you can always take your copy of the menu home with you. Thats what we did, and with the photo we had taken outside it serves as a good reminder of an excellent day out.
Fifteen can be found at:
Tel: 0871 3301515
**WOULD I GO AGAIN?**
Most definitely! It was an experience I am looking forward to enjoying again; only next time I am going to save up and eat in the actual Fifteen restaurant and hopefully next time I might get to meet Jamie too!
The location: Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, North London. The contenders: In the red corner, the unbeaten favourite, laydeez n gennelmen, give a big hand for, LAAAAAAA POR-CHETTA! And, in the blue corner, newly reopened with a flash large bar, the challenger tonight, will you welcome back to Finsbury Park, PAPPA-GONE! The prize: We are fighting tonight for the title of Greatest Pizzeria in London. Okay, sorry for the build-up, but to anyone who lives anywhere near this corner of north London, this is about more than some tasty pizzas with friendly service and great value. This is serious. The Porchetta - Pappagone rivalry makes the Montagues and the Capulets look like bosom buddies. There's no room for neutral bystanders, and everyone in the area has a violent attachment one way or the other. Each side claims that all their Italian mates swear blind that La Porchetta, or Pappagone, is the best pizzeria outside Italy. My household has always been a Porchetta house. So what's the attraction of the reigning champ? The largest pizzas in London, for a fiver or six quid tops. You can ask for whatever toppings you fancy, and my tip would be to insist on extra rocket regardless which pizza you go for. (This is north London, after all.) And the pizzas are massive. Every time we go there, which is close to once a week for the past six months, we see uninitiated newbies ordering starters. Oh how we laugh! You see, the starters themselves are massive -- for garlic bread, they basically give you a full pizza minus the cheese. And then when the pizzas come, they hang over the edges of the very large plates by about an inch. Quality-wise, the toppings are great, and as long as you don't expect your pizza to be too crisp, they are great. Throw in litres of house wine at eight quid, boisterous service and gorgeous heaps of side salads, tiramisu and the rest, and it's easy to see why queues
form outside La Porchetta on many nights, large though it is. A great meal for under a tenner, or stuff yourself silly with plenty of wine for 15 quid. Last night, however, we decided to give Pappagone a try. I think we all felt guilty about cheating on La Porchetta, but what were we missing out on? And after all, they'd never find out... It turns out that Pappagone is basically a slightly upmarket, slightly more pricey version of La Porchetta, with slightly smaller (or less gross, according to appetite) portions and classier options on the menu. Unfortunately last night the service was so-so, and we were kept waiting at several stages. They were also reluctant to serve tap water, which always puts my back up. In the end, we were all agreed. It was quite nice, if you like that sort of thing... but it just wasn't the same, and we'll be back to the Piglet very shortly, curly tails between our legs. Has anyone else out there got a view on this deadly rivalry? Or are there similar competing restaurants in your area? UPDATE While nothing above is incorrect, I should add a note about noise in La Porchetta. The restaurant has always been a happy, bustling place, with a loud hubbub of conversation competing with the pop music playing, and sport on a big screen. This is good. On recent visits, however, I have not enjoyed the crescendos when a birthday is celebrated and the waiters bang metal objects to make as much noise as possible. It's tolerable once in an evening, but by the third or fourth time -- especially a problem at weekends -- it is very wearing. So probably avoid La Porchetta for a quiet evening out. Overall however I have enjoyed myself as much on recent visits as ever.
Want to relive your latest gastronomic blowout from your Spanish holiday? Want a recommendation for a West End restaurant with suburban prices? Want a pre- or post-theatre venue? Well if you can answer, "Yes" to any of the above, have I got the place for you! Café España, situated at the western end of Soho's Old Compton Street doesn't look much, just a shop-front width with a single door and a menu outside. The pedestrian traffic in the evening does not really encourage leisurely perusal of the menu in the window, but that doesn't worry me. Now that I've been there several times, why would I want to wait outside anyway? Given its popularity and central position, it's lucky for the Café España that it goes back quite a long way from the pavement and that it has an upstairs as well. As far as I know, you can't book*. After all, anyone who can fill their restaurant twice over at most points in the evening has no need of such complications, like people failing to turn up or being delayed. *We tried once only to be rebuffed, and haven't since. The interior isn't much to write home about, but the candle-lit tables downstairs all go to make the place atmospheric, as does the closeness of the tables. The upstairs isn't quite so nice but it's the luck of the draw I'm afraid. Even so, you can always make your own romantic atmosphere, through a Rioja-fuelled haze! Despite its name, it's a full restaurant, so it's a bit puzzling why they came up with the one they did. The staff is friendly and genuinely Spanish-speaking, unlike some European restaurants, where the owners seem to think that anyone looking a bit foreign will do - after all, the British can't speak Spanish, no es verdad? This gives me the impression that it is mainly a family-run business, if the lack of turnover of waiters is anything to go
by. We once went there during the week when business was slacker, to be told "I'll put you in the window - that way we'll look full, and perhaps then I can go home earlier!" Anyhow, that's enough of the cosmetics - let's get to business. This is a Spanish Restaurant serving real Spanish food, and if the number of ex-pat Spaniards amongst the clientele is anything to go by, it's highly rated. As you would expect, an à-la-carte menu vies with a long list of tapas for your custom. I have dined from both, and both are excellent. Some of the tapas are just different-sized starters. For example, the tapa-sized tortilla, (Spanish Omelette) is enormous, and you begin to wonder if the waiter hasn't brought you a main course by mistake. Rather than reel off a massive list, I'll talk you through a couple of the main meals that I've had there, and then through last night's tapas. A TYPICAL STARTER HUEVOS FLAMENCOS. (Eggs, flamenco style) A large and very hot earthenware dish filled with what is best described as hot ratatouille, with chunks of chorizo (spicy sausage) thrown in for good measure. So what about the eggs? Two of these are broken and spread on top. Then the whole shebang gets grilled briefly to set the eggs. Accompany with a basket of bread for dunking and you're off. One sauce-splashed shirt later, looking more like a Jackson Pollock* original, I'm ready for my next course. *Strangely enough, that could be rhyming slang for what I said when I did it! A TYPICAL MAIN COURSE Strangely enough, I'm less loquacious about the main courses, and I suspect that this is because I'm feeling quite replete after the enormous starter. I do remember having Higado con Bacon once (liver and bacon, but no, it doesn't come with school mashed potato, thank God!). Whilst I'm in an "offal" mood, the Riñones al Jerez (kidney
s in sherry) makes a pleasantly different meal. Of course, there is a choice of accompanying vegetables, and here I would perhaps ask them to bring us a tapa-sized portion of Patatas Bravas (spicy spuds). Fish dishes are also available, and my wife had a terrific grilled salmon there to. Bacalao a la Viscaina (Basque-style Cod) is also delicious. Seafood is also taken care of, with the likes of prawns, octopus, squid, cuttle-fish, and mussels. Of course, if you're not a great lover of "the stinking rose", as the Romans used to call garlic, then grilled meats are probably your best bet, with lamb chops and a variety of steaks to choose from. DESSERTS Not my forte I'm afraid, but they do look nice. If pressed, I'll have their version of Crème Caramel, (simply known as "Flan" is Spanish). What an economic language Spanish is. "Do you have any crème caramel today?" becomes "Hay flan hoy"? OH THOSE TAPAS! Last night, my wife and I were booked to see Mamma Mia!, conveniently also in Old Compton Street. We arrived at the Café España at around 7:00, and by the look of it, were the last to find a table without waiting. We ordered 5 dishes, Chorizo al Viño (sausage in wine), Albondigas (meat balls), Patatas Bravas (spicy potatos), Tortilla (THAT Spanish Omelette!), Riñones al Jerez (kidney in sherry, again!). Coupled with a bottle of "house white", which turned out to be Torres Viña Sol, no mean achievement in its own right, and a "damned fine" cup of coffee, the bill was £30 before leaving a tip. A whole row of staff offering "Buenas Noches" later, and we were out on the street, nursing full stomachs and ready to hunker down into our seats for a nap - no such luck with Mamma Mia! though. My advice - get there early or late, but not in between. They are open on Sundays, and we've been there la
te after going to the "improv" nights at the Comedy Store. I've never yet had to queue, but it's only a matter of time, I suppose, so why am I telling you?
Firstly, yes I do live in Crouch End and do not claim to be in the least bit unbiased. BUT having lived here my whole life, surely I have a valuble outlook? The best bit about C.E are the restaurants. Many a trepid explorer has died in the quest to find out just how many restaurants there are altogether. I challenge you to name but one nationality not covered in and around C>E For Indian restaurants go to Tottenham Lane, the bit nearest the broadway. There's The Shamrat and The Belash to name but a few. All very good. For Malaysian head for Satay Malaysia on Crouch End Hill, only a few doors up from the broadway. There's a turkish restaurant on tottenham lane, just before soup dragon. For Italian there's pizza express on Crouch End Hill, or Pizza Bella right in the broadway opposite the clocktower. For chinese there's the Dragon just a few doors down from Pizza Bella There's a lovely French restaurant called Floriens but its very expensive. Gorgeous though. It's on the beginning of tottenham lane. There's a Greek restaurant on the corner of Weston Park, owned by the lottery winner. It's great but the tables are too close together in my opinion. An Australian restaurant is situated out of the broadway on Park Lane, opposite Cranley Gardens. I name but a few! Parks- we have two main ones which are Stationers Park and Priory Park. Stationers has one entrance on Mayfield Road and another on Uplands Road, which are parallel to each other. They link Ridge Road to Tottenham Lane. Priory Park is much bigger and has a paddling pool, playground and far more grass area. It also has tennis courts. Stationers has bigger playgrounds and lies on an hill but isn't as spacious. Pubs- The Maynard Arms on Park Road, The Kings Head in the Broadway. Bars are a plenty and you can't move without finding one. Your best bet is to head down Park Road or go to a new
one quiet grand looking on tottenham lane. Swimming Pool- Park Road Pool on, yep, Park road. It has a lido, kids pool, lane pool, and diving pool. Crouch End is a great place to grow up due to the great sense of community around, which is unusual for it's position in London. It's not the easiest place to get to but once you're there it's great. It's in desperate need of a tube station, even though it's only a five minute bus journey (W7 or W3) to Finsbury Park Station or a 15 minute walk to Highgate station. There are plans to open up a Big Cinema complex right in the centre. Developers have acknoledged its promising position and atmosphere. pay it a visit!
This op evolved as a result of MALU asking if I knew of any nice Teashops which could be found in the centre of London, other than those found in the big hotels. I spent ages searching the web, and could come up with very few. There seem to be plenty in seaside towns, like Bournemouth and Brighton, and in big cities like York and Bath, but woefully few in the capital itself. Even though I am close to London, I was totally unaware of this situation until I searched for them. It is a shame that the wholesome backbone of London’s refreshments infrastructure seems to be geared solely to fast finance, that being either the nasty non-phenomenon that is fast food, or the only general alternative that is expensive food. Neither option is a guarantee of health, nourishment or even pleasant surroundings. One is lucky to find an establishment that doesn’t exist mainly for mass catering profits. But it wasn’t always like that. Before the onslaught of burger chains and coffee shops, London was lined with reliable retailers of edible exquisites. There were many a classy, quiet places where one could get a nice afternoon tea, served in proper china cups and saucers, accompanied by an assortment of finger foods. Nowadays, it only seems to be possible to “take tea” in the traditional sense, in one of the more upmarket hotels in the centre of London. Whatever happened to the traditional Teahouse? In the late 19th century the concept of Teahouses grew around Britain, and this allowed for a rather polite and sedate atmosphere where it was possible to enjoy a pleasant tea, or indeed a light lunch. The market was literally cornered by Lyons Corner Houses, and later, by the ABC insignia of the Aerated Bread Co Cafes. During the last century this trend developed to incorporate the occasional Pie & Mash shop, or even the Italian style transport cafes that sprang up everywhere in the fifties. Even those greasy spoons were
more of a rewarding choice than today’s burnt offering burger joints. The result was, that Londoners had many a place to grab their food without being over charged or over poisoned. Even the Railway Stations, now ruined by eateries looking like Motorway Service Canteens, used to have exceptionally nice venues for basic sustenance, and, like in the movie 'Brief Encounter' would be a much happier environment to relax and manage your social life. Nowadays, I yearn for the return of those great days, and look around me at the awfulness on offer. Burger bars abound on every corner. “Grab a sandwich” shops exist in every shopping mall, or indeed, in every shopping street in the capital. Coffee shop chains have sprung up all over the place. Sure, one CAN buy tea there, but it isn’t the same as the old fashioned teashop. It is true that there is a healthy bargain to be had if one can find it, and it’s also the case that some of those greasy spoon cafes do still exist, if you can find them. But generally, it's best to go home for a meal rather than go with the rubbish provided. In the centre of London, to find a genuine teahouse, serving afternoon tea in the traditional sense of the word, is nigh on impossible. One of the greatest turnarounds in the field of “dining out” is of course, the rise of the curry house. Our friends from the Asian lands have filled London with some fantastic culinary experiences, and these, especially in the vegetarian range, can be a reasonable replacement for some of those diners of olde. Unfortunately, they do not make up for the loss of the wonderful London tearooms and cafes, and that fact I shall mourn indefinitely. And why are fast food outlets so ugly? Everything seems to be rush, rush, rush. Whatever happened to knives and forks, comfortable seats and plates? Whatever happened to tea made in pots, not simply a bag dunked in a mug? Am I t
he on ly on e who still enjoys tea from a china cup and saucer? Are toasted crumpets a thing of the past? Will they cease making the essential ingredient of a waitress’s uniform, that classic little white apron? TEA SHOPS I DID MANAGE TO LOCATE I searched high and low for the locations of tea Houses in Central London, which were not situated in the big hotels. Copernic, Google, Jeeves, even the Yellow Pages were utilized in order to try and establish some reasonable sort of list. I’m afraid the list is woefully small, emphasising the unfortunate demise of the London Tea Shop. Café Valerie Located in the Piazza at Covent Garden. Address: 8 Russell St, Covent Garden, WC2 Telephone: 020 7240 0064 Opening times: Mon-Sat, 7.30am-11pm; Sun 9am-6pm Disabled facilities: Web: www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk The Orangery You can enjoy afternoon tea in the grounds of Kensington Palace. A very popular place with tourists, you may need to be prepared to queue for your table. Several menus are available, from a simple pot of tea and scone, to the full works. Address: Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, W8 Telephone: 020 7938 1406 Opening times: Mar - Oct, Mon-Sun, 10am-6pm Disabled facilities: Wheelchair access; disabled toilets Kandy Tea Room [Tea room] 4 Holland Street, London W8; 01-71-937-3001 A small tea room, boasting just 5 tables. It can be found near Kensington High Street. Tea and scones a speciality Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 5pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 6pm. The Muffin Man [Tea room and merchant] 12 Wright's Lane, London W8; 0270-937-6652 Just around the corner from Kensington Station. Various menus available, including a full, traditional tea. The Muffin Man also sells its own brand of tea. Café Flo [Tea room] 127-129 Kensington
Church Street, London W8; 020-7727-8142 Enjoy fruit scones with clotted cream, toasted crumpets or teacakes. The Courtyard Easily found in the Churchyard close to Trafalgar Square. Popular with those attending the Market. St-Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London WC2 Open: Mon to Sat 11am-5pm, Sun Noon-5pm I also managed to find some other addresses of tearooms in Central London, but have no other information on these. Kamakura Minamoto [Tea room] 44 Piccadilly, London W1 Café de Paris [Tea room] 3 Coventry Street, London W1; 0270-734-7700 Afron's Tea Room [Tea room] 1068 Hyde Park Road, London; 641-6293 If anybody can add to my list, please drop me a line and let me know of any other proper Teashops that can be found in the city of London. It would be great to be able to add more addresses to my painfully short list. MY CONCLUSIONS As you can see, there seems to be a pitiful lack of traditional Tea Houses in the centre of Lo ndon. Yes, you can go to the big Hotels, and yes, the large stores like Harrods, and Fortnum and Masons also have their own tearooms. But where have all the little corner houses gone? It really doesn’t make sense to me. How many of us truly enjoy a cup of so-called tea out of polystyrene or cardboard? When we have been shopping, or are about to go to the theatre, what better way to relax than over a nice, traditional Afternoon Tea, in a nice, traditional Tea Shop? The big hotels are fine for a special occasion, but one doesn't necessarily want to take tea there after a busy day's shopping. A small, reasonably priced, fine teashop would suffice. When we visit other towns and cities, there always seem to be plenty of teashops, offering afternoon teas at reasonable prices, in pleasant surroundings. So why not in London? In my humble opinion, London is the poorer for the loss
of these facilities. BRING BACK OUR TEA HOUSES! ********************************************* LATER ADDITIONS TO THE LIST Basil Street Hotel [Tea room] 8 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London SW3; Tel: 020-7581-3311 Choose between Afternoon, or Cream tea Tea served daily between 3.30 and 5.30pm Thomas Goode 19 S. Audley Street, London W1; 0270-499-2823 Selfridges 400 Oxford Street, London W1 Harrod's 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1; 0270-730-1234 Fortnum & Mason 181 Picadilly, London W1; 0270-734-8040 County Hall Hotel Daily 3pm-6pm £19.00 per person, £25 with glass of champagne Afternoon tea Le Meridien Waldorf Served in the Aldwych Brasserie Daily 3pm-5:30pm £14.95 per person, £18.95 with glass of champagne The Howard Daily 2pm-6pm £18.50 per person Your choice of tea ********************************************* 03/08/02 FURTHER UPDATE I have aquired two books giving very comprehensive details of where to take tea all over Britain. If anyone wants details of any area, drop me a line by email, stating which area, and I'll do my best to get back to you. But alas, no further places have come to light in Central London, although I do have a few on the outskirts. ************************************************ 16/10/02 FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE Le Rucheau Tea shop and Bar Piccadilly London Situated almost next door to Fortnum and Mason. Serves traditional afternoon tea as well as a selection of e ggy things, and some meals. Amanda and I had a full traditional tea (finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, a slice of fruit cake and a chocolate pattiserie, with a pot of tea) plus a cream tea (4 scones with jam and cream and a
pot of tea.) Total cost, £20.50 Food was fine for a reasonably priced afternoon tea, but service left a bit to be desired. But it IS central, and the ambiance was pleasant enough. Lesley
As an adopted Londoner, who has come from friendlier climes, it frequently distresses me that the level of service in restaurants in London is tolerated by the clients. It is probably not helped by an excess of demand over supply, but the customers have now created an environment where service is an exception rather than the rule. Being a restaurant waiter must be no joke. I would not like to do it, and I know that when my daughter did it for a while she hated it. But the whole thing has got out of hand. The waiters are paid dross,and the only ones who are prepared to wait are those who cannot get other employ. English is rarely a first language, and it is not because one is getting, say Italian in an Italian restaurant. Mostly it is lesser dialects of Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union. I know my pronounced English is adequate, so if I am misunderstood, I know it is not me. The biggest insult is the expectation of a tip when no service has been offered. It riles me to be expectected to offer a tip in a self service restaurant or buffet - who are they kidding? On the times I have declined or erased the element of service from a bill because none was offered, or things went wrong I hope I am offering a clear message. If you want a tip, then it is not a right it is a privelege. If your employer does not pay you a working salary, then making it my problem is not the way to encourage me to solve the problem. Quite frankly, I am happy to give the 15% they ask for in the states. The waiters there know how to treat a customer. I come away from the experience feeling better. They make me believe that I should have a nice day!!!!!!!
I've often found that it can be difficult to find somewhere that sells decent food at reasonable prices in the Piccadilly Circus area. It sometimes feels like you're forced to either fork out a fortune in a ridiculously overpriced restaurant or grab a sweaty burger from McDonalds. I've recently discovered a really nice pizza/pasta restaurant about five minutes from Piccadilly Circus station, which offers great food at prices that won't break the bank. It's called 'Gourmet Pizza'. **** THE FOOD For your starter, you can't beat the gourmet pizza crust, a pizza shaped garlic bread topped with sundried tomato and fresh basil. There's also a cheese topped version, alongside popular starters such as caesar salad, antipasto and mozarella with fresh tomato. As the name suggests, Gourmet Pizza specialises in pizzas, but these aren't the run of the mill stodgy pizzas like those offered by Pizza Hut and Deep Pan Pizza Co; these are Italian style, with a light, flavoursome and herby base topped with some of the most original range of toppings I've ever seen. Some examples: English Breakfast Pizza - topped with Italian sausage, bacon, tomato and two fried eggs. Chinese Duck Pizza - topped with heaps of chinese roasted duck, spring onion, broccoli and hoisin sauce Chicken Satay Pizza - delicious chicken in a peanut sauce, with onion and mushroom If pizza doesn't float your boat, there's also a great selection of pasta dishes to choose from, one of which I love so much that I nearly always order it; the Fettuccini. It's a generous serving of fettuccini pasta with chicken pieces, prawns, peppers, spring onion and fresh coriander in a spicy, light sauce. Scrumptious and highly recommended. If you've got any room left after your main course, Gourmet Pizza offer a selection of delicious home made ice-creams with unusual flavours such as r
ed and white grape, along with the standard flavours such as mint choc chip and vanilla. You can mix and match - three different flavours in one bowl - or stick to just the one flavour. **** THE DRINKS Gourmet Pizza has a fairly decent wine list, but the house read and white wines are perfectly acceptable and only around £10 a bottle. There's also a selection of bottled beers, soft drinks, fruit juices and mineral water. There's a nice selection of coffees to finish off your meal - choose from cappuccino, latte, expresso, double expresso, standard filter coffee or various liqueur coffees. Beware - at £3.95, I think the liqueur coffees are a bit pricey for an establishment that is otherwise very reasonably priced. **** THE AMBIENCE The service is relaxed, warm and friendly. The layout is attractive and inviting. There are plenty of tables, and they aren't crowded together, so you can relax and have a private conversation above a whisper, unlike some other Italian restaurants I've been to. It's not fancy or pretentious, it's exactly the kind of place where you might want to grab something to eat before moving on somewhere else for drinks, or for a pleasant lunch. **** THE PRICES Starters range from £1.95 for a standard gourmet pizza crust, to £5.00 for a continental meat platter. Pizzas are between £5.00 - £10.00 depending on your choice of toppings. Pasta dishes range from £6.96 - £9.95. Steaks/Chicken/Fish dishes are about £10.00. There's usually a selection of fish/meat specials, and these are also around £10. Desserts will set you back £3.95 - but they're well worth it! Coffees are from £1.95 for a standard coffee to £3.95 for a liqueur coffee. House wine is £10 a bottle, bottled beer £2.95 a bottle. Soft drinks are about £1.75. **** THE LOCATION Gourmet Pizza is l
ocated in Swallow Street, just off Regent Street, about five minutes from Piccadilly Circus station and on the opposite side of the road. It's surrounded by several other, more glamorous restaurants, including the legendary Indian restaurant Veeraswamy's and Bentley's seafood restaurant. Nice though these places are for a special occasion, Gourmet Pizza beats them hands down when it comes to value for money, and this is why I find myself heading there time and time again.
Dooyoo have a special Birthday or Anniversary coming up? If so then I would highly recommend a dinner at London's Ivy restaurant. Situated just minutes from Leicester Square tube station and a favourite haunt of A list celebs, if you are lucky you may find yourself dining next to Madonna or Victoria Beckham. Although the information on the web says the cost is £70 a head without wine and £100 a head with wine, We had a three course meal for two with a £30 bottle of wine and still had change from £130 including a 20% tip. Now, I am obvioulsy not a celeb, but I still got treated with the same impeachable service that the stars get. You do not even need to touch the water or wine bottles for a refill as one of the many attentive waiters will refill your glass before it gets to below half full (yes, the glasses here are definitely half full rather than half empty!) The decor reminded me of a gentlemans club (or what I would imagine one to be like as I have never frequented such a place - being a lady!) The windows are stained glass and the open plan seating (which surprised me) still makes you feel like you are having an intimate dinner. The menu is extremely comprehensive, with at least twenty different starters, entrees and a good mixture of both sweet and savoury desserts. The food is very traditionally English fayre, such as shepherds pie, steak, fish and chips, kedgeree and pigeon (from nearby Trafalgar Square perhaps!!). The kind of food that your granny would have made, if she had of been a classically trained chef conversant with Fois Gras and Beluga caviar - on the menu for £125.00 if you are interested. The starters were superb. My dining companion opted for the fois gras whilst I had a crispy duck salad that was full of flavour and extremely plentiful. For the mains, I had steak, which I ordered medium rare but came more medium than to my liking. My companion ordered the fish and chips whi
ch he said were perfect....well the empty plate spoke for itself! For dessert - personally my favourite part of any meal. I had the famous sticky toffee pudding (reportedly Madonna's favourite although I can't imagine that she eats it that often!). It was sublime. Moist and full of flavour without being too sickly...it was just a shame that I hadn't left more room to finish it! My partner went for the Blackberry and apple crumble which he said was just as good as my pudding (having polished off the other half of it!). We spent a good two and a half hours there, and soaked up the atmosphere whilst listening to the rich and slightly famous brag about their holidays in Mustique etc etc which must have been one of the most entertaining nights out i've had for ages. Some facts about the Ivy; Posh and Becks had their engagement party in the private room. A table on saturday night is not free to the general public (read riff raff!) until February of next year. Traces of cocaine were found on the toilet seats after an undercover investigation by the Daily Mail newpaper. Madonna has dined with Victoria Beckham here. The private room can be booked 3 months in advance. I certainly enjoyed feeling like a member of the glitterati for an evening, but was glad when I rolled out of there at half past ten, that the awaiting papparazi photographers didn't want a photo of my extremely full stomach!
Situated near the entrance to Waterlow Park, in Highgate, this friendly restaurant serves good value, home-made food. Open Tuesday to Sunday, and generally packed out for Sunday lunch, the restaurant can be combined with a walk in the park to make a pleasant family day out. The main courses include roast dinners, fish courses, veggie alternatives and a variety of salads. The delicious pancakes (strawberry, fruits of the forest or banana) make for an excellent dessert, or for the more gluttony-minded there is always the chocolate fudge cake. On average, the main courses cost £5 - £7 and the desserts about £3. The service is not outstanding, but the waitresses are charming (if a little ditzy) and eager to help. Reservation is a good idea, particularly on a weekend lunchtime. There is indoor and outdoor seating. Note that they do not accept credit cards.
If you dont know Florians then looking at it from the outside you would be forgiven to think that this was just a run of the mill winebar. However once you are inside you realise that yes the front is a lovely lively often full to the brim winebar, up a few steps at the back and you are inside Florians restaurant. The menu here is always amazing changes a lot and always specials on the black board. You forget all about the busy wine bar area sitting in the restaurant it seems like a calm oasis far away from any where busy. The restaurant is decorated white with lots of green plants around and then a LOT of art on the walls, Anything that takes the owners fancy's I think <g>. Talking about the owners. This is 2 friends Arnie and Franco and well they are GREAT fun, both of them from Italy (iTAAly <g>) but have lived in England for years. They are fun to be around and the perfect hosts. The restaurant mainly serves modern Italian food but occasionally something else gets thrown in for good measure. They also serve food in the wine bar a more light food menu than the full blown menu from the restaurant. But also well worth a try. They have a extensive wine list but the house wine is very drinkable and easy on the palatte. Something for every taste on the menu though. DO try it should you happen to be in Crouch End. Every one there knows it and it is a wonderful hang out. (and AMAZING food) You wont be disappointed.
For the last seven years a friend and I have met once a month for dinner. We have tried many different restaurants in the Blackheath/ Lewisham area and have found one so superb that I feel compelled to tell you about it. The restaurant is situated in the heart of Blackheath village and is called "Bella Vista" Although predominantly an Italian restaurant, the menu caters for nearly all tastes. You would be hard pressed not to find something appealing on the menu. The service is perfect (not too obtrusive, but neither are you kept waiting for too long.) It is not particularly cheap, but for a special occasion it is well worth it. You can expect to pay approximately £30 per head for a three course meal including wine. As the restaurant is so popular it is advisable to book if you intend to go there. All in all it's well worth a visit.