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|Address:||30 Almeida Street, London N1 1AD|
|Tel:||020 3589 2075|
|Price: £47.00||Wine: £19.95||Champagne: £49.50|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sun 12N-2.30pm (Sun -3.30pm) Mon-Sat 5.30-10.30pm|
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As a Conran many years ago, Almeida was a favourite and I ate there at least once a month. Since its MBO and reconfiguration (with almost half the floor space becoming a unwelcoming and underused “bar” area) it has become very poor value for money and is characterised by poor service. For me one of the real pleasures in a restaurant is the small touches. Almeida has abondoned many of the features I used to enjoy in what seems to be a ruthless pursuit of profit at any cost. Gone is the voluminous wine list with many interesting and well priced regional wines as well as the dedicated sommelier, gone is more than half the menu and all of the most elaborate choices, gone is the trolly of charcuterie mentioned in another review and the selection of fruit tarts for dessert. The menu has become a fixed price affair of bog standard bistro dishes utterly devoid of any immiganation. Horrifylingly more than half the menu requires extra supplements to be paid. When the food arrives, the portions are miniscule and vegetables are extra (again in tiny portions). I have had to send back dishes on more than on occasion when the portion size became too silly to stand any longer (less than a tablespoon of steak tartare as a starter). That said the food is pretty decent although I suspect that the recepies are chosen so that minimal “finishing” is required for serving with most cooking done many hours earlier and in all probablitiy not on the premises. The wine list is short and pricy with many standard wines selling at four or five times retail prices (Cloudy Bay at £86 a bottle!) The service has declined considerably in quality over the years probably because the staff seems to change every time I visit. I suspect that until D&D pay off some of the loans they took out to buy the business, they will continue to trade on Conran's reputation and fleece their customers. If you want to see how it shoud be done, try the new Boundary or Lutyens.