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Latest Square Meal reviews - sorted by date review written or updated

Find out what Square Meal readers thought of their latest restaurant experience. Sort the reviews bellow by a variety of criteria to find inspiration for your next meal or get the lowdown on the latest launches.

Barrica

62 Goodge Street, London W1T 4NE

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Nice before the crowds arrive

by Renate N.   (1)

Sep 2015

Excellent food at good prices. Nice, pleasant interior when not too many tables are occupied, but FAR too noisy when full. We were extremely unlucky eating there at luchtime today with a very noisy rowdy table who had no consideration for other customers, but we were told by regulars that it always tends to be loud.

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Renate N.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 10
  • Service: 7
  • Atmosphere: 5
  • Value: 8

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Lord Nelson

Brightwell Baldwin, Watlington, Watlington OX49 5NP

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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The Lord Nelson at Brightwell Baldwin

by steve f.   (3)

Sep 2015

I have eaten at the Nelson innumerable times. It is set in lovely village near Watlington, and feels like a traditional country pub, and some people do come in for a drink at the bar, but in my view it is one of the best 3 restaurants in South Oxfordshire and I have never had anything but excellent food. It is not pretentious but to give you an idea, they have lobster on the menu all through August, do excellent game from September, and there is always a board full of specials as well as the reasonably full standard menu. The roasts are also great. Service is friendly and informal but good. I cannot recommend this place enough if you can take the trouble to find it. On weekends it is pretty full, for good reason.

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steve f.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full
  • Food & Drink: 10
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 10
  • Value: 10

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St John

26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Carnivore carnival

by Gourmand Gunno   platinum reviewer (150)

Sep 2015

If meat is your thing, you have intrepidity and lack squeamishness, then there are few better places than St John. That the restaurant has endured for well over a decade with very few tweaks to the format is testament to its success. The formula is very simple: a large white-washed room (admittedly somewhat akin to a canteen), serving high-quality British produce, but specialising in intestines and the like. On the downside, St John is not cheap and I would certainly feel somewhat short-changed had I been seated on one of the communal benches. At these prices, a bit of intimacy is not too much to ask. Fortuitously, my comrade and I enjoyed a table to the side of the room on a recent weekday evening visit. The place quickly filled up, but service remained friendly and efficient throughout. The excitement for me of dining at St. John is the opportunity to try things one might not normally. By way of example, I commenced with pickled tripe (i.e. animal stomach), while my comrade opted for the roast bone marrow. Other potential options included kidneys, grilled ox heart or lambs’ tongues. Our two dishes were presented well, tasted excellent and left us well-sated for the mains. It being grouse season, we both partook. Notwithstanding the potential eye-watering price of £38/grouse, the dish itself was prepared to perfection – juicy, rare and easy to carve – a notable feat, given this is a far from simple task. The bread sauce was a lovely foil and the astringency of the accompanying greens also helped balance the dish. After these two successes, there was still room for dessert and again our two choices (trifle and bread & butter pudding) were executed successfully. The wine list too deserves praise, full of good quality bottles, even if there is perhaps an unhealthy dependency on France. We enjoyed an Alsatian white followed by a decent red from the Languedoc. St John is definitely an experience – even if not an obviously cheap one.

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Gourmand Gunno's rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 10
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Value: 5

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The Folly

41 Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 0BT

Overall rating: star fullstar emptystar emptystar emptystar empty

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Noisy bar rather than restaurant

by Maggie R.   (1)

Sep 2015

Was told restaurant doesn't get notifications of bookings through Square Meal so had to scramble around for a table. Wish we hadn't bothered. Very loud music in restaurant area, no need for it, can't hear each other speak. Food was awful. Thai curry had no sauce and full of carrots - in a Thai curry?? Chicken was literally just chucked on top as an added extra and cold. Fish pie was basically salmon, peas and mash, no other fish and steaming hot like it had been microwaved. Same cldnt be said for broccoli which was cold. Never go again or recommend. Stick to being a bar with music as it was packed out with city people on a Thursday night. Real shame.

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Maggie R.'s rating

star fullstar emptystar emptystar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 2
  • Service: 2
  • Atmosphere: 2
  • Value: 2

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Berners Tavern at Edition Hotel

10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Jason Atherton does it again

by Gourmand Gunno   platinum reviewer (150)

Sep 2015

Editor's pick Jason Atherton (probably along with Alan Yau) seems to be the chef-du-jour on the London scene at present and almost everything he touches appears to turn to gold. Berners Tavern is no exception. One can’t help but fall in love with the venue, perhaps best described as a work of art. Although situated within the London Edition hotel, Berners has its own entrance and feels about as far removed from a hotel dining room as possible. Formerly a private residence, the original high ceiling and ornate cornicing has been preserved, while the walls are bedecked with gilt-framed artworks, both contemporary and traditional. However much one might marvel at the room, it is far from a ruse to distract diners from the food. Atherton’s team deploys a formula similar to that which garnered Pollen Street Social so many plaudits, namely a relatively short and simple menu of modern English/French dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients. Presentation throughout was also superb. I savoured every mouthful of my beetroot-cured salmon starter. The addition of macadamia nuts to the dish was also a stroke of genius and added a novel texture. My comrade also praised highly his choice of prawn cocktail, noting the subtle addition of lobster jelly to this quite traditional dish. Onto the mains, any my roasted rabbit loin proved excellent, with the meat enhanced by rabbit Bolognese, available to add from a little gravy boat on the side – a nice touch. The risotto chosen by my comrade also worked and again here, the ‘base’ of the meal (i.e. the vegetables) was presented on the plate with the rice added from a separate dish to the side. The wines also pleased and were reasonably priced, although we both lamented the absence of carafes from the menu, guests therefore being forced either to choose just a glass or a bottle. Many good restaurants miss a trick in this respect, especially when considering the lunchtime trade. If there were one quibble, then it might be service. Being such a large (and busy) venue, it was hard to attract servers’ attention and waiting time may be an issue for the more impatient. This can be rectified though. Berners Tavern is not quite excellent, but it is certainly very good.

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Gourmand Gunno's rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 8
  • Service: 6
  • Atmosphere: 9
  • Value: 6

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York and Albany

127-129 Parkway, London NW1 7PS

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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Service Worst In London

by James S.   (1)

Sep 2015

My daughter likes to invite me to lunch and to her annoyance I insist on paying, so, she presented me with a Virgin Gift Exeriance voucher for lunch at the York and Albany for fathers day .......fantastic ! So I booked a show for my partner and I and booked a table. On arrival I explained to the waiter I had a voucher.....he snatched it and said he needed to see how it worked. He returned and told us to order what we wanted and £60 would be deducted from the bill.....fine. He then looked me up and down and said you'll need to pay a service charge. So far he had treated me like I was a guest on the jerry kyle show, I normally enjoy interaction with waiters and bar staff, I may earn 6 times their salery but I'm no snob, I enjoy people and money and status holds no relevance in my life. We ordered our starters, crayfish salad. Very generous portion for the £16 but a little over salted. Our wine glasses were now empty and as we were out for a show and making a day of it I asked for 2 glasses of champagne to go with the main course.....the waiter rolled his eyes......did not utter a word ......snatched the wine menu and returned with 2 unevenly poured glasses of fizz....I'd had better carva from Marks and Sparks but I get better service from macdonalds so the lunch was going great!!!! The main arrived.....nice cod fillet.....like I say nice.....nothing to shout about. Cod served on a few lentils and bit of finely chopped veg...average. I asked to see the desert menu which was basic, we ordered and the waiter just replied saying in a mocking tone "what no more champagne? ".....the answer was no, off to the west end....did not want to fall asleep in a warm theatre and 2 glasses with a meal was fine. So the bill arrived.....he talked me through it like I would be unable to understand a bill. HE THEN CIRCLED £160 and told me " you need to pay this" and walked away. I'd had enough of him by this time so I smiled at my partner and explained I was going to sort the bill out. I walked to the waiter and asked for the manager as the person who had written up my bill was incompetent. He quickly explained the manager was not in the building and would sort it out. He then handed me the correct bill for £43 , I handed him 50 in cash and we left. No I should not have tipped at all but I do tip.....and I would have given more if the service had not been so awful. I would give this place a miss, very unwelcoming and average food. Gordon Ramsey I'm suprised you don't insist on better service from your employees

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James S.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 8
  • Service: 2
  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Value: 4

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Hartnett Holder and Co

Lime Wood Hotel, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst SO43 7FZ

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Very satisfied

by Paul A.   gold reviewer (46)

Sep 2015

Editor's pick This was probably the most successful and certainly the best value meal we've had at Limewood. The special offer HH&Co Experience, an informal variation on a tasting menu with sharing plates but retaining some theatrical flourishes, covered a range of rustic-style Italian dishes and served up some reminders of what you can experience in Italy, and with Luke Holder in the kitchen we were not disappointed with the quality of the cooking. As before, apart from the youthful sommelier who really knew his stuff and was confident enough to engage in vinous conversation with the diners, the staff were young and enthusiastic but slightly careless and hampered by the size of the table which was clearly designed not to accommodate a series of sharing plates as well as the place settings. We began with a sparkling fruit liqueur cocktail, which set the palate up for the starter of artichoke hearts with crushed duck egg and truffles with dandelion leaves adding a touch of bitter contrast. The rich risotto that followed throbbed with delicious tomato and anchovy lifted by a judicious dose of truffle and garlic, and the baked bream main course was served with a deal of show in large dishes topped with a bread crust which the waiter cut into and removed to reveal two large, completely deboned fish in a colourful sauce of mixed vegetables. The fish was perfect in all respects but slightly let down by the relatively chewy crust which had quickly cooled on being parted from the rest. A grapefruit granita did the job of cleansing palates excellently and acted as suitable prelude to the picturesque dessert of fresh strawberries, strawberry blancmange and an exemplary set strawberry jelly. The sun shone throughout to further enhance the New Forest majesty of the Limewood estate and the mood of the customers, and despite the minor lapses we came away very satisfied.

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Paul A.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 8
  • Service: 7
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Value: 9

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Market Cafe

2 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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Brunch menu on the weekend

by Vi W.   (1)

Sep 2015

A visit back to Market Cafe on Saturday to indulge on a late brunch after a pleasant midweek lunch. I’m afraid that it might not have gone down that well. Beautiful weather and bank holiday weekend, it was pretty much going to be packed. And, so it was but the crowd did not seem to be more than any other Saturday. That late afternoon, customers like us, were still walking in to ask if the kitchen was still serving lunch. At 14:00 we did expect a lunch menu but on weekends, brunch menu is served up to 16:00 hours. eggs florentine £8.00 – let’s start from the bottom. The muffins were adequately toasted, warm and soft. Spinach was well drained and did not leave the plate watery, topped with overcooked poached eggs (both of them to my disappointment) and a seriously buttery, gloppy hollandaise. It so buttery that I did not feel comfortable eating it but then I had an upset tummy so I was not sure if it was the eggs or the hollandaise sauce or both. Bad luck! ratatouille with poached egg £6.50 – the ratatouille was delicious and expected a runny egg yolk to give a creaminess to the dish. Like the eggs florentine, the poached egg was overcooked. No runny egg yolk but the dish was quite generous with olive oil. Water marks on the dishes did not make the dish look appealing and on the whole makes it look rather sloppish and unappealing. Friendly service did not helped make it better in this situation. Not too keen on this place anymore.

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Vi W.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 5
  • Service: 7
  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Value: 6

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Toms Kitchen St Katharine Docks

1 Commodity Quay, St. Katharine Docks, London E1W 1AZ

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar emptystar emptystar empty

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Not rocket science

by Gourmand Gunno   platinum reviewer (150)

Sep 2015

The London restaurant scene is competitive across almost every part of the capital, and St Katherine’s Dock is no exception. This rather curious outpost of town – neither the City nor the East End, combining tourists from the Tower of London and suited office workers – has a plethora of options, one of which is Tom’s Kitchen, a cheerily English mini-chain. However, based on a recent weekday lunchtime visit here, there is no reason to return. Given the competition, it’s never been easy running a restaurant, but it’s certainly not rocket science, and Tom’s Kitchen failed conspicuously, even at the most basic, both in terms of food and service. The a la carte options here comprise around a dozen starters and slightly more mains, priced reasonably and bordering ever so slightly on the inventive side of traditional English. Owing to time constraints, my comrade and I opted for the set menu, perhaps not quite so exciting, but at the very least, a showcase for the place’s talents. We both began with a cold leek and potato soup. Despite their being two of us at our table and the place being far from busy, our server only brought one to the table and seemed genuinely surprised when we explained that – clearly – two of us had ordered the set menu. It was barely worth the wait for the second; one was even too much. The soup had to be among the blandest ever tasted, not even improved by the liberal addition of pepper. No bread was even offered to offset the pervasive sense of ennui. Maybe our server also realised this since he reappeared to whip away the dishes before my comrade had even put down his spoon. The mains were not quite so egregiously bad, more acceptable, plaice for me and pork belly for my comrade. Again, however, the server (a different one this time) pounced on our plates as we were forcing down our last mouthful. At least the bill was good value (a free drink – scant compensation perhaps – was thrown in), but Tom’s Kitchen will need to up both its food and service if it is to endure here.

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Gourmand Gunno's rating

star fullstar fullstar emptystar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 4
  • Service: 4
  • Atmosphere: 5
  • Value: 8

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Chiltern Firehouse

1 Chiltern Street, London W1U 7PA

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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Don't believe the hype!

by Joanna G.   silver reviewer (18)

Sep 2015

We ate here on the weekend. Our evening started in the restaurant bar where a surly faced bartender whipped a stool away from me just as I was about to sit on it (I don't actually think he was being rude, just unobservant and really could do with learning how to smile). We found somewhere else to sit straight away and had a glass of champagne and a vodka tonic (we ended up having two drinks before dinner which of course added to the bill). Now, the food. We shared the fried chicken (a couple of gristly bits which were off-putting but the rest were very nice and crispy) and the famous crab doughnuts (excellent, thoroughly enjoyed these) - why do restaurants do starters with odd numbers though, I was nice enough to let my husband have two to my one). This was followed by lemon sole for me which was perfectly cooked, but with way too much butter and salt (with warm thik slices of cucumber, which were just slimy and didn't really add to the meal) and my husband had chicken and leeks, again all way too over-seasoned though. We followed this up with a shared key lime pie (wonderful!) and washed down with a reasonably priced bottle of white wine (under £40). The atmosphere is lively and buzzy and the staff were friendly and attentive, but if I am going to spend over £200 for a meal out, I want it to be a meal to remember and can't wait to re-visit (like Le Gavroche or Texture). All in all , this was a long-awaited Saturday night booking for dinner, which I regret spending that much money on.

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Joanna G.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 7
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 10
  • Value: 4

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Red Fort

77 Dean Street, London W1D 3SH

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Great food; good wine selection; good value.

by Paul T.   (4)

Sep 2015

- The food was as good as I could have hoped for. Very tasty, beautifully presented, fresh, quality ingredients. - Broad selection of wines, and knowledgeable staff. - Good value for money considering the location. - Atmosphere was lacking, but maybe because it was a Monday night. - Will definitely return.

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Paul T.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 9
  • Service: 7
  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Value: 8

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Kitty Fishers Mayfair

10 Shepherd Market, London W1J 7QF

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Something a little bit different

by Joanna G.   silver reviewer (18)

Sep 2015

Editor's pick The restaurant upstairs is tiny, you will end up talking to the table next door even if only to apologise for bumping into them whilst getting in and out of your seat, but that's all part of the fun at Kitty Fishers I think. It is cosy, perfect for sharing and the staff are so welcoming and chatty that you feel like you are crammed into a friends kitchen. We had the bread and burnt onion butter and whipped cod's roe on toast which were divine (and I really didn't think I would like the cods roe (bad memories of luminous pink taramasalata that my parents used to buy in the 80's) so do try it. I had the lamb chops with mint and anchovies and my husband the prawns and we shared a strawberry and ice cream dessert and a bottle of wine that was the perfect end to the meal. Now, the only downside - I would definitely like to go back, I think it would be a really great autumn/winter venue on a cold and blustery day, but not sure if I can be bothered with the "only taking bookings on the phone for one hour each day", I nearly lost the will to live hitting redial many times to get this booking, in fact I gave up months ago and only ended up with this table because I was tasked with getting one for a colleague, and booked one for myself at the same time.

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Joanna G.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half
  • Food & Drink: 8
  • Service: 9
  • Atmosphere: 8
  • Value: 8

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Tamarind

20 Queen Street, London W1J 5PR

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Authentic pleasure

by Paul A.   gold reviewer (46)

Aug 2015

When you go to an Indian restaurant and it is full of diners from the sub-continent you can rest assured that the food is authentic. If there is a Mayfair gloss in terms of the setting and service, so much the better. It took a little while to become accustomed to the downstairs room, but the bright, intelligent service soon helped to settle us. The Taste of Tamarind menu was full of good things, beginning with very good poppadums and three chutneys, red fruit and mango, date and fig and tomato and onion seed, followed up by spinach tikki with red fruit sauce, and then a starter of channa chaat with delightful spicy chick peas, tamarind sauce, gram flour, fresh coriander, raw onion, mint and chilli and some very welcome and refreshing yoghurt. The smashed tomato and onion seed sauce with the super scallops seemed to have a sour touch at first but it made an excellent match and was backed up well with smoked peppers. The delicious tandoor-grilled chicken breast was served with a vegetable tikki with crispy gram flour coating and a tomato sauce with fenugreek which had a real kick on the tip the tongue but it all went down a treat, and was followed by a very interesting tamarind and sensational date sorbet dish as palate cleanser. Generous lamb chops were served with a rogan josh sauce, saffron rice, spiced spinach, cucumber yoghurt and raita, a special creamy dal makhni, touches of coriander and cumin and very good naan bread. A beautiful dish, intelligently conceived and executed to show off the full range of flavours. The dessert came very close to equalling the main dish with red fruit jam dobs which harmonised exceedingly well with the carrot fudge cake, as did the essence of pistachio in the kulfi. A further bonus was provided by the petits fours of fresh mint leaf in white chocolate and chocolate orange zest, and to complete the pleasurable experience the chef came out to chat about the variety of dishes on the menu and his vision for the future of this first-class venue. This is definitely one to return to.

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Paul A.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half
  • Food & Drink: 10
  • Service: 9
  • Atmosphere: 8
  • Value: 10

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Ganapati

38 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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Cheap and cheerful, but do the cult curries live up to the hype?

by The Cheese   platinum reviewer (57)

Aug 2015

Reviewers go bananas for Ganapati, so we were over-excited about visiting. We immediately liked the look of the place; the interior is decked out in vibrant colour and a vast banana tree looms over the conservatory, while a sea of thali dishes spreads as far as the eye could see. We squeezed onto a tiny table beneath a row of brass elephants and a picture of Ganesh, soaking up the nu-hippy vibes (so much so that I regretted changing out of my yoga pants). Our waitress was infectiously zen, even when a glass went flying; the poor culprits were a couple shoehorning themselves into the minuscule space beside us. Admittedly I wasn’t convinced by the cocktails - the signature Ganapati Elixir was eyewateringly heavy on the ginger - but the wine list was on the money for spicy cuisine. The Woollaton Riesling (£28) admirably tackled the occasional sources of heat, with a winning combination of floral elegance and low ABV. The menu sidesteps traditional curry house classics - no bhajis or bhunas here! - in favour of more authentic fayre and cleaner cooking. The homemade pickles delivered a refreshing jolt to the tastebuds, and the parathas were certainly something to shout about; like vast, crumbly cinnamon whirls of joy. So imagine our surprise when the curries didn’t stand out as special, and lacked the awe-inspiring dimensions of flavour we’d come to expect. Though tempted by several intriguing vegan dishes, I plumped for peas paneer masala; it was alright, but I’ve enjoyed better on nearby Lordship Lane. Iddukki curry with tender chunks of lamb was hot (as billed) and proved the favourite, but was also a bit… well, ordinary. The condiments were far more interesting, as little pots of thoran (Keralan dry curry) and carrot pickle combined to gorgeous effect. Ganapati has been showered with such praise that we briefly wondered whether we’d chosen unwisely… but clearly said dishes shouldn’t have made the menu if that’s the case. Given the inconsistent impression our mains left, I’d order street snacks or a thali next time.

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The Cheese's rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 6
  • Service: 7
  • Atmosphere: 8
  • Value: 8

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