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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.

Formans

Stour Road, Fish Island, London E3 2NT

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Bit of an off night, but good nonetheless

by Amy M.   silver reviewer (16)

Jul 2015

I think it's always a shame that they don't do more trade, as it's never busy. So as a local, I try to go and support them. This visit the staff as always are smiling and pleasant, however, considering that there was a grand total of 4 people in the restaurant (less than the number of staff), they need to keep a better eye out for needs. I had to get up and ask for another drink for example. The food is always delicious, with the smoked eel always being a highlight, although there was far too much potato and a weeny bit of eel for my starter and unfortunately I think they mistimed my main with my mothers. She had meat and I had fish and mine arrived luke warm. I think they must have left it under the lamp whilst her's finished cooking. They are charming, the restaurant itself is lovely and I would always recommend it. I will put it down to an off day.

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Amy M.'s rating

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

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Aqua Shard

Level 31 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, , London SE1 9RY

Overall rating: star fullstar halfstar emptystar emptystar empty

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NEVER AGAIN

by Breda S.   (1)

Jul 2015

I went to the Aqua Shard on Saturday 024/07/2015 and I to say I was disappointed with the food was an understatement. Originally the booking was made by way of an offer for a meal for £30 when we asked about it they said that the menu they had it was the only one, which we accepted. There were 8 of us altogether and we ordered our meal. Our starter of Lobster was nice but the main meal there was not enough food on the plate. I ordered the lamb and I it was not cooked properly it was raw in places (I did not complain but I should have). O n my plate I had 2 slices of lamb, 3 French beans, 2 small carrots about1"long and 2 potatoes the size of marbles. I can honestly say that I could have cooked a better meal it was so meagre and just did not look inviting enough. My brother in law order sword fish and it was so small he sent it back. The desert was also a joke my sister ordered chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet, the portion was so small I would have only filled up a young baby who had just started on solids. Our bill came to £566.and pence and I begrudged every penny. I feel like I have been conned it was an absolute disgrace and I would never recommend any one to eat there. I would never go back.

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Breda S.'s rating

star fullstar halfstar emptystar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 3
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 10
  • Value: 2

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Taberna do Mercado

Old Spitalfields Market, 107a Commercial Street, London E1 6BG

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar halfstar emptystar empty

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Not as good as we expected

by David H.   platinum reviewer (55)

Jul 2015

Its good to hear of a new restaurant opening that seems to create a stir. The press reviews of Taberna do Mercado have been very enthusiastic. In the last few years we've had Dabbous, Roganic/Fera and Lima that can claim to be game-changers to some extent and are certainly restaurants that I wouldn't want to go a year without visiting. So its sad to say that for us at least, this new restaurant isn't nearly worth the hype. There were a couple of thoughts in my mind as we made our way to Spitalfields. First, what's all this "small plates" thing really about? And why should I prefer this to a starter/main/dessert structure? We've been to a number of small plate/sharing plate restaurants without ever feeling that this is the way we really want to eat. Will Taberno da Mercado help us see the light? Let me comment on this right away. Like most places serving small plates, the order and frequency of delivery here is to suit the kitchen not you. The tables are very often too small to comfortably hold the food you've ordered at the pace they choose to deliver it. But at least the answer to my question emerged during this meal. The purpose of small plates is to extract from each customer the most money in the shortest time, reducing the occupancy time ( without reducing the spend per customer) so the restaurant can sell the space again and again. The second concerned just how "different" this The Taberna would prove to be, and if it were different, would it be in a good way? We'd been put off Nuno Mendes' Viajante by a number of people whose opinions we respect telling us that the food was self-indulgent and not always pleasant. On the other hand three visits to his "Corner Room " went pretty well until my wife chose fish dishes that neither menu nor staff gave any indication were raw- which is not to her taste- and we didn't go back after that. Today we chose 8 dishes from several different sections of the menu. Of these two required little more than assembly ( ham & bread and a sandwich of beef fillet) and tasted OK. The two starters of runner bean fritters in a clam juice sauce, and prawn rissois, were innovative and tasty- if not as ecstatically wonderful as I've seen in some press reports. The two fish dishes served in tiny open cans ( cod with pimento and scallops in brown butter) were not terribly interesting and in the case of the scallops it didn't seem to me that the butter was browned at all - more just clarified. The remaining two small plates of alheira (poultry sausage) and bisaro pork tartare were not special, flavour-wise and both enjoyed rather odd textures. So in general a bit mixed with me feeling kinder than my wife. The food is different in the sense that assembly items aside I hadn't experienced dishes like this before. But I do feel compelled to add that being different is not the same as being excellent. I actively enjoyed about half of what I ate today with the rest being just OK. I can recall the first time I ate at Lima, at Dabbous, at Roganic, all of which were very different from other options at that time available. In each case it was clear that this food wasn't just different but remarkably good too. I didn't have anything like those feelings today. It's not just the food that's a bit strange. There's no menu on the website, nothing to tell you what you might eat or how much things will cost. Having made a reservation for lunch at least I could ask them to email a menu, which they did, albeit that much of it is in Portuguese so you still need the wait-staff to describe pretty much all the food. But if you walk in, you'll wait right to the door of the restaurant before your first glance of a menu or prices. It strikes us as unnecessarily arrogant to assume that people will want to go sight unseen? Is it hard to put a menu or the internet? When we got there the "greeter" was on the phone and positioned herself so that it was difficult for us to enter, despite that there were other members of staff around. Her "message " was clear-you have to wait for me-. After 5 mins of this we walked in and eventually were given a "table" at the end of a long table for 6. We asked for- and got - a proper table for 2 but they were plainly quite happy to give us a poor table when there were better options available. I question the attitude here- if one accepts as a given that their objective is to get customers to their table whilst feeling good about their decision to eat there. Meanwhile, the wait-staff who took and delivered our orders and who we paid were pleasant and efficient. Finally you need to go to this restaurant knowing that the environment and the food is very casual. It doesn't look like or taste like gourmet food. Its not a place to go for an occasion, or quiet conversation. Our 8 dishes and a bottle from the cheaper end of the list cost £93 with service and we were out in an hour, easily, having eaten enough albeit too quickly. Given what we ate its a stretch to describe that as good value, and to be honest if I'd queued for an hour or so to eat food like this and then been asked for £93 I might feel a little more strongly. I can't see us wanting to go back. It is different, but "different" doesn't necessarily mean great.

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David H.'s rating

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

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Mondrian London at Sea Containers

20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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Happy medium

by arlette l.   (2)

Jul 2015

We ate here for sunday brunch. Tables are great for gatherings. The place was empty still by the time we left at 2.30pm. The service was ok. A DJ in the room with two tables full in the main restaurant. The food was ok. Shame we were not advised by telephone that on sunday's there is only a brunch menu. A little limited in choice. Would I go here again? No.

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arlette l.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 6
  • Service: 6
  • Atmosphere: 4
  • Value: 5

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Restaurant Mark Greenaway

69 North Castle Street, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 3JT

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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Superb restaurant - fine dining at a very affordable price

by L M.   (1)

Jul 2015

We visited here for the first time recently and four of us had the Market Menu (3 courses £22) and one had the a-la-carte. Not being a huge wine drinker I also went for the wine flight (£18) so they matched the food with an appropriate wine - i would not have known where to begin. The staff treat everyone as if they are royalty and are all well versed in the foods they are serving and the wines they give for accompaniment. Our meals were all superb and the attention to detail was amazing. The tastes were simply the best I have experienced and beatifully cooked and presented. We will definitely go back through to Edinburgh again just to eat here. They have managed to get a great balance whereby you experience fine dining in lovely surroundings but not so 'posh' you would feel uncomfortable. There is a nice relaxed atmosphere with gentle chatter from all the diners. I cannot fault it at all. The costs are ridiculously cheap for what you are getting and would highly recommend to anyone. Thank you Mark Greenaway and Nicola and all the lovely staff.

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L M.'s rating

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

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Engawa

Unit 4, 2 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Kobe Beef in London

by Wing T.   (1)

Jul 2015

Opened in February 2015 and run by The Salt Group who has a number of restaurants in both Tokyo and Osaka. I discovered the restaurant whilst I was having an afternoon tea at The Ham Yard Hotel. Located in Ham Yard, near Great Windmill Street in Soho, the restaurant sits approximately 29 diners when it is full house. There was a number of Japanese diners whilst we were in the venue which shows a good sign. The kitchen is an open kitchen and elegantly decorated. Although it is small is size, the minimalistic decoration speaks for itself. The uniqueness of Engawa, is the fact they specialise in Kobe Beef. Kobe Beef is very expensive, even in Japan. The Japanese grading system in beef involves the marbling, colour, fat quality and the texture. There is a number of menus to choose from, from a £20-£25 vegetarian bento box to £30-£40 main boxes which involves Kobe beef. If you are looking to dine for dinner, expect to pay between £60-£100. We chose the 11 piece selection known as the Hakozen Bento Box which involves a selection of seasonal dishes. Their menu is seasonal so depending on when you visit, the dishes is likely to vary. My bento box involves a variety of cooked Kobe beef dishes, served with barley and edamame rice and a soup of kombo dashi, Chinese cabbage, sesame, chives, corn and onion. It looks very simple and the taste is lighten than the typical Miso soup you get. We also ordered the Kobe Beef Katsu Gozen, which included breaded Kobe beef fillet, served on a bed of barley and edamame rice. It is accompanied by nori, spring onion and fresh wasabi along with Kobe beef stock for making chazuke. It is also served with the kombu dashi soup. Although the dishes looked very small in portion size, it is filling. We was recommended by the staff to enjoy the lighter dishes such as the tofu and sashimi before the Kobe beef dishes as it is more heavier and we would be too full to finish should it went the other way. The Dashi Maki with Spicy Cod Roe tasted very simple, the egg omelette with a piece of roe on top wasn’t anything spectacular to begin with. It was followed by the Fried Potato Salad in home-made tartar sauce with kumquat which introduced some flavour to my taste buds. The Fried Salmon marinated in wasabi and soy sauce was a little heavy, I haven’t been much of a fried salmon fan for some time but it was slightly saltier than expected. But having some of the Pickled Daikon and Aubergine cleansed my taste pallet slightly before moving onto the Seabass Sashimi with Salmon Roe and Japanese Sudachi. That was a tasty dish and it certainly tasted fresh (I have had the unfortunate of tasting ‘off-tasting’ fish before so I have been more cautious about it ever since). The same goes for the Tuna and Scallop Sashimi, both were fresh and delicate in taste. The Pan Seared Kobe with rosemary and white onion in Sukiyaki sauce started to taste a little heavy and this was the 7th dish. I couldn’t taste the rosemary as much as I had anticipated, however the Kobe was tasty and the texture was just right. The Fried Tofu in Ponzu sauce and garnished in chive reminded me a little of ‘Agadashi Tofu’ in many Japanese venues. The dish was very pleasant and delicious as a break before the next three dishes. The Yuba Maki with Seasonal vegetables and shizo roll was a very complex tasting dish. The shizo roll was covered in hints of tempura batter whilst the vegetables inside kept it’s sweetness at the same time. The 10th dish consisted of Heavily Marbled Kobe beef with chilli and spring onion. You can’t see much of the heavily marbled pattern on the beef unfortunately, however I do enjoy the use of chilli and spring onion. The last dish was the Slow Cooked beef with Doukon chives and yuzu zest garnish. It was tasty but heavy. I appreciate a good beef but due to the previous dishes, I started to feel very full. The use of yuzu zest brings my appetite back and I enjoyed the dish very much but you must appreciate the fact that there was a bowl of barley and edamame rice and a kombo dashi soup to go along the bento box. The Kobe Beef Katsu Gozen was also served with the same barley and edamame rice and the kombo dashi soup. It does look simpler and also very bland, however the Kobe beef fillet was breaded and then fried. It tasted better than the other ‘katsu’ dishes you have in other venues and this is not the reason because it was Kobe beef, in fact it is because the fillet was breaded generously and equally, and I did not find a part where it tasted ‘breadless’ and a part where it was ‘heavily breaded’. We were served by a waiter – he did appear to be more like a manager, was very passionate with the dishes and our dining experience. Carefully explained dishes and introduction made us felt very welcomes. I know Engawa hired a manager who has experience working at Nobu however, I wasn’t sure who it was because the service was very good. I know there are many Kobe beef fans, however this is sufficient to satisfy the fans for the time being – unless you decide to buy a ticket and fly over to Japan. I only dined at Engawa for lunch, therefore I will suggest a dinner reservation to experience more of the Kobe beef selection. foodoholism.com

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Wing T.'s rating

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

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The Oyster Shed

Ground Floor, 1 Angel Lane, St Paul's, London EC4R 3AB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Lovely view of the Shard and London Bridge

by Charlotte H.   bronze reviewer (6)

Jul 2015

I regularly go to The Oyster Shed for lunch as it is very close to my office. The food is always good as is the service. There is a nice small outside area but it is first come first serve. When booking ask for a table by the window. It is a good place for lunch but also good for drinks in the evenings.

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Charlotte H.'s rating

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

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The Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont

The Beaumont, 8 Balderton Street, London W1K 6TF

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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Fantastic Service

by Sarah R.   silver reviewer (17)

Jul 2015

We celebrated my husband's birthday last night at Colony Grill. I arrived 30 mins early to have a drink at the fantastic Art Deco style bar but it was too busy. The staff showed me to our table early so I could wait for my husband who was running late. The staff welcomed me and nothing was too much trouble. I enjoyed a margarita whilst I perused the menu and wine list, which is fantastic! The table behind me were a bit noisy so I asked to move tables, which was accommodated with no problem at all. By 7:30pm the restaurant was full and a really buzzy atmosphere and a bit of celeb spotting. I wasn't too keen on my globe artichoke starter, it was too cold I would have preferred it warm. My husband ate omelet followed by New York strip, which he said was better than he had eaten in California last year. I had poached salmon which was cooked to perfection. Sides were perfectly seasoned mash and fries plus grilled courgettes with nuts. It was all delicious and delivered with friendly and efficient service. I was a little disappointed by the dessert. The options looked great and then the waiter put a pad in front of me with a tick list to build my own sundae. I was very excited as I like to think of myself as an ice cream expert! However, it came up in a small dish with a little bit of cream to the side and a dashing of sauce, as if I had ordered a regular ice cream. It certainly wasn't a sundae. We had a fantastic time but the pastry chef just needs me to come in and show them how to build a sundae (hint hint). I shall certainly be returning and have booked my boss in for a business dinner next week.

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Sarah R.'s rating

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

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Cafe Murano Covent Garden

34-36 Tavistock Street, London WC2E 7PB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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First week nerves

by Luncheon Vulture   gold reviewer (39)

Jul 2015

Editor's pick It is very rare for me to venture into a new restaurant during its first few weeks of life, but given its pedigree and a shopping expedition nearby, I booked a table for dinner on its fourth day of opening. Initial impressions were good; a friendly and warm welcome from all front of house staff and we were led out of the somewhat noisy downstairs, to the upstairs dining area which unfortunately, did not lead to a noticeable decrease in the noise level. The room itself is quite stark with an impressive vaulted glass ceiling and leather banquettes but aside from the odd piece of artwork, there is nothing to absorb the noise. Although we were seated quickly with wine and bread orders taken, it seemed as though we were left rather too long with our menus, despite the numerous staff buzzing around. To our rescue came Ricardo, the restaurant manager, and at this point, our evening improved no end. From direction on the menu, to discussions about the food and his homeland of Portugal, nothing was too much trouble and it proves yet again how quality staff can really make a difference to any restaurant. The food itself was beautifully presented and delicately flavoured; the bloke's baby octopus starter edging it slightly over my mozarella with black lentils, but mains of steamed halibut and linguine with clams were on a par. The only critique was that portions were not overly generous, but that then gave us the appetite for dessert; a pistachio and apricot semi-fredo was fab, but was absolutely outshone by Ricardo's suggestion of muscovado tart; I would have never picked it in a million years, but it was stunning, light and creamy, a perfect end to a meal. Yes, there are a few issues to iron out, but if Ricardo can get the team anywhere near his level of customer service, it won't be long before it can hold its own with its St James's stablemate. We will definitely return!

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Luncheon Vulture's rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 10
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Value: 8

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Social Wine and Tapas

39 James Street, London W1U 1EB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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Great expectations...

by Gourmand Gunno   platinum reviewer (142)

Jul 2015

Editor's pick Being famous can sometimes be a problem. People ‘expect’ things of you and wonder whether your latest restaurant venture can possibly be as good as the previous one. Jason Atherton is a great chef and an astute businessman. Furthermore, when Pollen Street Social opened, it was undoubtedly one of the most exciting new ventures on the London dining scene for some time, justifiably lauded. However, it is a brave move of Atherton’s to compete not just on one, but one two crowded and competitive fronts with his latest venture. As the name would suggest, his James Street outlet focuses on wine and on tapas. In the first respect, places such as 28:50 and Vinoteca have established themselves firmly as purveyors of good wine in pleasant locations, while with regard to the latter, Barrafina and Tapas Brindisa (among others) show how tapas can and should be done in London. Overall, Social Wine & Tapas is good, but by no means excellent, particularly in the context of an already crowded market of comparable peers. We loved the atmosphere, laid-back with a relaxed soundtrack and friendly enthusiastic staff, but the food did not wow and our first choice of wine was unfortunately unavailable. Atherton’s take on tapas is to combine Spanish classics with stalwart English favourites. In other words, a Cornish Yarg cheese may sit alongside a Monte Enebro from Castilla y Leon, while also, for example, Norfolk suckling pig may be cooked in sherry caramel sauce. The benchmark test for any establishment claiming to offer Spanish fare must be its ‘pan con tomate’, a deceptively simple dish comprising bread topped with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. A recent visit to Barcelona reminded me how successfully the Spanish execute this, yet our trip to Social Wine & Tapas also served to highlight how hard it is to replicate well outside Iberia. Our version lacked punch and was disappointingly bland. On the positive side, the suckling pig did deliver, as did a delicious concoction of roasted sea bream with piperade (tomato sauce with pancetta) and coriander. Less encouragingly, the Szechuan fried chipirones (baby squid) were more about batter than fish, while our selection of cold meats bordered on the greasy. Maybe our expectations were too high, but we were left feeling slightly underwhelmed and far from wowed by the overall culinary experience. You won’t do badly coming here, but you may do better elsewhere.

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Gourmand Gunno's rating

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

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Ceviche Old Street

2 Baldwin Street, London EC1V 9NU

Overall rating: star halfstar emptystar emptystar emptystar empty

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Dont' waste your money or your time.

by Anthony S.   bronze reviewer (6)

Jul 2015

One of three Civiche restaurants, yes another inevitable chain, Ceviche at Old Street is overhyped by a mile. We were really looking forward to Ceviche, the place looks great, the staff very friendly and we live locally, unfortunately then the food arrived. Yes the small plates are meant to be shared but such mean portions and not good ones at that. Initially ushered to the sit at the table next to the only doting couple in an empty restaurant was an amusing start. But that aside we just thought the food was underwhelming. One of us asked for the steak bavette, it came raw to the table still mooing, yes still bleeding heavily, even though I like my steaks rare I had to send it back. The cassava chips were served still with their fibrous centre strip in place that should have been removed, it goes to show that those in the kitchen don't understand their ingredients. Enough said we won't be going back.

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Anthony S.'s rating

star halfstar emptystar emptystar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 5
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Value: 1

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