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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.

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

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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Ping Pong Southbank

Festival Terrace, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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Speedy dim sum and cocktails on the Southbank

by The Cheese   gold reviewer (46)

Jul 2015

If chain restaurants bring you out in hives, a saunter along the Southbank can be traumatic. Kid-friendly and chaotic is the norm for one particularly unforgiving stretch along the Thames, but veer slightly off the thoroughfare towards Waterloo and the queues in double-figures diminish (albeit ever-so-slightly). Ping Pong is a case in point. Yes it’s a chain, and every sharing table is hella busy, but we found the food to be alright and the cocktails were brilliant. Picking a balance of hot, cold, steamed, grilled and fried dim sum was easy, thanks to the layout of the ’tick-your-own’ menu. Beef and chilli parcels had satisfying heat, while the special of turnip puffs left us fighting for the last one. Cloud-light bao buns were unexpectedly a self-assembly jobbie, which was novel as an intermediate chopstick user (but could be a mare for novices). The accompanying smoked duck tasted a bit hammy and wasn’t for me, but that’s down to a personal aversion to super-smooth textures along the lines of poached meat or steak tartare. Our only real gripe was chicken dumplings that had grown sticky and unstable after a minute too long in the steamer. Cocktails were great, with experimental but considered flavours; my sweet-toothed partner loved the five-spice pineapple martini, and was uncharacteristically impressed by my aperitif, too: an elderflower saketini. After dinner, thermal glasses allowed pearls of jasmine tea to elegantly unfurl before us, creating a minor spectacle at the table. Service was rushed but efficient throughout, despite the frenetic turnover. There will always be an air of pandemonium around these parts, but the nature of dim sum demands a degree of attentiveness and offers momentary distraction from the mayhem. So if you’re grabbing a pre-Udderbelly bite, Ping Pong’s not bad as a speedy, sit-down option.

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The Cheese's rating

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  • Food & Drink: 6
  • Service: 6
  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Value: 6

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Vintage Salt

Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Summer in the City - read Nuzy Sayani's review of Vintage Salt

by Nuzy S.   bronze reviewer (6)

Jul 2015

“Give the lady what she wants.” Harry Gordon Selfridge With the glorious weather that we are currently enjoying, all thoughts turn to al fresco dining. This year we have seen a number of great pop ups and Vintage Salt is no exception. The roof terrace of Selfridges has been converted to a Cornish sea-side themed bar and restaurant. The Drift Bar even has beach huts – perfect for those who want a bit of privacy! But don’t let the fishing nets and beach balls fool you – the atmosphere is pure London and there is a great vibe. My girlfriends and I started with a delectable Miravel rose that got the conversation flowing (not that we need help in that department!). We basked in the evening sun and enjoyed people watching and spotting London landmarks. After an intense day at work I was pleased to be guided by Oliver Redman, the charming manager. He recommended the spiced tuna tartar, the marinated salmon served on a bed of radishes, the London particular fritters (a big hit) and the beets, goat’s cheese and watermelon salad. I have it on good authority from the lovely Jumana that the oysters and scallops are delicious. We went on to enjoy the Harissa roasted sea trout perched on cracked bulgur wheat, a succulent Cornish shrimp burger and tender lamb chops. There is a good selection of sides including moreish truffled chips. The food was light and fresh and perfect for a summer’s evening. We indulged ourselves with chocolate burgers accompanied by churro “chips” and chocolate “ketchup” and the scrumptious signature Vintage Salt cigar, a beautifully constructed brandy snap filled with salted caramel ice cream and sprinkled with honeycomb. Both were sinfully good. I would recommend Vintage Salt for lunch, dinner or a perfect pit stop whilst shopping. Great ambience, food and service and a perfect way to enjoy our beautiful city. Roof, Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB T: 020 7318 3287 roof@vintagesalt.co.uk @NuzySayani Nuzy Sayani is Catwalkschoolgates’ restaurant reviewer. Nuzy lives in Marylebone with her husband and seven year old son. She is a technology lawyer and loves the theatre, cinema, is an avid reader and likes nothing more than trying out restaurants. Nuzy will be sharing her dining experiences with us and would love to hear fro

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Nuzy S.'s rating

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  • Food & Drink: 7
  • Service: 9
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Value: 7

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Bedford and Strand

1a Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HH

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Covent Garden's secret gem

by Luncheon Vulture   gold reviewer (39)

Jul 2015

I hadn't been to B&S for a while having had my head turned by the influx of brasseries that have popped up in this part of town, but I was very glad to rediscover it. Alas it was only for a brief stop for a pre-theatre meal but the cool, quiet interior was a welcome relief from the summer evening madness outside. We each had a main; my friend opting for the large steak tartare which came with possibly the largest portion of fries ever seen (naturally I had to help her out) and I went for the warm chicken salad but we were then both tempted into sharing a plate of cheese. My only criticism was that the cheese was served somewhat too cold for my taste; I like my brie de Meaux to be literally running off the plate, but otherwise a great, albeit brief evening.

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Luncheon Vulture's rating

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

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Joanna s

56 Westow Hill, London SE19 1RX

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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Dinner à deux: smart steaks and old-school service

by The Cheese   gold reviewer (46)

Jul 2015

Editor's pick Imagine a land untouched by small plates, sliders and kimchee cocktails. In this land, you will find Joanna’s. It’s an old-fashioned Crystal Palace institution, keeping the neighbourhood in steaks, burgers and chargrilled Americana for the last 35 years. Don’t expect a diner - it’s a quietly classy environment that’s smart but not fusty. Having enjoyed a couple of decent dinners here in the past, I booked lunch after a three-year hiatus. Staff are still decked out in brasserie chic (starched aprons, natty waistcoats) and we experienced the same old-school, courteous service as before. The interior continues to uphold the retro aesthetic with clubby wood panelling and a shiny, bistro bar. The new-fangled soundtrack is a bit of a clanger; ‘80s Madge and Eurythmics seem incongruous and certainly jarred at 2pm on a Saturday, leaving us longing for the days when the founder tinkled the ivories. The crowd was almost exclusively women in twos or threes, usually with a lovely Mum in tow. It made for a low-key, relaxed scene that was far less screechy than a hardcore brunch-and-bubbles destination, with considerably less booze being knocked back. Tea and cake proved as popular as a full English - the brunch menu runs from noon 'til 3pm. There was nowt wrong with my no-frills Eggs Benedict; all runny yolks streaming from plump white orbs, smooth hollandaise and proper, hearty bacon. A side of peas and chervil was a little past its freshest, with the odd roguish woolly pellet robbing the dish of sweetness. Squid and chorizo on mixed leaves was better, but edged towards the filthier end of the salad spectrum due to an inescapable sea of aioli. (It’s worth asking for dressing on the side). Pud was a chocolate sundae; a towering portion that was more than enough for two. Brownie chunks delivered the dense, truffle-like goo we were hoping for. The sticky sauce lacked the lip-smacking umami of a ballsy salted caramel, but nuggets of peanut crunch offered the right balance between savoury and sweet. The whole haul came to 35 quid in total, including service. All in all, I really like Joanna’s and would heartily recommend it for dinner. It’s an unpretentious spot that would coax you as smoothly through a first date as it would supper with the folks, preferably well-oiled with some classic cocktails. The evening set up’s more polished, and the room looks at its best when aglow; lunch can seem underwhelming in comparison, so make a beeline after dark.

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The Cheese's rating

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

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Cubana

48 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RG

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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cubana

by Natalia P.   gold reviewer (40)

Jun 2015

This is a good place for a quick drink or pre-theatre snack. We dined during a happy hour also managed to pack a few 2 for 1 cocktails. Atmosphere is pleasant and feels authentic. There is a bit of an echo when the ice is being crushed at the bar so it is quite hard to hear one's companion talking. Food was a bit inconsistent - chicken was good but my steak was very rubbery.

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Natalia P.'s rating

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  • Food & Drink: 6
  • Service: 8
  • Atmosphere: 8
  • Value: 6

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Dock Kitchen

Portobello Dock, 342 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5AH

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Cooking up a feast

by Gourmand Gunno   platinum reviewer (141)

Jun 2015

Outdoor space and genuinely original culinary concepts that aren’t instant flops are a hard combination to find, even in London. Nonetheless, Dock Kitchen scores well on both counts, constituted a perfect place for a relaxed summer meal, and has the potential to be amazing, if only they upped their game in terms of service a bit. The attractions of the Grand Union canal running from west from Paddington to Ladbroke Grove and beyond has been known to locals for some time, but for those willing to venture somewhat beyond the central comfort zone, a trip is definitely merited. There is a generally relaxed vibe in the area, people passing time on barges, skating in a nearby park or just taking in the atmosphere. The Dock Kitchen fits in perfectly, located in a converted Victorian Wharf building that has become part of an urban regeneration project. Decked out in metal and glass, with local architects and artists providing the fixtures and fittings, the Kitchen feels like a cool, modern place. The outside dining area is extensive and affords a great opportunity both for people watching and to see the chefs in action. Even on a recent Monday night when my comrade and I visited, the place was close to being full, clearly a sign that they are doing something right. Established chef Stevie Parle (something of a local celebrity) has brought a highly innovative take to cooking, drawing influences from around the world. Diners get to choose either from a set menu which takes in one style of regional cooking and changes every three weeks or from a short but diverse a la carte offering. On this occasion, my comrade got to sample a selection of dishes from the Middle East, on offer in the set format, while I chose from the menu. Culinary options from almost all the continents were represented. My starter of squid on a bed of spinach leaves coated in a tahini dressing was executed flawlessly, reminiscent of food I had in eaten in Israel (or perhaps at the Palomar in London). My only complaint may have been the portion size, as I was definitely left wanting more. At least my appetite was set for the main, another superb concoction of pork, salsa verde and borlotti beans. My comrade also praised highly is mezze starter and grilled lamb main. We enjoyed this with a superb bottle of Pieropan white from the Soave region of Italy and the range of options across the list was also impressive. It was a pity, however, that we had to wait almost ten minutes after ordering the wine for it to arrive (at least the starters were cold and so were not in danger of suffering) only then to watch our server struggle ineptly to open the bottle. Surely a little more training might be in order? They also seemingly forgot my comrade’s dessert, for which we also had to endure a notable wait. In the grand scheme of the experience (and also noting that the set three-course menu is available for the amazingly competitive price of £24.50), these represent relatively minor quibbles, and there is every reason to go. You can’t reserve outside, so make sure you get there early!

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Gourmand Gunno's rating

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

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Goodman City

11 Old Jewry, London EC2R 8DU

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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Fantastic steak place

by Rebecca L.   silver reviewer (24)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick I was texting my boyfriend saying 'we have to go here' before I'd even finished my main, I loved it that much. Probably the best steak I've had in London! I had such a good evening out here. The choice of steaks is very extensive and my choice, the fillet, was fantastic, absolutely faultless. I recommend you get the lobster tails too. I sometimes find in steak places that offer lobster that it can be a little secondary to the steak but that wasn't the case here. The sides are divine too, I really recommend the mac and cheese. My dessert, a chocolate and banana mousse was good but nothing to shout about. Who cares? You're there for the meat. Service was friendly and very knowledgeable, our waiter made us feel very welcome and taken care of. Surroundings are very City old school - all intimate, dark and woody, I loved it. There are very few places I think 'I must come back here ASAP' but this is one of the them. Just go!

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Rebecca L.'s rating

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

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Ryder Grill at The Belfry

The Belfry, Lichfield Road, Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield B76 9PR

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar halfstar emptystar empty

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Below par.......

by Luncheon Vulture   gold reviewer (39)

Jun 2015

I'll admit to having a sense of foreboding when I realised that the Ryder Grill was the same venue where we had had breakfast earlier in the day. The Belfry's website really makes the Grill out to look something special, and perhaps late at night with the lights dimmed, that may well be the case but at 6:30 on a bright summer's evening (we had ankle biters in our party) it did not feel that special at all. The Grill offers two menus; an a la carte which offers a fairly standard array of starters and grill staples (although oddly, no chicken) and a 3-course buffet menu. The vast majority of our party went for the a la carte, but the two who went for the buffet, generally found the food to be varied and tasty, although both came back with what looked like Sunday lunch. Overall the a la carte offerings were plentiful and tasty, but nothing to really excite and given that the prices are comparable to those in top notch steak restaurants in Central London, our expectations were heightened but not met. Service was ok to indifferent, but to be honest, that was the standard throughout all bars and restaurants within the Belfry. Noise levels rose dramatically as the restaurant filled, but as the hotel tends to cater for large parties (golfers not to mention stags and hens) that was not particularly surprising, but again, added to the overall indifference to the restaurant. Can't say I'd rush back......

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Luncheon Vulture's rating

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  • Food & Drink: 6
  • Service: 6
  • Atmosphere: 4
  • Value: 4

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Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury Street, London N1 1ER

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Brilliant Taste of London discovery

by Amy M.   silver reviewer (15)

Jun 2015

A gastropub is somewhere I would never go for a client lunch as a rule of thumb. But I went to Taste of London festival and loved the food we tried, so much in fact, my dad and I went back twice! So it was to my dismay that they are based round the back of Angel, an area I never get to, but providence intervened and put a client right there! As they have a lovely garden out the back, completely walled in from traffic and a wonderful sun trap, it was too good an opportunity not to go. I can happily say that they lived up to the Taste of London showing. The food is not overly complicated but the execution is lovely and packs a flavourful punch. My fried quail wasn't oily or overcooked, my client's sprats were juicy and fresh and my colleagues cow's curd & strawberry salad was summer on a plate. The main courses didn't disappoint and with unusual choices available - calves' liver, oxtail - provided a treat. We sat for 5 hours slowly eating and drinking our way through the afternoon, with lovely unobstrusive but not elusive service. Thoroughly recommend it.

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Amy M.'s rating

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

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