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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.

Marianne

104 Chepstow Road, London W2 5QS

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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Small yet beautiful

by Gourmand Gunno   platinum reviewer (160)

Feb 2016

Westbourne Park (or, if you’re generous, the borders of Notting Hill) is perhaps not the most obvious location for many Londoners ever to consider visiting. But for those in search of fine dining experiences, make no doubt, there are some very exciting things happening here. Beyond the ever-sublime Ledbury, just five streets away lies Marianne, a small yet beautiful restaurant. And by small, I mean really small. There are just 14 covers here and this makes for an exceptionally intimate experience. In some ways, being at Marianne is akin to being in someone’s house, cosy and welcoming. Indeed, with cooking this good, one would never even need to leave home. Our senses were assailed on the moment of entering by a lovely sensation of truffles and this ingredient proved pervasive throughout our meal. On being seated, we were given some truffled popcorn – simple yet effective and remarkably flavoursome – with our pre-dinner glass of champagne. My comrade and I opted for the tasting menu and it was a delight to see not only a broad range of culinary options deployed, but also that vegetarians were in no sense treated here as second-class citizens (good news for my comrade). Indeed, a quick survey of the restaurant’s website shows the vegetarian menu listed here before the omnivorous one. We both began our meals with home-made linguine with (more) truffles. The melt-in-your-mouth taste sensation was close to perfection and set the bar high for the rest of the meal. Fortunately, it was comfortably met and the eponymous Marianne (who also made the welcome effort to come out and chat with all the diners) showed her clear dexterity with fish, game, vegetables and desserts. We noted too that the dishes were just about the right size: enough to enjoy experience, but not so much that the subsequent ones could also not be enjoyed. Being continually sated and also excited about what next was to come is a rare but welcome combination. To finish with the plaudits, it is worth adding that the paired wines were also interesting, with good geographic diversity, and presented with genuine enthusiasm. We left incredibly pleased (notwithstanding the somewhat lighter wallet – but it was worth every penny) and will be returning.

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Gourmand Gunno's rating

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

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Nobu Berkeley St

15 Berkeley Street, London W1J 8DY

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Consistently good, but lacking something.......

by Sarah .   (3)

Feb 2016

Once you get over everyone staring when you walk in as the waiters announce your arrival to the restaurant in Japanese, you can sit down knowing you will be served good food, on time, with good service at Nobu B......I'm not sure exactly why, but I can't pick a better word than good...... Back in the day, Nobu B was heaving and the restaurant was buzzy, the bar packed.....I had lunch on a Thursday and the bar was empty, one half of the restaurant was empty and our side had a few mums & kids, plus some business diners. I just felt it was less special now - I wasn't as excited to eat here a few years on, but I don't feel that at Zuma - I still get the buzz and the kick. I had what I usually have - the bento box.....it is a little bit of everything - black cod / rock shrimp / sashimi / nigiri - all very good, especially the Matsuhisa dressing. I didn't enjoy the vegetables with rice - very buttery which just didn't fit in with the rest of the meal. I also didn't drink and chose one of their juices and was pleasantly surprised how nice it was, with a spicy kick. So definitely eat here, it's good, you won't be disappointed.......but I am sad that it's lost it's spark somewhere on the way.

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Sarah .'s rating

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

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Sticks n Sushi 11 Henrietta Street

11 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8PY

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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New fan - can't wait to return!

by Sarah .   (3)

Feb 2016

I'd heard a lot of good things about Sticks n Sushi, I was apprehensive that a dutch restaurant would be able to win me over on Sushi - but they absolutely have! The restaurant is really cleverly designed in what is essentially a narrow long room with two entrances each side of Covent garden, all the table are well spaced and great for sharing. Sticks n Sushi is one of the only restaurants that has nailed printing photos of the food on the menu......most other places that do this are really only doing it so drunk-you doesn't have to try and read what kebab or pizza you want, you can just point and pay! But everything that looks fabulous on the menu at Sticks n Sushi....tastes just as fabulous on your plate at Sticks n Sushi and I was ever so relieved, as we ordered a lot. It's hard not to when everything looks so good so if you are watching the wallet - perhaps go with one of their set menus (we had the Monte Carlo) and you can get a bit of everything. (we then obviously ordered more to be greedy!) I preferred the sushi overall to the sticks -but the highlight was the Rib-eye beef with Japanese barbecue marinade - SO GOOD. They even take the simple stuff to a new level - grilled edamame beans tossed in soy, ginger & garlic was a game changer. I am so happy I've found this gem and I can't wait for my trousers to get a little looser so I can go back, order everything again and start the circle all over again.

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Sarah .'s rating

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

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Bocca di Lupo

12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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Food exceeded expectations - service didn't

by Sarah .   (3)

Feb 2016

Bocca di Lupo has been on my list to try for so long and sadly kept getting overtaken by newer places so I was very excited to have a table booked and I was finally going! The restaurant was busy and is the perfect setting for a get together with friends - if you're a couple, then the counter is for you - as the main restaurant is lots of round tables designed to get conversation and drinks flowing so volume levels are raised.....perfect for the birthday we wanted to celebrate! The food was without fault - we shared starters: Sage leaves filled with anchovy, buffalo mozzarella bocconcini, Tortellini stuffed with pork & prosciutto and a fab radish salad......all full of flavour and decent portions. I ordered the tuna steak for main course, it was served with a fresh herby pesto and I was super happy -it was cooked to perfection, the pesto was the perfect accompaniment. Sides I was a little disappointed not to see a potato offering, but the caponata was incredible and I guess I could fit more food in without the carbs so all was not lost :) Sadly we felt let down by the service, even considered asking them to remove it but then chickened out! There is a service hatch near the bar where I assume the plates are sent to from the kitchen for waiters to distribute - and this was where our waiter spent most of his time, along with his colleagues - so trying to get their attention was very hard when they were all hanging out by this station chatting to each other with their backs firmly turned away from all of us in the restaurant. My main course was brought out wrong so I waited for mine to be made whilst my friends started - not the end of the world at all and I didn't have to wait long, but perhaps a read back of what we had ordered at the start could have avoided this. Our water was forgotten - not a big deal but just very hard to get anyones attention to ask! My friend had her back to a double swinging door and sadly our waiter took it apon himself to let us know when he was in or out of the door by gently bumping her chair every time - the first few times you can ignore -the next few are just plain frustrating! Food - really good Atmosphere - lovely, full of people having a great night

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Sarah .'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half
  • Food & Drink: 10
  • Service: 4
  • Atmosphere: 10
  • Value: 8

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Lobos Meat and Tapas Bar

14 Borough High Street, London SE1 9QG

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Interesting tapas in Borough and you can book!

by Sarah R.   silver reviewer (19)

Feb 2016

My friends and I had an early pre-theatre tapas meal last night. When I arrived we were shown to our table promptly. The menu is varied and changes regularly. The focus is on meat but as a vegetarian I found there were enough meat free dishes for me to order that I could also share with my friends. They tucked into the meat dishes and said they were delicious - winners were the croquets and the rack of lamb. The green salad was very interesting with a lemon and nut dressing and the tortilla perfectly cooked. The dishes are all served on different interesting plates that turn up when they are cooked rather than all together. The waitress recommended 3 each, which was about right. They were small but the food is rich so you don't need too much. The wine was delicious and the service friendly but very efficient. Don't skimp on the desserts, it was the best I've had in a while - chocolate and pistachio cake with chocolate and hazelnut icecream. Very good! The bill came to just under £200 for 4 of us and included 2 bottles of wine. The atmosphere was buzzy and fun. It is set in a railway arch so I thought would feel cramped but there was enough room to move between tables. I loved the fact I could book as at Brindisa down the road they don't take bookings which is a problem for an organisation freak like me!

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Sarah R.'s rating

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

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Koya Bar

50 Frith Street, London W1D 4SQ

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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A date that excels in culture!

by Vi V.   bronze reviewer (9)

Feb 2016

Koya Bar, Frith Street – Koya Bar is a proper Japanese noodle bar. In the night of Soho lights, it sits humbly among the other eateries with their attractive and catchy signs. A black shop front with large glass window and a one door entrance, it would have been easier to keep an eye out for their logo. Did it attract any less customers? No, in fact, queues can build up easily as seating are limited. Koya Bar does not take reservations and you will only be seated when all of your companions have arrived. fish and chips £9.10 – served as a starter, small plate, sharing style it is the Koya's take on English fish and chips. Brilliant! I suspect that the chips were from a sweet vegetable like plantain or sweet potato. It was feather light like the batter on the fish. No vinegar or tomato sauce but served with their dipping sauce of radish and spring onions, it was so delicious that we didn't stop eating until the plate was empty. kamonabe (duck and vegetable hot pot) £14.30 – from a spectator's view, I thought that they were a little mean on the duck and vegetable. My dining companion confirmed that it had the proper proportion of udon to filling to broth. It was good but the broth was a little on the oily side. hiya-hiya zaru udon tenzaru (cold udon with cold sauce to dip with prawn and vegetable tempura) £13.90 – after the fish and chips, I was glad that I chose the tempura to go with my noodles. It was delightfully crispy and each bite into the batter was so satisfying. The kind of batter that possibly every OCD foodie/chef is trying to create at home. I give up, and will just dine here from now on. The assortment of vegetables were all but one slightly undercooked. With Koya Bar, it was more than just the food. The place exudes the Japanese culture of eating and looking around the place for a moment, I could be fooled that we were in Japan. Koya Bar was full and most had their heads down totally engrossed in their bowls of udon, I was quite amazed that a steaming hot broth noodles was favoured equally well in the West as in Asia. I thought it was only the kind of dish only understood by the Asians. Seating by the bar might not be suitable on certain occasions – like if you have a crowd of friends or have sharing dishes - but on second thoughts, sitting opposite someone who slurps their noodles is not particularly inviting. I still have to work my way through the menu - udon noodles being the main which comes with different toppings, rice in donburi style and various small plates to choose from. Not to mention that there are specials from time to time. What seemed like a small portion of noodles turned out to be quite filling and with a small plate to share between the two of us, I was full. A good place for simple yet flavoursome food. No desserts served and I did find myself wanting one. Koya Bar exudes a casualness with personality and integrity. It is not the kind of glamorous place with awkward formalities, numerous cutlery, hostile service and an expensive menu that makes you think twice but if I were taken on a date here, I am glad to walk away with the date that knows and has good taste! Will I be back for more? You can certainly count on it!

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Vi V.'s rating

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

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Searcy s The Gherkin

Levels 39-40, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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Masterchef? Not quite.....

by Luncheon Vulture   platinum reviewer (53)

Feb 2016

We thought we had lucked out in managing to bag a table during Monica Galetti’s short spell at Searcy’s at the Gherkin. After all, a professional chef who has now made her name critiquing others’ attempts at fine dining, has got to be incredible herself, right? Hmmmmm…..afraid to say we ended up a bit fifty/fifty on the night. Three dishes absolutely stood out; the black curry scallops which just continued to delight and surprise as the subtle hint of lime gradually came through; the roasted loin of venison with braised shoulder dumpling (the website menu had this as “pierogi” but I guess the staff got bored being asked what that was!) The venison was cooked perfectly and the posh dumpling just gorgeous. Finally the pineapple tarte tatin, gorgeous to look at and just as delicious on the palate. Two dishes were fine but to be honest, nothing special; the beetroot cured salmon was great if you like beetroot but not so good if you like salmon as its taste was completely masked by the beetroot cure although the horseradish cream was a zingy accompaniment; the pork rib eye was very tasty and looked wonderful on the plate, but was just a bit on the tough side. The biggest disappointment however was the apple cinnamon snowball; served in a frosted tumbler, it had practically melted into a puddle of slush by the time it reached the table and whilst it tasted fine, I can imagine la Galetti being somewhat dismissive of it had it been presented to her on Masterchef. It occurred to us that as she had only designed the menu she may not have actually been in the kitchen but were assured that she was cooking that night, which I have to say, added to the overall underwhelming experience. Prior to this I had been somewhat excited at the rumour of her opening her own establishment later this year, but think now I will wait for the reviews and a bit of time to get her act together before I add to the ever growing, "must go" list. Of course, it was a wonderful venue and we were fortunate to have a table window-side so could enjoy the glorious view of our capital at night but just a shame the meal didn’t quite hit the heights that the building itself offers.

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Luncheon Vulture's rating

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

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ASK Italian Spice Quay

Spice Quay, 34 Shad Thames, Butlers Wharf, London

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar halfstar emptystar empty

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No italian amore

by Vi V.   bronze reviewer (9)

Feb 2016

sea bass al forno £14.55 – the piece of fish was quite thin, served hot but I felt it was a smallish plate for a main. spaghetti al pomodoro £8.25 calzone con carne picante £11.95 – cheesy with various meats, disappointingly under spiced, and not quite big enough, but somehow I still found myself enjoying it in some sinful way. lemon tart – again too small, not tangy enough, but thankfully not over-sweetened profiteroles al cioccolato – the choux pastry tasted very dry and tasted like a mass produced frozen product but, on the bright side it has a nice chocolate sauce. Service for the night was especially slow despite the restaurant being half empty. The staffs looked overworked, tired and were ready to get off their shifts on that Saturday night. The Italian laid back approach might have been adopted but the Italian amore? Not found in ASK.

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Vi V.'s rating

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

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Cafe Murano Covent Garden

34-36 Tavistock Street, London WC2E 7PB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar full

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Outstanding!

by Tim M.   (1)

Feb 2016

We really enjoyed our lunch at Cafe Murano. The menu was seasonal but not slavishly so and the set lunch menu excellent value. The service was also excellent. We finished our meal with a Grappa di Moscato which was probably the best grappa we've ever tasted. Can't wait until we're in Covent Garden again!

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Tim M.'s rating

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

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Aubaine Mayfair

31 Dover Street, London W1S 4ND

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar emptystar emptystar empty

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Disappointed

by Kim T.   bronze reviewer (5)

Feb 2016

This was our first visit to Aubaine upon recommendation from a very good client who frequents this venue several times on a weekly basis. Our waiter was unhelpful and not very friendly. Two out of three diners ordered the set menu, upon serving the food the "salmon" salad had one piece of salmon and the "beetroot" salad had none. We sent the dishes back and it took almost 30 minutes to be re-served a "cold" dish. We complained for the substandard service and the time delay and had expected it to be an efficient service given our recommendation. When our main courses arrived, two fish dishes and one steak were barely warm. As we were hungry and had time constraints we ate the food. Upon ordering one of the fish dishes the diner stated she did not want rice could she have something else we were told no by the waiter, we suggested serving the meal without rice and he changed his mind and offered to serve with spinach. Overall our client was embarrassed at suggesting this restaurant as we are new in the area and although we were given a 20% discount did not excuse the overall service and quality of the food served. To recommend this to senior management in our company or colleagues we are reluctant because of this poor service.

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Kim T.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar emptystar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 3
  • Service: 3
  • Atmosphere: 5
  • Value: 5

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Vivat Bacchus 47 Farringdon Street

47 Farringdon Street, London EC4A 4LL

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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Catch-up after work

by Eola B.   (2)

Feb 2016

Editor's pick Just popped in for a drink, the venue was very busy, though probably to do with it was the last Friday of January. We just had a few drinks and the pitta and hummus is the best - would recommend whilst having a drink or two. Also they do very good cheeseboards - a little pricey though, but you get to have a sneak in the cheese room before choosing. Good selection of South African wines. they do have music in the evenings. Else overall good and a good place to go for a drink and catch-up in the city.

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Eola B.'s rating

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

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Sartoria

20 Savile Row, London W1S 3PR

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Post make-over

by Lynn W.   platinum reviewer (51)

Feb 2016

Editor's pick We arrived for dinner and had drinks in the bar first - a glossy space, welcoming and a good spot for a catch up. Moving into the dining room, we all liked the wing back chairs and comfortable environment, and settled in for a good dinner with lovely copper pots of breads and fab olive oil. Actually, it was a bit patchy. The winter salad with crunchy raw veg, soft puree of pulses and quails egg was enjoyable, the tortellini with Marsala broth was said to be very good, and the seafood with Sardinian fregola was apparently epic! Wish I'd had that ... For main course a friend and I shared the salt baked sea bass, this was good fish, delivered whole to the table but spoiled a little by rather unskilled service, it ended up as a bit of a heap on the plate. The lamb looked very good, but was apparently not a good piece and was too fatty and chewy, while the fritto misto was rapidly polished off. Sides of ultra-thin crispy fried zucchini and double baked potatoes with mozarella were delicious, but the spinach was more like tough chewy chard. For dessert 3 of us succumbed to the thought of chestnut and meringue montebianco, but none of us finished it - the meringue was nice and crisp but flat, the filling a bit claggy - overall just too sweet and stodgy and not the luscious rich but airy confection we were expecting. One person chose the roast pineapple and was very pleased with it. Service was very pleasant but there were long waits between courses. Overall we had a good evening, but given we have been to L'Anima several times for chef Franceso Mazzei's cooking we came away feeling that some dishes were very good but others were disappointing.

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Lynn W.'s rating

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

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