Editor's Picks

Jul 2015

These reviews have been selected by SquareMeal.co.uk's editor for being particularly helpful or entertaining. Scroll through 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

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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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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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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POND

3 Gillett Street, London N16 8JH

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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No Hulas in Sight

by yolanda c.   (2)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick I hate a theme just as much as I hate fancy dress so I was relieved to find Pond had designed their restaurant without the use of pineapples or Hawaiian skirts. This is Dalston, after all. Whilst the words cool and Hawaiian may not often be found together, they do now. We were quite content with the inventive cocktail list with twists on all the classics (think lots of pineapple, coconut and rum) and a menu filled with small and large plates which meant we simply had to order in bulk to sample as much as is humanly possible (quite a lot, as it turns out). We shared everything and that included Poke Pines which was akin to a tuna and salmon, Thai basil oil and coconut lime ceviche. Food arrives when it's ready so next up we had pork belly, fried sea bass and chargrilled chicken in a variety of sauces mainly involving chillies, lemongrass, kimchee and lime. I was then forced, yes, forced, to have steamed chocolate pudding with smoked vanilla ice-cream. Smoked ice-cream is a first for me and if you like trying usual combinations, then this is it. We shared another cocktail, to pair with our dessert, as one does, before we waddled out happily smelling like a smokehouse.

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yolanda c.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half
  • Food & Drink: 9
  • Service: 10
  • Atmosphere: 8
  • Value: 7

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Bone Daddies

31 Peter Street, London W1F 0AR

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Bone broth + bibs = noodley bliss

by The Cheese   gold reviewer (46)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick Outside Bone Daddies is very basic and unremarkable. So too inside, where there's only a flurry of kitsch vintage snaps and clusters of sake bottles by way of decoration. The soundtrack is more dominant and consists of one soft-rock abomination after another - think muzak of the Journey ilk, suitable for lifts and Little Chefs circa the mid '80s. A baffling choice, but I’m willing to overlook it given the quality of the food. Condiments aplenty line the worktops (chilli bean paste, fresh garlic cloves to grate, and a jar full of - what - liquorice hairbands?!) but the most important element of your little 'mise' is undoubtedly the plastic bib. Unless otherwise requested, food arrives when it's good and ready; in the case of ramen, that's lightning quick. The 20-hour pork bone broth has a milky, mellow flavour that soothes the tummy and the soul. Tantanmen, on the other hand, promises a satisfyingly fiery bowl of flavoursome ground chicken and lip-tingling spice. Go hungry - most bowls contains a healthy portion of noodles and beansprouts along with a gooey, amber-yolked Clarence Court egg. Add extras like ‘cock scratchings’ TM (ahem) if you desire, but I’d be amazed to see someone polish off the lot. Having already ordered a side of fried chicken we made a valiant effort to tuck in, without regret; it was sizzling, piquant and spot on. Croquettes had satisfying crunch, and an unctuous porky, corn melange within. All in all, a mighty enjoyable feed. Drinks range from 'soft' but serious mocktails (balancing the likes of spritely yuzu and searingly sharp grapefruit for something more complex than your average pop) through to 'hard' (Asahi and Kernel beer or Orient-infused cocktails; wine doesn’t really get a look in) and finally 'harder' (Japanese whisky and a generous sake menu). Don’t expect to hang around, apart from the inevitable queuing when you arrive; service is speedy, while the narrow benches and vertiginous stools aren’t conducive to lingering (or larger parties). However, Bone Daddies confidently resides at the delectable end of the fast food spectrum. I was further heartened to learn that bone broth may have a host of health merits (so ignoring the tiny globules of flavoursome fat that pool across its surface); apparently it is rich in collagen, imbuing it with anti-wrinkle properties. All the more reason to don the bib, slurp away and laugh contentedly as you age backwards with a full, contented belly.

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The Cheese's rating

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

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Toms Kitchen St Katharine Docks

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

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar halfstar emptystar empty

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Saved by the food...!

by Jan d.   bronze reviewer (13)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick A hurriedly arranged dinner with a friend arriving unexpectedly to London resulted in a Monday night booking at Toms Kitchen St Katharine Docks. Arriving at 9.30pm on a Monday night to a half empty restaurant we certainly did not expect to be met with the news that half of the menu highlights (our initial choices) were unavailable (no cushion of Herdwick Lamb, no Gateland farm Veal T Bone Steak, no mussels etc) and a waiter whose English was so unintelligible that it took the 3 of us between us to decipher what he was on about, nice guy that he was!! (just like the Grange Hotel St Paul's - try talking to them on the telephone to book anything!!!). However, the lack of those dishes was as nothing compared to how desperately uncomfortable the wooden seats are. These are comfortably (sic) the most uncomfortable seats in London and after 20 minutes all three of us were in serious discomfort. Thankfully, with a pretty empty restaurant (it was close to 10pm by this time) we were able to move to one of the banquettes and had our meal in far greater comfort. Thankfully, after this very inauspicious start, what came afterwards was delicious and well presented - we started with pork rillettes to share...classily home made coarse pork rilletes were just delicious and when asked, they were good enough to find us some cornichons to go with them: after all, serving rillettes without cornichons is like having scones without jam and cream!! Come on Tom!!!! Between us we then had a Cumbrian T Bone staek, a rump steak both cooked perfectly and brimming with flavour, served with probably the best triple cooked chips I have eaten in London and delightfully crisp onion rings. The side of mushrooms with blue cheese were also sensational and my wife's scallops cooked in puff pastry with dill and sea herbs were very nicely served in 2 dinky frypans and were wonderful. Wine list was good and we had a very good Languedoc Viognier with a an excellent Salice Salentino Riserva, from Puglia to follow. Summary - delicious food and wine - couldn't fault it. Would we go back? Not until they change those b----y chairs!!!

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Jan d.'s rating

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

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Ceviche Old Street

2 Baldwin Street, London EC1V 9NU

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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Amazing service, still to make my mind up on the food!

by Yolanda B.   bronze reviewer (6)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick I have wanted to go the Ceviche in Soho for a while now but not quite made it there, so I was really happy to find out they had opened one in Old Street not too far from the city. I went here for lunch with my boyfriend, on arrival we were seated at the bar as we hadn't made a reservation. It turned out to be a good spot though as we had the full attention of one of the bar staff/waiters working behind the bar and he was exceptionally attentive and informative on the dishes and we were very impressed with the level of service and care. To eat we had the Don Ceviche, Pollo a la Brasa, Lamb Brains fritters and Huevo Criollo (a healthy version of a scotch egg) - I had let my boyfriend choose the dishes for a change but was. The Ceviche was lovely and refreshing and tasty - which is good considering the name of the restaurant! However, I wasn't very impressed by the other dishes - I think they may be trying a bit too hard to be different with the lambs brains fritters and the quinoa scotch egg and the chicken was just chicken. I felt disappointed as I had high hopes for this restaurant and they didn't seem to be met, I think I will have to give it another chance (ordering very different items next time) before I completely make my mind up! p.s I had the Plum & Ginger cider to drink - this was lovely and I would highly recommend it!

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Yolanda B.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 6
  • Service: 10
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Value: 7

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Savoy Grill at The Savoy

The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EU

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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For a taste of a London icon read Nuzy Sayani’s review of Savoy Grill

by Nuzy S.   bronze reviewer (7)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick The Savoy has special significance for me as my now husband and I had our first date at the American Bar almost two decades ago. Romance flourished over martinis and the rest as they say is history. When we were looking for somewhere special to take my mother in law for her birthday, we decided to book the Savoy Grill for Sunday lunch. London has so many luxury hotels but I have always loved the glamour and character of The Savoy. The extensive restoration freshened up the grande dame whilst retaining the opulence of the Art Deco and Edwardian era. We started off with some celebratory bubbles in the Thames Foyer. My son was tempted to tickle the ivories of the grand piano but was suitably distracted by the portraits of famous guests that have inspired the hotel’s signature suites. Natural light streamed through the beautiful glass domed ceiling but the warmth of the winter garden was sadly not reflected in the service. This happily changed when we entered the Savoy Grill. We were warmly welcomed and the staff paid special attention to our son. The room itself is splendid – the lacquered wood panels complement the extravagant chandeliers and mirrors and you half expect to see Winston Churchill lighting up a cigar or Frank Sinatra holding court in one of the booths. The menu as you would expect is brimming with classic dishes. We started with garlicky frogs’ legs that had a crunch, an intensely flavoured lobster and crab bisque and succulent oysters. We continued the traditional journey by ordering the rich steak and ale pudding and the rib of beef with all the trimmings. Both were well executed but left us no room for dessert! My son enjoyed his halibut and devoured his dish of freshly made doughnuts with such indecent haste that I didn’t even get a nibble! The attentive and charming restaurant manager Santosh Uchil looked after us royally and overall service was excellent. My son (to his father’s delight) was offered a tour of the kitchens – a nice touch that they both enjoyed. We walked onto the Strand with our boxes of petit fours, sated and ready for an afternoon nap. I would recommend Savoy Grill for a meal with friends or family. It is perfect for a special occasion without being overly formal or fussy whilst still retaining a special something. Coupled with the allure of the Savoy and the great choice of bars and lounges, there is something for everyone. Savoy Hotel Strand LONDON WC2R 0EU 0207 592 1600 restaurant reservations savoygrill@gordonramsay.com @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 from you with your recommendations.

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Nuzy S.'s rating

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

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Oslo Court

Prince Albert Road (corner of Charlbert Street), London NW8 7EN

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Time travelling backwards

by Joe N.   (1)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick Entering the restaurant was like travelling back in time to the 1970s. The decor and ambiance is a little past its sell by date, but is obviously well liked by its clientele who are obviously regular and well fed. Several large tables were hosting birthday parties for older members, and I have no doubt, for this kind of event, this place is ideal. London has moved on a lot since then, however, and food presentation and levels of discreet service have skipped by unnoticed. Portions are substantial, served piping hot and either very well cooked or in the case of my starter and the general assorted vegetables, were too well cooked for my liking. If you have dentures, however, they could have been ideal and possibly this was the intention. You will not go home wondering what special ingredient made that wonderful dish, or wanting to recreate anything for a dinner party... the chances are, you have cooked it before ( if dietary laws permit ). Tables are pushed very close together, there is almost no room for a pre-dinner drink at the bar while waiting for your late table to be prepared. The Maitre-d' and staff try hard to please, but there is a lack of finesse that more than likely goes unnoticed by the clientele of older regulars. Music is played just loud enough to not hear conversation at adjacent tables yet soft enough to be able to talk to table mates. If this was a cruise ship it would be the old P&O Victoria than a modern Cunard liner. Clientele are more Marbella than St Tropez. Presentation is more Lexus than Aston Martin. Conclusion: Like my old School reports used to say... Oslo Court tries hard, but could do better with a little more imagination and a little less effort.

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Joe N.'s rating

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

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The Parlour Park Pavilion 40 Canada Square

Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, London E14 5FW

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar emptystar emptystar empty

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A Parlour with no ice cream. Just NOISE

by The Cheese   gold reviewer (46)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick I confess: I'm frightened of Canary Wharf. The proper grown-ups (with suits 'n' everything!); the incalculable heights of Canada Square that make my brain go funny; the number of supremely hammered folk before 6pm on a Friday. (Triple that when the sun's out / it's a bull market / it's all gone Lehman Brothers). So I faced my fears and visited the Parlour one evening, arriving on my tod. Firstly, a parlour it ain't. It's raucous and rammed, with mercifully high ceilings to dissipate some of the volume. Someone's been pretty smart with design, as tables topped with honeycombed ceramics plus a hint of dogtooth and tweedy upholstery prevent the place being entirely soulless. The staff I encountered were very cordial (contrary to many reviews) and held up admirably under the strain of a billion traders out on the razzle, spilling out across the lawn. Cocktails are fairly priced for these parts, or maybe I was seduced by everything being listed as £9.95 rather than the actual tenner it means. It's also nice to see that everything's available by the glass, from Sancerre through to Chapel Down Brut. There's bar food to soak up the excess, with the usual suspects of the posh pub grub realm. Tasty ballast includes hummus and baba ganoush, or a meat platter so gluttonous it may be solely responsible for global warming. (I counted double pig, mini burgers and token poultry for good measure). A seafood option seems the more refined choice with its frilly blinis and smoked salmon, until you spy 'prawn lollipops'. A deeply disturbing concept. Anyhoo, sharing is the way to go, but don't expect the nibbles to go far; order a couple of dishes if there's more than a few of you. I can't speak for the sit-down offering, but the ring-fenced dining area overlooks the kitchen and is slickly put together. Still a deafening spot though, unless your snide intention is to sidle up to your unsuspecting target. If you're unwinding after work, on the pull or partying for no reason in particular, the Parlour's probably alright. The music is loud - so very, very loud - and the bar queues are long, but every group in the vicinity appears to be having a ball. It's entirely down to personal preference that it's akin to my own version of hell.

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The Cheese's rating

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

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Queenswood

15 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Excellent Option For Vegetarians - Super Tasty

by Gloria J.   (1)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick As a vegetarian, it can be difficult to find quality dishes in restaurants that aren't an afterthought in the kitchen. Queenswood puts vegetarian eats at the forefront for their menu without leaving out top notch options for your omnivorous friends. Having tried several of the dishes on their menu, I can say that they were full of magical tastes that pleased my palate to no end. It was refreshing to not have to see options of either fried cheese or white flour-based dishes. An array of fresh produce and nutrient dense grains ensures you won't leave with a double chin and it's done without skimping on the flavor. There's an array of unique flavors tasted throughout the menu - They're not afraid to experiment. The cocktails were exotic and tasty. It's tempting to stay there after you've finished eating and just hang out with a few drinks. Really nice atmosphere as well. I wasn't crazy about the desserts... I think they could do better based on how good the rest of the menu is. I would recommend this restaurant to all of my vegetarian friends who are looking for non-gross food. I find that restaurant service usually lacks in London but it was very good here. A+.

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Gloria J.'s rating

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

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Delilah

15 Middle Pavement, Nottingham, Nottingham NG1 7DX

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Market-fresh produce, off Market Square

by The Cheese   gold reviewer (46)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick My, my, my Delilah... I could fritter away my pennies on you and your weird, artisanal popcorn. My partner knows the drill for a place like this; I disappear into the tardis, emerging with a guilty grin, the latest super grain, weasel-poo coffee and a despicably pongy cheese. So imagine my delight in unearthing a proper deli, amid the sea of sandwich chains in Nottingham’s central Market Square. Delilah promises treats to take away, or a very civilised, sit-down meal in the mezzanine space. It’s licensed so you can enjoy a spritzer or craft beer snifter, but the drinks list includes grown-up pop too. French apricot juice and iced matcha tea were particularly refreshing. Blackboards boast seasonal specials, but wait to see the enormity of the full menu before you commit; regulars include eggs, antipasti and globetrotting cuisine to take you from breakfast through to teatime. We were ravenous by the time we bagged stools at the bar, positioned within licking distance of the cake offerings (a spread of Portuguese custard tarts, traybakes and scones of monstrous proportions). And so began our slightly unorthodox meal: none-too-shabby baked goods followed by our actual lunch. I tackled a towering croque monsieur with molten bechamel and thick-cut ham, which was way too lofty for my jaws (but very nice, nonetheless). My other half promptly destroyed a Reuben in under two minutes, then felt very tired indeed. A spirited espresso later, and we were waltzing through the aisles, tossing vac-packed curiosities into our baskets as the cash registers trilled. This is an inviting deli for gourmet grazing or grub to go, not forgetting a bit of impulse buying for good measure. If there’s one criticism - and this is clutching at (cheese) straws - then perhaps there’s too much choice, with a panic-inducing 30+ dishes and combos available on the Saturday we visited. Also, sandwiches are piled so high that the individual ingredients risk drowning in pickles and sauce. And with fillings of such a decent calibre, that's a travesty. Prices are slightly steeper than the competition, but then an emergency Gregg's sausage roll is hardly a match for Delilah's bread and pastry arsenal.

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The Cheese's rating

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

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Balthazar

4-6 Russell Street, London WC2E 7BN

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty

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ok, but lacking that sense of a big London Event.

by claire w.   (1)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick Got invited to this place with friends for a birthday. was ok, but having been to a few places in the last month it really was a case of hmm. . . ok. restaurants in London these days seem to be all so cost conscious that they are really being stingy with their portions and generally lacking in the wow factor. We dinned 2 weeks earlier in the Tower bridge walk ways for an posh London event thing and can't help but feel that most restaurant experiences these days don’t live up to this sort of thing or even have any sense of occasion, in fact in my judgement quality catering at luxury events invariably beat even a posh ramsey run restaurant (I went to his place once, nothing special). I would go back but only if they dropped their prices quite a lot and gave the staff a shot caffeine to liven them up a bit.

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claire w.'s rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar emptystar empty
  • Food & Drink: 7
  • Service: 4
  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Value: 2

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The Delaunay

55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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Turning tables

by Shauna M.   (1)

Jun 2015

Editor's pick I booked a 4pm late lunch/early supper for my sister's birthday before a concert in town on a Saturday. It was her birthday and we wanted time to chat so I didn't want the pressure of a pre-theatre sitting and I did want somewhere that would have a bit of atmosphere at 4 in the afternoon. The Wolseley doesn't start serving until 5.30 so I thought The Delaunay would fit the bill. We were running little late (by which I mean 5 minutes) so being a well-behaved diner I rang ahead and to my surprise, I wasn't thanked or reassured but told that I should bear in mind that they would need the table back by 5.30. I expressed surprise and suggested that was short even by popular restaurant standards. The staff member replied that an hour and half was sufficient time for two people. As it turned out, we arrived pretty much on time and had a glass of champagne and a very tasty version of kedgeree (though the egg drew attention to itself by being poached, and not that expertly - the white was a bit tough). We followed it with an excellent-looking chocolate eclair (my sister) and a delicious raspberry and poppy seed cake for me. We could have been at Demel. We had a couple of pots of tea, which were large and kept their heat; always a plus. The service was good. We didn't dawdle but we weren't finished until 5.40, so just as well we hadn't wanted three courses. We weren't hassled to leave but I was less relaxed than I would have liked. Good for afternoon tea or a (pricey-ish) pre theatre supper but not if you want to linger - even a little.

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Shauna M.'s rating

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

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