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The Grub bronze reviewer

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Mar 1963 , Female
Member since Feb 2007
Lives in United Kingdom
Reviews written: 5
Restaurants rated: 0 (this year)

All restaurants reviewed by The Grub

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Pham Sushi

159 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JL

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar empty

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by The Grub   bronze reviewer (5)

Jun 2009

Hidden behind the weekday bustle of market stalls in Whitecross Street is the calm oasis of Pham Sushi. It is neat and clean but not ostentatious and it serves excellent Japanese food – easily of a standard of many of its expensive Wet End brethren. It is no wonder that Pham Sushi is a regular haunt for the sophisticates from Linklaters and some other City firms as well as providing good value, authentic food for discerning locals. Being slightly off the City's usual beaten tracks it feels like a secret gem, however it does make sense to book a table as the restaurant is quite small and deservedly popular. I have used Pham Sushi both as a venue for informal business meetings and also as a place to take my family for a delicious Japanese supper (and we live South of The River). The food is good value and very fresh. A wide selection of Nigiri Sushi, Sushi Rolls, Sashimi and traditional hot dishes ( such as Tempura, Teriyaki, and noodles are available as are wooden and porcelain Bento boxes offering a good mix at circa £13. My youngest son is convinced that they serve the best Miso soup in the world, it is certainly better than bowls we have enjoyed when travelling in Asia. Service is courteous and attentive without being obtrusive. The tables are made mock-wooden Formica but once covered in dishes the simplicity almost adds to the ambience. The house Special Sashimi is wonderful – meltingly fresh fillets of tuna, yellowtail, sea bass and salmon with delicate accompaniments – thin slivers of chilli, radish and vinegar. When we ate there on Saturday evening, the Nasu Dengaku (deep fried aubergine with sweet miso) was delicious – smooth, creamy and sweet. we enjoyed excellent, freshly prepared Edamame (Japanese Soya beans) which we popped fresh from their salty pods and wonderful Pork Gyozas as starters. We binged on sushi, sashimi and tempura with my 11 year old feasting on a Beef Bento – excellent Teriyaki Beef that was tender and flavoursome. The Green tea is good (and only £1 a cup) and there are a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. We went home comfortably full and very happy!

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The Grub's rating

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

The Well

180 St John Street, London EC1V 4JY

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar halfstar emptystar empty

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by The Grub   bronze reviewer (5)

Jan 2009

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Dinner, 13th January 2009 We had high hopes for The Well. We were looking for somewhere that had a bar and also served good food as a possible birthday celebration venue. There was a party of circa 20 people enjoying a dinner at The Well when we were there, but we are not sure that we will follow suit. The Well is a simple, modern “gastropub” – bare wooden floors, raw brick walls, simple wooden tables and homely food. It's probably not a bad local (although there are nicer venues in the area). I was late and Neil had ordered and started a reasonable bottle of New World red by the time I arrived – soft, fruity Argentinean Malbec: pleasant and reasonably priced but not exceptional. We were sat at a small, somewhat wobbly, wooden table next to the coat stand with a large glass window looking out onto St John Street behind us. The Well is situated on a corner and hence has good light and windows on two sides on the ground floor – we did not explore the basement area. There were a few couples – mainly, by the look of them, young professionals who had popped in for a bite to eat and a large L-shaped table taking up almost half of the ground floor restaurant space, to accommodate a party (again apparently young professionals) for dinner. Cocktails were advertised on a board above the bar (£6.50 each) and the menu looked promising with a few specials on the board. With difficulty Neil ordered the cauliflower and stilton soup (the waiter had a strong accent and an imperfect grasp of English, which made two-way communication difficult) – when it came, his soup was surprisingly bland. I went for the soup special – it was excellent – a delicious and thick pottage of wild mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes. The bread (brought with balsamic vinegar and good quality olive oil) was pleasant – spongy and fresh. Our main course was disgusting. We both selected the vegetarian option – goats cheese and vegetable in filo pastry served on some dressed salad leaves. The portions were huge – great slabs of goat's cheese on mushy sweet potato and red onion sandwiched between some anaemic filo squares. The filo was very dry/crisp but tasteless. The salad leaves were good but hidden. Thank goodness we ordered some home made chips to go with it – they really were good (especially dipped in the balsamic vinegar from the bread!). Judging by the food served to neighbouring tables, I suspect that the fish is good and the steak looked generous, slightly tough but bearable.

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The Grub's rating

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  • Food & Drink: 4
  • Service: 4
  • Atmosphere: 5
  • Value: 5

The Mercer

34 Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AY

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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by The Grub   bronze reviewer (5)

Jan 2009

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Lunch, 12th January 2009 The Mercer is a smooth, professional restaurant – smart, without being stuffy – in an former bank hall on the Bishopsgate end of Threadneedle Street. Good venue for a swift (or not so swift) business lunches. A bit too formal and stark for a romantic meal a deux. It provides unpretentious British food presented in a simple, unfussy manner – similar to Magdalen but not quite as good. I met two business associates for a swift start-of-the-year catch-up in The Mercer. Us two ladies sat on the charcoal banquette facing into the room, with our back to the bar, whilst our male companion sat opposite on a smart cream chair. Cream, black and charcoal are the predominant colours and the room is sedate and calm – as you might expect from a former banking hall. The large lower panes for the windows and the generous ceiling height helps prevent the room from feeling oppressive. The staff are attentive without being obtrusive and service is swift and professional. A kir, a red wine and a spicy tomato juice arrived almost as soon as they were requested. The tomato juice (my drink) had cucumber, ice and a stick in the stubby tumbler and hence was quite hard to drink, although the degree of spice was good. Delicious fresh bread was brought prior to the meal – sesame and fennel seed went down well and the rye wasn't too dry. For a starter I had the potted rabbit with a spicy rhubarb compote – the meat was bland and the rhubarb sharp but glutinous. A tad disappointing. However, my main course of artichoke and wild mushroom pie was delicious. crisp jerusalem artichoke complimenting well the ric, skokey mushroom in a rich sauce. Good, crisp pastry. My companions ate a crisp and well presented smoked chicken salad with watercress, soya beans and peas (one as a starter and the other as a main course) The remaining starter was thinly sliced smoked salmon presented with capers, salmon roe and dressing – hard to get wrong. The remaining dish was a leek and cheese pie which was clearly yummy! The wine list provides a good selection of wines sold by the glass, as well as a wide range of bottles. Pricing is mixed – there are some reasonable choices but many, especially the individual glasses, veer towards heady City prices. New World and Old World wines are both well represented (and there is even a section for British wines from Kent and Sussex).

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The Grub's rating

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

Crab at Chieveley

Wantage Road, Chieveley, Newbury RG20 8UE

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar fullstar half

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by The Grub   bronze reviewer (5)

Jan 2009

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Dinner, 12th January 2008 An exceptional fish restaurant just off junction 13 of the M4 I chose this venue for an alumni meeting of ex-colleagues – they work West and I am in London, so The Crab was a good venue almost midway between locations. Unless you know the area, it is not easy to find – coming off the M4 from London you need to take the road to the left after the Red Lion pub in Chieveley, travel out of the village, looping round the no-through route to North Heath, across open country before heading north on the Wantage Road. Initially the Crab appears to be a picture postcard pub sitting by the road, despite its modern sign with a vibrant orange crab on it, however it is in fact a suberb restauarant with some exceptional rooms (many with hot tubs and private gardens). We met for a drink in the smart sitting area near the front reception – comfy sofas and arm chairs and a sophisticated ambience. I was late and my friends had already ordered a couple of beers – delicious roasted nuts came as an accompaniment – no good for people trying to shed their extra Christmas pounds. I ordered a spicy tomato juice to sip while considering the menu – my drink was exemplary of its kind and would have been even better with a vodka in it…but I was driving. We selected some interesting starters – Marcus had king scallops in a white chocolate and caviar sauce – they were plump and sweet and went well with the complex flavours of the sauce (sweet and sour). I had queen scallops simply grilled under breadcrumbs and Edam – succulent little nuts of flesh, although a little difficult to prize out of their dish due to the Edam coating. Rob had a crab risotto – served with tender mussels – given the speed with which it vanished, it was clearly very good. Both Rob and I had king crabs to follow – his cold with a salad and mayonaise, mine hot with a simple garlic butter. They were amongst the biggest crabs I have seen, but cooked to perfection and ready cracked to better enable getting the flesh out of the shells. Marcus had a dover sole, simply grilled and served with seasonal vegetables, goose fat and new potatoes. We had a refreshing bottle of New Zealand Sauvignan Blanc (Spitfire Mark II) to accompany our meal – it was delicious and I will hunt it out again. We skipped dessert (defeated by the size of the crabs) but expresso coffee, filter coffee and fresh mint tea were all delicious, as were the petit fours and madeleines that accompanied them. Service for the main part was fine but not polished – our waitress confessed to hating the look and feel of crab legs and asked me to swivel my plate so that she would not have to make contact with them when clearing things away. (An unusual and potentially troublesome phobia to have when working in a fish restaurant named The Crab!) The restaurant is festooned with fishing nets and nautical/piscatoreal paraphanalia – fun and unexpected so far in land. It is a surprisingly romantic venue, but good for most social meetings – I might bring my other half here and spend the night in one of the rooms after a glorious meal.

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The Grub's rating

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

Trinity

4 The Polygon, London SW4 0JG

Overall rating: star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty

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by The Grub   bronze reviewer (5)

Jan 2009

Dinner, 5th January 2009. Trinity is certainly one of the best restaurants in South West London and many locals, primarily well-heeled and early middle-aged Clapham professionals, are delighted that Adam Byatt has returned from his stint at The Hospital in Covent Garden. The location, looking out over grass towards the edge of Clapham Common, helps make the restaurant feel different from the usual fodder on the High Street. The interior is modern, uncluttered but welcoming – ceilings are high enough for it not to be too noisy and the staff are hospitable and attentive. My son was very impressed by the knife spinning skills of the bar tender behind the sleek small bar. The restaurant offers superb, fresh ingredients (often local or British sourced) expertly prepared – our trip last night was not the best visit that we have enjoyed, as service and timings were at times disappointing. I hope that this was due to the restaurant having only recently reopened after the festive season and hence not yet being back into its stride. That aside, I enjoyed a delicious foaming celeriac soup with a nub of fois gras concealed at its heart; the seared tuna with Nicoise accompaniments was much appreciated (excellent anchovies and fried quails' eggs) and looked like an artist's palette and only my husband's starter, a rich and thick butternut squash soup, let the side down as it was barely tepid. Presentation is attractive, but seldom sensational, however the calibre of the ingredients more than compensates for the lack of a visual “wow!”. As mentioned, service last night was a little erratic – two main courses were presented and then there was a considerable wait for the remaining couple of dishes, with the result that, again, my husband's food was cold (although still edible and enjoyable). I feasted on the guinea fowl, which went surprisingly well with hazelnut ice-cream; the maple cured pork belly with fennel and mash went down a treat although the boys commented that the portions were quite small, and the organic salmon on cucumber and dill with moules marinieres was excellent, despite being luke warm. The desserts were fantastic – Valrhrona chocolate hot pots were melting and indulgent, the banoffee cheesecake served in a kilna jar was good, as was the panatone bread and butter pudding served with dolche di leche ice cream. There is a good wine list with a wide selection of wines, prices and regions. We enjoyed a soft, fruity Chinon. Complementary still and sparkling filtered water is provided, as are delicious olives and nibbles whilst considering the menu on arrival. Although we did not indulge this time, the tasting menu really is worth doing (and good value at £38 per person given the calibre of the food) – you can have it expertly matched to some fantastic wines, but don't plan to drive home! Trinity is an excellent restaurant for a special occasion or a treat.

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The Grub's rating

star fullstar fullstar fullstar halfstar empty
  • Food & Drink: 7
  • Service: 6
  • Atmosphere: 8
  • Value: 5

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