We’re only a few months into the year, but SquareMeal readers have already covered plenty of ground on the restaurant scene, regularly rating and slating London’s dining haunts. Diner reviews, which can be left on our site by anyone, secure SquareMeal’s status as a one-stop shop for keen eaters. This is our chance to highlight your views, as well as a way for you to collate and compare the experiences of other diners.
Plenty of London restaurants have opened recently and SquareMeal readers are always the first through the doors to offer their opinions. In the City, Kathy H enjoyed a visit to Breton-style crêperie L’ami Malo (above), where she was a fan of the “authentic and delicious” galettes, including a pork cheek and apple pancake. Over in Soho, Gourmand Gunno tried lunch at retail outlet, takeaway spot and dining space Mee Market. He found it to be a “satisfying pit-stop”, deeming the “range of flavours and textures” of the food more than enough compensation for the “basic service”. Gunno had a busy month, also paying a visit to Delamina in Marylebone, where he found “exemplary” service and food which infuses “relatively humble” vegetables with “character and flavour”. We also rated the veggie options on our visit to Delamina, with the charcoaled leeks served with manouri cheese and dried apricots being one highlight.
We all know that big names, stunning locations and a reputation for excellence can help to draw the punters in, but such appeal also means diners expect a lot. In the City, David L was pleased with his last-minute decision to eat at The Ivy Collection’s City Garden (above). David was impressed by the “efficient” service that is synonymous with The Ivy group and found the meal matched his previous experiences of the brand, deeming it “excellent as usual”. Over on the South Bank, David H was less impressed by Tate Modern Restaurant. Despite the ninth-floor location, David found the food here to be merely “decent”, and felt the view, some of which is blocked by an exterior wall, is “not as good as it’s touted to be”. He concluded that the restaurant simply “isn’t exciting enough” to merit a standalone visit, beyond dropping in after an exhibition. Finally, in Covent Garden, Rachel M returned to The Delaunay, where she remained impressed by the stellar service, including a “polite” doorman and a “knowledgeable” waiter. Restaurants with long-standing reputations potentially have much to lose when it comes to diners’ lofty expectations, but get the food and service right and you’ll have a loyal customer for life.
Fine-dining has suffered a bit of a bad rep in the last few years, with critics claiming that silver service and white tablecloths lead to a stuffy dining experience. Nevertheless, a strong core of Londoners still love a tasting menu. Over in Marylebone, Mike S was drawn in by Simon Rogan’s reprisal of his cult pop up Roganic. Mike felt the “very earthy” interiors match Rogan’s cooking style, while stand-out dishes included seaweed custard and the dry-aged duck: “a thing of beauty”. Mike was also grateful for the breakfast goodie bag diners receive at the end of their meal, but after enjoying 19 courses, resolved that he “won’t be eating again for a while…” Meanwhile, in Kensington, Chiara P fell head over heels for Ben Murphy’s cooking at Launceston Place (above). Chiara’s meal was “a stunner from start to finish”, and she took a particular shine to the “lollipops of arctic roll” as petit fours. She was also won over, as we were, by the “attentive” service. Finally, Suzannah W made her way to Benares in Mayfair to sample the seven-course vegetarian tasting menu. She marvelled at the “huge array of flavours” and felt that the portion sizes represented “good value for money”. It seems that despite the rise of casual London restaurants, fine-dining isn’t done just yet.
Register with us here to join in, search for a restaurant and then leave your comments. We’re constantly rewarding our diner reviewers with prizes, search #SMDinerReview on Twitter to see how you can win cookbooks and bottles of Champagne. Regular reviews will also make you a contender for our Critic of the Quarter prize, where you could win a £200 meal in a select range of top London restaurants.