Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

L’Auberge Restaurante

22 Upper Richmond Road
SW15 2RX
T: 020 8874 3593

We spotted this small French Restaurant on the South Circular in August, but didn’t get around to trying it until last Saturday night. It’s run by a husband and wife team who made us feel like part of their family from the moment we walked in the door.  We started the evening with an aperatif – I had an amazing but subtle Fig Kir Royale from the extensive list of Kir Royaux. To start we had the Aumonière surprise, a Filo pastry parcel wih a Camembert, pine nut & apple filling and the Assiette Sud-Ouest, a home-made duck terrine with potted duck foie gras & orange smoked duck breast – both of which we would definitely have again! The main course was Entrecôte à la moelle – a Scottish ribeye steak, classic shallot & marrowbone sauce, and Poisson du Jour – squid in a tomato sauce with fresh vegetables. Although we’re on a diet, we couldn’t resist dessert and tried both the Chocolate and Chilli Bombe and the French Cheese Platter, both of which were delicious.  In fact, the whole meal was so amazing that we returned this Friday night and had many of the same things!  Oh, and they do take-away too.. c’est dangereux!


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York and Albany

127-129 Parkway
T: 020 7388 3344

We discovered this fantastic restaurant last night after visiting the zoo for Zoo Lates, a late night opening of the zoo where we saw beautiful lions and tigers and many other animals. There was some takeaway food available at the Zoo, but we decided we wanted a proper meal and pulled up Google Maps to search for a restaurant. Lucky for us, we found York and Albany right around the corner and decided to give it a try.

It didn’t look that busy as we approached it and we even briefly considered not going in because it looked too quiet, but when we got inside it became obvious that the restaurant was around the back and was quite busy. On arrival, the host made us feel a bit silly for not having a reservation and said he would see what he could do about a table. After what seemed like 5 minutes, he came back and said he had a table for two. When we sat down, there were a few free tables around us (some of which remained empty throughout our meal) and the host asked for our name so he could put it down for the reservation.. which seemed strange, given that we were already sitting down.

However, the evening only got better. The menu was fantastic and the service was perfect.. attentive but not overbearing. So many things on the menu looked enticing but we eventually chose the Quail breast ravioli with confit leg, spinach, truffle and shallot and the Salt and pepper squid with baby gem with anchovy and pepper relish, smoked paprika mayonnaise as our starters. Both were elegantly presented, perfectly proportioned and absolutely delicious! For the main course we had the Smoked squab pigeon with glazed cherries, cabbage,
horseradish spätzel, and toasted pecan nuts
and Roasted cannon of lamb with onion purée, rainbow chard, confit potatoes, green olives, and red peppers which were also heavenly. We chose the Atanasius (Blaufränkisch/Zweigelt) wine to go with the meal and it did not disappoint. It was light, fruity and very easy to drink. We didn’t pass on dessert either.. oh no.. there were too many temptations on offer. We chose the Roasted figs with iced lemon semifreddo and Chocolate and coffee pavé with coffee ice cream, both of which were amazing. The coffee ice cream was an espresso bean dream and the fresh figs were full of flavour and delicately spiced.

It was definitely the best meal we’d had in ages and was especially good since we happened on it accidentally. It wasn’t cheap but for a 3 course meal for two including wine and 2 gin & tonics, we felt it was really good value given the quality of the food and service. I think it’s worth a special trip to experience Angela Hartnett’s fabulous menu and if you’re in the neighbourhood, I definitely recommend popping in. I know I’ll be back!

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The Wells
The Wells - Hampstead

30 Well Walk


We discovered The Wells on our first visit to Hamsptead. It was a crisp December day and we were looking for a nice pub to have drink before dinner. We were pleasantly surprised to find The Wells on the corner of Christchurch Hill and Well Walk. I sampled a lovely white from their extensive wine list and got Rob a pint of Leffe. The atmosphere was lovely and the place had a good feel about it. After seeing their food menu and the awards for Best Gastro Pub on the wall, we decided to return someday and sample the food.

We came back for lunch on New Year’s Day. I was glad we had booked as it filled up quickly. We sat next to the fireplace and enjoyed a latte before our meal. It was another freezing cold day so we started with the soup, which was fabulous. We both had fish for our main courses and the apple and blueberry crumble for dessert. It was all very yummy! We wil definitely go back.

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Hotel du Vin Bistro – Cambridge

Trumpington Street
01223 227330

A week ago today Tim and I went to the newly opened Hotel du Vin Bistro for our last lunch before he left Cambridge. Having cycled by the Hotel du Vin almost every day during its construction we were both eager to try it out and having recently heard about their lunch specials, we decided to give it a go.

The lunch specials are £15.50 for two courses or £17.50 for three, which is clearly the better deal, but we were stuffed after the first two courses. As a starter Tim had the Caesar salad that came with an egg that appeared to have been poached and went with the salad beautifully. He had the bangers and mash for the main course and said, and I quote, “the bangers had a lovely rich taste”. I started with the Cauliflower soup which was very creamy and filling and then had a sweet pea risotto for my main course. I enjoyed the risotto even though the rice didn’t seem to be arborio rice, which I use for risottos. I probably would have had the bangers and mash if I hadn’t already taken some sausages out for supper.

We thought the service was great, even though we were a bit under dressed with our rucksacks and trainers, and the food the excellent too. We were a bit disappointed by the 10% service charge that was automatically added to the bill, but maybe that is just for the lunch specials. It seems more and more restaurants are adding service charge. Having been a waitress for a few years I know the value of tips and gladly tip 10% for average service (in the Europe, 15% in North America) and up to 20% if the service is particularly good. But when I see that 10% has just been added to my bill, I get a bit offended. It’s almost like they don’t trust me to tip well enough. However, the service charge has not put me off returning to the Hotel du Vin Bistro and I am looking forward to trying their dinner menu.


Saturday night Rob and I went to Hotel du Vin for dinner. Once again this week I was unsuccessful in securing a reservation but we decided to take our chances and turn up anyway. Just before we arrived they had a cancellation and we were seated immediately. As with lunch, the food for dinner was excellent.  Rob had a smoked duck starter and the venison main and I had a goat cheese crottin for starter and the double-baked cheese souffle for a main course. Dessert was also yummy.. Rob had the apple tart and I had a selection of ice creams. After dinner we went downstairs to the bar, where we drank another bottle of red wine. It wasn’t a cheap evening, but as our taxi driver said “it’s worth it!”.  Overall a great night out.

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Restaurant Alimentum

152 – 154 Hills Road
01223 413000

Last Saturday night Rob and I went to Alimentum, the new restaurant on the Cambridge scene. I had had been wanting to try it since I first saw the sign go up a few months ago. It is so great to see another independent restaurant in chain-riden Cambridge. Their website, which is mainly a blog by the owner, describes it as “modern French food with some Spanish and Italian influences”. The blog idea makes the website different from most other restaurant sites, but it is a really personal touch. Reading the blog entries made me feel I had a connection to the place and made me want to try the restaurant even more.

The service was great, which impressed me as often the nicer restaurants don’t pay much attention to younger people, who I guess they assume won’t tip well or can’t afford to pay the bill. We started with a drink at the bar, and because we had a late sitting (9:30), we were asked if we would like to order before being seated at the table to speed things up. At first I didn’t like this idea, but in hindsight it was brilliant. It meant that by the time we sat down, our starters were ready.

I found it very difficult to select only one starter as they all looked amazing. In the end I chose the Watercress & Endive with Pear, Roquefort & Caramelised Walnuts and Rob had the Ravioli of Chicken, Girolles with Iberico Ham both of which were fabulous. I had more difficulty choosing a main course, and although I’m sure they are all delicious, I went for the Sea Bass, Cannelloni of Crab, Fennel purée & Shellfish cappuccino. I wasn’t a big fan of the cappuccino, which was a foam on top, but the sea bass was perfectly cooked. Rob tried the Rump of Lamb, Confit of Shoulder Moussaka & Lambs Sweetbreads which he also really enjoyed.

I liked the decor, which is very modern, but Rob wasn’t a big fan. Most of the tables were nicely spaced but where we sat on the banquette I found it a bit too easy to eavesdrop on our neighbours who were very close to us. The menu was small but I hope it will get larger with time. I guess it’s safer to start out with a few dishes and do them really well than to try too many. There are some pics of the food at Kake Pugh’s flickr site.

I would definitely go back to Alimentum. It was more expensive than most of our Saturday night dinners around Cambridge but I thought it was worth it. The whole experience exuded attention to detail and a passion for food and service that you just don’t get in many other restaurants.

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Nicki’s Inn Chester

26 Pleasant Street
Chester, Nova Scotia
(902) 275-4342

Nicki’s Inn Chester is a fresh and vibrant addition to the Chester dining scene. Nicki Butler, who previously ran The Captain’s House in Chester, has built a new inn and restaurant in the centre of the village with tables indoors and out on the deck. Last Sunday night, we went to Nicki’s for the Sunday Carvery. There was a choice of four roasts: chicken, pork, beef or lamb (in fact, you could choose two!) that were served with roasted potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, horseradish and mint jelly. Between us we ordered the beef and the lamb and were very satisfied. Rob even proclaimed it was the best roast he had ever eaten, which is a big compliment coming from a Brit!

The servings were a bit on the large side, and the meal was definitely far from the low fat category, but the meat was very tender and the vegetables were roasted to perfection. The Sunday carvery also includes your choice of dessert, which was also yummy and huge, and was priced very reasonably.

We have yet to try Nicki’s Wednesday to Saturday menu (she’s closed Monday and Tuesday), but if the carvery is any indication, I’m sure it will not disappoint.

Reservations recommended.

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The Innlet Cafe Restaurant

249 Edgewater Street
Kedy’s Landing
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
(902) 624-6363

This evening I went to The Innlet Cafe in Mahone Bay for supper with my dad and my brother. I have been several times before with my parents and it is always delicious. I have tried a few things on the menu, but the Vegetable Stir-fry with Tofu is my favourite and I often don’t even look at at anything else. Served with brown rice, toasted almonds and a deliciously light sauce that has just the right sweetness, this stir-fry is worth coming back for again and again. I’ll even admit that it is better than I can make at home, which is rare for a restaurant on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.

The desserts are also great and if you like desserts as much as my brother and I do, you’ll select your dessert before ordering a main course. Dad and I had the apple crisp with ice cream and my brother had the Creme Brulée, which I also sampled. Yum yum on both accounts.

This evening’s meal at The Innlet has restored my faith in dining after a few recent restaurant meals that were less than stellar. Since The Innlet is one of the few restaurants that are open year round on the South Shore, I can rest assured that my dad will not starve in the winter because he can always come for the Vegetable Stir-fry with Tofu. If you are in the neighbourhood, be sure to check this place out.

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Wright Bros Oyster & Porter House

11 Stoney Street
Borough Market
020 7403 9554

We went to Wright Bros in Borough Market on Saturday night for my friend Shufan’s birthday. It is a small place and the menu is mostly seafood and oysters on the half shell. I had oysters on the half shell with bacon as a starter but unfortunately the bacon overpowered the taste of the oysters. I swapped one with Shufan who had Oysters Rockefeller and it was much better. For the main course I had Moules Mariniere and they did not disappoint. They were small and tender and almost all of them had opened. We ordered a variety of dishes including the Harissa Lobster, Petit Fruit de Mer platter, Traditional Fish Pie and a Steak and Guiness Pie. It was all very good, but not everyone was full up and they only had strawberries and cream or chocolate truffles for dessert. There were other things on the menu but they must have been sold out. It was a good meal, but I must say… nothing beats Malpeque oysters from Prince Edward Island.

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Matsuri St James’s

15 Bury Street
020 7839 11014

I took my mom to this great Japanese restaurant for her birthday. She’s eaten Japanese food all over the world, including in Japan, and she said it was some of the best she had ever tasted. Matsuri St. James is one of the two Matsuri Japanese restaurants in London (the other being Matsuri High Holborn) and has a sushi counter as well as Teppan-yaki grills. We arrived early since we were heading to the theatre afterwards and were seated at an empty Teppan-yaki grill. Perhaps a bit of a novelty, Teppan grills are apparently a new addition to Japanese cuisine. They consist of a large stainless steel grilling surface with a small eating surface (like a bar counter) surrounding it. The chefs cook your meal right in front of you and entertain with quick flipping and chopping of the meat and vegetables before transferring their finished masterpiece to your plate. Some chefs seemed more friendly than others, but all in all, a trip to a Teppan-yaki grill, especially for a first-timer, is an experience that will not disappoint.

We each ordered one of their set menus that consisted of about seven little courses. I had Mikoshi with Rib-eye steak teri-aki and my mom had Wakana with grilled tofu and exotic mushrooms. It definitely wasn’t cheap, but the food and service were both impeccable. My mom and I were both well impressed and would definitely go there again.

Lettuce Roll Sea lettuce maki… one of our many courses.

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Saki Bar & Food Emporium

4 West Smithfield
020 7489 7033

I went to this restaurant a few weeks ago with some of my colleagues and future colleagues from Goldman Sachs. The selection on the menu was huge and it took us a long time to decide what we wanted. In the end we mentioned to the waiter a few things we really wanted and asked him to sort out the rest. Several large sushi and sashimi platters arrived shortly after ordering as well as tonkatsu, grilled aubergine with red miso and many other delights. Saki has received several awards for its sushi including Restaurant Magazine‘s Best Sushi award in 2006 and I must say they are well deserved. Although this is the kind of place you might want to save for when someone else is paying, it was very, very good and well worth the price. Not to mention the extra fun we had changing the windows in our private room from clear to opaque with a switch on the wall.
Saki wins its first trophy from the Restaurant Magazine’s prestigious awards

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