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Entries in "It" Restaurants (8)


Cut at 45 Park Lane - The best value steak in London?

When newspaper critics review restaurants I always take their price guide with a pinch of salt. The reviewers, normally eat three courses, rarely order the wines at the cheap end of the scale, and rarely do the cost-benefit analysis many dinners do when they look at a menu. The cost of Cut is pretty expensive according to the papers, at an average of £130 (The Independent + Guardian). On the face of it this makes Cut more expensive than dining at Le Gavroche. So when The Sibling's family birthday dinner at Cut, came out at incredibly good value, it was a bit surprising, in fact I think it might have involved the best value steak in London. 

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Istanbul (4) - Park Samdan, Reina

Our dinner post Kanaat at Reina was less exciting. Reina is one of those places that it is good to see and be seen. Its in Ortakoy part of an upmarket strip of nightclubs and restaurants near the first bridge. The Boyfriend, his friends and guidebooks all seem to have a similar opinion on Reina – they love to hate it. They hate the occassionaly chavvy and over the top-ness of the place, the pretentiousness , overpriced drinks and service, and the crowds, the mix of gold-diggers, too old businessmen and tourists, and yet people, including The Boyfriend and his friends go there a lot... We visited on both a Monday and a Thursday and on both times the place was packed.

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Pollen Street Social

This is approximately the third time, I've written down my feelings about Pollen Street Social. The first time, my blackberry deleted what I wrote and the second time blogger did. Clearly, this is a sign from God telling me I should not be writing about my wonderful experience. Oh well, as long as the next sign isn't in the form of being smashed by a bus, I'm going to give it a go anyway and avoid any bus routes for the next week or so.

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About a month ago, I went through a stage where I failed to book any restaurants due to not knowing where The Boyfriend or I were going to be. Now we are paying for it.That is how we ended up at Sumosan, the only sushi restaurant we wanted to try that had availability last minute on a Friday night.

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Dinner - Lunch.

I may just be the luckiest person in the whole world and I mean the whole world. Not only, was I lucky enough to go to dinner at Dinner at the start of March. I was even luckier to return, for lunch at the end of March.

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Le Caprice

Le Caprice is one of the most popular restaurants in London and yet, I found I didn’t truly love any part of it. The Boyfriend and I left thinking “ we just don’t get it”.

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Roka Canary Wharf - Third Time's A Charm


I've had bad experiences every time I've been to Roka. Nothing to do with the food, mind. Just for some reason every time I go it immediately triggers a crisis at The Boyfriend's work. The first time we went he was two hours late for dinner, which meant that I actually ate alone. The second time, I had to sit and watch him talk on, not one, but two conference calls at the same time, (a phone at each ear) throughout our lunch. Surprisingly, each time I stil enjoyed myself because the food is so good I don't think I would even have been capable of talking. I'm pretty sure anything could happen in the restaurant around me and I would still be a supremely happy bunny. Which is why I will jump at any chance to go. My only real problem with Roka, (bar the Bank world collapsing every time I go) is that its too popular for its own good. It takes at least a week to get a table, and inside they've tried to squeeze too many people in, which also has consequences on the service, which suffers as a result.



I'd never really considered Canary Wharf as a place to go to dinner, (as I'm sure most people haven't, unless you work in the vicinity) but for the Boyfriend and I, starving at 7.30 pm on a Monday night, craving sushi and tired, Roka Canary Wharf seemed like a perfect choice. They had space last minute, (finally a good restaurant in London with space!) and on public transport took me only ten minutes longer than walking to Charlotte Street, and this way didn't involve any rain. Sold. 

The restaurant itself is basically a larger version of the Charlotte Street venue, except they probably have similar numbers of tables as these were evenly spaced. It was half empty but the atmosphere didn't feel as empty as it was.

We started with a Age Wari Gan roll - Soft shell Crab, cucumber, Kim Chi and Chilli Mayonnaise. The soft shell crab was crunchy but still soft and and the mayonnaise provided a bit of spice to the roll. However, the Kim Chi and cucumber flavours were lost due to the strength of the mayonnaise. Still, easily the best soft shell crab roll in London. My only criticism is the fact that they are five rolls instead of the traditional six which makes splitting them difficult especially when they are so good. Playing the " If you really loved me card" here is advisable.

We then had Fried Baby Squid, Schichimi and Lime - which was the low point of the meal. It wasn't that it was bad, it's that relative to the other things we ordered it wasnt as exciting. Poor ordering on our part. The lime flavour really dominated in this dish, which was a nice change to the usual plain calamari, again the Schichimi (a japanese spice mixture) flavour was either non existent or destroyed by the other flavours. They were nicely cooked though and not too greasy.

My highlight of the meal, actually scratch that, highlight of my life were the ribs. They were amazing. Sticky and spicy, in a barbecue sauce type glaze, but not smothered in sauce like your typical ribs. Crunchy cashews nuts and spring onion added an extra uumph. They were so good I didn't care that I looked revolting stuffing my face with the ribs  and ended up being covered in the glaze. None of it mattered because they were so damn good.

The Seabass arrived shortly after the ribs, luckily as after I started eating those I wasnt about to stop to take a photo of some vegetables, so I managed to get a quick shot of it. The Seabass is good. Its about the same standard as Nobu and the rest. I have never felt the need to touch the yellow sauce that accompanies it (no clue what it is) as the seabass is flavoured enough to make it redundant. It was perfectly cooked, as always, and fell away in flakes after a gentle poke with a chopstick. Lovely, but second fiddle to the ribs.

Aubergine and asparagus accompanied these two. The aubergine was baked in its skin and served with a little spoon with which to scrape it out. Covered in yet another sauce so good I couldn't believe that this could possibly be healthy. (To be honest, god knows what they put on it to make it taste like this, but it was a vegetable so I assume it has to be just a little bit healthy).The asparagus had been grilled on the Robata and was still satisfyingly crunchy. It tasted just like asparagus should which was refreshing after the rich glazes/sauces on everything else we had ordered.

All of this was accompanied by a nice carafe of some wine which, I liked as always but about which The Boyfriend seemed fairly apathetic. The service was perfect, the waiters really didnt miss a beat (probably helped by the fact the restaurant was half empty).

The total came to 50 a head, not cheap by any means, but when considered relative to the competition around it, (I'm thinking about you, Barbecoa) and given Roka is also an "it" restaurant, its a pretty good deal. I challenge anyone to find better Japanese in London for the same price. The Canary Wharf venue has none of the problems its older sibling does and comes off as less pretentious too. It seems to be more about the food. But maybe I'm just biased because for once at Roka I wasn't a Blackberry widow.

Roka Canary Wharf on Urbanspoon



Bar Boulud -

Daniel Boulud is America's equivalent of Gordon Ramsey except he's not American, or bankrupt or having a public fight with his mistress/father in law/mother in-law and wife but you get my point - incredibly successful with numerous restaurants and Michelin stars . Despite being from Lyon, Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental is his first venture in Europe and when it first opened in May it received a lot of acclaim. In fact it took about 2 weeks before it became tough to get a table less than a week in advance. So finding a table on a Wednesday, for that very evening made me a very happy camper indeed.

The Boyfriend and I arrived at the restaurant 15 minutes early of all things - something which has never happened and probably never will be repeated. The restaurant happily accommodated us and seated us immediately. 

The restaurant itself has the "ikea look" that seems so popular now. Why the backlash against white table cloths? I really dont understand. Despite being the World's Biggest Ikea Fan I think the restaurant itself looks a little tacky. Clearly not an off-putting factor as it was packed when we entered.

The service was charming and attentive and easily the nicest service I've experienced in a while. The menu is like a typical bistro restaurant although with a lot of emphasis on charcuterie, terrines and pates, which according to the message from Mr. Boulud himself at the start of the menu is their speciality.  The wine list was "good and comprehensive" according to The Boyfriend.

We started with a White Truffle Risotto at - 37.00 

This was a special and only available I assume for the limited time period they are in season (Oct- Nov). Basically, book now. Order this dish.  Order the big one. Maybe two. Trust me it will be worth it. No-one I think can sum up how I felt about this dish more eloquently than Liz Gilbert writing about Pizza in Eat, Pray,Love - 
" I love my [risotto] so much, in fact that I have come to believe in my delirium that my [risotto] might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this [risotto], almost an affair."

The Boyfriend stated it was fair competition and that it was so good I would be completely justified in trading him for another plate of the risotto. 

Luckily for him and unluckily for me before I got the opportunity the Charcuterie - 14.50 - provided a distraction.

Given, the little note at the start of the menu about how Mr. Boulud's friend makes the best charcuterie, I thought this was disappointing at least no-where near as good as the one I had at Somerset House last Wednesday. The charcuterie consisted of:
- Lamb terrine (which tasted like solid curry) 
- Duck terrine (with aubergine I think?)
- Pig's head terrine (The noise level was quite high - I might have misheard that one)
- Another terrine (under seasoned) 
- Ham (boring)
- Salami (equally boring) 
Maybe it was because trying to follow the risotto was a tough act or because the memory of Tom's Kitchen's Charcuterie was sill in my mind but regardless it just didnt hit the spot.
The next dishes were similar, good but didnt live up to the standard set by the Risotto. 

The Boyfriend's Seabass - cooked la plancha,roasted figs and fennel and bordelaise sauce - 19.00 

He said was good but " too much fennel", "messy presentation" and the "the fig is just not working".
My Mussels - steamed in white wine, shellfish veloute, garlic, parsley with grilled ciabatta - 13.75

Was fine, a bit average and quite frankly, I like the mussels in my local Loch Fine better. They just tasted like they were missing something. What I'm not sure, but definitely something.

By the time we had made it to dessert the service started to slow a bit and our glass of Muscat didn't arrive till we were halfway through our dessert. 

The dessert itself - coupe peppermint, flourless sponge, hot chocolate sauce, mint and chocolate ice cream -8.50

Was possibly the funnest dessert I've eaten in a long time. A sucker for anything with a bit of a production, I found the pouring of the hot chocolate sauce on to the frozen chocolate "lid" of the dessert and watching it all collapse on to the mass of peppermint chocolate-ness inside all very amusing.  The main desert itself was rather strange. The mint was heavy and not quite balanced by the chocolate and inside were what tasted like rice krispy treats. I didnt really like it but for some reason I could not stop eating it. 

The bill came to 175 which given it included a 60 bottle of wine and a 40 starter seems reasonable.
All in all, I really like Bar Boulud. The atmosphere, the menu, the charming service are all very likeable. If I had the option of eating here every Wednesday I think I would. In fact, I might starting booking them now

Bar Boulud
66 Knightsbridge

SW1X 7
Bar Boulud (Mandarin Oriental Hotel) on Urbanspoon