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Entries in Mid-end (15)


Mari Vanna - Russian Home Cooking

It seems strange to me, that a high-end Russian restaurant has taken so long to arrive in London, what with the ever growing Russian population and all. Mari-Vanna London , the third addition to the Mari-Vanna chain, seems long overdue. So overdue, I decided to test it during its "soft opening",  a couple of days before the restaurant officially started serving.

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Istanbul Dining - Hamdi Restaurant

March 22 saw the beginning of my fourth trip to Istanbul, but despite three previous trips all at least three days long, I had never eaten at a proper Kebab place. This was to be the trip that changed. The Boyfriend, instructed to find me the best kebab the city had to offer settled on Hamdi, a restaurant that caters to both tourists alike so that Friday, The Boyfriend, five friends and I decided to try it out.

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J Sheekey


I’ve been craving oysters for a while now. It’s been at least two weeks and If you had a look through my Google search history, you would see that both the Wright Brothers and J Sheeky sites have been visited on an almost daily basis. So one Tuesday, the Boyfriend gave in to my desperate pleas. J Sheeky was the winner, almost exclusively because of its Covent Garden location. We opted for the Oyster Bar, rather than the actual restaurant, as this was intended to be a functional meal rather than a languorous one. 

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Automat  -

The Boyfriend and I have a bit of a tradition, its a relatively new tradition tradition but still , of getting a long drawn out boozy lunch on New Year's Eve. Over Bob Bob Ricard, last year's location, we were in search of some other relaxed, moderately priced, cool restaurant.  This year it was Automat an upmarket diner in the heart of Mayfair - a restaurant that has been on my eat list ever since I heard about their Truffle Mac and Cheese and the invite only club downstairs

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Corner Room

I really didn't want to like the Corner Room. Why? Because the Corner Room is really far away from Covent Garden, and I mean River Cafe far away. A £20 and 30 minute long cab ride each way and this place becomes expensive and time consuming. To be perfectly honest, had The Boyfriend and I not been heading to the East End anyway we probably never would have gone. This would have been a mistake because the Pork with Portugese Bread and Butter Pudding was so worth the journey. 

Corner Room is situated in the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green; a hotel I didn't know existed until Viajante hit the scene. The Corner Room is another one of those mysterious (read: incredibly irritating) restaurants that have absolutely no information available: no menu, no bookings, no number. This I imagine must be off putting to some people as that hour long £40 cab ride would feel like a big waste if you showed up only to be told the restaurant was full. 

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Bocca di Lupo

I've really tried hard to fall in love with Bocca di Lupo the way the rest of London has. Seriously, I have gone and attempted to be wowed every time and yet it has never happened. Every time I'm left with the feeling that perhaps, I'm just ordering wrong but after three attempts I have officially given up. It is the kind of restaurant I know I should like - Italian food from a variety of different regions, flexible ordering, an elegant dining room and prime location in Soho. This is technically the kind of restaurant that could suit every occasion, if only the food lived up to everything else. 

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Travels in Italy (2) - Tuscany

We had five days in Tuscany, and in those five days, with a car and a trusty TomTom we covered most of the area. I have no idea why but both The Boyfriend and I had very high expectations of Tuscan food. For some reason we seemed to think that even if we ended up in a Tourist Trap food would still be much better than your average restaurant. As if any restaurant in Tuscany was automatically destined to be better than the rest because of the region's culinary heritage. How wrong we were. Of the ten meals only three were memorable. Another three were goodish, and the other four were either okay or crap. They are ranked in a complex equation of quality of food + view or venue + price, and by complex I mean we just vaguely remember which ones were the best -a suprisingly difficult feat (but understandably difficult if you look at how much wine we consumed, sometimes I'm amazed we even managed to take photos of the stuff). Anyway, here goes.

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Opera Tavern - Waiting for doom

How do you deal with the impending end of the world? Simple. You drink wine and eat cheese. Obviously we were on a limited time scale, with only one and a half hours till "Rapture", which put La Cave Du Fromage in South Ken out of the question and La Fromagerie too. So Opera Tavern it was.

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I'm clearly a little behind in terms of the London food scene, as when all of London's food bloggers and critics have hit the East End to check out Brawn, I have only just visited Terroirs the original wine bar of the two. Terroirs seems to get mixed reviews from most bloggers and to be honest I wasn't too excited about the prospect, but it ticked all of my boxes which are; a) easy to get a last minute table b) not on the otherside of town, (unlike Brawn) and c) starts with a letter at the end of the alphabet, (also unlike Brawn).

Terroirs was bustling when The Boyfriend and I arrived last Thursday. The staff asked if we would mind waiting at the bar for five minutes until our table was ready, which we didnt. However, five minutes turned into 30 minutes. 25 minutes + 1 pair of 5 inch heels + crowded bar - any food =  2 less happy customers. Thankfully, the bar guy was cute (sorry, The Boyfriend), and charming and the wine was wine,  so it was hard to get too worked up. The wine and water (tap was immediately assumed) came in reusable glass bottles which was a nice touch.
When The Boyfriend and I finally made it to our table in the "upstairs" (does a staircase of 7 steps really make it an upstairs?) part of the restaurant, we discovered they had at least given us the best table in the house.



Starving, we started with Bread - £1.50 - lovely and fresh, but with boring, unsalted butter - and a charcuterie - £12.50. The Charcuterie included pork salami, duck rilletes and pork and pistachio terrine. The Charcuterie was a bit of a letdown, and I imagined this would be where they should have been strongest. The salami was nice, but it would have been better to have cut the portion in half and served a second type of dried meat. The duck rillette was bland, nothing particularly special and definitely not as good as the rillettes at Tom's Kitchen or 28-50. The Boyfriend liked the terrine but again, to me it was a little bland. 

Potted Shrimp - £8.00 - came next. The Boyfriend reported it was "pretty good".

The Beetroot salad - around £6.00 - was again equally unexciting. It was actually better looking than the photo implies but The Boyfriend and I ate the first half of it before remembering to take a photo.

The Clams however, were beautiful. A fairly large portion given the cost. The liquid was garlicky and spicy and I finished it in about 30 seconds flat. Finally, some success.

At roughly £70.00 the price was not that reasonable. What we ate wasn't interesting enough to make me desperate for a return visit and frankly, waiting 30 minutes is a little annoying if you've booked. Saying that, the table next to us had ordered the Vacherin Mont D'or with potatoes and a selection of meat at£ 36.00. It looked incredible and I spent the majority of the meal watching them eat it. So maybe I will go back for the Mont D'or, as they did look very happy while eating it.
Terroirs on Urbanspoon



Brasserie Roux – Perfect for the price

Brasserie Roux is, according to the website, “Inspired by Albert Roux”. I dont know if that means Monsieur Roux had/has any role in the running of the restaurant or if they just persuaded him to let them use the name but either way I enjoyed this experience much more than my previous Roux excursion at Le Gavroche.

The restaurant is situated in the Sofitel which is nice enough but the dining room itself is gorgeous. So gorgeous, I think it might just be my favourite dining room in London. Incredibly high ceilings, traditional-ish décor and nice and bright yet it still felt cozy. 10/10. The service was also charming, although it might have been helped by the fact that it was 75% empty. Despite the lack of people in such a large room though the atmosphere was still relaxing but up-tempo enough that it was difficult to eves drop.

I should mention that the Boyfriend and I were eating at 5.30, so I have to say the fact there were any people in the restaurant impressed me. Being forced to eat so early, thank you Nutcracker organizers, did mean we were able to take advantage of the “Three courses for 15.50” or in our case “Three courses and a glass of Champagne for 25.50”. In reality, its more than this, three courses +  Bread + Amuse Bouche, none of the silly “we will charge you for things that are standard in other restaurants" ahem Tom’s Kitchen.

We started with a small cauliflower soup to start. Not particularly interesting but nice texture.

I then had the “Salmon and trout rillettes” which was wholly under seasoned. Only the powerful taste of the trout attempted to make up for the blandness of the salmon, but the ratios were out so the majority of the dish was flavourless. I couldn’t work out the purpose of the white sauce that accompanied it as it was as flavourless as the salmon. Disappointing.

My next course of  “Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions “ (obviously not the correct title, I failed to write it down and the don’t have the menu on their website, but you get the gist). Was much better .In fact it smelled so good I forgot to take a picture until mid munching. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the portion very large. It tasted pretty much identical to what I think must be the World’s Most Expensive Chicken Dish I ate at Le Jules Verne, in Paris recently.

Finally, I finished with a cheese plate which for the first time ever on a set menu wasn’t at additional cost. Luckily, I was too full at this point to be disappointed by the quality of the cheese which in my opinion wasn't that great.

All in all I was a pretty satisfied, and very full customer. However, had i been paying full price for the meal I probably would have been let down by the quality of the food, although I do wonder whether the standard is higher for the a La Carte fare.

Brasserie Roux on Urbanspoon