Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

Text

Fed up with celebrity chefs drizzling sauces over undercooked pieces of meat? I am!

I regularly dine out and am happy to share my restaurant experiences, and views on food, with you.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Restaurant

La Rueda
102 Wigmore Street
London
W1U 3RL

Phone:- 0207 486 1718

Overview

La Rueda is a Spanish restaurant, situated just a few minutes walk from Selfridges. It comprises a wine bar, tapas bar and Spanish restaurant on the ground floor.

Eva and I visited it on Thursday, having spent the day shopping on Oxford Street. The summary of our evening is set out below.

Ambience

The restaurant is divided into two distinct “zones”. The front part comprises the wine and tapas bar, the back part comprises the restaurant. Both parts are quite large and offer seating for a good number of people, being the West End both the tapas bar and restaurant rapidly filled up during the course of the evening.

When we arrived, at about 6:30PM, we had initially only intended to come in for a bottle of wine. Therefore, we sat at the bar situated on the right hand side of the tapas bar. The bar had sufficient stools, and space, to accommodate around 6-8 people; there were bowls of olives placed at intervals on the counter.

Menus for tapas were readily to hand, and it was possible to have the tapas at the bar or sitting at a table. The atmosphere was friendly and sociable; consequently we decided to stay for dinner. I asked if it would be possible to book a table for 7:30PM, no problem. Had we come later we would have had to wait, as the place was packed by 9:00PM.

The décor to the tapas bar had rustic Spanish feel with an emphasis on wood, the ceiling was lined with rows and rows of wine bottles. This contrasted to the light yellow walls and tiled floor of the restaurant.

Whilst the tables in the tapas bar were not covered, the restaurant tables were more formally laid with white tablecloths and yellow napkins. Our table was ready for us at 7:30PM, with butter and bread rolls already in position.

The main lighting to the restaurant was provided by lights set on wagon wheels suspended from the ceiling. The wall lights were shaded by upturned wicker baskets.

The restaurant was airy and had a family atmosphere, very Mediterranean!

The restaurant is very well staffed, given how busy it became, it needed to be. We were greeted in a professional and friendly manner.

Menu

The menu offered an extensive selection of Spanish cuisine, including; three different types of paella, lamb, veal, kidneys, chicken in garlic, stuffed poussin, frogs legs and numerous fish dishes. The tapas menu, by the way, was also very large and included; omelette, chicken, chopped liver, potatoes and prawns. I asked if I could have a tapas dish for a starter and our waiter was happy to oblige.

Service

The service is friendly, efficient and prompt. As soon as we were seated we were offered our menus, and our orders swiftly taken. The busy atmosphere of the restaurant does not afford the staff time to engage in idle banter with the customers; they concentrated on diligently carrying out their duties with commendable efficiency.

We were thanked for our custom by the owner when we left, a nice touch.

Food

I took a tapas dish, fabada, as a starter. This is a mixture of cannellini beans and pork. It contained a good quantity of pork but would, in my opinion, have benefited from being seasoned a little more adventurously (ie it needed a little bit of a “kick”); I have a preference for spice. Nonetheless very enjoyable, and worth having.

I followed on with the cochinillo (roast suckling pig), served with a very generous portion of home made sauté potatoes, broccoli and carrots. This consisted of three good sized cuts of pork on the backbone. It was well cooked and succulent. My only criticism would be that the crackling didn’t crackle. Maybe a little more salt rubbed into the skin before cooking would have helped this process, but speaking from personal experience crackling can be temperamental. On a personal level I think that apple sauce would make a good accompaniment to this dish, but everyone has different tastes.

Eva decided that she would just have a main course, and so had the seafood paella. A very large portion was served, and the dish contained an extensive array of seafood including; prawns, scallops, mussels and clams. The rice had been cooked, as it should have been, in fish stock; and was very well flavoured. Eva was delighted with her choice.

One slip of her fork during the meal, rather bizarrely, caused a scallop to fly across into the pocket of a gentleman sitting at the next table. We, to our shame, decided discretion would be the better part of valour; and did not tell him. I hope that the piece of seafood has been found and removed, apologies for any inconvenience.

We finished our meal off with a couple of Irish coffees, these were properly made and were piping hot.

The overall meal, which included two bottles of good quality Chardonnay, came to £75 including the suggested 10% service charge.

Overall Opinion

Very enjoyable, definitely a pleasant surprise given the location and the propensity of some establishments in the West End to be no more than tourist “rip offs”. I have no hesitation in recommending it.


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