Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

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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.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Restaurant

Tennstopet
Dalagatan 50
102 32 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 32 2518

Website www.tennstopet.se

Overview

Eva and I went to Tennstopet the other evening. Tennstopet is a pub (one of Stockholm’s oldest, dating back to the 19th century) and restaurant; both the pub and restaurant serve traditional Swedish cuisine.

Ambience

The pub is decorated with traditional pub memorabilia and tartan wall hangings. They also have an extensive range of whiskies on display, that should suit most tastes.

The restaurant is a little more formal; the tables are traditionally laid with white linen tablecloths, napkins and silver cutlery. The chairs are upholstered in red velvet. The room has a high ceiling with wooden beams and chandeliers. At one end of the restaurant is an enormous mirror, with an ornate gilded wooden frame.

The restaurant is intimate, and ideal for a romantic evening or a larger gathering. We dined in the restaurant.

Menu

The dishes are traditional Swedish cuisine; and include Skagens toast, herring, blini, beef Rydberg and a variety of game dishes.

In order to see the entire range of food on offer, you should ask for the Swedish menu; they seem to think that English speakers will not wish to try the more traditional dishes, and so exclude them from the English menu. However, don’t let this put you off; the staff will be happy to explain each of the dishes on the Swedish menu.

Service

The welcome from all the staff is warm and friendly. Our coats were taken at the door by the smartly suited doorman. The restaurant staff are friendly, efficient and helpful; they are happy to explain the more traditional dishes.

By way of a contras to the normal bread rolls, you are given a basket of Swedish bread and crisp bread. This, in addition to a plate of butter, is accompanied by a bowl of rich creamy blue cheese; with a flavour akin to Stilton. I would recommend that you resist the temptation to overindulge, as this will seriously ruin your appetite. I had to exert an awful lot of willpower not to take more than a few spoonfuls of the delicious cheese.

Food

I started with Skagens toast; a combination of prawns and red caviar in a rich mayonnaise, served on a slice of toast. The taste was superb, and the dish generous in size. If you want to prepare this dish for yourself, see the recipe in my book “Accountants Can Cook”.

I chose fried bacon with onion sauce for my main dish. This consisted of generous slices of thick cut fatty bacon; fried and served with a white, creamy onion sauce. This was accompanied by plain boiled potatoes. I was delighted with this dish, it was “unctuous” in its richness, texture and flavour.

Eva started with the potato rosti and caviar, served with red onions. The potatoes were crispy and tasty; and combined well with the caviar. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eva chose the Viltwallenbergare for her main course. This was a large meatball made with a combination of moose, deer and veal. This was served with a wild mushroom sauce, accompanied by mashed potatoes and lingon berries.

The texture of the meatball was smooth and creamy, the flavour was very rich and gamey. The mashed potatoes, equally rich and smooth, complimented the meal.

Eva was delighted, and filled, by her choice.

The meal, which included a bottle of Pouilly Fume, cocktails and liqueurs, came to 1491SEK before tip.

Overall Opinion

Tennstopet is a splendid establishment, definitely in my top ten. Make sure you pay them a visit when you are in Stockholm.




Restaurant

Capri
Nybrogatan 15
114 39 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 662 3132

Website www.capri.aos.se

Overview

I found myself dining out in Stockholm with six charming Scandinavian ladies the other night. We went to the Capri, an Italian restaurant in central Stockholm; which is Stockholm’s oldest Italian restaurant.

Ambience

Capri is a large, bustling Italian restaurant. The interior design resembles a grotto hewn out of the inside of a cave. The walls are painted deep red, the tables are laid with check cloths and the atmosphere is cosy and intimate.

Menu

The menu offers an extensive array of pasta, meat, pizza and fish dishes.

House specialities are displayed on blackboards around the room.

Service

The staff are friendly and accommodating. Guests are offered a free pre dinner Campari, whilst perusing the menu.

In addition to a long, hot sliced loaf we were also given a large bowl of iceberg lettuce; which had been drizzled with olive oil, as an appetiser.

Food

I was the only one to have a starter. I chose the spinach lasagne. I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the best lasagnes that I have ever had. It was creamy, succulent and flavoursome; absolutely unctuous. Don’t take my word for it though; my six dining companions, all of whom had a nibble, would also agree.

I chose the pollo diavola with sauté potatoes for my main course. This was a spicy “spatchcocked” poussin, cooked with chillies and tabasco. It was juicy and piquant, very enjoyable.

My companions had a variety of dishes, including; lamb cutlets, penne, grilled salmon and pizza quatro.

All professed themselves to be happy with the quality, taste and presentation of their dishes.

The meal, which included a bottle of Chianti, Pinot Grigio and numerous Irish coffees, came to 2100SEK including tip.

Overall Opinion

We all had a great time, and have marked this as a “must visit again” venue. Make sure you pay them a visit.




The Hard Rock Café
Sveav. 75
113 50 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 545 49400

Website www.hardrock.se

Overview

Eva and I found ourselves out rather late in Stockholm the other evening. As many of the restaurants were closing we went to the Hard Rock Café, which stays open late. Hard Rock Café is an American themed bar and restaurant, serving steaks, burgers and assorted American cuisine.

Ambience

Hard Rock Café is a lively, brash and cheerful American themed bar and restaurant. Everywhere you look there are TV monitors playing rock videos at a boisterous volume. You cannot escape the omnipresent video, even in the urinals; they have miniature screens built in at eye-level.

Those of you wishing to have a souvenir of the Hard Rock Café can buy T shirts and assorted apparel from the shop, conveniently situated near the door.

Menu

The menu offers a good selection of burgers, chicken and steak dishes. Starters include platters of baked potatoes, fajitas or combos for people to share.

They have a list of interestingly titled cocktails such as “Slippery Nipple” and “Purple Hooters”.

Service

The staff, from the doorman through to manager and waitresses, were all very welcoming and friendly. We were promptly seated, and menus and drinks brought instantaneously.

The service was very efficient, and when I asked for two fried eggs (not on the menu) to be served with my steak, the order was readily accepted. I was even asked if I wanted them sunny side up. Top marks!

Food

We started with the platter of baked potato skins to share. This consisted of eight skins, generously filled with potato, cheese and bacon. They were topped off with chopped spring onions and a sour cream dip on the side.

The skins were very tasty. However, they could have been a little warmer.

I chose the 12oz New York strip (with two fried eggs) for my main course. This came with a choice of baked potatoes, fries or sauté potatoes. I opted for the fries.

The steak was tender, and had been cooked rare to my specification. Rather incongruously it came with cauliflower florets as a vegetable accompaniment, they were a little underdone.

That being said, I cleared my plate and sated the “inner man”.

Eva had a cheeseburger with fries for her main course. This was definitely a cut above the sad soggy specimens served by high street fast food outlets. It had been freshly made, and was served “open topped” rather than squeezed together between the two halves of the bun. Eva was pleased with her choice.

The meal, which included cocktails, a bottle of Chardonnay and Irish coffees, came to around 1200SEK.

Overall Opinion

We enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere of the restaurant. Maybe not a place for an intimate evening. However, worth visiting if you are out late one night in Stockholm and are feeling hungry.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Restaurant

The Gay Hussar
2 Greek Street
London
W1D 4NB

Phone:- 0207 437 0973

Overview

Eva and I went to The Gay Hussar, a Hungarian restaurant, in Soho on Saturday.

Ambience

This is a friendly, welcoming, restaurant; tucked away at the corner of Greek Street. It is situated in the bustling and eclectic heart of Soho. The restaurant has several floors, comprising public and private dining rooms. The ground floor is decorated with sketches of the politicians (eg Robin Cook) who dine there regularly.

Our table was on the next floor in a slightly smaller, but cosy, room. The room had dark wood panelling, and red flock wallpaper. The tables were laid with starched white linen and silver cutlery.

I would note that the restaurant was very busy, and you are advised to make a reservation 48 hours in advance.

Menu

The menu has a good selection of Hungarian dishes including; cherry soup, marinated herring, salami, stuffed peppers, goose, goulash, dumplings and pancakes.

Service

The service was very friendly and solicitous. When we were waiting for our taxi at the end of the evening, we sat in the restaurant downstairs and had a drink; there was no unseemly haste to push us out of the door, even though the restaurant was closing.

Food

I started with the smoked Hungarian sausage, which was served with fresh horseradish sauce and a small salad. This was very tasty, and made an ideal starter.

I chose the crispy roast duck for my main course. This was served with red cabbage, Hungarian potatoes and apple sauce. The duck was crispy and succulent, not greasy or overcooked. I was very happy with my choice.

Eva started with the beef goulash soup. This was a splendid spicy, piquant dish, containing hearty chunks of beef and potatoes. A side basket of heavy dark bread accompanied this dish; this maked it almost a meal in itself.

Eva chose the veal goulash pancake for her main course. The pancake was quite large and had been boiled; the filling was rich and creamy. The dish was served with boiled potatoes and grilled peppers.

The meal, which included a robust and hearty bottle of Bull’s Blood and several Hungarian liqueurs, came to £109 including service.

Overall Opinion

We both thoroughly enjoyed our evening and our meal, and will definitely be returning.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Restaurant

Leopardi
Riddargatan 9
114 51 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 660 7403

Overview

Eva and I took pot luck one evening when we were in Stockholm; and went to Leopardi, an Italian restaurant in central Stockholm.

Ambience

Leopardi is a warm and cosy restaurant, with a lively atmosphere. There is a bar in the middle of the room. The walls are painted red and white, and there is a tiled floor. The tables are laid with pink table cloths. Each table has a flower in a small vase, and a basket of bread sticks.

Menu

The menu has a good variety of Italian pasta dishes plus other dishes including; bruschetta, minestrone, calves liver, lamb medallions, and saltimbocca.

Service

The service was friendly and very prompt. There is no problem with speaking English here, should your Swedish or Italian not be quite up to the mark.

Food

I started with the carbonara, this was a very generous portion of spaghetti and bacon in a rich creamy sauce. This, for lesser appetites, would make a meal in itself.

I chose the pan fried pork escalope in a cream and sage sauce for my main course. The flavours were very well balanced, the pork was tender and not overcooked. The dish came with sauté potatoes, which were cooked to perfection.

Eva started with the deep fried camembert served with berries. This was surprisingly sweet, but very delicious and a good way to start the meal.

Eva’s main course was penne with chicken and chillies; she was very pleased with this dish. There was a generous portion of chicken, and the chillies added a piquant flavour; however, this did not overpower it.

The meal, which included a bottle of Mateus, came to 754SEK.

Overall Opinion

In my opinion, Leopardi is worth popping into if you are in central Stockholm and feel like a good value Italian meal.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Restaurant

Mario
299 High Street
Croydon

Phone:- 0208 686 5624

Overview

Eva and I wandered into Croydon on Friday to try out Mario, an Italian restaurant.

Ambience

Mario is a very small restaurant, the walls are decorated with photos, flags and pictures; with Puccini playing in the background. It has the potential to be intimate and cosy. However, the lighting is far too bright. We asked for the spotlights, one of which was shining into Eva’s face, to be turned down.

Menu

Unlike some Italian restaurants, the menu is not that extensive. However, it offers a selection of pasta, veal and steak dishes.

Service

Efficient.

Food

I ordered the cannelloni for my starter, and was warned that it was made with beef not veal; no problem for me. However, I was (to put it mildly) far from impressed with the dish when it arrived. Instead of being rolled tubes of pasta stuffed with meat, it resembled a sloppy lasagne with very little meat.

I asked the waitress over, and lifted a layer of pasta with my fork; asking her where the meat had gone. She responded, somewhat incongruously, that she had warned me that it was made with beef; irrelevant. She offered to have the chef stuff it with more meat. We decided to forgo the dish, in return for me not being charged.

Eva started with smoked salmon, not the most generous portion I have ever seen; although served a salad, no brown bread was forthcoming.

I chose the fillet steak in green pepper sauce for my main course. This was a good quality tender piece of meat; the sauce piquant and creamy.

Eva had the veal in a white wine and sage sauce; very tasty, but not a very large portion.

Our main courses were accompanied by sauté potatoes, cauliflower in cheese and sugar snaps; all very decently cooked.

The meal, which included a bottle Pinot Grigio and several liqueurs, came to £73 before service.

Overall Opinion

Croydon has a large number of Italian restaurants, we don’t feel that there is any need to visit Mario again.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Restaurant

Galicia
269 High St
Croydon

Phone:- 0208 686 0043

Overview

It was one of the hotter evenings of the year (31 degrees), and an old chum of mine from university was paying a social call.

Duly fortified with Pimms; we strolled into central Croydon for a meal at Galicia, a Spanish restaurant.

Ambience

Galicia is a large, bright, cheerful and lively tapas bar and family friendly Spanish restaurant; it is always busy.

The walls and floors are tiled, giving it an unfussy appearance; but the tiles reflect, rather than absorb, sound making it seem quite noisy. Particularly welcome on a hot day is the air conditioning; set, I am pleased to say, at a sensible level (ie not New York arctic!).

The tapas bar accommodates a large number of people on the neatly arranged wooden tables and chairs. The restaurant is equally spacious, with the tables being laid with white and blue linen.

Menu

Galicia offers an excellent selection of dishes and tapas including; fabada, king prawns, kidneys in cream, veal, paella and Dover sole.

Service

The restaurant is “stuffed to the gunnels” with staff, it gets very busy and so do the staff. All of whom are friendly, cheerful and efficient. We had not booked, but a table in the restaurant was quickly set up for us without any fuss.

Food

I chose the fabada (beans, Chorizo and pork) for my starter. Piquant and tasty, a fine way to start the meal.

I had the chicken breast in a cream and mushroom sauce for my main course. The chicken was succulent, and was complemented by the sauce; which did not overpower it.

David kicked off with a very generous portion of prawns, served with a fan tailed cut avocado and salad.

He chose the lamb cutlets for his main course; these were plump and succulent, and were served with a sauce boat of creamy garlic sauce.

Our main courses were accompanied by a very generous silver platter of sauté potatoes, battered courgettes and haricot vert.

The meal, which included; cocktails, a bottle of Chardonnay and brandy, came to £60 including service.

Overall Opinion

A great place to go for good food, a lively atmosphere and value for money.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Restaurant

L’Autre
5B Shepherd Street
Mayfair
London

Phone:- 0207 499 4680

Overview

Eva and I spent the other evening strolling around Shepherds’ Market, and came across L’Autre. Despite the French sounding name, this restaurant, come bistro, serves a combination of Polish and Mexican dishes.

Ambience

The bistro is romantic, cosy and intimate. The main part is situated on the ground floor, and is not much larger than a reception room of a domestic house. There are also tables outside and a dining area downstairs.

The décor is “bistro kitsch”, with a wooden floor and wooden beams decorated with knickknacks and stuffed toy animals (some of which are wearing sombreros). The tables are situated close together, and there is a bar (space prevents you sitting around it) at one end of the room.

The management have a rather unusual policy with regard to single diners, which we witnessed first hand, they don’t allow them. The rationale being that the single diner may intrude on the intimacy of couples.

Menu

The menu offers a good selection of Polish dishes including; Borstch, pate, dumplings and stuffed cabbage. The Mexican selection is a little more limited, concentrating mainly on a variety of burritos.

The bar has a selection of chilled vodkas, including Goldwasser which contains flecks of gold leaf.

Service

The service is pleasant and efficient.

Food

I chose the charcuterie for my starter. This consisted of a very generous selection of sliced smoked meats (sausage, chicken and ham); served with salad, horseradish and dark rye bread. The combination of meat tasted superb, I was very impressed.

I chose the Golonka for my main course. This was a large boiled ham hock, served with a good sized portion of mashed potatoes, red cabbage and sauerkraut. The meat, which was tender and succulent, was cooked to perfection; literally falling off the bone. The potatoes were excellent, and had been flavoured with a little cheese. This was a most hearty dish, make sure you have a hearty appetite to do it justice.

Eva chose the fish blini for her starter. This was really special, resembling a large pasty, it was stuffed with prawns, crab and trout. It was served with roe, and a sour cream sauce. I am not a great fish fan myself, but tasted it and was very impressed with the quality and combination of flavours. Eva was delighted.

She chose the Pozarski for her main course. This was minced veal, flavoured with dill and other herbs, shaped into a cutlet. The meat was creamy and succulent, and had a very special flavour of dill. It tasted superb. The dish was served with a mushroom and cream sauce, and was accompanied by boiled potatoes, carrots and French beans.

The bill, which included; a bottle of Chardonnay, an Irish coffee and brandy, came to £59 including service.

Overall Opinion

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and will definitely go back there again; making sure that we have starved for a day beforehand!

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Restaurant

The Old Bell
High Street
Old Oxted
Surrey

Phone:- 01883 712181

Website
www.theoldbell-oxted.co.uk

Overview

It was a sunny, hot Saturday; and so Eva and I decided to take a trip out of town to Old Oxted, a village, only 20 minutes train ride away from Croydon.

I haven’t been to Oxted since my childhood, so we took pot luck with regard to our dining needs. Having visited a couple of hostelries, we were delighted to stumble across The Old Bell; a 15th century pub that serves traditional and modern English cuisine.

Ambience

The pub is a traditional timber framed building dating back to the 15th century. Low ceilings with timber beams and columns are decorated with the usual knickknacks (hops, horse brasses, photos etc) accumulated over the centuries of use.

The restaurant and bar meld into one, so you can combine a trip to the pub with a meal (every Englishman’s dream!).

The menus are on chalkboards dotted around the walls.

There is a smoking and non smoking area, plus a garden. We were offered a choice of tables, and took one by the window.

The chairs were old fashioned highback “cottage” style, and were exceptionally comfortable.

Menu

The menu offers a staggering array of dishes including; pate, smoked salmon parcels, baked goat’s cheese, pies, fish, spinach and Roquefort tart, steaks, ham and eggs and vegetarian dishes.

I would venture one small suggestion; whilst the use of chalkboards is fine for specials, we found it to be a little inconvenient placing the entire menu on it. I would suggest that the “standard dishes” are detailed on menus (even if only photocopies) placed on the tables.

Service

We were promptly and warmly greeted by one of the staff when we arrived, and were shown to a table. Once seated, the ordering system was explained to us.

You choose from the menus on the walls, then place your order at the bar; quoting the number attached to the candle stick on your table.

After that the service is as in any other restaurant; ie further orders for drinks, wine, desserts etc can be placed with a member of staff. All of whom we found to be cheerful and efficient.

Food

I chose the warm chicken liver and bacon salad as a starter. This was very good, there was a generous portion of both liver and bacon tossed with a green salad and croutons. The liver was not overcooked, and was complemented by the bacon.

I chose the mixed grill for my main course, with a couple of fried eggs as an extra. The grill included; a lamb’s kidney, calves liver, a double lamb loin chop, a good sized portion of steak, a sausage and a slice of gammon. This was served with home-made chips.

The grill was professionally cooked, not burnt or dry. The meat was of good quality, although parts of the steak were a little chewy. A hearty meal for a hearty appetite!

Eva started with the smoked salmon parcel stuffed with crab. This was served with cherry tomatoes and beetroot. It was a good sized portion, the chef had not stinted on the crab stuffing. The combination of flavours was first class, and made an ideal starter.

Eva chose breaded pork with apple squares in a sage sauce for her main course. The combination of flavours was mouth-watering. The sauce was very “sagey” and was complemented by the flavour, and texture, of the cooked apple cubes; which in turn enhanced the flavour of the lean, tender pieces of pork in breadcrumbs. The pork had been cooked to a golden brown colour.

The dish came with new potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and courgettes; all cooked to perfection.

The bill, which included; a bottle of Chablis, two Irish coffees and brandy, came to £60 before service.

Overall Opinion

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and feel that it was exceptionally good value. Well worth a trip to Old Oxted. I recommend that you do the same.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Restaurant

King’s Restaurant
The De Vere Grand Hotel
Kings Road
Brighton

Phone:- 01273 224300

Overview

We celebrated Eva’s birthday in King’s, which serves a variety of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes in opulent surroundings; evocative of the Victorian era.

Ambience

As noted, the décor of King’s is evocative of the past glories of the Victorian era. Two silver carving trolleys mount guard to the entrance, which leads into the spacious dining room and sea front veranda. The dining room is resplendent with marble columns and dark wooden panels. The tables are laid with crisp white linen and silver cutlery.

We were given a veranda table, which afforded us a splendid view of the sea.

However, it was sad to see that were only a few other diners in the restaurant. In my opinion, a place such as this would benefit from being busier. The lack of customers also negates the restaurant’s ability to serve roast meats on their splendid carving trolleys; there is after all no point in roasting a joint if you only have a few customers. A point that was readily accepted by one of our waiters.

Menu

The menu offers a variety of dishes including roast lamb, Dover sole, chateau briande, lobster (Friday and Saturday only) and breast of chicken stuffed with cous cous.

Service

The staff were very professional, and the service polite and attentive.

Food

I started with the smoked salmon which came with a twist of lemon and sprig of dill; no brown bread oddly enough. However, it was fine way to start the meal.

I chose the roasted half English duck, in orange and liqueur sauce, for my main course. I am pleased to say that it was well cooked (unlike some establishments who offer you a carcass dripping in blood). The meat was succulent and tender, the sauce was a well balanced combination of liqueur and oranges.

The meal was accompanied by sauté potatoes and cauliflower au gratin. The latter, to my view, was undercooked; and on raising this with the waiter I as offered a replacement or no charge. I opted for the latter.

I finished my meal with a selection of cheese and biscuits, the latter being served from a magnificent silver serving bucket.

Eva started with asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. The asparagus was tender and not stringy. However, Eva noted that the hollandaise had started to curdle.

She chose pork fillet with sliced apples in a green pepper sauce, accompanied by thyme and red cabbage. The meat was tender, and the accompaniments were an innovative and welcome change to the more traditional apple sauce

Eva opted for herb buttered new potatoes as a side dish, these were cooked to perfection.

The overall bill which included; champagne cocktails, a bottle of Chardonnay, brandy and Irish coffee came to £122 before service.

Overall Opinion

We enjoyed the evening, and rate this as a good quality restaurant. However, I would suggest that the prices are more akin to central London rather than to Brighton. This may account for the lack of customers, which to my view negatively impacts the restaurant’s atmosphere.
Restaurant

Donatello
1 Brighton Place
The Lanes
Brighton

Phone:- 01273 775477

Website
www.donatello.co.uk

Overview

Eva and I spent a couple of days in Brighton; and, feeling in the mood for Italian, dropped into Donatello one evening.

Ambience

Donatello is a large restaurant and offers; a smoking area, a non smoking area, a large bar, upstairs function rooms and outside seating for those that feel brave enough to face the uncertainty of the British weather.

The restaurant is bright and cheerful; some of the walls are painted red, others green and at the far end of the smoking area you can admire your reflection in the wall sized mirror. The stairway up to the function rooms is adorned with photos of celebrities, including Tony Blair, who have dined in the restaurant.

Menu

The menu offers a good range of Italian dishes including a variety of; pasta, pizzas, fish, steaks and veal.

Service

The service is very attentive, friendly and efficient. Although the restaurant is large, and was busy when we were there, there was a large enough complement of staff on duty to ensure that that customers’ needs were efficiently attended to.

Food

I started with the lasagne, which was rich and creamy. The sauce was a well balanced blend of tomatoes and cheese, which did not overpower the meat and spinach filled pasta.

I chose steak, in a green pepper sauce, for my main course. This was first class. The sirloin was cooked rare, as requested, and was exceptionally succulent and tender. The piquant sauce complemented the meat, and did not overpower it. The dish was served with a good sized portion of fries, carrots and courgettes. I was very happy with my choice.

Eva opted for pizza, and chose one with a topping that included; Chorizo, artichokes, prawns and peppers. It had been freshly prepared, and the dough had a light not “claggy” texture. She enjoyed it, but felt that it would have benefited from a more generous tomato and cheese base.

The total bill, which included; pre dinner drinks a bottle of Pinot Grigio, brandy and Irish coffee, came to £61 including service.

Overall Opinion

We enjoyed our meal, and will be pleased to visit again when we have the opportunity.
Restaurant

Coach House
59 Middle Street
Brighton

Phone:- 01273 719000

Website
www.coachhousebrighton.com

Overview

Eva and I had a leisurely lunch in the courtyard of The Coach House, a bar and restaurant five minutes away from the seafront in Brighton.

Ambience

The Coach House is a bright and breezy restaurant and bar. It has a small courtyard in the front, and being a sunny day we “pitched our tent” there.

Menu

The menu offers an extensive variety of dishes including; mussels, steaks, falafels, lamb noisettes and fish cakes.

Service

The service was relaxed, friendly and efficient. The waiter was honest enough to guide my initial choice of starter (pate), to what he felt to be the more reliable soup of the day.

Food

I started with the carrot and coriander soup. The flavour being more of coriander than carrot, made it a refreshing change to those luminous orange creations served in other establishments. It came with a swirl of cream, and a good sized portion of freshly baked bread.

I chose sirloin steak for my main course. This came with chunky home made chips, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. I asked for two fried eggs to top it off, no raised eyebrow to that request. The steak was cooked to perfection, and was exceptionally tender and flavoursome.

Eva had a hearty bowl of mussels in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce. This was served with a mountain of freshly baked bread. The dish was absolutely first class, full of flavour and very filling.

The meal, which included two bottles of Pinto Grigio and an Irish coffee, came to £58 including service.

Overall Opinion

Definitely worth visiting should you be strolling through the streets of Brighton on a sunny day. We will go there again when we are in town.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Restaurant

Källaren Bohemia
Tunnelgatan 1
11137 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 21 53 10

Website
www.bohemia.nu

Overview

Bohemia was one of our favourite restaurants when we lived in Stockholm. It specialises in Central European food, and is situated near to where Olaf Palma (Sweden’s Prime Minister) was assassinated in 1986.

Eva, myself and Kajsa (one of Eva’s daughters) went there on Saturday evening.

Ambience

The restaurant is cosy, bright and unpretentious. The restaurant has a wooden beamed ceiling and white walls, a large tapestry adorns the furthest wall.

The restaurant has both traditional round tables in the centre of the room, and booths around the walls. All the tables are laid with linen cloths and napkins, and decorated with fresh flowers.

We were warmly greeted by the owner, who remembered us despite the fact it had been over two years since we had been there.

Menu

The menu offers an impressive selection of dishes including; steak tartar, Wiener Schnitzel, chicken Kiev, goulash and foie gras. Should there not be something to your taste, the chef will try to accommodate you.

Service

The service was very cheerful and attentive. Unlike many restaurants in Stockholm, Bohemia does not try to rush you out of the door when you have finished; and we lingered for while with our liqueurs, finally departing at around 12:30.

Food

I started with the Fettuccine Alfredo, which was splendid. The sauce was rich and creamy, and was complemented by the mushrooms and perfectly cooked fettuccine.

I chose Holstein Schnitzel for my main course. This was an absolutely enormous piece of veal, which was coated in breadcrumbs and pan fried; served with two fried eggs and a side dish of sauté potatoes. Outstanding, a meal to die for!

Eva started with blinis and red caviar. The blinis were home-made, and were served with sour cream, red caviar and chopped red onion. Eva was delighted with her choice.

She chose the chicken Kiev as her main course, this was succulent, and oozed forth a very garlic infused melted buttered filling when the chicken was pierced. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kajsa, having already dined a few hours earlier, opted to have just an appetiser and desert. She chose the snails to start with. These were served in their shells in melted garlic butter, with a vast tray of toasted bread. They were succulent, plump, and very tasty.

She opted for ice cream with a fresh fruit salad for desert. This was exceptionally well presented, being placed on a large plate dusted with icing sugar; together with a sauce boat containing a rich, dark chocolate sauce. The chef has a creative mind, and an eye for detail; full marks.

The meal, which included two bottles of Chablis and various cocktails and liqueurs, came to SEK2213 before service.

Overall Opinion

I make no exaggeration in saying that, in my opinion, Bohemia is one of the best restaurants in Stockholm. I cannot recommend it too highly.


Thursday, April 17, 2003

Restaurant

Shepherd’s
Marsham Court
Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4LA

Phone:- 0207 834 9552

Website www.langansrestaurants.co.uk

Overview

Shepherd’s serves traditional English food and is owned by Richard Shepherd who, recognising that some of his clientele are MP’s, has installed a division bell so that they can enjoy a good meal and can then rush back to the House of Commons to vote.

Eva and I, together with our good friends David and Gabi, went there on Tuesday evening.

Ambience

The restaurant is pleasantly set out with good sized tables, laid with white linen cloths, and discrete comfortable booths. The walls are decorated with wood panelling and oil paintings. The genteel ambience is enhanced by faux gas lighting. The background music was provided by a CD of “old blue eyes”.

I would venture one criticism, relating to the air conditioning which was turned on full blast towards the end of the evening; presumably to hasten the departure of the guests. I find this trick, employed by some restaurants, to be quite annoying.

Menu

The menu offers a good selection of traditional British dishes including; carrot and coriander soup, crab salad, veal chop, steak and kidney pie, liver and Eton Mess.

Service

The service was exceptionally efficient, and the staff were polite but not intrusive.

Food

I started with half a dozen plump Irish oysters. These were served with the traditional accompaniments of brown bread and Tabasco sauce, and were delicious. I opted for the roast beef as my main course. The menu claimed that it was carved from the trolley. However, this was not done at the table so I cannot confirm the existence of said trolley. That being said, the meat was tender, of good quality and had a good layer of fat; it had been cooked medium rare. It was accompanied by roast and boiled potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, mashed Swede and string beans.

I eschewed the dessert in favour of a Welsh rarebit savoury. This was a well balanced combination of cheese, Worcestershire sauce and mustard served on toasted bread.

Eva and Gabi started with scallops and bacon, which they both professed to be tasty and tender. David kicked off with a stilton and onion tart, which was a rich caramel brown colour; this showed that the onions had been well cooked to maximise their flavour and sweetness.

Eva had venison in a red wine sauce for her main course, whilst she enjoyed the flavour she felt that it could have been a little more tender. Gabi had pork in a rich, dark chestnut sauce which she was delighted with. David opted for the rib eye steak and chunky chips. He was satisfied with the portion, but felt the steak was a little dry.

Eva had the Eton Mess, a combination of raspberries, cream and meringue, for dessert; whilst David and Gabi had sticky toffee pudding. All received top marks.

The overall meal, which included two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon Club cocktails and liqueurs, came to £219 including tip.

Overall Opinion

An enjoyable evening was had by all, I would go there again.
Restaurant

Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack
11 Little East Street
Brighton
BN1 1HT

Phone:- 01273 774545

Website www.mommacherri.co.uk

Overview

Momma Cherri’s is Brighton’s only Soul Food restaurant. The restaurant is situated in a quiet corner of The Laines, and is open all day offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant has two floors, and offers theme nights and live acts.

Eva and I spent Wednesday in Brighton, and decided to have dinner at Momma’s before taking the train back home.

Ambience

The restaurant is cosy, bright, cheerful and unpretentious. The simply laid tables are complemented by the wooden floor. The walls are covered with photos of Motown stars, interspersed with brightly coloured fairy lights. This being the week before Easter, there were cut out Easter bunnies and fluffy chickens adorning the windows and windowsills. The background music was a selection of Motown classics.

Menu

The menu offered an excellent selection of Soul Food including; fried chicken, meat and chicken combos, stuffed skins, sweet potato pie and Jambalaya. On Saturdays they offer pig’s trotters; now that is something I am very fond of, but rarely have the opportunity to eat.

In addition to an eclectic wine list, the cocktail list offers you the choice of cocktails by the glass or by the jug (I liked that!).

Service

The service was very cheerful, attentive and prompt. Additionally, during our main course, the owner/chef (Charita) popped out of the kitchen to ask her customers if they wanted more food on their plates. Other restaurants would do themselves no harm by adopting this policy.

Food

I started with the stuffed potatoes skins. These were three baked potato shells stuffed with refried beans, chillies, cheese and kidney beans. They were very piquant and absolutely delicious, definitely an excellent way to start the meal.

I opted for fried chicken for my main course. This dish consisted of three pieces of well seasoned, floured chicken fried to perfection; served with chunky English chips, corn sticks and a small portion of potato salad. I was impressed, the chicken was clearly home-made and bore no resemblance to the greasy fat laden fast food variety. The potato salad, albeit it a small portion, was exceptionally smooth and creamy. The chips and corn sticks provided a perfect accompaniment.

Eva opted for Jambalaya as a main course. This was served on a hot metal griddle, and was a flavoursome mixture of rice, Chorizo, chicken, prawns and peppers. The ingredients complimented one another, and the dish had a wonderful smoked flavour. It proved to be an ample main course. Eva then chose pecan pie for dessert, which was served with cream and ice cream. The pie, which was home-made, was excellent and was generously topped with pecan nuts to add texture and flavour.

We finished off with a couple of Irish coffees.

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Voigner, came to £57 including service.

Overall Opinion

In my opinion an excellent restaurant for a relaxed evening and a wholesome meal. We will definitely go there again, and I am happy to recommend it to people; if you don’t live in Brighton then why not just jump on a train?

Monday, April 14, 2003


Restaurant

The East India Club
16 St James’s Square
London
SW1Y 4LH

Phone:- 0207 930 1000

Overview

I have to declare an interest with respect to this review. I have, since leaving school, been a member of The East India Club; one of the few remaining London clubs. The club, set up in the nineteenth century, is housed in an ornate regency style building in St James. It offers members a home away from home by providing them with; accommodation, meeting rooms, a library, dining rooms (both public and private), a billiard room, a smoking room and two bars.

Eva and I visited it last Sunday for the lunchtime jazz brunch; which is held every Sunday between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm (the jazz continues until 4:00 pm).

Ambience

The high ceilinged dining room is spacious, comfortable and offers a very special traditional dining experience; far removed from many of today’s homogenous themed restaurants. We dined at a table that was laid with a starched linen cloth, napkins and silver cutlery embossed with the club crest; in the spacious high ceilinged room surrounded by portraits of luminairies from British history, such as Churchill and Montgomery.

The fixed price three course (plus cheeses and coffee) Sunday brunch was presented on a long table in the form of an assisted buffet. Light, non intrusive, live piano jazz was played and sung by a professional musician wearing a dinner suit.

Menu

The set buffet offered an excellent selection of cold cuts of ham, beef, chicken, smoked salmon, salmon terrine and potato salad as appetisers. The main courses on offer were a choice of roast rib of beef carved from a trolley, poached salmon and a curry. Desserts were a mouth-watering array of cheese cakes, gateaux and fruits. The cheese trolley, for those with hearty appetites, was overflowing with British and continental cheeses.

Service

Although it was a buffet, there were a good number of staff who poured our wine, offered us bread, arranged the cutlery between each course and removed the debris from the table after each course. I have always found the Club’s staff to be friendly and efficient, and am pleased to say Sunday brunch proved to be no exception to this rule.

Food

We tried a little of everything from the cold cuts for our appetisers, these were excellent; fresh, tasty and succulent. I was pleased to note that the dishes were replenished every so often, to ensure that the food did not stay in the open for too long. No dried, withered aged specimens here.

Naturally we both had the roast beef, with all the trimmings, for our main course. Eva had the well done part and I opted for the rare. I am pleased to say that the portions were professionally carved and were exceptionally generous. The meat was superb, tender and juicy; just as it should be. The beef was complimented by good quality roast potatoes, vegetables and piquant home-made horseradish sauce. I had a little fruit salad for dessert, Eva tried the cheesecake; which she professed to be excellent.

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Club champagne, came to £63. We even managed to take a doggy bag back home with us.

Overall Opinion

Absolutely splendid, we will definitely go there again for another brunch.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Restaurant

O Sole Mio
7 Croxted Road
West Dulwich
London

Phone:- 0208 670 4444

Website
www.osolemio.towp.com

Overview

Eva and I spent the afternoon in Dulwich, looking around my old school, and decided to pop into O Sole Mio for a meal at the end of the day.

It, as its name suggests, serves Italian food.

Ambience

The restaurant is cheerfully decorated with the walls painted sunflower yellow, a tiled floor, fake marble top tables and a large sun effect mirror.

Menu

The restaurant offers an a la carte Italian menu with traditional pasta, veal, chicken and steak dishes; together with blackboard specials such as sea bass.

Service

The service is efficient. We were offered a canapé of chopped tomato and garlic in olive oil on ciabattine. A nice gesture, I thought, until I saw the bill at the end which charged £1 for it; rather petty and annoying.

Food

I started with baked avocado and prawns in a béchamel sauce. This consisted of sliced avocado and prawns in a thin béchamel sauce. This tasted quite good. However, I personally prefer a thicker sauce; which gives the dish a firmer consistency in the mouth. My book, “Accountants Can Cook”, contains a recipe more akin to my preferences.

My main course was entrecote steak in a pepper sauce. This was served with boiled potatoes carrots and mange tout. I had requested that my steak be cooked blue. However, there was no evidence at all of any blood; so back it went. The second steak did not seem much better, and indeed was a strange grey colour on the outside. I was suspicious that it had been microwaved, but was assured that it had not been. I gave up, and accepted my fate, it was edible.

Eva started with a very large bowl of mussels in white wine. This was a good dish; the sauce, which had chopped chives in, had a decent piquant flavour but was not too salty. She was very happy with her choice.

Eva’s main course was an enormous bowl of spaghetti carbonara. This was cooked a little too al dente for both our tastes. However, that is a matter of personal preference; which we should have made clear when ordering. Eva, nonetheless, enjoyed it but the dish was so large that she could not finish it.

The meal, which included a bottle of Pinot Grigio, came to £47 including the £1 canapé!

Overall Opinion

On balance we would not go out of our way to go there again.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Restaurant

Belair House
Gallery Road
Dulwich Village
London

Phone:- 0208 299 9788

Website
www.belairhouse.co.uk

Overview

Belair House was built in 1785, it was bought by Gary Cady in 1996; who restored it and turned it into a bar and restaurant. It serves contemporary European food.

It comprises a bar, main restaurant, conservatory and outside dining area. The Georgian architectural features have been retained.

Eva and I went there last night for dinner.

Ambience

The house is situated in a beautifully maintained park off Gallery Road. The bar is spacious, the walls are painted in red and white. The floor is tiled, this combined with the modern background music makes it a little noisy.

The main restaurant was very busy. We sat in a semi circular part of the room, this part of the room was painted chocolate brown; overhead was a large candelabra. The main part of the dining room had a Georgian fireplace as a centrepiece. The tables were professionally laid with white tablecloths, the seating comfortable high back blue chairs.

The walls in both the bar and restaurant are decorated with original paintings, which are quite striking.

Eva would like me to mention that the ladies facilities were better than the ones she normally encounters in other restaurants, the cubicles painted in bright colours set against blue brickwork. These reminded her of an upmarket school lavatory.

Menu

The restaurant offers a set a la carte three course meal for £32. The dishes are imaginative and make use of locally grown herbs; they include pork belly, hake, pan fried sea bass, scallops, tournedos and saddle of lamb.

The wine list is extensive and offers wine from under £20 to £395.

Service

The service both in the bar and restaurant was friendly, attentive and efficient. We had a couple of pre dinner tequila sunrises in the bar, where we were able to peruse the menus and present our orders.

Despite the fact that the restaurant was full, our table was ready on time; and the niceties such as offering bread and water were not neglected.

Food

I started with a generous portion of the Foie Gras which was rich, smooth and surrounded by a grape and sauterne jelly. However, I was surprised that this was not served with toast or something similar such as oatmeal biscuits. I would recommend that this be added.

I chose the saddle of lamb for my main course. This was very good, the meat tender and succulent, served in a flavoursome jus with a mushroom pate. However, being a trencherman I was a little disappointed there were no potatoes served with the dish. Note to the chef, please add potatoes to your repertoire.

My dessert was ice tea sorbet, refreshing and an ideal compliment to the savoury flavours of the Foie Gras and lamb.

Eva started with crispy pork belly which was served with croutons and salad. This dish had a very strong salty flavour. Eva enjoyed it, however she feels that it would have benefited from an oil based dressing which should be served in a side dish.

Eva chose duck breast with apple sauce served with sarladaise potatoes and a stuffed cabbage leaf. The breast was tender, pink and succulent. The potato and cabbage complimented the meat. However, she felt that the portions of both cabbage and potato could have been a little more generous.

Eva chose mangoes served on a mixture of eggs and cream for her dessert. This was rich and creamy, and proved to be quite filling.

We finished the meal off with some with brandies.

The meal, which included a bottle of Pinot Grigio and pre/post dinner drinks, came to £156 including tip.

Overall Opinion

We enjoyed our visit to Belair House; it is, in my opinion, definitely worth visiting for a special occasion.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Restaurant

Andalucia
Döbelnsgatan 79
Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 15 6660

Website
www.andalucia.se

Overview

Eva and I went to Andalucia, a Spanish restaurant in Stockholm, for Valentine’s day.

Ambience

Andalucia is a warm, friendly family run restaurant. It has brick faced interior walls and a polished wooden floor; which gives a Spanish feel to the restaurant, no mean feat given the heavy snowfall on the streets outside.

Menu

The menu has a large variety of dishes. Traditional tapas, such as fried goats cheese and stuffed artichoke. Appetisers, such as Spanish air dried ham, sizzled king prawns and main courses such as chicken in honey and paella.

Service

The service was friendly and very prompt. The owner took the time to talk to the diners during the evening; making them feel welcome.

Indeed, when one of the other diners (for reasons that escaped me) threw a wine glass across the room hitting another diner, then running out of the restaurant and down the street; the staff were very calm. They arranged some first aid for the hapless victim, and ensured that the police who arrived a few minutes later were properly briefed. Splendid entertainment! I don’t think that happens every night.

Food

I started with the Spanish potato omelette, which was a nice size and an ideal starter.

I chose the tournedos steak in brandy and rose pepper sauce for my main course. I was very pleased with this, the meat was very tender and cooked rare as requested. The sauce was very piquant and flavoursome. The dish was accompanied by a large bowl of potatoes gratin.

Eva had three different tapas dishes for her meal; paella with prawns, scallops in white wine and skewered chicken with chipped potatoes. She enjoyed all three. However, the chipped potatoes were a little undercooked.

We finished with brandy and coffee.

The meal, which included a bottle of Chardonnay, came to around 1500SEK.

Overall Opinion

In my opinion, this is worth a visit if you are passing through Stockholm.
Restaurant

Martini
Norrmalmstorg 4
111 46 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone:- 08 440 3880

Website
www.italmonti.se

Overview

Eva and I were in Stockholm this weekend, visiting a few of our old haunts. We decided to visit Martini, an Italian restaurant, in the centre of town.

Ambience

Martini consists of a bar on the ground floor and restaurant in the cellar. The main restaurant is bright and breezy with white painted walls, resembling the inside of a cave, interspersed with alcoves housing wine bottles. The tables are laid with yellow and white tablecloths, the chairs are metal, shaped and painted to resemble bamboo.

In addition to the main restaurant, there is a large private dining area and wine bar that can accommodate up to 44 people; suitable for parties.

I would make one observation regarding the gents toilets in the restaurant, the hand towels had run out the evening we were there.

Menu

The restaurant eschews the traditional spaghetti bolognese favoured by many other Italian restaurants. Instead the dishes on offer are more imaginative. The menu includes baked salmon, pasta with truffles, pasta with calamares and a special tri pasta feast for two people as well as veal, lamb and steak dishes.

Service

The service was very friendly and personal. However, it was a little “languid”; fortunately we were not in a hurry. Indeed, as the restaurant stays open until 3:00 am at the weekends you can take a very relaxed pace to your meal.

Food

I started with pasta tubes filled with ham and cucumber, served in a cheese based sauce. This was a very rich and creamy dish; flavoursome and generous in quantity. Those of you with lesser appetites would have been satisfied with this dish as a main course. Being a trencherman myself, I was very pleased with my choice of it as a starter.

My main course was chicken breast and leg in a fresh sage and white wine sauce served on a slice of bread. The chicken was tender and succulent, complimented by the very flavoursome sauce. The dish was accompanied by a generous bowl of roasted potatoes. I enjoyed it very much.

Eva started with a mozzarella and basil salad, served with a large slice of bread fried in butter. This was quite a generous portion, Eva was pleased with her choice.

Her main course was skewered halibut and prawns served on a bed of risotto. The flavour was light and delicate, enhanced by the risotto which had been cooked in a gentle stock which did not overpower it.

We finished with coffee and dessert wine.

The meal, including a bottle of Chablis, came to 1306SEK before service.

Overall Opinion

I am happy to recommend this restaurant, both for its food and atmosphere.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Restaurant

Christopher’s
Thistle Victoria
Buckingham Palace Road
Victoria
London

Phone:- 0207 976 5522

Website
www.christophersgrill.com

Overview

Christopher’s is an independently operated American grill restaurant situated in the Thistle Hotel Victoria station.

Eva, Victoria (Eva’s niece) and myself, had a jolly Sunday evening there.

Ambience

The restaurant is stylish, and is set in a splendid high ceilinged room interspersed with pillars decorated in the manner of an ancient Egyptian palace. In addition to the main dining room, Christopher’s sports a trendy cocktail bar which is sleek and comfortable; ideal for pre or post dinner “quaffing”.

Menu

The restaurant’s theme is that of an American grill, as such there is a good selection of grilled meats on offer. In keeping with the American theme, the menu also includes American inspired dishes such as; pumpkin soup, crab cakes and pecan pie.

Service

The service was attentive and efficient, our pre dinner cocktails were swiftly despatched; enabling us to stimulate our appetites whilst perusing the menus.

Fresh baked bread was offered twice; before the meal, and with the starters.

Food

I started with fettuccine which was combined with meatballs, Chorizo and spinach. In my opinion the meatballs, although firm in texture, lacked any discernible taste. I would recommend that the chef adjusts the seasoning accordingly; basil, garlic and black pepper should do the trick.

As a main course I had a 10oz new York strip, rare, with French fries and bernaise sauce. This was succulent and tender; seared on the outside, to seal in the flavour, red and juicy on the inside. The fries were tasty, and the portion generous. The Bernaise sauce, served in a bowl, complimented the steak.

I finished the meal with a couple of Irish coffees, which were very well constructed; the cream being decorated with coffee beans.

Victoria started with pumpkin soup, which was spicy and flavoursome. I regretted not choosing this myself.

Eva had the crab cakes and rocket salad for her starter. The cakes were moist and had a well balanced seasoning.

The ladies both opted for corn fed chicken breast with mashed potato, they were pleased with their choice.

Victoria finished her meal with the satsuma terrine, which bore a passing resemblance to a thick slice of smoked salmon. However, I am happy to say it did not taste like salmon! This served as a refreshing and tangy closing dish to the meal.

Eva finished with the pecan pie, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Chablis, a bottle of water, champagne cocktails and Irish coffees, came to £174 including a £20 service charge.

Overall Opinion

We enjoyed our evening, and will return again at some point in the future.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Restaurant

Chateau Napoleon
Coombe Lane
Croydon

Phone:- 0208 686 1244

Overview

Eva and I spent a very pleasant evening at The Chateau last night.

The Chateau is based in a former country house, and offers high quality continental cuisine in a resplendent oak panelled room; set against the background of Coombe Wood Gardens.

Ambience

The Chateau, in addition to the main dining room, has a separate bar with ample seating and private dining rooms. As it is set in a former country house the rooms are decorated with oak panelling, red velvet seating and a cosy inglenook fireplace in the bar.

Diners are offered their menus in the bar from where the orders are taken. This ensures that you are only taken to your table in the dining room when all is ready.

The restaurant was packed, and you are advised to book.

Menu

The restaurant offers a set menu, a la carte and specials listed on a blackboard. The dishes include lobster with linguine, lobster thermidor, duck breast, smoked salmon with crab and quails eggs and a fully stocked dessert trolley.

Service

We started our evening sitting in the bar, sipping a couple of Kir Royales, whilst perusing the menus.

The service both in the bar, and dining room was friendly. However, as the dining room was full, and there was a private party, the staff were a little overstretched. As such, we were left to our own devices to pour the wine. Additionally, we had a to request a finger bowl (which should have been offered automatically) for Eva’s prawn starter, and parmesan cheese for my starter (which again should have been offered automatically).

Food

I started with the linguine with lobster. This consisted of a very generous portion of linguine in a rich creamy sauce, interspersed with chunks of lobster. I would venture to suggest that the lobster was a little rubber like in consistency.

As a main course I had fillet of steak in a red wine sauce. This was a beautifully tender fillet cooked rare, as requested, in a rich tasty red wine and mushroom sauce.

Eva started with the king prawns, in a hot butter and garlic sauce, which were spicy and succulent.

Her main course was the lamb en croute, tender and flavoursome; although the pastry was a little bland.

The main courses came with a generous medley of vegetables and roast potatoes.

Eva finished her meal with a tangy refreshing summer pudding.

We adjourned to the bar for Irish coffees and brandy.

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Chablis, four Kir Royales, several brandies and Irish coffees (I lost count!), came to £132 including 10% service; maybe a little pricey.

Overall Opinion

We like this place; but would suggest they need to attend to the small, but annoying, idiosyncrasies with respect to the finishing touches such as finger bowls etc.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Restaurant

Elio
17 Limpsfield Road
Sanderstead

Phone:- 0208 657 2953

Overview

Eva and I recently bumped into an ex member of La Brasa’s staff, who now works in Elio and gave us their card; so we decided to try it out last night.

Elio is a traditional family owned Italian restaurant offering an appetising range of meat, fish and pasta dishes.

Ambience

The outside of the restaurant is modest and unassuming. However, the inside is warm, cosy yet spacious. The main dining room has seating for around 50 people, towards the back is a comfortable bar with enough seating for four separate groups of guests.

The ceiling of the bar area is decorated with football shirts. The walls are decorated with family photos and memorabilia, together with photos and testimonials of some of the celebrity guests who have dined there.

The dining room has a suspended wooden beamed ceiling hung with Chianti bottles and bunches of grapes.

The tables were laid with light pink tablecloths, napkins and “Tiffany lamps”.

We had booked, and when we arrived we were initially offered a table that was not terribly well positioned. However, after a brief word we were asked if we minded having a drink in the bar whilst another table could be made ready for us. No problem with this, a couple of gin and tonics; whilst leisurely reading the menu is a pleasant way to ease yourself into the meal!

Menu

The restaurant offers a variety of traditional Italian food including veal, steak, pasta and fish. In addition to the printed menu there was a blackboard, which displayed the specials of the day; including lamb shank and mussels.

The wine list is unfussy and inexpensive.

Service

The service was attentive, friendly and efficient. The restaurant was busy, but the owner found time to go round the tables and talk to his guests. Being a family run restaurant all members of the family were “roped into” serving; including the granddaughter, who was on dessert trolley duty.

Food

I started with the cannelloni; which was rich, creamy and warming a good start.

As a main course I tried the lamb shank, which was succulent and braised to perfection; so that meat fell off the bone. This was served in a rich, dark red wine sauce which was exceptionally flavoursome. Sauté potatoes, broccoli and carrots were included in the meal. These were fresh and professionally cooked, not overdone.

Eva started with a very generous portion of mussels in a creamy white wine sauce. They were excellent, the flavours complimented each other no one ingredient overpowering the other.

As a main course Eva had the veal with Parma ham in a sage and white wine sauce; most excellent and not, as can sometimes happen with Parma ham, too salty.

Eva finished off with fresh strawberries which were disappointing, wooden and flavourless; but fresh strawberries in January is a little unlikely!

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Chardonnay, four gins, two Remy Martins and an Irish coffee, came to £81 before tip; good value.

Overall Opinion

We will add this restaurant to our list of favourites, and definitely visit it again. Salut!

Friday, January 03, 2003

Restaurant

Tower Restaurant
Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1JF

Phone:- 0131 225 3003

Website
www.tower-restaurant.com

Overview

The Tower sits on top of the Museum of Scotland and offers an exceptional view of the castle and skyline of Edinburgh. It specialises in Scottish produce, including steaks and shellfish. The restaurant comprises an indoor rooftop (seating around 100) and outdoor terrace (seating around 70); the restaurant is very popular and you are advised to book (we were told that some people had booked their New Year tables one year ago).

Eva and I, spending Hogmanay in Edinburgh, went there on New Year’s eve. Our booking was for 10:30PM, so we were able to watch the spectacular New Year firework display.

Ambience

The restaurant is elegant and sleek, it eschews the traditional tartan and stuffed animal trophy decorative style favoured by some other Scottish restaurants. Instead the décor is bright, airy and tasteful; polished wooden floors complimenting the lightly stained wooden table tops. A floor to ceiling window runs the full length of one side of the restaurant, so if you are fortunate enough to have a window seat you have an unparalleled view of the castle. However, should you have one of the other tables you will still be able to view the skyline. We were fortunate enough to have a window seat, I am pleased to say the that the double glazing and heating was efficient enough to ensure that we did not feel cold.

When we arrived at the Museum of Scotland we were greeted by a uniformed commissionaire, who ticked our name on a list and showed us to an elevator. This took us to the fifth floor where we were greeted by the Head Waiter, who had been telephoned by the commissionaire; to let him know we were on our way up.

Rather impressively, despite being New Year’s Eve (with all the potential for people delaying their departure); our table was ready, and we were seated immediately.

The restaurant was full, but close to midnight all the diners and staff put their coats on and stood out on the terrace to watch the fireworks, we were lazy and decided to stay in the warm; but we still had a splendid view. I am rather relieved that unlike other restaurants, at New Year, there was no enforced communal singing or hugging; save for handshakes and “happy New Year” from the staff.

Menu

The restaurant offers a variety of traditional Scottish food (prepared with imagination) including; steaks, lamb shank, oysters, crab, liver, roast roots and fish. Even the bread was a special mustard based recipe!

The wine list is extensive and rather sensibly, in my view, is divided into sub sections offering diners a choice of price brackets.

Service

The service was attentive, very friendly and efficient. Our Kir Royales and menus arrived within a matter of minutes of us being seated.

There were a good number of staff on duty who, even though they were working on New Year’s eve, ensured that orders were promptly and efficiently despatched. Half an hour before midnight we were asked if we would like to order a drink to toast in the New Year; that afforded them a well deserved break, so that they could watch the fireworks with everyone else.

Food

I started with the lentil and ham soup, warm rich yellow (evocative of the season) complimented by thin slices of ham placed in the centre; full marks.

As a main course I had a 12oz fillet steak, rare. This was succulent and tender; seared on the outside, to seal in the flavour, red and juicy on the inside. The steak was served with onion rings, hand cut potato wedges and roasted root vegetables; an excellent choice.

I finished with an orange sorbet, smooth and creamy, which was a little more than I could handle.

Eva started with duck parfait, a very generous rich and succulent portion served with toast. She was very pleased with it.

As a main course Eva had the lamb shank which, in keeping with the imaginative style of cuisine, was served with a portion of lam cutlet and loin of lamb. The shank had been braised to perfection so that the meat literally fell of the bone. The dish came with creamy mashed potatoes. Eva thoroughly enjoyed it.

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Chablis, a bottle of water and two glasses of champagne, came to £121 before tip; exceptional value.

Overall Opinion

I have absolutely no hesitation at all in recommending this restaurant; definitely a cut above some of the other restaurants who offer “traditional Scottish fayre”. We will be dining there again when we return to Edinburgh.