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.

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.