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.

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.