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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Restaurant

Beulah Spa
41 Beulah Hill
London

Phone:- 0208 6532051

Overview

Eva and I went to the Beulah Spa, part of the Harvester chain, on Sunday evening.

The Beulah Spa is a family restaurant which serves steaks, chicken and burgers. The Beulah Spa does not accept bookings, so you have to take a chance and hope that they can fit you in.

Ambience

The Beulah Spa is a converted pub, and houses a restaurant and adjoining bar. The Harvester chain is themed rural.

We started off with a drink in the bar area, which was very busy, more resembling an airport departure lounge than a cosy bar.

I would like to make a number of observations concerning the housekeeping, and general ambience:

  • The bar was awash with spilt drinks, and needed to be wiped down.


  • The same was true for some of the tables in the bar, including ours.


  • The Beulah Spa allows children, and therefore has a collection of crayons and puzzles for children to doodle on at each table. Unfortunately, no one had bothered to tidy up at our table. The crayons, and half completed puzzles, were scattered over the table and floor.


  • The background music, which invaded both the bar and restaurant, was targeted at the under 20’s; despite the fact that the customers were from all age groups. The music was loud and intrusive.


  • On two separate occasions, each lasting five minutes, an alarm went off behind the bar. The extremely irritating high-pitched beeps were finally stopped when several people went to the bar to complain.


  • Eva tells me that the floor of the ladies was awash with paper.


We finished our drinks and went to our table, which provided a nice view of an overflowing waste bucket (this of course should have been emptied, or moved from our line of sight).

Menu

A reasonable selection of steaks and chicken dishes were on offer. However, I would point out that at other steak houses you are given the choice of 8oz, 12oz and 16oz cuts, the Beulah Spa only offered 8oz.

My menu card still had the remains of the previous diner’s meal splattered across it, it should have been wiped clean first.

Service

Our waitress was polite and efficient.

There was an excessive delay between the starter and main course. I assume that this was due to a backlog in the kitchen.

Food

I started with the potato skins, these were not too bad. They were covered in a very large dollop of sour cream, cheese and a tangy barbecue type sauce (the latter was in my view excessive for the size of the portion).

I chose the sirloin, medium, with fried eggs for my main course. The steak was overcooked, and although not impossible to cut was not as tender as it should have been. I would not give it high marks for flavour either.

The fries, peas and onion rings that accompanied the meal were ok.

As part of the Harvester experience you are invited to help yourself to the salad cart. This provided a good choice of tomatoes, cucumber, potato salad and other items that were fresh and of good quality.

Eva started with the deep fried prawns in breadcrumbs. These were fine, cooked golden brown and not greasy.

She chose the chicken stack for her main course. This consisted of two grilled breasts of chicken sandwiching a gammon steak. The dish was garnished with melted Emental cheese and barbecue sauce. This was accompanied by a large baked potato with sour cream and peas.

Eva felt that the dish was quite nice, although the cheese was bland and the potato only luke warm.

The meal, which included a bottle of Chardonnay, came to £43 before service.

Overall Opinion

In my view you can find better value bistros with better quality food, and a far more attractive atmosphere, in central Croydon and the suburbs.

I recommend that the Harvester chain revamp their menu, and improve the selection and quality of the meat.

The Beulah Spa needs to pay close attention to their housekeeping. This is, in my opinion, not worth visiting unless the points raised are addressed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Restaurant

The Bleeding Heart Tavern
19 Greville Street
Hatton Garden
London
EC1N 8SQ

Phone:- 0207 242 2056

Website www.bleedingheart.co.uk

Overview

Eva and I found ourselves out and about in the Smithfield area of London, on Friday evening. This afforded us an ideal opportunity to try The Bleeding Heart Tavern. This offers a selection of spit roasts and other British meat served with a French twist.

It is open Monday to Friday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ambience

The Bleeding Heart Tavern restaurant is in the basement of the Bleeding Heart Tavern. Although it had no windows, it was modern, light, bright and cheerful.

The floors were stripped wood, the walls were painted a light yellow and decorated with large pen and ink drawings of chickens, cows and pigs. Lighting was provided by spotlights recessed in the ceiling. The tables were laid with linen cloths and napkins.

The restaurant was not very busy that evening, and even though we had not booked, we were given a nice large round table in a booth in the corner.

The staff, all French, were very friendly welcoming and efficient.

Menu

The menu offered a very good selection of British dishes including; onion and ale soup with cheese croutons, tartar of Scottish salmon and mustard on toast, poached free range egg on a crunchy vegetable salad, slow-cooked pork belly with an organic white bean stew, poached haddock topped with a poached egg on mash with hollandaise sauce and rabbit and ratte potato casserole with whole grain mustard sauce.

The meat is sourced from Smithfield, so it should be of good quality.

There were two wine lists available, one more detailed and extensive than the other.

Service

As noted the staff were friendly and efficient. The restaurant was not that busy, and so we received 100% attention; even down to the refolding and sculpting of my napkin between courses.

Food

I chose the black pudding on brioche for my starter. This dish consisted of chunks of black pudding interspersed with chunks of apple resting on a slice of warmed brioche. The dish was accompanied by a rocket salad, drizzled with grain mustard.

I was very pleased with my choice; the taste of the black pudding was well complimented by the apple, and the brioche provided an excellent base to soak up the juices.

I had half a spit-roasted chicken for my main course. This was a very generously proportioned corn fed bird, its flavour was tender and succulent. It was served with roasted potatoes in their skins and caramelised carrots and parsnips together with French beans. The chicken was served with a light jus, and tasted absolutely superb. An excellent choice, even if I say so myself!

Eva started with the tartar salmon. This was rather similar to the gravad lax served in Sweden. It was quite pleasant, but lacked the smokiness of smoked salmon (self evident, as it was not smoked) which I prefer.

Eva chose the roast pork for her main course. This was rather splendid, as it was stuffed with black pudding. Served with jus, it was accompanied by the same vegetables as my main course. I tried some of it, and was very impressed; the taste and flavour were well complimented by the black pudding.

I finished off with a dessert, a rarity for me. I chose the sherry trifle. Absolutely unctuous! Thick double cream, cherries and sponge soaked in an ocean of sherry. Top marks!

The meal which included pre dinner cocktails, Chablis and liqueurs came to £92 before service.

Overall Opinion

A very enjoyable evening, the Bleeding Heart is definitely worth visiting.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Restaurant

The Harbour Room
Pomme d’Or Hotel
Liberation Square
St Helier
Jersey
The Channel Islands

Phone:- 01534 880110

Website www.pommedorhotel.com

Overview

Whilst we were on holiday in Jersey we tried the Harbour Room, the restaurant of our hotel the Pomme d’Or, for breakfast and dinner. The Harbour Room serves traditional English food. The breakfast is the full English buffet, and the dinner is a buffet carvery.

Ambience

The Harbour Room was spacious and comfortable. As the name implies it overlooks St Helier harbour.

The restaurant was pleasantly decorated; tables laid with linen cloths and napkins, the cutlery good quality silverware.

In the centre of the Harbour Room were two large buffet serving stations, where diners serve themselves their breakfast and dinner.

Despite this being a buffet style restaurant, there were a good number of staff on hand at both breakfast and dinner to serve wine, coffee and indeed to help serve you the buffet.

Menu

The breakfast menu was very substantial, and included; sausages, eggs (fried, boiled and scrambled), bacon, beans, fried bread, mushrooms, kippers, porridge, hams, hash browns, black pudding and tomatoes.

The carvery dinner menu also offered a good selection including; roast joints of beef and lamb, chicken, fish, vegetables and a fair selection of cold cuts and salads for starters.

Service

There was a good number of friendly efficient staff, who were on hand to serve wine, coffee and generally help make the breakfast/dinner as enjoyable and relaxed as possible.

Food

At breakfast we tried a little of everything. I am happy to pronounce the food as first class, hot, properly cooked but neither greasy nor dry.

An excellent way to start to the day!

At the carvery for dinner we tried many of the starters. They were reasonably good, as far as they went. However, we were a little disappointed that there was not such a good selection of seafood (eg lobster or crab) on offer as one might have expected in Jersey. That being said I understand that every Friday evening they serve a special seafood buffet in the Harbour Room.

We tried both the beef and lamb for our main course, which were craved by the chef. The joints were cooked medium rare, and were succulent, tender and of good quality.

The potato and vegetable selection were decently cooked, and complimented the meal.

The cost of the breakfast was included in the price of our room. Our dinner, which included a good bottle of Medoc, came to £55.

Overall Opinion

Good food, and good value for money, served in very pleasant surroundings. Even if you are not staying in the hotel; the Harbour Room is worth popping in to one evening, or indeed one morning.



Thursday, April 15, 2004

Restaurant

La Capannina
65 Halkett Place
St Helier
Jersey
The Channel Islands

Phone:- 01534 734602

Overview

Eva and I spent a few days over Easter on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. We were walking around St Helier (the capital) on Friday evening, looking for a place to eat, and came across La Capannina an Italian restaurant.

Ambience

La Capannina is a traditional Italian restaurant in the heart of St Helier. It is quite large, but cosy and welcoming.

Despite the fact that we had not made a reservation, and that it was 10PM, the maitre d’ welcomed us and readily agreed to find us a table.

We were first ushered to a table near the bar, where we had a pre dinner cocktail and a mini slice of delicious pizza whilst perusing the menu.

The restaurant was very pleasantly decorated. The bottom half of the walls were knotty pine and top half painted blue. Photos, paintings and memorabilia were liberally displayed throughout the restaurant.

The tables were laid with linen cloths and napkins. In one part of La Capannina was a display table, on which proudly sat two magnificent smoked hams. Adjacent to the table was a large silver domed serving trolley, which housed the roast of the day.

Once we had placed our orders we were ushered to our table which overlooked the hams, a splendid view!

Menu

The menu was very extensive. In addition to the usual pasta and meat dishes, that you would expect in an Italian restaurant, the menu had a variety of local fish dishes and specials such as; roast spring lamb carved from the trolley and foie gras.

Service

There was a good number of friendly efficient staff, dressed in white jackets and bow ties, on duty. The food was served professionally and promptly.

The matire d’ was very accommodating when seeing my deliberation over whether to have the poussin or the roast lamb. He suggested that he could cut me a few slices of lamb as well, and serve it as a side dish, so that I could have best of both worlds.

Food

We both chose the scallops to start with. These were mouth-watering. Each of our starters consisted of two large scallops served in their shells, covered in a rich creamy cheese sauce surrounded by piped mashed potato. This was absolutely first class.

I chose the poussin for my main course, with the side serving of lamb (I was “pigging out” that evening!).

The poussin was a very generously proportioned bird, with plump succulent breasts. It had been stuffed with rosemary and bay leaves and roasted to perfection. It was served from a silver platter with a garnish of tomatoes, bacon and mushroom. There was a rich flavoursome gravy, and a smooth bread sauce to accompany it. The poussin was excellent, cooked to perfection; moist, tender and succulent.

I had sauté potatoes, carrots, beans and broccoli to accompany it. These too were cooked just right.

My lamb side dish was also exceptional, the lamb was flavoursome and tender. To my view, if I had died then and there my life would have been complete.

Eva chose the local scampi for her main course. These were far superior to the processed mush served by other establishments. The scampi were plump, juicy and had texture. They were deep fried in a light crispy batter that was not at all greasy.

The meal, which included cocktails a good bottle of Chablis and liqueurs, came to £101 including service.

Overall Opinion

I have no hesitation at all in recommending this restaurant. Indeed it is almost worthwhile visiting Jersey just to take the opportunity to dine here. We most certainly will be visiting again.