Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Grey Goose, Clapham

Saturday lunch with the girls outside at The Grey Goose was lovely, if the food was a bit of a mix.

We just about managed to secure a table with two big parties taking up all the other benches.  Two of us went for burgers and the other two ordered two houmous with feta and pittas and two squid.

The burgers and houmous came first and they were very good, good quality meat in the former and a generous delicious portion of dip with the latter.

The squid when it came a bit later was a big greasy and soggy and actually, too chewy, although this is the nature of the dish.
The service was friendly if scatty (we had bill problems) and the menu is varied so I am sure we will be back.

The back yard could do with some beautifying as well.

One course and half a bottle of wine: £17 per head

Value: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Atmosphere: 6/10

Food: 7/10

SCORE: 26/40

The Grey Goose, 100 Clapham Park Road, London, SW4 7BZ.  Tel: 020 77208902.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hare and Tortoise, Kensington

A pre-cinema bite was needed and High St Kensington being the restaurant black hole that it is we decided that the best way to go might be Hare and Tortoise.

We scooted in rather hurriedly as we had taken too long over the pre-dinner wine and left ourselves tight.  We were seated immediately and both selected the same (adventurously).
Two chicken katsu curries and two beers arrived and they were served by very polite and friendly staff.  The food was presented beautifully and was absolutely delicious.  Big tender pieces of chicken in a light batter, and really flavoursome sauce.  I wish we had had longer, I would have really liked to try some side dishes too.  The restaurant itself is a lot cooler than Wagamama, its obvious comparison, and you have individual tables.  The only downside is that it is much further down the High Street (but nearer the cinema which is a bonus).

One course and a beer: £10 per head

Value: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Food: 8/10

SCORE: 31/40

Hare and Tortoise, 373 Kensington High Street, London, W14 8QZ.  Tel: 020 76038887.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ma Goa, Putney

There were five of us who fancied a curry on an Autumn evening and being in Putney we decided to see if we could get a table at Ma Goa.  Diane had wanted to try it for ages and we were lucky to get a table as it's a popular place and was soon packed out, even on a Tuesday. 

It's smarter than your average Indian restaurant and the atmosphere reminded me of someone's dining room -gentle chatter, soothing colour schemes and soft lighting.

We had beautiful freshly made poppadoms to begin with dips served in small white china pots.  Our starter selections we shared with mixed success; ragra pattice were fried potato and herb patties served with spicy chickpeas (quite spicy but not much too them flavour-wise) and dhai puri were fried puris filled with potato, coriander, yogurt and chutneys (moreish).

Main courses are not your typical Indian choice - I went for zafrani murgh korma which is chicken cooked in saffron, tomato, yogurt, rose water and nutmeg.  It was very mild, tasty but not extraordinary.  The rice was very good though.  Other selections from the group included a bhajee thali which was a vegetable selection, apparently delicious which is a good job because their vegetarian selection is either that or choosing three of the vegetable sides -  they offer no vegetarian curries at all, which is pretty poor.  A special of the day was whole Spring chicken which my friend enjoyed, although it was quite a fiddly dish to eat.  The others both had hot curries which they loved.  A side of spinach was really good - soft and flavoursome but cold.  The service was mixed - two excellent waiters who recommended a nice wine but then when we went to order a second bottle it had run out and two scatty useless waitresses who got in the way and didn't know what they were doing.

We had an enjoyable evening but it was a mixed success - it's expensive for curry so the service and cooking really need to be top notch - they nearly are but just not quite.

Poppadoms, two courses and half a bottle of wine: £30 per head

Value: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Food: 7/10

SCORE: 27/40

Ma Goa, 242-244 Upper Richmond Road, London, SW15 6TG.  Tel: 020 87801767.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Patisserie Valerie, Chelsea

Seriously bad value for money would be my overriding impression of this Patisserie Valerie.  A coffee with a friend ended up taking place at lunchtime and so we decided to order from their limited 'grilled snacks' menu.  A croque monsieur was made from average white sliced bread, some cheap ham and topped with a meagre offering of cheese.  Claire's toastie was just the same - cheap bread and no better than something you whip up in five minutes at home.  They had run out of fresh orange but tried to charge the same on the bill for one from the carton.
The best part of the meal was the coffee, which was very good.

I understand that the location demands high prices, and we sat in a very pleasant courtyard surrounded by beautiful shops and beautiful people, but it's just not that hard to make the food miles better.  Service was also slow and scatty.

One snack, an orange juice and a coffee: £11.50 per head

Value: 3/10

Service: 4/10

Atmosphere: 6/10

Food: 4/10

SCORE: 17/40

Patisserie Valerie, Left Wing Cafe, Duke of York Square, London, SW3 4LY.  Tel: 020 77307094.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Little Italy, Embankment

I had intended a repeat visit to Gordon's but alas, as I suspected, we were thwarted by the flocks of post-work drinkers and lucky tourists who got there before us.

A short walk further up Villiers Street brought us to Little Italy, an unassuming and reasonably priced Italian (the clue's in the name) restaurant.  

Only a few tables were occupied at 7 on a Thursday evening but the service was hurried and two different waiters hassled us for our order within the first five minutes of being there.  However, we chose quickly - house white wine, seafood linguine for Clare, spinach and ricotta cannelloni for me.  Mine was really good and Clare seemed to have no problem polishing hers off, the wine was ok, quite average but very cheap so who's complaining?  We finished with a tiramisu each - not so good this time, I think bought in.

It was a hassle getting the bill after the over zealous initial serving but if you're in the area and would like a good value Italian meal, this could be the place.

Two courses and half a bottle of wine: £20 per head

Value: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Atmosphere: 6/10

Food: 7/10

SCORE: 26/40

Little Italy, 23 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6ND.  Tel: 020 73210137.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hot Stuff, Stockwell

I had wanted to visit Hot Stuff for quite a while and yet I didn't see how I would ever persuade anyone to make the trek to the backstreets of Stockwell.  But then it turned out that one evening my friend and I would be both be in the vicinity and wanting a cheap meal.  Perfect.

I called the day before to book for a Tuesday night and they could only offer me a table for 2 at 7pm or 9pm and when we arrived at 7 I could see why.  The place is tiny and it was packed out.  The clientele looked entirely out of place for the locality as well, which goes to show that it really is a destination restaurant.  

We had poppadams first with some lovely dips, then vegetable samosas and for main we shared a chicken korma and a chicken tikka makhani with pilau rice and a paratha.  Delicious.  Everything had a rich flavour, not oily and not sweet, and the rice was light and and fluffy.

The service too is fantastic - uber friendly and easy going.  It's BYO and they were straight over with glasses.  At the end of the meal the owner comes over and mentally tots up your bill.  We will be back, in a flash, and would make a special journey any day.

Two courses: £9 per head

Value: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 6/10

Food: 8/10

SCORE: 32/40

Hot Stuff, 19 Wilcox Road, London, SW8 2XA.  Tel: 020 77201480.