Sadaf

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sadaf

We had never been to a Persian restaurant before so we decided to try Sadaf which is located in West London. This cozy place is located about a five minute walk from Bayswater station which is just long enough to build up the appetite after a long day at work.

We were warmly welcomed at the entrance by the manager – there is no reception but as the tables are well spread out waiters have the opportunity to welcome you at the door. This is refreshing from a lot of the Middle Eastern restaurants in London where they squeeze as many tables into the room as possible.

The restaurant is warm and welcoming with Persian paintings and art work on the wall (could be slightly tacky but it does emphasis the Persian menu I suppose).  We ordered a bottle of merlot and decided to go for the mixed starter which included a mix of traditional cold dips and pitta bread. The dips were authentic and clearly homemade but it would have been nice to have a change from the regular dips that you find in most Middle Eastern restaurants.

For main course we ordered the mixed grill for two which included; chicken kebabs, lamb chops, minced lamb and a baby chicken. This was served with a spicy rice. The meat was well cooked and had a nice heat to it and the rice was al dente but I would have liked it to have more of a kick to it. We got through the first bottle and ordered a second as eating lots of protein and carbs is thirsty work! Seriously though I think the dishes could have been improved with a yoghurt or equivalent dip – yes I know that may not be traditional in Persian cuisine but still.

We really liked this place; the manager came to check on us at the end of the meal and even had time for a quick chat. Our waiter was efficient and friendly, the atmosphere is warm – although trying a little hard in its décor and the food was well cooked and seasoned.

           Food                                Service                      Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

sadafmeat

Thai Silk

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 thai silk

 We fancied Thai food and did not fancy traveling far so Thai Silk in Southwark seemed the obvious option. We had not been before but had heard of the place through friends. The restaurant is located in a back street in the area under the station arches – which adds a great atmosphere to the large restaurant. The restaurant is split into two, which is accessed by a side corridor. The second area is a bar and casual eating area.

We wanted a drink beforehand but the bar was closed for a private do, so instead we had a couple of cocktails at our table before eating. As we walked in the waitress welcomed us in the traditional Thai manner of bowing and were at constant hand. They seemed to like running whenever they were given a request.

We chose the  set menu which was priced at a wallet pleasing £20.95. This includes; starter, soup, two main course dishes, vegetables, rice/noodles and dessert. For starter we were served a butterfly wantons, chicken satay, chicken wings, corn cakes, fish cakes and crispy noodles. This was served with a couple of dips. The food was piping hot and clearly cooked fresh although the fried dishes were a little too greasy for me.

 The soup served next was delicious; a hot and sour chicken coconut soup. My only wish was that it was bigger – but then I would have not got through the next courses! We ordered a bottle of red once we had downed the last dregs of our strong cocktails.

 There was a selection of main course dishes that we could choose from and we went for the chicken Thai green curry and the stir fried beef with cashew nuts and chili’s. The curry was rich and the chicken melted in the mouth. The beef dish came in a thick sweet sauce which worked well with the nuts and spicy chilis. The dishes were served with vegetables and rice. We really enjoyed this.

 We were well and truly stuffed but the dessert was yet to come, fortunately this was a light fruit salad platter which cleansed the palette and didn’t make our expanding waistline burst.

 We really liked the friendly staff, the freshness of the food and the fact that we dined under the arches. Although the décor is Thai in style it is not tacky and brash. There is a gentle buzz with diners coming in and out as well as a steady takeaway trade. We would recommend trying this place.

                 Food                             Service                      Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Tas – Southwark

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 tas

Tas is a traditional Turkish restaurant which has a number of outlets across London. Don’t let this not put you off as they do try to make the food as authentic as possible however the atmosphere has a slightly chain restaurant feel as tables are very close together and there is a quick turnaround service. We went to the Southwark restaurant which was incredibly busy but we managed to get a table with only a ten minute wait.

We were squeezed on to table between two other small tables; firstly it was hard getting in and out but most importantly we overheard the conversations of the two couples on either side of us. Actually we got chatting with one of the couples as we were so close but it really isn’t ideal.

We ordered a meze which included a whole host of dips and pitta bread, this included humus, taziki, artichoke hearts cooked in olive oil with carrots, tarama salata etc. These were lovely and came out quickly but because of the fast turn around and buzz of place we felt like the dips would come out of great buckets – as I said it tasted good but lacked finesse.

This was then followed by our mixed grill which was served with a small round of tomato couscous. This included lamb chops, beef and chicken pieces in a spicy seasoning. This course was less satisfying as the meat was all over cooked and the couscous lacked any real flavour. The food really felt like it was conveyer belt and just shoved on the plate. The issue here is that there is just so many customers and so food needs to be cooked and made in bulk.

Service is very fast and so therefore lacks any social elements or small pleasantries but that suited us fine as we don’t like over friendly waiters. Over all we find the food is less ‘authentic’ than it first appeared to be looking at their site but half of the reason for this is down to the sheer amount of tables they serve each night. The decor is unremarkable but being so close to other diners is uncomfortable.

               Food                             Service                      Atmosphere

2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

mixed grill

The Delaunay‏

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Having heard the buzz around The Delaunay, we thought it was about time we gave it a try. This restaurant classes itself as a ‘Grand European Restaurant’ and it certainly lives up to this. The food menu hosts a series of Belgium, German, Hungarian, Austrian and English dishes which are set in the grand brasserie restaurant. The decor is more British with dark oak tables, golden trimmings and some amazing oil paintings. You do need to book in advance as it is quite popular, with a constant buzz of breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas and dining customers. As an aside the afternoon tea did look delicious.

We were seated at one of the booth tables with the crisp white table clothes and napkins and were given the all day menu and extensive wine list. We ordered a bottle of Hungarian Shraz – it tasted better the more we drank, put it that way. For starter we ordered the beetroot and goats cheese salad and the roast squash salad. The beetroot salad was served with a vinegar dressing and hazel nuts which added to the overall texture. The squash dish was served with nicely cooked quail eggs which were still liquid in the centre and ran over the artichokes and pecorino which was also part of the dish. Our waitress was clearly from the DACH region based on her accent which was  brisk and efficient in nature.

Our main course we ordered the wiener schnitzel and roast scallops and prawns. The schnitzel was not served with sides so we ordered chips and spinach. The schnitzel was a little dry – a common issue with schnitzels I find, but was well seasoned and not overly rich. The scallops and prawns were served with a cauliflower puree, artichokes and paprika oil giving a spicy kick. The seafood was well cooked although a little oily for my liking.

 Overall we were satisfied with the menu but we are not a huge fan of the dishes from that area of Europe. The service was very German in its straightforwardness which was a refreshing change and the decor is grand and inviting – I would say this is more British than European in style. Final thing, we loved the postcards of the restaurant in black and white that you can purchase which has an honesty box.

                  Food                           Service                     Atmosphere

3 Stars3 Stars4 Stars

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Momo

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 Momo is a lovely Moroccan restaurant situated on Heddon Street, just of Regents Street. It serves North African cuisines and is frequented by locals and natives alike. This place is great for a drink and shisha outside –which is covered by bushes from the main side street – or for dinner, which is exactly the reason we visited that night.

 We had arrived a little early so we ordered a cocktail with waitress outside in the terrace area. The waiting staff seemed a little confused and it took a while to order but oh the cocktails are very good. The drinks menu is huge and they have the cocktail of the week which is at a reduced price.

 Once our table was ready, we went were seated in the corner of the beautifully ornate restaurant. There is a huge amount of attention to detail on the furnishings and settings. The walls are white washed and lets the furnishing speak for itself. Even the cutlery and glasses were ornate. We ordered the tasting menu which included a Momo special (a vodka, mint and lemon cocktail) with a meze starter of cheese & mint, chicken & seafood pastries and baked aubergines, scallops with aubergine chutney and finally yellow beetroot and wood pigeon pastille. They were delicious, spicy, meaty and so satisfying.  The scallops and pigeon were my favourite dishes (I managed to get those plates closer to me).

 As we had downed our cocktail we thought we ought to order a bottle of red – yes I know my liver – with some water. The water took about 45minutes to arrive – thankfully the wine was much quicker. It was clear that there was a confused service which was not helped by the number of waiters that were serving us. It is so much cleaner when you have one waiter serving a section – though I am no restaurant owner.

For main course we both ordered the lamb tagine with globe artichoke and green vegetables. There were four other options; fish, Moroccan chicken, chicken tagine and a couscous dish. We had asked ahead if this came with couscous and were told yes however when the dishes were served there was none. We asked if we could add this for an additional payment and were served this after a slight delay. The tagine I have to say was delicious – although really should be served with couscous to soak up the juice. The meat fell off the bone and the sauce was rich.

We had quite a wait for our dishes to be cleared and desert to come but we were not disappointed. The dessert is a selection of Moroccan pastries that are incredibly sweet, sticky and authentic. Although full, we managed to find room. This place oozes sophistication while being authentic and simple. The food is incredibly tasty and generous however the service does let it down. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

                 Food                           Atmosphere                                Service

4 Stars5 Stars2 Stars

momo-london-Tagine-627x422

 

Chez Elles‏

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Chez Elles is a French bistroquet located in the heart of Brick Lane and subtly located between a news agents and an Indian sweet shop. Entering the restaurant, the decor is an odd combination of shabby chic designed by Toulouse La lautrec and Alice in Wonderland combined. It is kind of sweet in a strange kind of way.

We were seated by a nervous French waiter (all of the staff are French which we loved) and we ordered drinks – he got these wrong as he really did struggle with English but his passion to please and accent made us forgive him in an instance.

There is a set lunch menu and we ordered the pate, the artichoke and celeriac soup and the goat’s cheese salad. The soup was thick and creamy and full of flavour and the goat’s cheese salad was surprisingly satisfying. One of the pates did not come out and now I do not blame the service, unfortunately one of the other people at our table (I will not mention names) ordered a dessert instead of a starter but had a mind blank  when the waiter came to ask if she ordered my dish and said yes, so I had to ask for another pate.

For main course, we ordered duck confit with dauphinois potatoes, the mushroom tart and the tartare – a favourite of mine – however the texture was too course for my liking and included too many pickles and capers to be enjoyable. The waiter did ask if we enjoyed the meal as the two people who ordered the tartare had not eaten much of the dish. I appreciated that.

I have to say I would not make a special visit to go again the food was fresh and traditional, the décor cute although slightly random and the service a little confused at times but always friendly.

As a result Sex Drugs and Bacons Rolls gives this place:

            Food                             Service                           Atmosphere

3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

chez1

 

The Swan Inn – Amersham

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This New Year we fancied something low key so our old friends invited us to a meal at The Swan Inn in Amersham. We had never been and the menu looked inviting and well priced so thought we would give it a go. The Swan is a traditional pub that serves modern British food and located in the pre-Saxon town of Amersham.

Two of us were to be an hour or so early so we decided to call to see if we could get nibbles before (our booking was at 9.30pm, which was too late for our English bellies to cope with, without food ahead) and it was a good job we did. Okay we admit we had read the reviews that said that often food was not avalaible on the menu and that bookings were often lost, so we called the restaurant asking them if nibbles were an option. Sure enough they had not got a booking under the name  – despite booking this, weeks in advance and it was New Years Eve! So as a result they had not got our pre-ordered food. We were quite shocked and it did initially grey our thoughts of the place.

When we did get there we ordered drinks from a wide wine, beer and cocktail selection until our friends arrived. When they did we were seated upstairs which is away from the rowdy bar downstairs and is lovely with its old beams and old fashioned ceilings. From then on the service really did pick up – maybe because we created such a fuss when booking four times over!

As we had pre-ordered, our food came out when we were ready. First of all we ordered a Moet – I am not one to order expensive champagne in a pub as I always have the voice in my head that we can get it half price in our local Tesco but maybe that’s the commoner in me – which was lovely way to kick of NYE. We ordered the scallops with pea puree, the smoked salmon with capers and the pork belly with ginger beer glaze. My scallops were clearly not fresh and were served without the coral. I get that it is New Year and fresh fish is hard to come by but in that case do not offer it on the menu. The smoked salmon was fresh and not too smokey, just how I like it. The pork had a good layer of fat and nice crispy crackling that went with the sticky dressing. Overall we enjoyed the starter.

We moved on to a bottle of red to go with our main course, two of us ordered the Beef fillet Wellington served with mushrooms and a marsala sauce and myself and one other diner ordered the duo of lamb that came with fondant potaoes and roasted tomatoes. Now the wellington dish was double the size of our lamb dish. One dish looked hearty and satisfying – perfect for soaking up all of the alcohol we were drinking and then the other dish looked as if it came from the Nouvelle cuisine school of cooking. I honestly think dishes need to be the same in terms of size in the same restaurant. The lamb to be fair was well cooked and looked very beautiful however I would have liked to have been asked how I wanted my meat cooked as I prefer pink not well done. The beef wellington, as I mentioned, was huge with a thick pastry around a huge chunk of beef. The beef again was over cooked to our liking but then again I suppose they had a large number of ordered on NYE (that’s not quite true as it was not that busy at 9.30pm but still.)

For dessert we ordered the Eton Mess and cheese and biscuits. I am not a dessert person but the others finished it off quickly so I assume it was good.

The service really did make up for the fact that they lost our reservation as the staff were friendly and regularly topping up our glasses and seeing if we were okay. The atmosphere was cozy, quaint and just what we were after for New Year however the food was a little hit and miss. Maybe this was because of the pressure at New Year. Final comment is that a pub doing a New Year’s Eve menu should not close the bar at 11.55 – if we had known that we could have made plans for when the clock stroke midnight.

           Food                            Service                            Atmosphere

3 Stars3 Stars4 Stars

 swan1

Chino – Park Plaza Riverbank London

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chino

We had a work event in the hotel so arranged for lunch and tea in the restaurant and bar area. We had booked around three weeks in advance but when we arrived the flustered waiter clearly did not have our name down but after an awkward five minutes sat us down at a table for two- we had booked and said two minutes before that this was for three. The dizzy waiter then succeeded in putting the menus in front of our face – like a wall – which ensured that we could see nothing other than the font of the menu. It was rather funny. We ordered water and were asked if we wanted to order. As we were waiting for another we declined – which did not stop the hapless waiter asking us another time. Bless him he did try to please but failed so badly.

Our other diner arrived and we gave her the menu to avoid the awkward ‘menu fortress’. The waiter clearly decided not to come over to us to ask our order- even though we were now a team. Finally we got the attention of a more capable waitress who took our order; miso soup and  crispy duck, cucumber, chilli, spring onion & hoisin sauce for starter. For main course we ordered three dishes; fillet steak on sizzling black  rocks, monkfish tail, yuzu kusho dressing, yuzu jelly and the Thai Panang curry served with crinkled vegetables.

The food was delicious, well cooked, seasoned and presented. The steak came out sizzling for a good five minutes and cooked as it sat on the scolding rocks. The curry was thick and came out with fragrant rice. The crisp vegetables were fried and added extra depth to the dish. The monkfish was meaty and well cooked with the slightly sweet yet salty dressing. We did all agree however the dishes came out in a sporadic order which was not ideal. The attention to detail was great. Our drinks were topped up on an ad hoc basis – basically when the waitress noticed us, not when the energetic male waiter did.

Its’ a shame as this place tries hard; atmosphere is very feng shu, food is top notch but when the service is almost comic like (I would compare to Faulty Towers) it’s not worth it. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

           Food                            Service                        Atmosphere 4 Stars Star3 Stars chinobeef

Rextail

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rextail

We have heard of this fashionable little venue in the heart of Mayfair so we wanted to know what all the fuss was about. It’s pretty quiet at lunch but we made the most – asking if we could dine in the bar area so that at least there was a bit more life. Our bar man was a bit nervous but did want to please. We asked him about the unusual name of Rextail but we are still unsure where this came from. If you now please feel free to comment below.

The restaurant is on the basement floor and is long and narrow, decorated with buffalo heads, cluttered objects and bright red seats offsetting the grey walls. It kind of worked but not completely. We ordered a couple of G&T’s to start and then a bottle of good red for our meal. We ordered from the set menu. Starter was agreed to be the German sliced ham (sorry I forgot the exact name on the menu) which was served on a wooden board with rocket. It was lovely and there was a generous selection although I did not think the ham. For main course, we ordered the salmon with roasted brussels and the pasta. The pasta was clearly homemade and cooked to perfection. My salmon was delicious but a little small to my liking. On the whole we were satisfied.

As we ordered a dessert wine the delightful waitress offered us a huge log of a dessert which was light pastry layered with cream. This was on the house – probably as we had drunken as much as we had eaten. But the staff were really lovely and although not keen on the décor and atmosphere the service and good food made up for this. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

           Food                              Service                  Atmosphere

4 Stars4 Stars3 Stars

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