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11b Stoney Street, Southwark, London SE1 9AD
My recommendation is for the gloriously fresh rock oysters with a glass of Picpoul de Pinet, followed by the beef, Guiness and oyster pie accompanied by a glass of hearty Rioja. If your toes aren't curling by then, you've probably been decapitated, which is ironic as that pie is in fact to die for. Bash in to the crust and sample the rich deep flavours of the meat and porter, then place your unctuous oyster delicately inside, where the salty brine will mix to create a heady combination of light and dark. This is comfort food at it's finest.
I'm going all out and giving it five because the prices are reasonable and it's entirely consistent. Yet to check out their Soho sister but there's always room for a few more oysters.
214 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ
In summary, it's a great street for exploring and wandering down, Bermondsey is a very up-and-coming district, the decor is decent enough although acoustics a little unforgiving, menu nicely simplistic and seasonal, wine brilliantly selected and the service faultless.
I'm tempted to give it four stars but the profusion of drunk shouty suits rather did rather balls it up. My advice to the staff would be to politely ask such bawlers to tone it down.
Overall, worth a punt.
39 Whitfield St, London W1T 2SF
Definitely worth a visit if you like creative cuisine and cocktails.
55-57 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, London SW4 0JQ
204 Ferndale Road, Brixton, London SW9 8AG
16 Brewer Street, Soho, London W1F 0SG
Without hesitation I'm giving R&A five stars and am frankly surprised that so many reviewers have given it four. Either way this should tell you something about the location, atmosphere, decor, food and service here. Pretty much faultless.
In a sense what is so lovely about this place is that it doesn't try too hard to be a great little find, it simply is. Smack in the middle of seediest Soho, with huge windows looking out at the hoardes of mashed up lunatics and uber cool freaks that parade the streets, it has a buzzy atmosphere even on a rare quiet day. Original Victorian butcher's tiles clad the walls, adorned with stylish black and white photographs, then wrought iron meat racks and hooks looming overhead. An unexpected yet effective combination. Then for a total curve ball, how about throw some disco balls in to the mix? This timelessly maverick eaterie embodies all that is Soho about Soho. Crustacea and funk executed with elegance, how can it possibly work? I have no idea, but it does.
If you ever meet a friend in town and they're feeling down or upset about some trivial matter, bring them here for oysters and champagne or a bone dry white and I guarantee you their spirits will be lifted. Seafood platters are a speciality and being something of a pescetarian that suits me just fine, although the unfussy menu caters to many tastes with lamb, veal, steak, sausages, pork and chicken all putting in an appearance. Vegetarian? Forget it.
Notable successes include the native or rock oysters, Cornish crab terrine (no longer available) beef carpaccio - so light and delicate, roasted halibut which was amazingly tender, soft and flavoursome, cooked to the perfect temperature. A solid wine list to wash down this oceanic sustenance. Their Gavi di Gavi is bliss in a bottle as is the Saint Clair NZ Riesling.
R&A is noisy, bustling, cool and reassuringly antiquated. Where they've succeeded is as much in what they haven't done as what they have done. For example resisting the urge to shake cocktails or bring in a dj or start overworking the menu for example by catering to vegetarians. No such folly here. Ok yes it is a bit pricey but do you ever get what you pay for? Yes! Frankly in my opinion restaurants in London don't get much better than this. Long may R&A reign supreme.
66 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7QJ
Seeeeeeeeriously good coffee, great service, mouth wateringly lovely biscuits, cakes, muffins and tarts, totally delicious and warming porridge in the winter, a lovely atmosphere and without doubt one of the best - if not the best coffee hang outs in London, or dare I say the world??? Yes, I dare. I just did, so there!
69-71 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 4QJ
In the vein of true constructive criticism, I will start with the good points about DST. Firstly the location, its smack in the middle of Soho, always a good start. Secondly the decor, very warm, refined and elegant. It makes one feel quite gentrified to dress the part and mosey in for a snifter or two, wot wot. Thirdly the menu selection. There is a wide variety and most palettes are catered for. They have thought about every time of the day, in the style of a five star English hotel which is almost what DST appears to be. Cocktails are fairly inventive, well executed and about right price wise. Finally the wine list seems pretty well chosen and it is good to see a broad representation, although could perhaps do with more from the new world, especially S. America. I think that about says it all on the positive front.
Now for the criticisms he says, lip licking with glee.
The food is not brilliantly executed, in spite of there being a lot of it on offer. Perhaps that is the issue, they have concentrated more on quantity than quality. Sure, they may not be gunning for a Michelin star but if you charge top sterling you should deliver accordingly. Basically the menu in my experience doesn't taste as well as it reads.
Secondly, the service is slapdash at times, in spite of the fact they seem to have a ratio of three waiters to one guest during quieter periods! The rota could do with a little trim here and there for sure. I for one don't enjoy having agitated staff desperately trying to look busy all up in my grill or even on the periphery of vision, when I'm trying to relax or work.
Finally the prices. I'm no big gun when it comes to bucks but seriously, considering they then add service to the tab even if you're sat at the bar.... that's just greedy.
Its a lovely overpriced venue, the staff are pretty attentive although quite starchy, food is fair to middling and atmosphere is pretty good at weekends. A little room for improvement but not bad overall.
19-21 Old Compton Street, 19-21 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JJ
20-06-2011 (updated on 22-06-2011)
This bar and eaterie has now to my mind become something of a Soho institution and has a great atmosphere on a busy Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening. The table windows always get quickly bagged on a sunny day so people can sit and watch the wacky world of Old Compton Street drift by. Drinks are quite creative and the cocktails change quite frequently. The food is nothing amazing but very consistent, always well served and pretty economical. I find it quite pleasing to perch on one of the big solid wooden bar stools where you can watch the grill chefs and the cocktail barmen beavering away, as well as keep an eye on the door to see if anyone special has arrived. I always come here for the laid back style, the happy and friendly staff, the location and the atmosphere, and would recommend it to anyone up for a chilled, friendly evening.
PS - if the owners are reading this, bring back the mussels with bacon and smoked paprika!!!
12 Church Street, Reigate, Surrey RH2 0AN
I'm usually a fan of the Strada chain but had really poor service at this branch on a Friday evening. We were seated in the far corner, beyond a large group table which was a mistake in the first place, especially given that the waiting staff although perfectly sweet are young, inexperienced and not yet properly trained. Starters were reasonable, wine decent enough, all fine. Then the wait for the main course which was in excess of 40 minutes; totally unacceptable especially given that a table of two came, ate and left during our wait. We then dared to order a simple dessert as the restaurant was virtually empty by the time our mains were finished. Our digestifs arrived before the dessert, so we drank them out of pure desperation, then 15 minutes later still no sniff of the dessert!! We got up to leave, half expecting them not to bring the bill, given that they had failed to bring most of the meal, but - surprise - they managed to spot that need. The manager had given us an apologetic glass of wine but made shabby excuses and seemed pretty disingenuous. My view was that this was a poorly managed evening but he sadly blamed his staff. Wouldn't go back.