Chris Gray's Qype reviews
78 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HH
Chris Gray wrote on 6 May 2011
Wandering toward university I was on the look-out for a sandwich. I walked past this place without realising what it was before doing a smart double take, ambling back and heading inside.
I squeezed my way through the closely packed tables (all three of them) to get to the small chiller where there were some sandwiches, baguettes, wraps and assorted drinks. My first thought was that the chiller was quite empty and given that as I had walked through the door I'd overheard a woman on the phone commenting about the price of the place I thought it would be quite expensive. I was about to turn around and walk out, thinking I wasn't going to get a sandwich for less than a fiver but as soon as I spied the price of the sandwiches I was glued to the spot. Around £2.50 for a sandwich which for once had more filling than bread, the baguettes were well priced as well, and looked good so I seized one that was labelled ham and emmental, though I was dubious as to its actual filling, and walked up to the counter where a cheery guy pretty much shouted "Three pounds, mate!" at me.
I was fumbling through my wallet, dodging moths to look for some change when I heard "That'll keep you going for a while!" from the same cheery man. I looked up, smiled and, unsure as to whether he meant the fat around my waistline or the baguette I was holding, I paid and started to squeeze my way back out. On the way I spotted a cakes and pastries counter that was hidden from view as I'd walked in. Everything looked very fresh, lots of fruit tarts, but I didn't hang around too long to check. That was a good thing too as, if I'd actually managed to find a seat, I'd have had to pay extra to sit and eat there which is a charge I'm not a big fan of.
That in mind I wandered off to a bench by the V&A to eat my lunch, which turned out was actually ham, egg mayonnaise and tomato. A surprise but a pleasant one; the filling was very tasty, and a good combination. Unfortunately the bread was obviously a bit older and was chewy, not crunchy and soft as I was hoping for. Ah well, maybe I should have gone for one of the sandwiches instead, and maybe, just maybe, I'll take another chance someday.
No. 7 Sloane Square, London SW1W 8EE
Chris Gray wrote on 4 May 2011
In a restaurant on Sloane Square, you might expect good food and drink but you would definitely expect great service. I was taken here for a pre-theatre meal by my other half's family, 7 of us in total. From the outside The Botanist looked very neat, the black and white exterior with its touch-of-green lighting inside complementing the restaurants name nicely.
Inside you could tell you were on Sloane Square. Suits everywhere, bustling atmosphere and in my jeans and trainers I felt slightly out of place, though there were the odd few guys dressed the same so I wasn't put off. We waited patiently past the bar at the entrance to the tabled section and while waiting got told off by a member of staff for being in the way of the restaurant. We politely remarked we were actually waiting for someone to seat us and with a brief apology she walked off.
Eventually seated we all ordered fairly quickly as the show was ever approaching. The tables were cramped and all very close together as if they had tried to fit as many in as possible. It was quite hard to navigate around and between them on the way in and out, and for seven, the table was very small.
The food was good, but could have been better. My steak was cooked well, but was very fatty though the chips were good though could have been more like an armadillo - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside - as it were they were quite stodgy. Other meals on the table were equally in the category of 'nothing to write home about'. Service was slow and abrupt and prices (though I wasn't paying) were expensive for the quality of the food. Of course though, you are paying for location in this neck of the woods...
However, the redeeming feature for me was the décor. I loved the look of the place, the wooden floor and the walls covered with photos of animals and flowers that looked like they had been taken from an old science textbook were a great touch. Reading other reviews it seems the drinks are the star of the show here rather than the food but unfortunately I didn't volunteer my services for cocktail tasting this time.
90-92 Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea, London SW1W 8BU
Chris Gray wrote on 3 May 2011
I've been to the Rose & Crown a few times, usually whilst undertaking the Circle Line pub crawl and as such I had never really tried their food, or anything but their cheapest half pint of lager... however it was all very near the start of the adventure so my memory was still functional when I got there.
Recently though I went after a giving concert at Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square. I went with the whole of the orchestra I was playing in, and somehow... somehow we managed to pack into this tiny pub with the rest of the regulars. It seemed like a squeeze, though there's definitely a lot more there on Circle Line day, and the landlord told us that there are even more packed in during the Chelsea Flower Show which is nearby. It was quite hard to imagine so many people just in one room, and the Rose & Crown is a small pub. Some of us moved outside to sit on their benches which was better for space, but not for our temperatures!
That soon changed with the arrival of our food. A lot of pubs seem to be cooking up and serving Thai food, but this is the first one I've been to where it tastes anywhere near as good as the Thai restaurants. I had a red curry, a few of my companions had green curries or noodles and we all agreed they were a good effort. The portions were a tad small, however a couple of my friends were full with food remaining and so those of us still hungry polished off theirs too. Lovely grub.
Alcohol-wise their selection isn't the biggest with just a couple of ales and lagers, but for a pub only a couple of minutes walk from Sloane Square, the prices are good. Sure, still more than I might pay in my local in Hammersmith but definitely less than the other pubs around this, dare I say, posh area.
A little pub with a bit of charm, and the lads behind the bar were a good laugh, as was the landlady who came out with our food and managed a bit of banter before realising we were nutters to sit out in the cold and moving back inside to keep herself warm. There were only the two behind the bar which did mean it took a while to get served, and the lack of space and tables led to a cold evening, but an enjoyable one at that.
184 King's Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5XP
Chris Gray wrote on 1 May 2011
This is the only place in west London (that I have found) that sells celeriac remoulade. I love celeriac remoulade and always have to shop for it any time I go to France on holiday. Unfortunately it's not one of those things you can find at any delicatessen in supermarkets in England, but after a few years of searching I finally found this place. It is a pretty expensive shop, and so the price is a lot higher than you'd pay in France but for a treat every now and then, I'm happy to pay the £3 for a tub of the stuff.
The Grocer also sells fresh bread and other salad/sauces/deli type things as well as soups and meat. They have a cafe at the back of the shop, but as it's all fairly expensive I've never bought anything here but the celeriac! However, it is delicious and so I am sure everything else here would be as well. I'm going to have to give it 4 stars purely for the fact that they sell my little vice.
43 Elystan Street, South Kensington, London SW3 3NT
Chris Gray wrote on 1 May 2011
My girlfriend took me here as a surprise for my birthday this year. We'd walked past the restaurant a couple of times, but I'd completely forgotten it was here so when we got to the front door it took my completely by surprise.
The outside looks smart and clean, but also modern, and as soon as you step inside and they take your coat and show you to your table, you know you're in for a treat. The interior is as smart as the outside; beautiful mirrors complement the tables and comfortable seats. I felt like I was approaching heaven, it was that good. And we hadn't even got to the food!
We both chose the lunchtime tasting menu (as it was lunchtime!) and it looked an incredible selection. We chose not to have wine, but went for a water option instead!
The amuse bouche was, I believe, a puree of salt cod with chilli oil and potato crisps to dip. I'm not a fish lover, but it tasted fantastic and a brilliant start to the meal. We had a selection of weird and exciting breads to choose from which were intriguing and still warm! Next up - scallop with beetroot and onions. I love beetroot and so this course was great, scallops cooked to perfection and not overpowered by their accompaniments. For second starter we were presented with a lovely colourful plate of pigeon breast and leg with rolled vegetables and rolled cured pigeon filled with all sorts of deliciousness. I can't remember exactly what the vegetables were filled with and it's not on their menu anymore but there was foie gras, and I believe a blackberry jam. This was my favourite of the savoury courses and I had great fun finding out what was in each roll - there were surprises lurking everywhere such as beetroot to tie in with the first starter and it was the first time I had tasted pigeon which was a delight. Brilliant ingenuity and presentation.
For main we had a choice of two. My girlfriend opted for the paprika sea bass with piquillo pepper and polenta which was a vibrant dish of red and orange colours. I chose the other option - a whiter dish of lamb marinated in ewes cheese, with potato and little breadcrumbed nuggets of cheese, deliciously fried such that they burst open and oozed everywhere. The ewes cheese was fantastic, also grated over the potato and with a lovely thin slice on the side. I'm a massive cheese addict so this was brilliant. All the components worked well together, with little onions on the side to match with the scallop starter.
Dessert was next, the first pistachio heaven with a pistachio millefeuille, parfait, praline and cassonade. Absolutely delicious. My favourite though was to come, a dish of passion fruit mouse, vanilla pannacotta and passion fruit granite served in a little boat. This was great though the fruit-shape of the boat made it hard to get every ounce of sauce out, though I did my best.
Just as I thought it was nearly over, I looked up to see the waiter coming towards me with a large chocolate, decorated with gold leaf and a candle to boot, with a lovely "Happy Birthday". Turns out my girlfriend had asked nicely and the waiter was lovely and obliged. What a great treat.
Finally we had coffee with warm madeleines, each flavoured differently, before saying our thank yous, paying the bill and collecting our coats again. The service was beyond excellent, and even though I didn't foot the bill, the cost was more than reasonable for the quality, quantity and taste of the food, and also for the exceptional service we received from start to finish, and I would have gladly paid more myself. I can't wait for an excuse to visit again, and if only I could give more than 5 stars I would. Wonderful!