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ProfMagellan

Member since 09 Dec 2006
The Wallace Collection
London | Art Galleries
1
great setting, excellent food, service unpredictable
This restaurant is set in the huge glass atrium at the back of one of London's most interesting museums.
The food is continental. I visit quite often: this time I enjoyed asparagus and mushrooms and a tomato tart with salad. There are heavier options too. And a great pudding menu if you are really hungry. It is quite expensive but the stunning setting and the carefully prepared food merits that - not alas the service which, whilst friendly, is a little
eccentric to say the least. My lunch companion, a top commercial lawyer who charges telephone number bills by the hour, was not amused at the endless delays. If you have a couple of hours or three, this is not an issue.
The lawyer did enjoy his food, describing the filet de rouget, which he had as a starter, as most pleasant. He is a man who chooses his words very carefully; so this was praise indeed. I would return but only with my dear (retired) mother-in-law for whom a long lunch is both practical and desirable.
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La Petite Maison
London | French Restaurants
3
La Petite Maison
This French restaurant in the heart of Mayfair was packed for luncheon. No sign of the recession. I had a pretty good steak with a nice battered
courgette starter ("trois saveurs de beignets").
My companion had lived in Paris for two years and is a regular here so they are doing something right. Prices seemed a bit steep (£10.50 for the starter, £33.50 for the steak before adding chips and a salad) and no credit crunch special on offer. The service was all hustle and bustle with no delivery. So slow it was that after a delightful two hours, I had only just received the pudding menu and realized that I had to leave for a meeting.
Shame that some of these places with so much potential are so poorly managed.
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Benares Restaurant & Bar
London | Speciality Restaurants
4
Benares
I enjoyed my lunch at Benares. I was taken here by a top headhunter who works around the corner and says he is a regular (a good sign). The food was delicious, the vegetarian lasagna in particular. I had the set luncheon which came with a splendid non-alcoholic fruit cocktail. It was very comfortable; but its lack of windows perhaps makes it a better winter eating place than summer. Very comfortable with well spaced tables. Service prompt and very courteous. Super location next to the Rolls-Royce dealer: so next time you are checking out a new set of wheels on Berkeley Square...
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Unknown | Unknown
5
Perhaps the best restaurant in London
I became a fan soon after the Square opened (1991) at its original location in King Street, off St Jame's Square.

Ensconced now (since 1997) in Bruton Street, off Berkeley Square,the Square is perhaps the best restaurant in London.

The chef is Philip Howard, a genius, and the proprietor is Nigel Platt-Martin whose efforts over the years have helped to turn the capital city into one of the world's gastronomic centres (it was not like that when I was growing up in London).

In my view, only the Gavroche can compete.

I should add that I do not have much time for ego-driven TV celebrity chefs who appear on quiz shows and in "Hello" magazine - I happily leave all their restaurants to tourists, footballers and C list celebrities.

The thing about the Square is that it is not flashy; and if there are Russian oligarchs and BBC chat show hosts,
there they are at least in a minority. Fellow diners
are quiet and well behaved.

The service is impeccable and always has been. Friendly, professional and discrete. At lunchtime, dishes are served promptly. Arriving at 12.45, I was out by 2.30
having consumed three courses, an amuse-bouche and coffee.

Tables are well spaced and the recent redecoration is modern - but not in some sort of Damian Hirsty over the top way.

The food is fantastic. I am not very fish inclined; so my only criticism is that there is a heavy emphasis on fish.

Still, I have always found something I like; and this lunch was no exception.

The amuse-bouche was a cream of onion soup with a cheesy profiterole on the side. Huge success.

Starter: the tagliarini with truffle source was sensational.

Main: the beef daube with winter vegetables and a wine sauce was perfect to combat a chilly London day.

A nice glass of Burgundy complemented the beef.

And the pudding of Warm Roasted Pear with Tiramisu, 'Dulce de Leche' Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Nougatine was exquisite. Puddings have always been a strong point of the Square. Thec Square does good souffles. Sadly, this time the option was date souffle and I am not partial to dates.


How will the economic collapse affect this London institution? It is located in Mayfair and employs a vast and well-trained equipe; so necessarily prices are high.

I suspect that a wider choice in the fixed price set lunch menu might be the way forward. It was perhaps three quarters full, not bad for January. The few empty tables might previously have been occupied by hedge fund managers, now broke, and scurrying back to whatever part of world they came from.

Fine food is one of life's great pleasures (along with travel); so hopefully the Square will make it through until the green shoots of recovery begin to sprout.

And of course for those lucky enough to have dollars or euros, rather than New Labour Pounds, it is a complete bargain.

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IL Baretto Ltd
London | Italian Restaurants
3
no longer Giusto - now Baretto
Confusingly the name has changed again. It is now Il Baretto and has a swanky wine bar upstairs. Downstairs
is the Italian restaurant unchanged. Still a cavernous space, the opposite of cosy. I enjoyed the food
(venison pasta, courgettes). Service friendly if a bit chaotic. And fairly priced by Marylebone standards.
Much better than the local chains (like the dreadful Strada).
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Rules Restaurant
London | Traditional Restaurants
4
Traditional British food in traditional setting
I was in a bit of a lather when I arrived at Rules
for luncheon with my oldest friend Harry Airborne.
I had the previous evening seen quite the worst play
of 2008, certainly one of the direst which I had ever seen at the Royal National Theatre, all the more disappointing as it was penned by David Hare who usually
is capable of far, far better.
For those who wish to save the price of a ticket, it was called Gethsemane.
So I was much in need of Harry's stimulating and vibrant company as well as an excellent luncheon to restore my sense of equilibrium.
I was not disappointed. It had been some years since I last visited to Rules. I have to say that I found the experience an enjoyable one.
Apart from a cretinous welcome, "You are aware, Sir, that you will nedd to vacate your table by 2.00pm",
the service was courteous and professional.
We chose to share the roast beef which came with a vast Yorkshire Pudding rising up like a Pennine from the plate.
The roast potatoes which might have been a touch crispier. The green veg of the day was an "extra" (brussels sprouts).
As this was the festive season, we both ordered puddings
from the extensive and impressive Rules' list. Harry had the apple and blackberry crumble. I opted for the treacle sponge. We shared a pot of very good custard.
Rules is probably the oldest restaurant in London. It is quiet and comfortable and if you are searching traditional British cooking, it is a great place to go.
Portions are generous: no nouvelle cuisine nor cell phones here. Lots of well behaved and quietly spoken suits and ties.
As an antidote to David Hare's horrid and offensive political views, it was just the perfect place.
Pricing reflects its high service level and Covent Garden location, not cheap but certainly not outrageous.
I would like the green veg to have been included with the main course. Also: can I suggest that, given the adverse economic condition in which many Londoners currently find themselves, Rules introduces a luncheon menu prix fixe?
One nice touch was the inclusion of London tap water on the menu.
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Wild Honey Restaurant
London | Modern Cuisine Restaurants
5
delicious food in Mayfair
Full marks to Wild Honey. A really good lunch. Nice modern room just south of Hanover Square (near Bond Street).
The service was very efficient and friendly and the menu
offered a wide variety of interesting dishes. The puds were especially good. We had an alcohol-free lunch so I cannot alas comment on the wine.
One gripe: there was a good value set lunch on offer but in tiny print buried at the bottom of the menu. Had I had a magnifying glass I might have seen it but it was only at the end of luncheon that I noticed it. I very much liked sister restaurant Arbutus
so my expectations were high and were well rewarded.
Not cheap - but good value as this was fine food in Mayfair.
A postscript: it was raining heavily as we were leaving. My (female) guest asked to borrow an umbrella and presto the maitre d provided one for her. That is the sort of positive attitude that makes one recommend Wild Honey
without reservation.
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Unknown | Unknown
4
Gastronomic Extravaganza
Heston Blumenthal is the Damian Hirst of cooking.
So different from anything else that I have ever experienced that it is hard to know where to begin.
As one writer recently commented, Mr Blumenthal "is not just a cook. He is an illusionist, a scientist, a comedian."
There was certainly lots of theatre, copper pans, smoke
and weird glassware out of Harry potter.
It opened in 1995. After ten years, in 2005, apparently the Fat Duck won the "best restaurant in the world award" (not sure from whom) and it now enjoys three Michelin stars. So they must be doing something right.
So what of the food?
Two excellent amuse bouches: how brilliant that they asked if we had any allergies instead of plonking the amuses-bouches down without asking this sensible question: mustard ice-cream on a bed of cucumber with red cabbage gazpacho sauce, lentils in a passion fruit sauce.
Opting for the a la carte rather than the tasting menu,
I began with the cauliflower and chocolate.
Pork with trufflle macaroni as my main.
Apple Braeburn for pud.
Washed down with a Loire from the extensive wine list - a white wine which was full of character.
My host and luncheon companion, a most distinguished American journalist and writer, had sole followed by the scrambled egg and bacon ice cream.
A good selection of cheeses though nothing alas from Switzerland.
The decor was modern and muted, with a low ceiling and tables quite close together. Service was ok but no commanding presence to make us feel welcome; certainly not up to the standard of the Square or the Gavroche.
Verdict: full marks for originality, very tasty, very different. Portions miniscule in the modern tradition.
Perhaps everyone with an interest in food should go to the Fat Duck at least once to experience this - but I am a traditionalist and on balance prefer to eat at places which are a little bit more conservative. Good fun though and Mr Blumenthal has clearly worked very hard to achieve his huge success.
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Delfino
London | Pizzerias
4
great Pizza in Mayfair
I have always liked Mount Street despite the fact that the most unpleasant person whom I have ever encountered used to have an office there (he has since moved - though not, as I had rather hoped, to HM Prison Wandsworth).
On a drizzly autumn day this place was totally heaving.
Very close to the Connaught Hotel, Delfino is housed in one of those splendid redbrick buildings no doubt owned by his Grace the Duke of Westminster. I am not sure if his Lordship likes pizzas but, if he does, this would be a place he would go. A fabulous selection and, by Mayfair standards, fairly priced (lunch for two plus coffee and mineral water was around £30). Most of the other punters seemed to be hedge fund managers in a hurry. So service was spectacularly fast, efficient and very friendly - from the manager's greeting on arrival to the time we left.
Tables are jam packed together; so good for a quick bite
rather than a big occasion. I would advise booking.
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The Chancery Restaurant
London | English Restaurants
4
delicious food in comfortable setting
I was taken to lunch by a top solicitor whose office is close by. He might be a regular (he denied it) because we got the best table. The Chancery is tucked in a tiny street off Chancery Lane so I imagine that the legal profession accounts for much of its clientele. It was certainly packed with suits when I went there - and no sign of Gordon Brown's recession whatsoever, possibly because lawyers always do well in good times and bad.
The lunch is a set three course affair. I found the starters overly fussy (far too much fish) but so liked the main courses that I opted to have two of those (they did not bat an eyelid bless them) - a sort of asparagus with pasta and a very good lamb. My host had fish. The pudding (a tarte tatin) was excellent. A couple of excellent glasses of Burgundy put the seal on a very good lunch. Service was friendly and unobtrusive.
My host told me that the Chancery has been open for about five years but I had never heard of it.
It really was very good indeed and recession or not it deserves to thrive.
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