Friday, February 29, 2008

Quilon, London

41 Buckingham Gate
SW1E 6AF Map

I guess its unfair to say that if Quilon didn't have a Michelin Star I would have enjoyed the meal more, but it's true. During my meal there, I was waiting for the "special something" that would put Quilon on par with Benares (which has a star) and above the Cinnamon Club (which doesn't) but it never arrived.

If, as Fay Mashler suggested in the Evening Standard, Michelin feel that they should give their stars to Asian restaurants to stave off criticism of a French bias, it really devalues their brand. Let us hope that this is not the case.

So, ratings aside, how was the food?

Well, on the whole it was good. I would recommend the egg paratha, which I can only describe as a paratha with an extremely thin omellete inside, and the mashed aubergine part of the Two Type Aubergine dish was excellent, but some other parts of the meal were disappointing - the poppadums tasted a bit stale and one of my fellow diners was very disappointed with his Avyal.

The rasam, that we were presented with between courses was very good - we all agreed on that.

The dessert menu was fairly uninspiring, and none of us were tempted.

The service was fine, a spilt drink was efficiently dealt with, and the food arrived quickly.

We had a good time, but there just wasn't that special something I've come to expect that lifts "starred" restaurants above the normal "run-of-the-mill" restaurant.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kwan Thai, London

The Riverfront, Hay's Galleria,
London Bridge, SE1 2HD Map

For Valentines Day, my wife and I went to Kwan Thai, a Thai restaurant that overlooks the Thames in Hays Galleria, near London Bridge. The vegetarian menu on the a la carte is quite large, however unfortunately we only had the choice of the set Valentines Day menu.

For starters I had a spicy mushroom salad that wasn't bad. It was nicely presented in four lettuce leaves, but parts of it was a bit vinegary. My wife had marinated deep fried crabs, that she said tasted "a bit like medicine" when you got to the middle.

Then we had a soup course, sweetcorn and asparagus (in February?) for me and pork and egg noodle for the missus. There's not much I can say about them, they were nothing special.

For main course I had a Thai Green Vegetable curry which was good, and my wife had a large portion of chicken breast with garlic and pepper sauce, that she said was okay. These were accompanied with a pineapple fried rice served in a pineapple skin and stir fried greens (bok choy and the like) in soy sauce. The greens were lovely, they had a really smokey flavour.

We finished off the meal with a dessert of Thai Crepes with strawberry sauce and ice cream. The crepes were really nice and we both agreed that this was the best dish of the evening.

We had a good table upstairs where we could gaze out across the river and the service was okay - a lot of the reviews I've read mention that the place has rude waiters/waitresses, but we saw nothing of this. The set menu was £30 a head plus tip (12.5% added to bill) and drinks. We'll probably go back sometime to try the a la carte.

Another Culinary Tour of Tunbridge Wells

A while ago, I reviewed a few of the restaurants and cafes in my home town of Tunbridge Wells. Since then, my wife and I have sampled many more establishments, so I thought its was time for another round up.

ID, 26 London Road Map
ID has a nice extensive menu, including vegetarian options and a veggie set menu, although some of the dishes come with oyster sauce, so you'd need to check these to see whether they are using the “Vegetarian Oyster Sauce” that you can get that is made with mushrooms. The service was good, and the food was very tasty. They have an outside patio area that may be nice during the warmer months.

Junahki, 63 St Johns Road Map
The thing that stood out for me was the service. After waiting in the bar area for a few minutes, we were shown to our table which was already set with poppadums and pickles – a nice touch. The food was tasty and there were plenty of veggie options.

Himalayan Ghurka, 31 Church Road Map
I was a little disappointed with the Himalayan Ghurka. I was expecting the kind of food that I used to get at the Ghurka Kitchen, a Nepalese restaurant in Oxted, but it was pretty much standard Indian fayre. There was plenty of it however, and the service was fine, although the waiter could give us absolutely no advice on the wine list.

Woods , 62 The Pantiles Map
We went here for breakfast one weekend. The service was good and the food, I had Eggs Florentine – poached eggs with English muffins, hollandaise sauce and spinach, was really nice.

Pleasant Sandwich Bar, 7 Mount Pleasant Road Map
This is your fairly basic no-frills greasy spoon, but if you want a cheap filling “Full English” then this is the place to go.

Coffee House, Mount Pleasant Road Map
We tried the Coffee House for breakfast one morning. It's neater and tidier than its near next-door-neighbour, the Pleasant Sandwich Bar, but I preferred the “Pleasant”.

New Diamond, 51 Grosvenor Rd Tunbridge Wells Map
This is my “local” Chinese takeaway. They do a really huge selection of veggie dishes and a great veggie set menu. The Aubergines in Black Bean Sauce is a particular favourite of mine.

McDosa, 49 Grosvenor Rd Tunbridge Wells Map
I've only had a takeaway from here once. The dosa was great, but the rest of the meal I had was nothing special.

Java Bean Café, 67-69 High St Map
It's generally a toss-up whether to go here or Carluccio's for breakfast, and the Java Bean often wins, mostly on price. The juices that they do are really refreshing and the breakfasts are tasty. The service could be better, often there seems to be a lot of staff standing around unsure what to do.

Café Divine, 5 Castle St Map
I discovered this independent coffee-shop on Delocator, a website well worth a visit if you're fed up with the Starbuck's and Costa's that are taking over our high streets. And Café Divine is worth a visit too. The service is friendly and the coffee is superb!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tas, London

72 Borough High Street,
London SE1 1LL Map

Tas is a Turkish restaurant near Borough Market. I went here a couple of years ago so its definitely time for an update.

We managed to get a table on a Friday night for eight of us, which was pretty lucky. The menu is quite large with several set meals that you can choose from. They also do a group menu, that will give you a selection of starters followed by the main of your choice.

We decided to grab a selection of starters to share around the table and then choose a main course each. The starters included Hummus, Enginar - artichokes with carrots, potatoes and beans, Patlican Slatasi - aubergine puree, Dolma - stuffed vine leaves and several salads. They were all nice, especially the Enginar and the Patlican.

The menu has quite a large vegetarian main course section (about a dozen dishes) and after quite a while, I finally decided on Baklali Enginar. This was similar to the Enginar that was part of the starter selection, but more spicy. The dish consisted of globe artichoke bases, presumably boiled, that were filled with tomatoes, potatoes and broad beans. These were all in a gorgeous sauce that had just a hint of spicyness about it.

I decided not to have a dessert -I'm sad to say that the cubed aubergine is no longer part of the dessert menu, but I did get a taste of the chocolate cake, which was very nice.

The service was fairly good, and they were very accommodating when two extra people turned up making our initial party of six, a party of eight. Pricewise, it isn't bad either, especially considering its location, just a stones throw from Borough Market and London Bridge station.

For a veggie on a night out with collegues, it was really nice to end up at a restaurant that had a really good and tasty vegetarian selection. If you're in the London Bridge area, I would definitely suggest giving Tas a try.