The Scribblaire has had quite a social couple of months leading up to the Christmas break. As well as plenty of retail therapy, I have been to a number of eateries with some lovely friends. These have ranged from restaurant chains to the slightly more upmarket end of the spectrum. On every occasion the company has been fabulous. The food and service however, has been slightly less predictable.
Here’s a summary of where I have been and the overall experience and a score out of 5:
October 20th: A less than satisfactory visit to Strada at the Southbank before attending an event at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. We had booked a table in advance and on arrival were shown to a table for two which was hardly separated from the one next to it. Apart from being quite difficult to squeeze through the small gap to sit down, this meant that it was impossible to have a private conversation. When the couple on the next table to us were paying their bill, I had to move sideways out of the way of the waiter’s bottom which was overhanging our table! Combined with a toddler bouncing around and running up and down the seats, this was anything but a relaxing experience. I am astounded (and often very annoyed) that parents allow this in restaurants without consideration for other diners. The food was fairly standard fare and not that memorable – apart from my friend’s cheesecake which was clearly stale. When sending this back the manager said that it was fine. After a short discussion, they agreed not to charge us for desserts. We left as soon as we had finished our meal. 1/5
November 9th: a visit to the Harvey Nichols owned Oxo Tower restaurant for lunch proved to be a more relaxing – though slightly more expensive – experience. We had booked for lunch so that my companion could select from the halal menu that they provide. We had a lovely table by the window and watched the Lord Mayor’s parade go by on the Victoria Embankment opposite. The food was excellent and the service impeccable and we sat for a good two hours chatting and eating. The ‘mocktails’ were a very good accompaniment to our meals. There are a lot of waiting staff around who are attentive but not intrusive. On ordering the cheeseboard, the selected cheeses were arranged from mild to strong and each one described in turn. On walking back to Waterloo station, we visited Gabriel’s Wharf for some retail therapy in one of the independent shops there. Afterwards we watched the fireworks display on the Thames. A lovely day overall. 4/5
November 11th: A British Museum Members’ Evening brought The Scribblaire and other half to Bloomsbury on a Monday evening. We had intended to eat in the Museum restaurant, but this was closed for refurbishment. Initially disappointed, we started to head back towards Covent Garden and eventually to Waterloo. We were distracted however by a small Greek restaurant called the Konaki, on Coptic Street. This is a really authentic Greek tavern with excellent and reasonably priced food. Although most of the staff are not Greek they were very helpful and friendly. We’ll definitely be returning. 4/5
December 1st: A trip to Westfield at Shepherd’s Bush meant a pre-shopping lunch at The Meat Co. We were the first customers to arrive which meant that we were served promptly. Not surprisingly the menu was very meat focused, although there was a lot of variety. We ordered one meal from the halal menu and both had a mocktail to accompany our meal. The food was beautifully served and portions were quite generous. The Scribblaire’s companion ordered scallops to accompany their steak and there were so many that she left some. A nice ambience with good service, but a bit expensive I thought. 3/5
December 5th: An after-work catch up with friends led us to Prezzo in Haymarket. The Scribblaire arrived early and was led to a waiting area where I had a very acceptable glass of white. When the other three arrived we were seated at the table very quickly. The staff were very helpful and the food was good. Most of us had salads, all of which were tasty. There’s some nice artwork around the restaurant. A nice evening with no hassles. 3/5
December 6th: To the Plum and Spilt Milk in Kings Cross with three friends. On arrival we were told that the table was required in two hours, which was apparently not explained on booking. One of our party was a little late, which added some stress to a relaxing event. This is the second time I have been to this restaurant. The first time was shortly after it opened and I remember having to send my steak back because it was incorrectly cooked and also sending a drink back twice before they got it right. This time the food was good, especially the creamed haddock starter which everyone loved and the apple tart with cinnamon ice-cream. However, the service is not good. When eating / chatting, there was a procession of staff members who came to the table to ask how things were. Once we ordered more drinks (only wine, nothing complicated) it took a very long time to come and the waiting staff seemed to disappear from view. We were just finishing our desserts when we were asked to vacate the table! Overall, not a very relaxing experience. 3/5
December 12th: A trip to Pizza Express on Euston Road to meet up after work. The staff here are friendly and the atmosphere was very Christmassy. I had an unusual but delicious pork and apple pizza. Nice! Standard fare from Pizza Express, but none the worse for that! 3/5
December 14th: An outing with our lovely niece to the View from the Shard, followed by dinner at the Oxo Tower Brasserie. Having previously been to the posher restaurant The Scribblaire was expecting something less sophisticated. Not so! Our meal was delicious and washed down with some very good Gavi. After being asked to vacate our table (a regular but annoying event in restaurants these days – but we were informed in advance at least) we went to the cocktail bar. We should have left straight after dinner as it was very chaotic in the bar, which had some system of allocating tables that seemed to be secret. The drinks were good though. 4/5
More about some of these meals in future blogs. Perhaps I’ll have another couple to add before the festive season is over!