Little Bay Farringdon

Date February 23, 2010

Is it French? Is it Modern British? Hard to say, but it’s cheap! This mini-chain of restaurants serves French-oriented food, I’d say, and considering the price, I find it good value. Tonight was my second visit, and although there are mixed reviews, I cannot fault the quality of the food. Well-seasoned, nicely cooked dishes, served in an extravagantly decorated restaurant at friendly prices. That’s the concept of Little Bay, that’s what you get.

Duck

Duck at Little Bay Farringdon, by mseasons via flickr.com

Tonight, I went for the breast of duck with steamed pak choi, honey and ginger jus, plus some goose-fat fried, err, french fries, as they call their chips. Must be French, not Modern British, then. The dish did indeed resemble mseasons’s brilliant photo above, and I really liked the taste of it: this is not bland stuff that you would get in pretentious gastropubs, this is food prepared by people who have not yet lost their tastebuds. Maybe we were lucky, but then I am grateful that luck comes in pairs, as my first visit at this place was equally convincing.

This venue is not huge. They have a downstairs area, but you would definitely prefer to sit upstairs, ideally at the large front windows, as we did. Maybe thanks to our last-minute reservation, maybe just because it was not overly full. Little Bay is renowned for their slightly quirky decor, which is a bit over the top, though the only outstanding feature at the Farringdon branch is a giant face mask. Little Bay also does opera nights, though not at this branch. And we were very happy not to be harrassed by a table-side opera singer, when all we wanted was a good dinner in preparation for the rest of what turned out to be a fantastic evening.

I have definitely had much, much worse meals and will happily try my luck a third time.
Whatever you order, get extra vegetables with it. They’re nice.

London Eating Review
Toptable Review
Time Out London Review

illy at Tate Modern Members Café

Date February 21, 2010

The main attraction of Tate Modern’s Members’ Room is undoubtedly the view. Judge for yourself:

However, they do decent coffee, too, hence this article in the commoncoffee series. The illy they serve might not be in the Monmouth or Square Mile league, yet it is decent enough to be enjoyable from a proper cup.

Interestingly, illy is not illy: they may base some of their fame on constant quality, yet at Tate Modern it becomes clear that the barista is an important factor in the coffee preparation process. Elsewhere, illy coffee sometimes does not taste half as good. And the milk foam pattern is nothing short of perfect.

Not sure if you’ll agree, but I think illy coffee does not need to be enjoyed pure, or with milk only. So I definitely suggest ordering a moccha here at Tate, as I usually do: not too sweet, rather a dark chocolate moccha with a sturdy body. Not too aggressive, but strong enough to please. Perfect enjoyment for the north balcony, were it a bit warmer. But we stayed indoors on two perfect seats on the perfectly positioned sofa opposite the panoramic windows, taking in the perfect view of St Paul’s dome bathed in perfect winter sunlight.

View, North Balcony, Tate Modern Members' Room
View, North Balcony, Tate Modern Members’ Room

It’s not all about coffee, you know.

Dim T for Tower Bridge

Date February 21, 2010

A restaurant for special occasions: Dim T More London. Easily the flagship of the small chain of cool and stylish pan-Asian restaurants, the sort of place where they play lounge music on the loos. Speaking of loos, it’s not easy to find the cabins…hint: the rear wall is not really a wall.

Dim T More London

Dim T, More London, by Kake Pugh via flickr.com

People come here for the view, and thanks to my booking we had a prime table at the floor-to-ceiling windows, with a direct view of Tower Bridge. Brilliant view, even though we were on the ground floor – I have only ever been to the first floor so far. Sunday noon was not crowded at all, which was good, and the weather added to the perfection of this occasion. The food was good as always: Nicely steamed Dim Sum, two tasty noodle dishes for the two of us, and a shared brownie which seems to have left the menu since!

So, if you have visitors or want to celebrate something, this will be a great place to do so. Ok, the menu used to be more creative a few years ago, and Dim Sum connaisseurs should go elsewhere, but Dim T does ok quality food in nice surroundings with a fantastic view, and it won’t tear a hole in anyone’s pocket. Quite surprising for this location. Definitely preferable to Gaucho and Strada next door, unless you have a voucher for the latter.

London Eating Review

Tas EV

Date February 20, 2010

Tas is the first restaurant I blogged about – in German at that time. And nothing has changed: fresh ingredients traditionally prepared, tasty and good value. The only difference to my first blog entry is that tonight we went to Tas EV, the flagship branch of this mini-chain of turkish-oriental oriented restaurants. So, nothing new to report, is there?


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Well, two issues perhaps: what is this thing about groups being charged more than individual a la carte customers? I booked for only seven people and we ended up being only four, yet we were given a group menu by default, which had less choice (not surprising) but higher prices (surprising). While I understand the need to streamline orders of large groups, a bunch of seven punters ordering a la carte should be manageable quite easily, especially for a restaurant with 100+ seats. Upon request, we were given the a la carte menu without hesitation, so no harm done, and overall we were very satisfied with the food and the resulting rather low bill. However, I feel that large group menus, here and in a rising number of venues, are essentially a rip-off, and I cannot find a justification for a group premium.

Secondly, this was my first visit to the EV Bar next door, I was told by the barkeeper. And right he was, though why I have never visited before is a complete mystery to me! The bar is really nice, with a cool waterfall feature at the back, and the Cosmopolitan was quite enjoyable and with just short of £5 reasonably priced as well. What I found irritating, though: bar from the barkeeper, we were all alone in the spacious railway arch on this Saturday night. Great, free choice of tables, but this bar deserves more customers. They are not good on beer, though, but wine and cocktails to their job.

London Eating Review

Tas EV plus Cocktails

Date February 20, 2010

Tas was the first restaurant I wrote about in this blog. In German, though. Yet I have nothing to add, except that I was in Tas’s flagship restaurant Tas Ev this time. Fresh ingredients, traditional cooking, indeed, tasty and good. Although they initially wanted us to have the group menu, just because I booked for seven people (four turned up in the end). Thankfully they agreed to let us order from the a la carte menu, because (a) it was much cheaper and (b) it provided a much better choice. What is this with group menus? I mean, I understand that groups are easier to accommodate with such menus, but do they always have to be more expensive and far less inspiring? Not that the Tas group menu is bad, but a group of only seven people in a restaurant that can easily host a three-digit number of guests should by default be offered the a la carte menu, especially when not forewarned at the time of booking.


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Anyways, I’ll happily return, simply because I think the food is really good, especially the mezze platters. I could have this every day. And unbelievable as it seems, I paid my very first visit to the Ev Cocktail Bar with its waterfall feature, despite living almost within spitting distance, figuratively speaking. And the barman noticed: “I haven’t seen you here before”, he said. Good guess or good memory? Does not matter, my cocktail was nice indeed. Shame that we were the only customers on a Saturday night at around 10pm.

London Eating Review

Seven Sisters

Date February 20, 2010

More than five years and I haven’t been to the Seven Sisters?

Seven SistersSeven Sisters38 pictures

All change today: one hour after departing from Victoria Station, we found ourselves in Eastbourne and started a great 12km-walk along the coastline. The projected lunch stop at the Beachy Head Pub was a bit of a letdown: the pub itself is great, but we were told to wait 45 minutes for any food, no chance to get even a simple soup or a bowl of chips in less time. Strange, because the pub layout suggests that they regularly draw crowds, which is not entirely unreasonable to expect on a sunny Saturday, even in February. Regretfully, we left, but only after sampling a pint. The rest of the story is easily told in photos – click on the image for 38 pictures.

Alternative route map, in case the map for this article is not working correctly.