Monday, 27 February 2012

Review: Hereford Road, Bayswater W2

We went out last week for our anniversary, and decided to avoid the crowds of the West End and do something a little more local.  So with the power of Google and not very creative search terms, I found Hereford Road (on Hereford Road, Bayswater).  We wanted British, organic, local food - and boy did we get it!

Smuggled away in Bayswater, this restaurant was opened in 2007 by Tom Pemberton (previously head chef at St John Bread and Wine) with an aim of creating a little local with a big, bold British menu.  With dishes varying from steak and kidney pie to a wood pigeon, you really do get that vibe.  Walk down the quiet street and Hereford Road kind of stumbles upon you - the open kitchen at the front is rather exciting (you really can see your food cooked before you eyes), and the 2 seater booths in the bar area are probably the best seats in the house for couples.  At the back is a larger dining area that I would guess seats around 50?  Oh, and the waiters were just lovely.

I chose the squash soup with pancetta and chestnuts which was amazing, and my other half went for a pate with grilled ciabatta (I think following on from our trip to Dinner by Heston, he's taking any opportunity to eat pate!).  Both were lovely, decent size without filling you up too much - which was a bl**dy good thing as we decided to share the whole seabass with a side of fresh greens.  It comes with a head, tail and all the bones - but after a fairly feeble attempt at making it edible, our waiter kindly stepped in and made it look easy.  The fish was incredible, how on earth they made it that tasty I have no idea - and it tasted so, so fresh. 

After a little break from eating we decided to tackle the dessert menu, and ordering was quite a task! You name the home-cooked favourites, they were all there.  I went for the apple crumble and custard, and He went for the plate of British cheese.  Both were amazing - the custard was just right, and the portions were enough to allow us to get home without busting at the seams. Also, cannot forget to mention their very good wine list and British beet range - as my other half is a Yorkshire man he knows his bitters, and Hereford Road apparently had the best.  The restaurant was buzzing by 8pm, and they were turning away business later on in the evening so do remember to book ahead. Overall, we had an amazing dinner here and it was lovely to part with money for a local business rather than a chain - without the massive price tag.  I would definitely recommend this to friends, and to you all!

Style: 7
Service: 10
Pricing: 10
Taste: 9
Fun Factor: 8
Total: 44/50

Book here: Hereford Road, 3 Hereford Road, Bayswater, W2 4AB

South Molton St Starving

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Review: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge SW1X

This is a restaurant I was genuinely very excited about going to - when you eat out quite a lot it is easy to become a little bit used to it.  But I'd heard so much great stuff about this place - I knew it was going to be good.  We had waited a good few weeks for this - and thank you to American Express's Concierge we got a great table on a Saturday night, which is apparently very hard to do.  So we were a little surprised when we walked into a half empty restaurant...

Having walked through the hotel, and it's bar, we were seated and provided with a very impressive menu, wine list and bread and butter to die for.  I'm not sure what Heston puts in the bread - but it's enough to distract you from the fact that service is a little on the slow side.  On the completely Non-PC front, it was lovely to be served by English people.  I'm sorry to say, but in most restaurants in Central London orders often get 'lost in translation' so it made a refreshing change.  The waiter knew the menu incredibly well, explaining that all staff get to taste and review dishes on a weekly basis...

The restaurant itself is surprisingly modern and 'hotel like,' and I'd be lying if I said we weren't a little disappointed.  What with the Tudor menu, we were expecting something a little grander and perhaps a little more historic.  However, we ordered and given the size of the gin and tonic I was well on the way to having a good time.  I ordered the 'meat fruit' - because I was told that was what you should have by hoards of friends who have been lucky enough to get tables here through the guise of 'client lunches.'

It arrived (above).  Now, to your right their appears to me an orange.  Wrong!  This is an entirely edible pate - and my god is it good.  Completely smooth, rich and with a hint of orange - this was absolutely amazing.  My boyfriend glared me the whole way through - his snail porridge was quite nice, but nothing in comparison and he ended up eating most of my pate.  (He did the man-thing and wanted to order the most crazy dish - for which Heston is renowned).  The bread was 'chargrilled' and although you could guess by the weight of it how much oil they'd used to make it, it tasted unreal.

Following on from the spectacular starters, mains were a little bit of a disappointment.  Although they tasted superb, whichever way you looked at it, it's fish and vegetables.  Other options included a burger and steak and chips - which seemed criminal choices when you are eating in a Michelin star restaurant (but looked amazing as they went past).  But dessert was outstanding, and the highlight of the meal.  We both had the tipsy cake, which you need to order at the start as it takes 25 minutes to make.  Every 3 minutes whilst baking, cream and rum is added to the mix.  My god it tasted out of this world - and the flambĂ©ed pineapple accompaniment is perfect.

Overall, Dinner is worth a go.  It isn't that pricey either, in comparison to other restaurants in town with the same formal rating.  Don't expect much from your surroundings, but in truth - I do wonder if that is so that you focus more on the food.  We had a great time, and 3 courses with spirits and wine came to £170.   

So, in total our survey said:

Style: 5
Service: 7
Pricing: 6 (would be an 8 if the drinks hadn't been so expensive)
Taste: 9
Fun Factor: 7

Total: 34/50

Book here: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA

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