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Pizza Restaurant Fire and Stone, Covent Garden, London
Mar 27th, 2009 by Olivier

Fire & Stone – fireandstone.com

31/32 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden
London
WC2E 7JS

Reviewed on 27 March 2009 lunch time.

Fire and Stone

Pizza restaurant Fire and Stone

Pizza restaurant Fire and Stone

Fire & Stone is located in the touristic area of Covent Garden. It was the party menu 1 for £14.95 per person.
For that price you get a glass of Borgo Magredo Prosecco which was good, some Italian breadsticks served olives, a choice between 5 pizzas and as dessert a selection of Italian ice creams (average).
There were two vegetarian pizzas (Athena and Byron Bay) and 3 non vegetarian pizzas (Canberra, Cape Town and New York). I chose the Cape Town (pepperoni, ground spicy beef, mozzarella, tomato sauce and mild chilli, topped with fresh basil & oregano) which I found bad… The toppings were quite bland and the base was heavy and crunchy on the edges, nothing light and crispy.

Pizza New York

Pizza Cape Town

Booked in group the tables were big but the rest is more like a cafeteria with all the tables in rows.

Cost and conclusion:  for about £15 (plus an “optional” 12.5% service charge added to the bill). you can expect better even if it is in a very touristic area. I would recommend the pizzeria Zizzi in the Strand at 2 minutes walk from there (73-75 The Strand, London, WC2R 0DE).

Fire & Stone on Urbanspoon

Pakistani restaurant Al Mirage in Tooting, London, UK
Mar 25th, 2009 by Olivier

215 Upper Tooting Road
London SW17 7TG

Reviewed 24 March 2009.

Al Mirage

Al Mirage

Al Mirage

Al Mirage is a Pakistani restaurant located close to Tooting Broadway which is a centre of the Asian community of South London. There are many Indian and Pakistani clothes shops, sweet shops and of course restaurants in this area. It is simply my favourite restaurant for eating a curry. I have been there several times and nothing I tried has been bad. The staff are friendly, something that cannot be said for other restaurants in the area, and they help you to choose the meal with some nice suggestions. The place feels airy, thanks to the reasonable space between the tables but also to the high ceiling as from the ground floor you can see a part of the first floor. Strangely, it is not as busy as in the restaurants next door for some reason but people do not know what they are missing! They also do take aways, I never tried it.
On the door you can see their Scores on the door (food hygiene rating) and they got 3 stars which is good compared to the restaurants around not displaying their score (as it is too low), with the exception of a few of them.

We took the Al-Mirage Masala Fish (£4) for starters which is a cod fish marinated and deep fried. It was excellent: fresh fish and nicely spicy. I like the fish design plate used with it as you can see on the picture below.
Other starters can be the Chicken Tikka (boneless chicken pieces marinated and barbecued – £2.50), the Peri-Peri Chicken grilled or fried for £3.95 (it is a whole chicken marinated in peri-peri sauce), Tandoori Chicken leg (£1.95) etc. They also have many vegetarian starters like Onion Bhajia (deep fried balls of onion and batter – £2), Chilli Paneer (grilled cheese cubes dry or in sauce – £3.50), Vegetable spring rolls (£1.50) etc.

Al-Mirage Masala Fish

Al-Mirage Masala Fish

Main courses:

Like for the starters they divide the menu between vegetarian dishes and non vegetarian dishes.
Vegetarian dishes includes Bombay Alo (a hot spicy potato dish – £3.25), Channa Masala (a rich creamy chick peas dish – £3.25), Mixed Tarka Daal (lentils flavoured with cumin seeds, garlic, ginger and spices) etc.
As we aren’t vegetarians, we chose the Lamb Bhuna (tender lamb cubes prepared with fresh ginger, onions, peppers, tomatoes and garlic – £5.50) and the Balti chicken Tikka Masala with cream (£6) in the non vegetarian dishes. Others dishes per example are the Shakari chicken (chicken on the bone – £4.95), the Balti chicken Keema (minced chicken – £4.50), the hot Lamb Rogan Josh (mutton pieces cooked in traditional Kashmir masala with yoghurt and cream – £5.50), the Ginger Chicken (£4.95)… There is also 12 kinds of Naan to choose from!
We had two Mango Lassi for drink for £1.85 each (This is a alcohol free restaurant).

Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi

The Lamb Bhuna was very good, spicy and hot (we asked for making it hotter) but not overly hot. We could still enjoy its taste. The sauce was oily but not too much. Just one downside here: we both had a piece of bone, so check well your plate before eating!
The Balti chicken Tikka Masala with cream was delicious. A rich smooth cream, slightly spicy (hot) and the chicken was great, with some burn as it was just grilled. As you can see on the photo below, there is enough sauce for a good use of the Naan hungry

The Lamb Bhuna (red meal), the Balti chicken Tikka Masala with cream (yellow meal) and the Naan.

The Lamb Bhuna (red meal), the Balti chicken Tikka Masala with cream (yellow meal) and the Naan.

 

A closer look

A closer look

Cost and conclusion:  for about £20, the value for money is excellent. Adding to that a good and fast service, this restaurant IS the place to go for anyone who is into curry. Highly recommended!

Al Mirage on Urbanspoon

Pizzeria Rustica – Richmond, London UK
Mar 22nd, 2009 by Olivier

Pizzeria Rustica
32 The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey, London, TW9 1DN
Reviewed on Sunday 22 March 2009 

Pizza Rustica
Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond

Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond

The Pizzeria Rustica is located very close to Richmond’s train station and is on The Quadrant busy street, next to a McDonalds. It has a kind of relaxing feeling with all the rustic tables and chairs and the old tools attached to the wall. The tables are close to each other so it is not the place for talking discretely about confidential things unless you happen to work for MI6. We have been there many times there but it is the first time I review it and as you can guess, it is not a bad restaurant as we do not like to hurt ourselves lol

Antipasti

Of course they have bread & olives (£3.75), Bruschetta (bread topped with tomato, garlic, buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil – £4.95) but also interesting starters like Cozze marinara (fresh mussels, garlic, chilli, tomato sauce with crusty bread – £6.35), Scamorzina (smoked mozzarella wrapped in Italian pancetta with rocket and truffle dressing – £6.35), Crostone (melted goat cheese on a crusty bread with sun dried tomato and basil pesto – £5.85) or the Antipasto rustica for two people consisting in plain garlic bread, parma ham, roasted vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomato and olives for £10.95.

Main course

They have specialities like the Pollo (chicken breast stuffed with fresh asparagus wrapped in Italian pancetta with white wine sauce and potato mash – £13.50) but we came today for their excellent stone baked pizzas.

The price range is from £7.85 (Margherita with mozzarella, tomato and basil) to £11.50 for their Pizza 2007 (they won the “The best pizza in UK Award 2007″ with that one. It is with tomato bruschetta, rocket and parma ham). Other pizzas, beside the classical Napoli, Tonno or Funghi & prosciutto, are the Noci (mozzarella, gorgonzola cheese, walnut & rocket leaves with no tomato sauce), the Fiorentina (mozzarella, tomato, spinach egg, parmesan and garlic), the Rustica (mozzarell tomato, mushrooms, peppers, aubergines, courgettes, garlic & chilli) or the Calzone which is a folded pizza with mozzarella, ham and mushroom topped with tomato sauce.
Any extra topping costs £1.20 excepted for the parma ham, buffalo mozzarella and the king prawns that cost £1.50.

We went for the Calzone and the pizza 2007 hungry

Pizza Calzone

Pizza Calzone

Pizza 2007

Pizza 2007

Overview of the two pizzas and the small table.

Overview of the two pizzas and the small table.

The Calzone was great (even if the best ever calzone I had was in Marseille), with crispy pasta and delicious ham and cheese. Here, it would have been better if the cheese and ham were more mixed together than having a “ham zone” followed by a “cheese zone”. The pizza 2007 was good too, but my preference still goes to the pizza Buffalo (that I usually take), mostly because I love the Buffalo mozzarella. Both of them have the toppings added fresh on a cooked pizza base so the base stays crispy. The spicy oil is not that hot compared to what we can find in some pizzerias in France but it is still spicy.

Drinks

Nero D'Avola

Nero D'Avola

They have beer, like Bud, Moretti and the excellent Peroni, all for £4.25 and of course wines. I will pass on the white wines choice to focus on the list of red wines: it starts by the Rosso della casa (Puglia) for £13.95 (not a bad wine, a little on the sweet side),  Merlot Venezie IGT (Cielo) for £14.50, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – Feudi D’Albe 2006 for £14.95, Chianti Gentilesco (Tuscany) – Bonacchi 2007 for £15.95 (easy to drink), Nero D’Avola for £15.95, Maestro Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Venezie IGT for £16.95, Valpolicella Clasico Valverde 2006 for £17.95 and the Amorino Rosso (Colline Pescaresi) – 2005 for £25.95. We chose the Nero D’Avola and it was fine. Dry enough (I do not like sweet wines) and easy to drink.

Cost and conclusion: an excellent lunch for £37.70 (£21.75 for the two pizzas plus £15.95 for the wine) plus tip. This pizzeria is probably the best one I know, and I have been in many pizzerias around the world. The service is very friendly and they are not pushy like in some pizza chains where they insist you take a starter or a dessert. The pizzas at Rustica are big, be sure to be very hungry if you take the starters too.

Richmond is a nice town so after your lunch you can go to Richmond Park to see the deer or you can go on the river side etc

Richmond

Richmond

Pizzeria Rustica on Urbanspoon

Pub Tide End Cottage in Teddington, UK
Mar 21st, 2009 by Olivier

Tide End Cottage 8 Ferry Road, Teddington, Greater London TW11 9NN
Reviewed 21 March 2009 lunch time.

Tide End Cottage

Teddington

Teddington

Teddington is in London, England on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. Teddington might be unknown to you but Alfred Hawthorne better known as “Benny Hill” lived in Teddington lol

The Tide End Cottage

The Tide End Cottage

The Tide End Cottage is a pub located very close from the bank of the River Thames, probably 1 minute walk away.

It is a fairly small pub and we decided to go to the garden area located at the rear of the pub. It is protected against the sun but it wasn’t needed as it was a nice sunny day. When you enter the pub you cannot miss the big plasma screens displaying the sport events (Italy-France rugby game when we were there).

It is a pub so you have sandwiches (all £3.95), oven-backed jacket potatoes (all £4.45) but also more regular meals like fish and chips etc.
As a starter we ordered Moules in Garlic Butter which are Irish mussels served in hot garlic butter (£5.95) and a Chicken Liver Parfait (a rich, smooth chicken liver parfait served with a balsamic onion confit, dressed salad garnish, with thick-cut toast and Somerset butter) for £3.25. They both were very good, even if the mussels could have been bigger and the toast a little bit too small for the amount of the paté.

Other interesting starters were the Rustic House Deli Board (Whole baked Camembert, hand-carved Norfolk ham and cold, sliced roast chicken breast. Accompanied by black and green olives, home-style piccalilli, apple chutney, thick-cut bread with balsamic and olive oil dip) for £8.45 or the Backed Mushroom with Goat’s Cheese (large flat mushroom topped with grilled round of goat’s cheese, served with dressed salad leaves and drizzled with red pepper and chilli sauce) for £3.25.

Chicken Liver Parfait

Chicken Liver Parfait

Moules in Garlic Butter

Moules in Garlic Butter

For the main courses there were meals like Hand-Battered Fish and Chips (a large hand-battered fish fillet served with chips and mushy peas) for £7.95, Cheese and Bacon Burger for £8.20, Norfolk Ham and Eggs for £6.95, Scampi and Chips (£6.95), Steak and Shropshire Blue Salad for £6.95 or the traditionnal Curry of the Day for £7.45.

We decided for the Steak and Chips (7oz Sirloin accompanied with crispy battered onion rings, chips, mixed leaves, grilled field mushroom and plum tomato) for £10.95 and the Hot Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Wrap (Hot roast beed wrapped in a giant Yorkshire pudding, served with chips and peas, horseradish sauce and a jug of onion gravy for dipping) for £6.45 that I had to try as I never had a Yorkshire Pudding Wrap.
We had to pay £1 for a steak house (choice between Horseradish and Cracked Black Pepper, English Mustard and Portobello Mushroom Sauce and Chilled Béarnaise). We wanted the Chilled Béarnaise but they did not have it so we opted for the pepper sauce.
Steak and Chips

Steak and Chips

 

Hot Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Wrap

Hot Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Wrap

 Things were not that great… The steak was fine but overcooked, the sauce seemed like it came back from a packet. Now my Hot Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Wrap was bad: the meat was absolutely bland and the wrap that looked deep fried was bland as well and hard on the edge, like if it was microwaved. Just as well I had the gravy and the horseradish sauce for attempting to give life to that poor beef.

A closer look of the hot roast beef in its wrap

A closer look of the hot roast beef in its wrap

The drinks: they have a wide choice of wine for a pub and they are well priced. They have 3 rosé, 3 champagne, 8 white wines and 8 red wines from £11.45 to £18.95 (Châteauneuf du Pape AC) and of course many beers and real ales. Being in a pub we decided to try the Greene King IPA (2 pints for £5). I know some people love these real ales but we found it really disgusting… It was like water with a weird bitter taste at the end faint
 
I tried hard to drink some of it but at the end we decided to save the meal by ordering a bottle of red wine (Merlot from Chile for £11.95) which was fortunately good.
Merlot from Chile

Merlot from Chile coming to rescue

Greene King Vs Chilean Merlot: 0-5

Greene King Vs Chilean Merlot: 0-5

Cost and conclusion: for a little over £44 we expected better. It is a pity as the starters were good but the main meals were not. The staff were friendly and nice. 

The Tide End Cottage on Urbanspoon

Japanese restaurant TOKU – London, UK
Mar 18th, 2009 by Olivier

Japanese Restaurant “TOKU”
212 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9HX, UK
Review for Wednesday 18 March 2009.

Toku restaurant

It is well located next to Piccadilly Circus, almost at the corner. So if you are visiting this touristic area of London and feel hungry hungry , this is a good place to stop especially considering all the tourist traps around with some nasty food.

Anteros

Anteros

Above: not Eros but Anteros

 

They are open midday to 10pm excepted on Sunday when they close at 8pm.
Prices are around £9 to £13 for a main course. Of course things can be a lot more expensive like £25 and above for sashimi etc but it is still a cheap restaurant. It is not a romantic place lol but if you want to eat decent food and be served quickly, the Toku is fine.
They have many set meals which include free refills of miso soup and also the bowl of wasabi peas.

Drink: they have many Japanese beer but my main complaint is they are not cold enough for my liking. This time we decided to take a bottle of wine and the choice was very restricted: only one bottle of a Chilean red wine (Los Vilos 2007 – Cabernet Sauvignon) if you want to drink a red wine. We found it too sweet but that’s maybe because we are into dry wine. It was perfectly drinkable wink

Starters:

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette). See at the left the bowl of wasabi peas. They are seriously hot, more than the ones you buy at the supermarket Japan Centre located next to the restaurant. They used to share the same place previously. The omelette was very good with the soya sauce.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)

Two pieces of deep friend tofu (Agedashi tofu). They were very good too.

Agedashi tofu

Agedashi tofu

Main courses:

Fried tuna with a chili sauce. It was the meal of the day. I was worried about it being too dry but I was wrong. It was juicy inside and crispy outside. The chilli sauce was hardly spicy but it was tasty. Even the mayonnaise was fine mixed with the chilli sauce.

Fried tuna with a chili sauce

Fried tuna with a chili sauce

Tonkatsu: breaded pork served with a salad. Very good too. The yellow sauce you see is the Japanese mustard. They provide the Bulldog sauce on each table.

Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu

Price & conclusion: the cost was £47.63 (4.50 & 5.50 for the starters, 8.80 & 11 for the main courses and 13.50 for the bottle of wine. A 10% service charge was automatically added to the bill: 4.33).
The diner was quite good, served very quickly and the service was efficient & polite. Recommended if you are in the area!

Bike ride in Piccadilly Circus

Bike ride in Piccadilly Circus

After drinking a bottle of wine, you do not take your car for going home. What about a bike ride? lol

Toku, Japan Centre on Urbanspoon


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