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Italian Restaurant Zizzi 73-75 The Strand, Covent Garden, London, WC2R 0DE
Jun 30th, 2009 by Olivier

Italian Restaurant Zizzi
73-75 The Strand
London WC2R 0DE

Zizzi

Inside Zizzi

Inside Zizzi

The tables

The tables

We have been to Zizzi a few times but it has been a while since we were last there. Back for a review now! Zizzi is an Italian chain, with a restaurant located on The Strand. We do not see much of it from the street but it is quite big. Everything is located in the basement and from upstairs we have a good overview of the whole dining area and the kitchen, huge woodstone oven included. It is nicely decorated for a basic chain restaurant.

We ordered a pizza Fiorentina (Spinach, buffalo milk ricotta, egg, tomato, mozzarella, finished with garlic oil, grated nutmeg and grana panado cheese – £7.95) and a pizza Trentino (Smoked mountain ham, buffalo milk mozzarella, santos tomatoes, rocket and grana padano cheese – £9.50). Both with their new rustica pizza option (£1.95 more per pizza) described as “Bigger, thinner and crispier bases, which means more room for your favourite topping!”. We ordered a large bottle of Peroni beer (£5.95) too.

Zizzi does not have the best pizzas in London by any stretch of the imagination, but it does very well for a chain. The Fiorentina pizza was pretty good. The rustica option (rectangular pizza with a thin base) is a good addition to their menu, and the thinner crispier (without being hard) base is an improvement on their usual style. In the case of the Fiorentina pizza, that means enough room for 2 eggs. They were perfectly cooked, still liquid inside. An interesting change to the topping since the last time I took this pizza is the addition of buffalo ricotta – which has a sort of whipped cream-like texture. I have not quite decided yet if I like that or not, but it certainly makes the pizza that bit more interesting. The Trentino pizza was nice, with excellent ham and buffalo mozzarella. It is a little like a copy of my favourite Buffalo pizza at Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond – well below Rustica’s standard, while still being good.
The beer was perfectly cold. Not that common in London.

Cold Peroni beer

Cold Peroni beer

Pizza Fiorentina

Pizza Fiorentina

Details of the pizza Fiorentina

Details of the pizza Fiorentina

Pizza Trentino

Pizza Trentino

Details of the pizza Trentino

Details of the pizza Trentino

The pizzas were served on a nice wooden tray

The pizzas were served on a nice wooden tray

Cost and conclusion: it was £27.30 service charge not included. At Zizzi all tips and gratuities are discretionary. I really like that policy. Since the service was good, they got a tip of course. Overall, a decent meal and a good safe option on the high street especially compared to the Fire and Stone not far away. We will be back, especially since the office is only two minutes walk away.

Zizzi on Urbanspoon

Mexican restaurant Wahaca 66 Chandos Place in Covent Garden – Charing Cross, London
Jun 29th, 2009 by Olivier

Mexican restaurant Wahaca
66 Chandos Place
Covent Garden
London WC2N 4HG

Wahaca

Mexican restaurant Wahaca

Mexican restaurant Wahaca

Spacious room

Spacious room

Watching the kitchen

Watching the kitchen

Wahaca is a Mexican restaurant located in Covent Garden, not far from Charing Cross tube station. From outside it does not look big but as soon as you enter and go downstairs, you see the bar and behind it the huge open space. Usually I do not like eating in a basement but here I have to say it was fine. Probably because of the large room and the fun design. The atmosphere was great and the music not too loud. Fortunately we did not have to do the queue, as we came early for dinner, but by the time we left there were people waiting on the stairs.

I am not a specialist of Mexican food. I mostly ate Mexican food when I lived in Los Angeles (that was over 10 years ago) and I remember it was quite filling. That said, I did enjoy US Mexican cuisine, Taco Bell included. At Wahaca, we initially ordered two main courses only, assuming that that would be enough but actually they were not so we ordered more food. Thus, we managed to have the main courses followed by starters, which is a first for me.

As main courses we had the Classic enchilada (described as Succulent free-range chicken bathed in our house tomato sauce and sprinkled with crumbled cheese – £8.50) and a Marinated, grilled chicken (described as chargrilled, free range chicken in our homemade Yucatecan marinade with cumin, oregano and spices. Served with coriander rice and pink pickled onions – £8.50).

The classic enchilada wasn’t that great. Most of the problem with this dish is the minimal amount of chicken in it. Can you really call it “chicken” when the customer needs a magnifying glass to find it? I think tomato sauce tortilla with chicken flavour might be a bit more accurate. It was mostly sauce and tortilla. Mexican food (at least in London) has a tendancy to be very bland, and on the plus side, I would say it was the least bland mexican food I’ve had here. But £8.50 for a tortilla that had almost no filling is a bit steep. It could have used a more generous sprinkling of cheese too.

The marinated grilled chicken was good. It had flavours, was tender and it was nicely burnt. I found the meal on the small side but at least it was good. I used the red spicy sauce with it and it was seriously hot. If you are not into hot spicy stuff, avoid the red sauce and take the green sauce which was very mildly spicy.

Since we were still hungry (what a contrast compared to Taco Bell in the US where I almost had to nap because the portions were too big for me), we ordered a Chipotle chicken (Chicken cooked in a spicy tomato marinade, with cheese – £3.75) and a Beef salpicón (described as tender, shredded, aromatic beef with spicy habanero and red onion salsa – £3.75).

The chipotle chicken was OK. Kind of a small mexican toasted sandwich. As with the rest though, I’d make the complaint that there is seriously little meat in here. Dipped into the spicy sauce the taste was good. The beef dish was also OK. The shredded beef seemed very watery though… combined with my experiences of the other dishes containing minimal meat, I am left with the impression that this restaurant is trying to spend as little as possible per customer.

As drinks, we had the Tequila Limon (lime, tequila and sugar blitzed with ice – £7) which is a shot drink for two and a Mojito (tequila, mint, lime and apples – £6). The Tequila Limon was not good. I found it to be too watered. I miss the Cadillac Margarita I could get in California. The Mojito was not great either. It was too full of ice and the alcohol was not mixed through.

Classic enchilada (£8.50)

Classic enchilada (£8.50)

Marinated, grilled chicken (£8.50)

Marinated, grilled chicken (£8.50)

Details of the grilled chicken

Details of the grilled chicken

Beef salpicón (£3.75)

Beef salpicón (£3.75)

Chipotle chicken (£3.75)

Chipotle chicken (£3.75)

Overview

Overview

Mojito and Tequila limon

Mojito and Tequila limon

Cost and conclusion: it was £37.50 service charge not included. I like the fact they did not automatically add a 12.5% service charge. They will add it to parties of five or more though. I think it should be left to the appreciation of the customers only. The service was friendly though a little erratic (like the food). Overall, the food is OK and it is nice to have large tables but it seems very overpriced for what it is, and certainly not worth standing in a queue for.

Wahaca on Urbanspoon

Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant 5 William IV Street London WC2N 4DW
Jun 13th, 2009 by Olivier

Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant
5 William IV Street
London WC2N 4DW

Terroirs

Reviewed on Saturday 13 June 2009

Terroirs

Terroirs

I like the presentation of Terroirs with its different levels. In the basement you have the wine bar and the ground level at the right when you enter is for the restaurant. It feels like a bistrot in France. The waiters are very likely French by the way. We had a table next to the windows and we found the ventilation in our location weak: we were overheating a little. It must be an ongoing problem since there was a fan right behind us (see photo 3 below). It was too close to be directed on us unfortunately.

Inside Terroirs

Inside Terroirs

First thing we ordered was the bread and butter (£1.50) and a tapenade & crostini (£2.50). The bread was excellent, really very good. The tapenade was not so good and we waited for a while before it arrived. We thought it was forgotten. I found it too much on the salty side but then I am maybe spoiled getting “real” tapenade going monthly to Nice where my parents live. The crostini was too greasy, not sure what kind of oil they used but it tasted of nothing. Just hard and greasy. The still water (£1.50) was needed. The bread was a much better match with the tapenade than the crostini it came with.

Nice bread & butter (£1.50)

Nice bread & butter (£1.50)

Tapenade & Crostini (£2.50)

Tapenade & Crostini (£2.50)

The tapenade was a little too salty and the crostini too greasy unfortunately

The tapenade was a little too salty and the crostini too greasy unfortunately

For main courses we chose from the plats du jour the braised shoulder of Cornish lamb, couscous, aubergine & harissa (£14) and the slow cooked Suffolk pork belly, chick peas and morcilla (£13). The red wine was a Domaine Causse Marines 2006 Gaillac Rouge “Peyrouzelles” (£29) which was great. I saw online you can buy 6 bottles for £ 13.99 each so the restaurant price is just twice the retail price which is very good. At Albannach it was over four time the normal price…

The pork belly wasn’t too good. It was mostly fat, with very little meat attached, and very salty in patches. The “crispy” skin wasn’t so much crispy as rock hard with some risk of damaging your teeth (for those with dentures – consider yourself warned!) and the chickpeas were just nasty (very bland). Overall, a very disappointing meal which wasn’t helped by the small serving dish with high sides which necessitated a vertical attack with cuttlery and made it very difficult to cut the meat. Most of this dish went back to the kitchen uneaten. If you want a decent pork belly, you can get much bigger, better (and cheaper at less than £10) not far away at the Ship Tavern in Holborn.

The braised shoulder of Cornish lamb was good and it was nicely presented with the aubergine on top of it. It was very tender and it did not smell too much of the lamb. The couscous was fine but I was disappointed not to have more harissa, especially since I lived in Tunisia for some time where the harissa originates from. There was just a tiny little red patch and that was it. If it is that small to the point you cannot taste it, why to bother promoting it on the menu? Same remark as above about the small deep dish. It is cute but it does not help for eating the couscous.

Slow cooked Suffolk pork belly, chick peas and morcilla (£13)

Slow cooked Suffolk pork belly, chick peas and morcilla (£13)

Braised shoulder of Cornish lamb, couscous, aubergine & harissa (£14)

Braised shoulder of Cornish lamb, couscous, aubergine & harissa (£14)

Overview of the two main courses

Overview of the two main courses

While the lamb was fine (the plate is empty), the pork belly was not great and the chick peas just bad.

While the lamb was fine (the plate is empty), the pork belly was not great and the chick peas just bad.

As dessert we ordered a panna cotta, English raspberries (£5) and a bitter chocolate pot (£5). The raspberries (all 5 of them) were fine, but the panna cotta had a very fake flavour, was over-sweet and somewhat slimy texture that wasn’t too pleasant. Another abandonment. The bitter chocolate pot was indeed bitter but it was unremarkable. I ate it because I was hungry.

Panna cotta, English raspberries (£5)

Panna cotta, English raspberries (£5)

Bitter chocolate pot (£5)

Bitter chocolate pot (£5)

Overview of the two desserts

Overview of the two desserts

The bitter chocolate pot was ok, but we could not eat the awful panna cotta.

The bitter chocolate pot was ok, but we could not eat the awful panna cotta.

Cost and conclusion: it was just below £80, with the “optional service charge of 12.5%” included. We found it very overpriced for what it was. The atmosphere and decor was nice but the most important, the food, was not up to our expectation with some of it being seriously bad. Still, the atmosphere was good and the wine well priced so as a wine bar we can imagine this place can be quite good. The service was friendly.

Terroirs on Urbanspoon

Marquess of Anglesey restaurant, 39 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London
Apr 13th, 2009 by Olivier

Marquess of Anglesey restaurant
39 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7AU

Marquess of Anglesey

Reviewed on Monday 13 April 2009 evening

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Marquess of Anglesey

Marquess of Anglesey

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant

The Marquess of Anglesey is well located in Covent Garden next to the Royal Opera House and also next to Market Quarter store where you can get wonderful French food like foie gras… The restaurant is located just above the pub. It is nicely designed, and there is some welcome space between tables.
We ordered a roast loin of pork served with roast potatoes, vegetables, and apple sauce (£11.95) and a 8oz exmoor beef burger served in a soft bun with homemade red onion relish and chips with cheese/bacon (£10.25). There are other interesting meals like a free range Devonshire chicken breast roasted with slow cooked red pepper, onions and tomatoes (£11.50), a 28 days aged 8oz exmoor rump steak with portobello mushroom, grilled tomato and chips and pepper corn or béarnaise sauce (£14.95), a goat’s cheese and tomato tart with green salad and pesto dressing (£8.25), a Scottish salmon pan seared on warm potato and chive salad with basil and pine nut dressing (£10.95) or the more regular Fresh fish in Young’s beer batter with chips and mushy peas (£10.50) and Specialty british sausage and mash served with red onion gravy (£9.25).
The roast loin of pork was crap. The slices of pork were wafer thin and tasteless. The vegetables were pre-cooked and quite likely out of a can. The burger was bad… You would think for over £10 you would get a decent burger but no, it was overcooked (see the close up photo below) and for some reason extremely salty! Just as well we had ordered a bottle of an Argentinian red wine which was good (£19). The cheese on the burger was absolutely tasteless and the so-called soft bun was hard and dry. A cheeseburger at McDonalds is better. I was very disappointed by this place to the point we decided to eat again that evening at Akasiro for ending the day on a better mood before my trip to France.
Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2007

Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2007

 

Roast loin of pork

Roast loin of pork

8oz exmoor beef burger

8oz exmoor beef burger

Absolutely nasty!

Absolutely nasty!

Cost and conclusion: too bad the food isn’t great, unlike its location. The bill was a little over £46 (without the service) which is pretty expensive for what we had. The Ship Tavern in Holborn is a lot better pub to eat in. Actually there is no comparaison. The service was fine at least.

Marquess of Anglesey on Urbanspoon

Loch Fyne seafood restaurant in Covent Garden, London, UK
Apr 8th, 2009 by Olivier

Loch Fyne restaurant Covent Garden
2-4 Catherine Street
London
WC2B 5JS

Lock Fyne Covent Garden

Reviewed Wednesday 8 April lunch time.

The Loch Fyne is a chain restaurant specialised in oysters and seafood. The one located in Catherine Street is next to Covent Garden, very close from the Transport museum. The setting is quite pleasant. It was a work lunch for four people. I ordered their moules marinières (£11) with a glass of house red. About the wine: it was awful, pretty vinegary, and should not be sold as wine. The mussels had potential, they were better sized than you often get in the UK. However I am not completely convinced by their freshness. They were not well cleaned (too many beards), and there were quite a few only partially open shells… The sauce was decently creamed but too salty so I didn’t use it as a soup at the end. The mussels were not well mixed with the sauce so it was only at the bottom of the bowl I could reach it.

Moules marinières

Moules marinières

Cost and conclusion: the total cost (without including the service) was £69.50 for a large bottle of still water (£3), a large bottle of sparkling water (£3), a pair of kippers (£7 – they were very big), some prawns king (£12), some chips (£2), a menu including sardines, a plaice with vegetable and a glass of white wine (£13), a whole grilled seabass (£15), my mussels (£11) and my glass of red wine (£3.50). If you go to their website, the prices at this day were not up to date: the moules marinières cost £11 instead of £10, the £12 fixed menu cost in fact £13, the seabass cost £15 instead of £14, the praws cost £12 instead of £11… The kippers cost £7 as written on their site. In conclusion it is OK for a chain. No real nasty surprises.

Loch Fyne on Urbanspoon


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