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Charlie Penrose

Giaconda Dining Room

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Ate there tonight and am feeling decidedly heavy - every critic worth their salt has given it the thumbs up, so I presumed it would be nothing short of delicious, and I was not wrong!

Pumpkin Risotto was spot on, a bit on the big side, but that is no problem when your man has an appetite not unlike that of a horse, duck was very good, cooked perfectly - could have been a bit hotter though, even so the chicory salad was wonderful. Ham hock hash also was awesome, salty, potatoey hammy goodness with a massive oozey orange egg atop. Was undecided whether to have a pudding as they all looked a bit uninspiring, and I was almost ready to keel over anyway, but I had chocolate mousse cake and it was in fact very good.

All in all a very good meal, not historic - but at the price you could probably do not a lot better, certainly not in that particular stretch of London, superbly cooked big hearty dishes - yet another excellent edition to London's already many stringed bow of restaurants doing excellent, 'simple' food that you really do want to eat; happy days.

I will definitely be back there soon to try the many other dishes that sounded pretty unmissable - Tripe braised with chorizo, paprika and butter beans; rack of lamb with tian of something and gnocchi (which had unfortunately all gone tonight); the couple next to us had the roast chicken and were complaining that there were too many roast potatoes...TOO MANY ROAST POTATOES! unbelievable, it looked cracking.

Someone else mentioned that the wine glasses are too small - this is undoubtedly true, they are miniature, they make St John's look like buckets, still though, there is some very nice wine available at some very nice prices.

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well i second the feeling heavy - my god! Talk about hearty!! Giaconda dining rooms was where i ended up after asking for advice on this forum for new and interesting openings and i was not disappointed. It is a no fuss, no frills restaurant with friendly down to earth service and made we wish eating out could be more like this. We started with shellfish bisque and the baked eggs with spinach, cheese and cream which were both lovely although really generous portions and very rich as well. I went for the special fish of the day - john dory with aubergine puree and olives and my friend had steak tartar which was served with both toast and chips(!). The menu is one where you literally want to eat everything, from the carpaccio to the pumpkin risotto through the corned beef hash and fried egg, vitello tonnato, tir a misu etc etc etc. When we arrived at 7 the place was releatively empty, by the time we left it was heaving. Great, well priced wine list - i had a sancerre from henri bourgeois at £25 which was amazing value. I found the wine glasses absolutely fine despite comments elsewhere. £75 for dinner for 2 including coffees and truffles but no desserts (just too full) was great value and i will definitely be back


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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More of you must have been there by now? Every man and his well dined dog has surely been since the umpteen cracking reviews... Thoughts Etc.?

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tiny - 25 or so covers i would imagine...


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Three of us had dinner here a couple of weeks ago.

Pumpkin risotto vanished before I could get near; crispy pig trotters + egg mayonnaise (together at last!) similar; my beet + leek + goats cheese mousse also good but a bit too fridge-cold.

Two of us shared the lamb with tian + gnocchi Romana; I had to have my arm twisted since the only gnocchi I've ever encountered have been the gluey thumb-shaped variety which make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth - no thank you. These were, by contrast, HEAVEN. Big flat discs of light, creamy, airy potato puree, delivered in a gratin dish with the butter still bubbling, glazed with Parmesan. Could have eaten twice the amount. The tian was classic E David, just tomatoes + courgettes, white pepper + an unidentified cheese, with the beautifully pink lamb on top. Steak tartare excellent, though chips seriously below average.

We too were too full for pudding, but with a bottle of Cotes du Rhone + a coffee got out for £30 a head inc service. Which I think is astounding given you can pay £20 for a foul Pizza Express pizza + a glass of house red. I agree with Charlie Penrose - not historic, but very very spot-hitting. And I'd have those gnocchi again in a heartbeat.

One thing though - mind yourself on the stairs to the loos.


Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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Went here last nigth for the first time to see if it was worth the hype and sadly I don't think it was. First the good things. Service was always friendly but a bit slow at times and the wine list is indeed a bit of a dream.

The room is very small (I think it's the smallest restaurant I've ever been in with just 30 covers) and tables are tightly packed in. Bread good (although had to ask for more as just a slice each served at first) but the olives were really quite poor.

We both went for the pigs trotters and shared a pan fried foie gras dish which came with a mix haricot(?) beans and chorizo. The combination of all the pig trotter dish elements came together very well and were very unctuous but the pigs trotter itself I thought was very poor. It was just too fatty and barely any meat - I might have been unlucky and as I say the dish as a whole worked well. The foie was very good with the sauce inparticular having a lovely moreish smokey flavour while not overpowering the star.

For mains I had the duck confit while my friend had the steak tartare. Steak tartare looked good and was well recieved (by a man who ate at Merronies fine dining restaurant in Aus in the 90's) and the chips were also good and crispy. However I was unlucky again with my dish. The double duck confit had good flavour and fell off the bone but the skin did not have any crispiness at all which is the main reason I go for confits. The accompanying sauteed potatoes were good and the salad leaves a good offset although clearly out a packet.

Desserts were ok but no more. Tiramasu had a good coffee flavour but no alchoholic kick at all but the Eaton mess opposite went down quickly enough. Coffee was actually one of the best I've had and definately up there with one I had at the Connaught the other week. With a bottle of stonking Italian wine (worth splashing out £43 on when it's a fixed mark up) and a couple of apertifs the above came to £122 ex SC. As I say good if you want to be stuffed full to the gills but quality a long way below that of Arbie, wild Honey, Andrew Edmunds, Galvin et al. Nearly forgot - the toilets - reason enough not to go again (although I probably will give it a go again prefereably in a big group to destroy that wine list! :wacko: )

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I've been twice - once soon after opening, before all the rave reviews, and once a couple of weeks ago (packed on a Monday lunchtime). I think the food is good, not amazing, but that's reflected in the price.

The first time my starter of beetroot and goat's curd salad was served too cold, which dulled the flavours somewhat. The tuna and grilled bread main was very good, with the tuna perfectly cooked. Too full for pudding but had the truffles with coffee, which were excellent. The second time I had the chicken liver paté, which was incredibly rich. I couldn't finish it, and prefer my paté a bit less creamy. That's just me though. My main of cod with beans was lovely, very hearty. Again, the fish was cooked to perfection. My boyfriend really liked his fish soup starter and his steak (he always has the bloody steak - so boring :laugh: ).

All in all, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. There aren't many bistros of this quality offering such good value in London.

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FYI

THE GIACONDA DINING ROOM

ANNOUNCEMENT

11th November 2008

While cycling home from work on Halloween night our chef, Paul Merrony, fell off his bike and broke his arm (in about 16 places). Stuff happens.

Sadly therefore we will be closed until at least the 25th November when we will be getting back on the bike and reopening with our delicious and interesting new

‘One Armed Chef’ Menu.

We will only be opening for Lunches until the end of the year.

We’ll reopen on the 5th January with our regular “Two armed Chef” Menu, as before.

Please accept our groveling apologies for all inconvenience we have caused you.


Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

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Oh dear.. I've been longing to go here. Just as everyone else and their mother has.

Incidentally, a not bad but overlooked place hidden in Soho is Prix Fixe - has anyone been there? It's quite reliable, and always provides a pretty good hot lunch. It's also almost always empty.

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they opened up today for lunch only - this will be the case until end of december. in january they will resume lunch and dinner service.

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Went here last nigth for the first time to see if it was worth the hype and sadly I don't think it was.

Paul - I agree with you. We loved the atmosphere in the room, it is full of Australians and has a very Darlinghurst/Chapel Street vibe (this is a good thing). The service was great, and overall our food was OK but not as good as we had hoped.

Foie Gras, Black Pudding and Kidney Beans was a very tasty starter, although the kidney beans seemed to be at odds to the rest of the dish. The Marinaded Salmon was very good, although slightly oversalted.

However, the mains really missed the mark. The Duck Confit had little flavour and tasted greasy (cooked in dripping rather than duck or goose fat?) and the accompanying potatoes were also tasteless and greasy. Steak Tartare was OK, but the ratio of meat to onion was completely wrong, and it had a texture reminiscent of coarse mince from a supermarket. We skipped desserts and simply had chocolate truffles and coffee which was fine.

OK it isn't expensive at £85 for two including £36 worth of booze, but this is pretty basic French bistro cooking and even at these prices it should be better. It is weird it has had so much hype - in Paris most run of the mill cafes would turn out food of a similar standard. I hope we simply hit it on an off night or chose badly, the starters promised so much it was a shame the mains were so lacklustre.

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Visited Giaconda yesterday. Here is an abstract of my review.

Despite a short stand-off at the start due to a booking confusion (it must be added that this was dealt with very well and professionally), the service at Giaconda was otherwise pleasant and friendly. The chef Paul Merrony wears his heart on his apron and this is reflected in his cooking which is simple, no nonsense, good tasting food. It is not going to break any gastronomic boundaries but this is not what he is aiming for. Our dinner experience at Giaconda was highly enjoyable and highly satisfactory and I am already looking forward to a swift return visit to try out more of his menu.

You can find the full review on my website Giaconda Review

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I ate here last Thursday. Someone else made the choice, but having been aware of their reviews I was more than happy with it.

Strange little set-up I must say. Inside it was freezing (and cold bread, olives and fizzy water, although well received, did not dispel the chill) and the walk to the toilets (comparable to the "Hello Cleveland" scene in Spinal Tap) had to be experienced to be believed (not quite as far as Zinc in Manchester, but much danker).

Service was clipped and efficient, but as the restaurant filled up over lunch (ending at maybe 60% capacity) things became a little more stretched and possibly veered into terse. This wasn't down to the attitude as such, they just seemed a tad light of staff front of house.

The menu was the big thing for me though, it read beautifully. I wanted to eat virtually everything listed, with lots to entice on a cold winters day including (though weirdly a few more salads and cold fish dishes than you might have expected in January).

Fish seemed to be an big thing here actually (see also the anti-whaling polemic sneaked into their website menu), the waitress reeled off the specials list impeccably but I stunned to be regaled with no less than ten specials, at least half of which were comprised of fish (cod, hake, red mullet etc).

The chef must be a genius with reworking ingredients through the week and thrift cooking or their wastage must be heart-breaking.

Oh the wine-list was a cracker too, with a good number of wines by the glass and a pleasing handful of half bottles, of which a Chinon did the trick of keeping us company through a fairly rushed two courser (damn those 2:30 meetings...).

And it ate? Well, pretty well actually. I'm go so far as do say it was really quite good. The cod with the soft polenta and salad of chicory was spot on, a yielding piece of fish and stick to the ribs carbs. The bitter snap of the leaves were a perfect counterpoint.

Starter was a risotto of pumpkin, and although I found it a shade underseasoned it was generally a good effort. My only gripe was that like restaurant risottos up and down the country it was gloopy rather than soupy, but this was better than most and at least wasn't sat on the plate in an immovable mound.

A text-book truffle with a decent espresso capped off our relatively flying visit, and if I left feeling just slightly underwhelmed it was only down to the spankingly enticing and bar-rasing menu which just sounded incredible.

I'd go there again, but for me it's merely a useful addition to my rotating portfolio of regular London haunts rather than a burgeoning and regular obsession.

Cheers

Thom


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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