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Birthday dinner in London


Loula
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Hello - new to eGullet!

And wondering if you have any good suggestions for a good birthday dinner (in London)?

Went to The Admiralty last year (great food, empty dining room at lunchtime and too fussy service) and were thinking perhaps Riva in Barnes this year (in the evening this time!) which we have loved before... any other suggestions? We would like to try somewhere new, great food, warm atmosphere, but not OTT formal, where we can spin an evening out...

Any suggestions gratefully received...

Thanks!

Loula

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La Trompette in Chiswick or Chez Bruce in Wandsworth for great Frenchified food & wine lists; a bit less formal and a bit less French (but also great atmospphere & wine list): Ransome's Dock.

I think there is a lot of commentary on this board about all of these places if you try the search function. If none of these sounds appealing, can you give a bit more direction as to what you like (type of food, atmosphere, price range) and maybe we can be of more assistance?

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Thanks for those suggestions (and re the search facility) - I'll look them up now, there've been quite a few reviews in the press for Chez Bruce recently I seem to remember?

In retrospect of course I should have given some more clues - apologies for the vagueness! What I'm looking for, and most enjoy, is informal european food - places I've been to and especially enjoyed are Cambio de Tercio, The Real Greek, Cigala - and I've been to Riva a few times and always had a great time - but was thinking that rather rely on old favourites we should give somewhere new a try. So, relatively robust food - perhaps Italian, wide but not wildly expensive wine list, relaxed but quite lively/buzzy atmosphere and around £150 mark for two.

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Based on those, Moro and Eyre Bros (haven't been to latter for a while) sound appropriate. Both will come in at under £150 for two unless you go mad on the wines. Also, I second Zafferano and would be keen to try Locatelli. (How much is River Cafe these days?)

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Eyre Bros has become very expensive for what it is and certainly no better than Cigala

I think Riva is a good call and Passione ( Charlotte St ) is a good bet also

I am off to Il Convivio tomorrow night and that may also be a possible as I hear good things.

S

Edited by Simon Majumdar (log)
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I'm not sure about Passione if you want a 'lively/buzzy atmosphere'. I think it has a positively weird feel to it. verging on alienating and repressive. Shame, as the food's good.

Suppose I should give Cigala another go. I went early on and was unimpressed.

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Thanks so much for these suggestions - will definitely scoot around and find out some more now. I had been thinking of Moro and Locatelli, but Zafferano was a new one to me.

Incidentally, re Cigala - I've been three times now and was only really impressed the first time (shortly after it opened). Subsequent visits weren't so good - bad bad bad solid yet soggy chips - and I thought the service was poor, too inattentive most of the time and rushed and a little condescending when it was there, but I like the atmosphere and by and large I have been pleased with the food. I still don't think I'd give it another go for a while yet. Ditto Armadillo, excellent first visit last summer (may have had something to do with the huge Mojitos to start us off) but not so good the second time when they tried (but didn't succeed) to put us in the bare upstairs room heated with a plug-in radiator on a freezing night when their heating had gone down - and there were plenty of tables downstairs! Argh, but I like it in general, plus it's local, so tend to be forgiving and may try it for a weekend lunch soon. Would be good to hear if anyone's been there recently and what they thought if so (before I take the plunge again!).

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Loula - an official eGullet welcome to you. Zafferano has recieved a glowing review from Matthew Norman in the Telegraph this week click here (you'll need to register to read this) in comparison to the bloody awful one Jan Moir wrote (click here) for the same paper. I've never been, but I have heard very good things about the chef Andy Needham. True, it was his mate chef Richard Guest telling me the said good things, but I trust him :biggrin:

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Pied a Terre's just got its second star - ate there last week & it was simply stunning - 59 pounds for 8 course meal (a bargain!). 35 pounds of 2 courses - 8 pounds for puds. Quite wonderful. Only downside is the wine list - very little at the lower end.

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No, not too late at all, it's a while off, but anticipation is one of the best parts! Plus, booking for a Saturday evening can be a nightmare.

We're in east London, but anywhere (bring back the Central Line!) is fine, so location's not really an issue.

Hmm, was looking at Pied a Terre - did you see AA Gill's "review" (when he got round to it) at the weekend - 4 stars is high praise indeed. Did you do the full 8 courses BLH? I would definitely go for that if I thought I could get to the end and not be in too much pain to enjoy every bit! What sort of things did you have?

All the talk of food led us to search for a good meal on Saturday night and we wound up at The Fish Shop by Angel (fancied Moro thanks to your suggestions but it was fully booked). It was really excellent - I had scallops with sweet chilli jam and creme fraiche, pan fried sea bass with tagliatelle, ginger beurre blanc and fried leeks and then cheese. It was a reasonable £90 for two, friendly service with the owner popping up to chat a couple of times, nice wine and friendly atmosphere. On the downside the sweet chilli jam was more over-sweet than chilli and the fried leeks were completely pointless frizzy strips, also no sign of the ginger which had attracted me in the first place. But these criticisms aside, the scallops were amazing, perfectly cooked and the bass came as two juicy fillets with good pasta - too al dente for my boyfriend but just right for me - and so we agreed on an overall mark of 7 out of 10 and said we would certainly go back.

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Ditto Armadillo, excellent first visit last summer (may have had something to do with the huge Mojitos to start us off) but not so good the second time when they tried (but didn't succeed) to put us in the bare upstairs room heated with a plug-in radiator on a freezing night when their heating had gone down - and there were plenty of tables downstairs! Argh, but I like it in general, plus it's local, so tend to be forgiving and may try it for a weekend lunch soon. Would be good to hear if anyone's been there recently and what they thought if so (before I take the plunge again!).

I was at Armadillo a few weeks ago and had a very good meal (and when you factor in the fact that it included two appetizers, two mains, a bottle of wine, two caiparinhas, two Ron Zacapas, a coffee and chocolates for just over 70 pounds, it was a great meal). You're right about it being a bit drafty and that continues to be the case, but the food is not only very good, but of a genre that is very difficult to find in London. My wife had black bean soup with chorizo and I had grilled quail with Mole sauce. We both had roast suckling pig for mains (sorry cant remember exactly how it was done up). The service continues to be extraordinarily friendly if not strictly professional in the stiff Michelin sense.

I am a big fan of Armadillo. I think it is the sort of place London sorely lacks, it is a very good, very reasonable neighborhood restaurant. It doesnt have tons of bells and whistles and is at times a little rough around the edges (e.g. the draftiness), but it is essentially a single-man operation (I would say mom-and pop, but the demographics dont fit) without huge backing and multi-million dollar investment, and that is exactly why it remains reasonable and friendly. Armadillo is the kind of place where the chef comes out of the kitchen to make your drinks and remember's your face even though you havent been there in six months (both true with respect to our visits).

I used to like Sardo's for similar reasons, but the prices there have increased about 25-30% over the last two years. Now I feel like they're just taking the piss.

Another huge plus for Armadillo (at least for anyone having to travel there), is that seemingly unlike Pizza Metro, there is a great before or after dinner watering hole nearby, the Dove, which has a very good selection of beers from around the world, and a decent wine selection.

Edited by Thomas Secor (log)

Thomas Secor

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I second your recommendation of Armadillo where I had an excellent evening with friends some months ago. OK, it is not the most physically comfortable of environments, but the welcome is warm and the food and drink impressive and original. If it were nearer than a monster journey round the North London Silverlink, I'd be in there regularly.

v

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