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Where are the interesting openings in London


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i've been wanting to try hereford road of the st. john's gang in bayswater...went last night but it was a private party unfortunately. (lucky seven's provided an excellent as always burger)

i did manage to have a mini steak sandwich with horseradish while the chef told me i couldnt eat there...anyone been?

Went there a week ago. Found it slightly disappointing. The menu is offal heavy, as you would expect from a St. John acolyte. The main problem was that dishes come exacltly as they are described, e.g. Foie Gras with Turnips is exactly that, and nothing else. There's also no side dishes to be had, so the food seems really spartan.

The Foie & turnip was sadly nothing special, and not a good pairing. The Onglet for the main was kind of tough, but I think that's Onglet for you. My parter faired better with lambs brains with tartare sauce, which were melt in the mouth, and Ox tongue, which tastes like spam, but in a good way!

Service was friendly, decor is OK, but like the dishes, a bit spartan. Don't think I'd go back.

Lee

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I went a couple of weeks after opening and was fairly impressed - the room is nicely set out, nothing over the top, but perfectly in keeping with the type of restaurant, and great loos! The only issue I had with the space was the lack of soft furnishings meaning that the acoustics of the room are not ideal - I fear it will be pretty hard to have a conversation when the place is full as there is nothing to absorb the sound. Even with a half empty restaurant it was pretty noisy.

I have to say, Tom is pretty brave operating with such an open kitchen (one of the most open I have seen!) and with only 2 in there cooking, the pressure will really be on as the restaurant gets busier.

Food-wise it is very much in a similar boat to the St. John but with less offal. It is stripped back to basics cuisine using well sourced produce to form a pleasant neighbourhood restaurant.

I wont comment too much on the food as Scott has done so above. A couple of things that surprised me a little was not taking orders for the oxtail until 8pm and then there being a 45 minute wait for it. I feel that if you are going to put a dish on your menu, it should be available as soon as the restaurant opens, albeit with a time delay. I was doubly disappointed as I saw a lucky couple eating it as we left and it looked superb.

The gifted pork and pigeon terrine was very pleasant, well seasoned but lacked much pigeon flavour being rather overwhelmed by the piggy flavours. The pickles were a thing of utter joy, both piquant and sweet all at the same time - I could have eaten a whole bowl of them!

Starters were perfectly pleasant if uninspiring. I was a bit disappointed in the potted crab as, although it was lovely crab, there was none of the mace and other spice flavours you would associate with potted shrimp etc, rather it tasted like a dressed crab mayonnaise with a thick butter top. I also thought it was served too cold as the butter on top was absolutely solid. The sweetbreads were also perfectly fine, a couple were a bit overcooked perhaps, but no major gripe. The green beans they were served with were dressed in a vinaigrette with a fine julienne of mint and provided a nice contrast in flavour and texture, cutting through the richness of the sweetbreads and lightening up the dish. (As you would expect for the price the sweetbreads were lamb, not veal).

The mains were by far the highlight of the meal for me (if you ignore the looooong waiting time between starter and mains!). The rack of lamb was a good sized portion, cooked perfectly pink and with a good lamby flavour that is so often lacking in inferior produce. The celeriac mash paired nicely with the lamb, however it would have been nice to have seen some more vegetables (I would have ordered them as a side dish if side dishes had been offered!) and a jus or gravy to accompany the meat. The funny thing is that we nearly didn't get offered this dish - the waiter forgot to mention that it was available as a special until we had ordered!

The middlewhite was absolutely fantastic, possibly one of the best bits of pork that I have tasted this year - moist and juicy and working well with the accompaniments, and best of all, a lovely tooth-breaking crackling.

The grouse looked fine, although for me it was far too over-cooked and needed some form of sauce. Again, like the other dishes I felt that this needed something else on the plate of vegetable origin (other than the red cabbage that it came with).

I am not a big desert fan at the best of times, usually opting for cheese, but at £5.50 per cheese I thought better of it - pity, I would have liked to try them. The deserts were fine, nothing to light the world on fire but with the exception of the fig tart, all passed muster. Would I visit again - yes if I was nearby and prices remain reasonable, but I would still rather travel to somewhere like Great Queen Street rather than here as it ticks more boxes for me. That said, it is still early days and I am sure Tom will continue to refine the operations so I will pop in again in a few months to see how it has developed.

One thing I will say is that value-wise it was very good indeed, 3 bottles of wine, water, service and 3 courses for around £90 - not sure this will last though! Good wine list too with the whole value spectrum covered.

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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Went there a week ago.  Found it slightly disappointing.  The menu is offal heavy, as you would expect from a St. John acolyte.  The main problem was that dishes come exacltly as they are described, e.g. Foie Gras with Turnips is exactly that, and nothing else.  There's also no side dishes to be had, so the food seems really spartan. 

The Foie & turnip was sadly nothing special, and not a good pairing.  The Onglet for the main was kind of tough, but I think that's Onglet for you.  My parter faired better with lambs brains with tartare sauce, which were melt in the mouth, and Ox tongue, which tastes like spam, but in a good way!

Service was friendly, decor is OK, but like the dishes, a bit spartan.  Don't think I'd go back.

Lee

not super inspiring after your experience...also from ravelda's post it seems i'll be let down given my expectations. you don't go to places like these for anything other than tasty, well-prepared comfort/home-style food. i must say that i was with a butcher friend when we tried that little steak with horseradish and both of us were unimpressed. tough and lacked seasoning...

it's a shame, would have a been a good place to have not far from home...if i end up giving it a try i'll make sure to report back.

-che

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i've been wanting to try hereford road [...] ...anyone been?

Hi Franco!

I went last Thursday + really liked it (NB my experience not harmed by being with two good friends + having just a really nice evening, nor by it being approx one yard from my flat). Agree the room's not all that: weirdly featureless despite huge + rather fantastic circular lightwell. Plus I think that going down steps into the dining room makes you feel like you're having dinner in a swimming pool.

Fried Cornish anchovies were nearly menu winner, crisp + scrackly with a daub of very good aioli, but cockles with laver beat them by a narrow margin. Sweetbread salad nice enough but sweetbreads never really going to be my thing (shoot me, I'm a foodie heretic).

For mains, the roast pork fantastic, accompanying turnips horrid, accompany sprout tops ace. Widgeon too gamy for pretty much all of us. Whole oxtail unbelievably good, soft thready rich meat, whole thing about the size + shape of a man's arm, served on a long narrow dish with boiled-along-with-the-oxtail carrots (utterly delicious). Didn't hear anything of the 'only after 8pm' thing for the oxtail + our table was booked for 7.45pm, so don't know what that was all about.

Prune + almond tart very good but quince + apple sponge truly sent from heaven. So if you want to try again give me a call, I'll be back like a shot.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

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

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I was there for lunch yesterday - other diners included Fay Maschler and some Conrans, Charles Campion and some fellow e gulleters. Have been a couple times now and always have a good time. Service can be a bit disorganised but is always friendly and well meaning. Langoustines were simply but perfectly prepared as was the dover sole with a delicious side of braised fennel and cockles and a very good lamb rump. The sticky date pudding was AMAZING and a second dessert of caramel pot was delicious - surprisingly unsickly and just the right size. Cheese is a bit odd - £5.50 a portion which gets you one (admittedly large) slice of cheese. They said they couldn't do a selection as teh chef doesn't like cutting the cheese into small portions??? That oddness aside, Hereford Road is a great addition to the area and one i shall happily return to again and again.

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

To add to the Haozhan reviews, I visited Haozhan on Monday night. Had been much looking forward to it following rave reviews but I left a bit underwhelmed.

Not that the cooking wasn’t good. Starters in particular were a cut above the usual standard: the Salt and Pepper Squid combined excellent crisp,dry batter with a real tenderness to the squid and the quail was knockout. The mains also delivered a better-than-decent standard, though I had real problems with one of the ‘signature’ dishes: the Champagne Black Cod.

I’ve cooked black cod before and even steamed with a fragrance and freshness of herbs the richness of the fish threatens to smother. When combined with a butter Champagne sauce well…I could see Monsieur Creosote going for it but most of us have more delicate constitutions (is that what you meant by laowai-heavy, Jon ?).

But, as I said, the cooking was good enough. What I had a problem with was the ‘concept’; what was the restaurant trying to do ? Clearly their heart was in the specials. If so, and if you are going to ‘occidentalise’ the service by having Starters, Mains and Desserts, why not have the confidence to go the whole hog and just produce a short menu of your own dishes in a more typically western way (a refreshing difference in this market that would certainly capture my interest) ? Or go for a regional slant (as at Bar Shu or Hunan). Or something. Instead, the menu was more abbreviated than the normal Chinatown job but got stuck in no-man’s land by being still padded out with some of the usual suspects in a way that felt like a failure of nerve (“it’s what people will want you see…”).

To put another way, by serving black cod alongside lemon chicken the restaurant managed to feel neither fish nor fowl.

So whilst I enjoyed the food enough, I wondered why I was there. Or rather, what about Haozhan itself would stand out enough to draw me back ?

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