Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Del'Aziz: Southbank, London

This restaurant has been described as Aladdin's cave of delights and it certainly lives up to this description. We went on a sultry Tuesday night in July and sat outside - we arrived early and were meeting friends so we had a mint tea before we began.
We went for the Levantine Feast for £22 for three courses and it was good value for money and we were 'stuffed' by the end of the meal. For starters you could chose from a variety of mezze and the best part was that they brought round a bread basket with at least five different varieties of homebaked bread and they were very generous and encouraged us to stock up. The hummus and baba ganoush comes highly recommended - there was also an option of hot starters.
We were all pleased with our mains - the portions were very generous and the flavours authentic. My aubergine and mozerella bake was delicious and well spiced - I loved all the melted mozeralla on the top. The lamb shish went down well - although they said it could have been more flavoursome.
The desserts looked delicious and were presented beautifully - it was difficult to chose! However, we found the cakes to be dry and mine (the pear and ginger) tasted of bicarbonate of soda too much. I am very picky about cakes - having sampled some delicious cakes and made very tasty ones too so this didn't live up.

Moroccan spiced lamb shish

Aubergine mozerella bake with French green bean salad

Vanilla and strawberry cake

Chocolate cake

Spiced pear cake
  • great location on Southbank
  • good value menu and reasonably priced a-la-carte
  • really helpful and attentive staff
  • yummy and abundant bread basket
  • lots of choice and variety in the menu

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

All Star Lanes Diner: Holborn London

On our recent trip to London for the Olympics we got a 'secret hotel room' (have you ever used this service - it's great!) on lastminute.com and were told it was in the West End and it turned out to be in Holborn and round the corner from the All Star Lanes - which is a fav in my family as we love anywhere that serves rootbeer!

We had a mixed experience this time around as the food was delicious, but the service was awful. We arrived around 8ish and we were famished. We were told that since we hadn't booked we may have to wait up to an hour, but that we could get drinks in the bar area and even order and start eating our food there if we wished. We said we would order drinks and wait for a table. I immeadiately dived into a rootbeer float and it was yummy! The bar area was full on hen parties and some of them were playing quite crude games and is was difficult to just chat and have a romantic evening with all that madness going on. After thirty minutes it seemed that some tables we free and so we went to check and they said we would have to wait longer. Another fifteen mins rolled by and other couples seemed to be getting seated before us. My husband went to investigate and this time they said that whoever we had spoken to had not registered our booking and that tables had been empty for the last half an hour - we were pretty annoyed and they seated us quickly. I felt that they could have given us free drinks or side or side orders and this would have placated me.

The menu does have a few dishes that your standard American style diner in England doesn't. My husband had the basket of fried buttermilk chicken and found that really tasty and filling. I am veggie and although they do have a veggie 'burger' stack of halloumi and quorn etc I am not the biggest fan of substitute meat. Instead I got a variety of their starters as pictured below...

Holding up my huge onion ring - a nice crispy ring
The sweet potatoe fries which were served with the buttermilk chicken were my fav part of the whole meal
The mini mac'n'cheese was creamy and very indulent - but just the right size

Candied beetroot, mixed nut and goats cheese salad was a really satisfying mix of flavours

* Varied menu with some interesting dishes
* Great choice of side dishes and appetisers
* Rootbeer floats just like in the states
* Service a bit ropey or over the top and cheesy
* Great place to go with a big groups of friends or on a hen party

Wheatley Arms: Ilkley

I have a whole range of reviews to blog as I've just spend a week sampling many culinary delights in the Capital as we had Olympic tickets. For now I will stick to somewhere local that I have visited twice and both times I have been impressed with the service, ambience and the food - The Wheatley Arms in Ben Rydding just outside of Ilkley.

My first time here I had a goats cheese & red onion sandwich, with olive & sun blushed tomato salad and a side of hand cut chips. All the ingredients are fresh and good quality and so it was delicious. The hand cut chips were a particular highlight - I refused to share them as they were so tasty.
My second visit I had hot food and went for the pea and mint risotto. Risotto is one of my speciality dishes to make and so I am always quite critical when I have it at a restaurant - it was good that it wasn't too creamy or sickly as some can be, it was fresh and the pea and mint gave it a tangy and crunch taste and texture. It could have done with more grated parmesan on top as I do love my cheese. My dining partner had the fish and really enjoyed it. Their food is well made with really fresh ingredients. For dessert (see above) they have a huge selection of delicious ice-cream - not your usual neopolitan choice. I had a scoop of creme brulee and one scoop of white chocolate and it was served really nicely in a brandy basket. My partner had summer fruits merengue - which I would never have chosen and it looked a bit bland and lacking.
The service was quite good although we were near to the bar and the young staff seemed more busy flirting and chatting with each other than necessarily paying attention to the customers and I felt they should have been more professional.

* beautiful interior and lots of places to sit - from casual to formal
* fresh ingredients and well made food
* limited selection of veggie dishes
* reasonably priced for the quality
* worth going for the ice-cream alone (but then I do love ice-cream!)