August 2008

Monthly Archive

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 04 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: Restaurants

I’ve been to a number of the GBK restaurants, and they have never failed to deliver what they do best: really good burgers. The meat is tasty, the chips are great, the burger combinations imaginative - talk about comfort food! And if you think you can handle it, the milkshakes are huge, but oh so good!

I think the best asset of GBK is that they’ve selected one thing and really doing it well. Their burgers are truly and consistently the best I’ve had in London. And it is a perfect place to grab a quick and informal but delicious and fulfilling bite. GBK definitely gets the thumbs up, and I’m sure I’ll continue to return there to enjoy their food.

Babylon @ High Street Kensington

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 03 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: Restaurants

Babylon sits on the 7th floor of a building in the middle of High Street Kensington, with the Roof Gardens (a club by the same owners) sitting on the 6th floor below.

Babylon is more about the experience than about just having dinner. Not that the food isn’t good - with the exception of a main of lamb which came across slightly bland and dry, the smoked eel with horseradish starter successfully joined some bold flavours, the goat cheese starter was delightful, the beef fillet and langoustine main was an unusual but delicious dish, and the desert selection was imaginative and fulfilling. Aside from that though, a lot of effort is put in to the friendly and efficient service, the dish design (the deserts are particularly elaborate) and the whole experience of having a drink on the terrace before dinner and the visiting the night club downstairs after.

A big selling point of the place is of course the garden and the view. The 6th floor has a large area around the club with a garden you wouldn’t believe is on top of a building: there are fully grown trees as well as streams with ducks swimming in them and small bridges to cross. This also provides an eerie feeling when sitting on the terrace of the restaurant of the 7th floor, as the view of Royal Albert Hall, the London Eye, and as far as Canary Wharf is visible just a few inches over the tree tops.

The price tag of course reflects all this. For example, there were no mains under £20, the cocktails (in the club at least) were a bit over £10 and having had dinner at the restaurant only gets you out of queueing for the club but not out of paying the £10 entrance fee.

Still, Babylon is overall a good choice for a special occasion, particularly in good weather, so long as you’re prepared for the price tag. Book a late table, have a drink in the terrace taking in the view, have a design dinner and then descend to the club for a night-cap. It’s bound to be a great Saturday night out.

Retsina @ Belsize Park

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 01 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: Restaurants

After reading some good reviews on Retsina, we decided to give it a go, and we were not disappointed.

The food was very satisfying. Our mixed meze starter included a variety of dips with warm pitta and a very tasty grilled halloumi that set us off well. A main of beef stifado (beef and onion stew) was excellent, and the chicken and lamb mixed grilled and huge salmon steak pleased as well, although the pork kebab came out a bit dry. These were accompanied by a brilliant Hatzimihalis Cabernet Sauvignon. Although we didn’t have room for deserts, a plate of fresh summer fruit rounded off the meal nicely, as did the Greek coffee and loukoumia offered at the end.

However, the biggest selling point is possibly the service rather than the food. It was friendly and efficient, but it seems almost an insult to leave it at that: it was hospitable, we felt like guests rather than customers. This was amplified by the fact that the majority of the clientele seemed to know the (Greek-Cypriot) owners quite well, creating a more homey atmosphere. The complementary digestif after we had paid the bill went down well too. And with the service not included in the bill, you are free to add the amount you see fit, and we were more than happy to offer the customary 12.5%.

I am always a bit apprehensive about recommending Greek restaurants, as I know that it carries more weight than suggesting any other type of restaurant. I can safely say however that Retsina is as authentic a Greek restaurant as one can possibly find in London, and I would definitely recommend it. I will no doubt be going back.