February 2009

Monthly Archive

Brasserie Gerard

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 27 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Restaurants

We didn’t have high expectations going into Brasserie Gerard, we were basically looking for a quick, down to earth, dinner. Brasserie Gerard however managed to disappoint us.

We both ordered a medium steak (a rump and a rib-eye) and what arrived was well-done by any standard, let alone by French ones - inexcusable even as an oversight considering there were only 3 tables occupied. Apart from overcooked, it was also a bit rubbery - on the plus side the peppercorn sauce was respectable, and the pepper seasoning on the steak was a good touch (unless you don’t like pepper). The fries were neither great nor awful and the wine (we ordered a large and a small glass and were served in identical glasses, the “large” one full to the brim) was blunt. The service was curteous, but markedly unenthusiastic.

Even more so, the price tag is unjustifiable - we were looking for a French restaurant equivalent of a Pizza Express or Strada, and got a disappointing and pricey version of it: The steaks were £12-£14, and although I appreciate a good steak and I am perfectly happy to pay that price for a really good one, that was most definitely not it. The set menu seemed to be better value at least.

It is perhaps harsh to judge the entire chain based on this experience - the result in each restaurant undoubtedly varies depending on the individual cook, service staff and manager of each restaurant. It seems though that Brasserie Gerard is trying to hit a balance between a cheap eatery and a fancy restaurant and is spectacularly failing, by getting the food wrong and overcharging for the privilege. No wonder it was almost empty on a Friday evening. We won’t be going back in a hurry.

Fire and Stone @ Covent Garden

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 23 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Restaurants

Fire and Stone is a stylish pizza restaurant that opened fairly recently in Covent Garden, with a second branch in Westfield shopping centre. It feels like it’s the kind of restaurant that will be opening more branches soon and will be becoming one of the big chains that has a presence just about everywhere - but for the time being there’s just two of them, and they seem to be paying attention to their food and service (as the customer survey card on each table might suggest).

The food is certainly interesting - it’s mostly pizzas here, but the available recipes succeed in being original. Spit in categories matching the world’s continents, there’s something for everyone. The Bavaria pizza (German sausage, bacon, cabbage, mozzarella, tomato sauce, sour cream and mustard) was as tasty and full-on as you’d expect from the description, and definitely delivered. The Cairo (roasted red and yellow peppers, aubergines, courgettes, goats cheese, tomato sauce and pine nuts) was very flavoursome and succeeded in showing off the different ingredients.

On the flip side, the bill was somewhat heftier that you might expect. This restaurant is attempting to be a more upmarket pizza restaurant than, say, Pizza Express; this is mirrored in a small separated bar area and corresponding cocktail menu for example. And although the average pizza is not more expensive than its counterpart in Pizza Express, Zizzi or Strada, the bill gets sightly more inflated by all the extras around the pizza.

Still, this is a pleasant restaurant, well suited to the Covent Garden spirit, the food is tasty and original (not an easy task in pizza-land) and the service polite and efficient - so it’s certainly worth a visit. I shall definitely be returning to try the Capetown and the Paris Deluxe pizzas!

The Botanist @ Sloane Square

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 13 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Restaurants

We popped in to the Botanist for a quick meal on a weekday. We were not disappointed by the food - we had a Cote de Boeuf for two that was cooked just right and was delicious, accompanied by two thick and mouthwatering sauces. The service perhaps left something to be desired - the waiter was appalled by the fact that we only wanted the main course, especially after his stark warning that it could take at least half an hour depending on how well done we wanted it, and it was generally a bit challenging to get someone’s attention. This could however be attributed to the fact that this place is much more suited for a leisurely visit, long dinner and a drink or two at the busy bar up front, and we were going much too fast for them through our dinner.

It definitely has potential, and I would gladly go back for second try.