Tagged in: cuisine

Café des Amis, 11-14 Hanover Square, London WC2P 9JE

Café des Amis

The Café des Amis is tucked away up a very narrow side street, designated as Hanover Square, between the Long Acre and Floral Street.  We had come across it on the Top Table website where they were offering half price on food which seemed too good to miss.

It has a downstairs bar and the restaurant is at ground level. We arrived fifteen minutes early and were shown directly to our table. Eeven at 5.30 it was beginning to fill up! A waitress brought menus and the wine list and asked if we would like a drink.  Beware if you order shorts and mixers.  We are not used to the bulk dispensers, common in London bars, so did not think to ask for the whiskey with just a splash of ginger.  Josephine got a full glass.  It was not a problem with my gin as I would always use the full bottle of tonic.

We ordered starters, Josephine the French onion soup, whilst I opted for the classic steak tartare, which is not something one sees too often these days.  These arrived with astonishing speed. The soup was thick with onions and topped with cheese on toast and very satisfying.  The steak tartare was served with crisp toasted french stick, salad and a drizzle of dressing.  It is chopped with onion rather than minced which gives it a smoother texture that I have had before.

The house red was Le Bosq Rouge, which was from a variety of grape types and would suit just about any palate.  Definitely a good choice.

Our main courses were sirloin steak with a pepper sauce, served with chips and vegetables for Josephine and calves liver with smoked pancetta on a bed of mash for me. The only complaint would have been that, compared to Irish mash or champ, it was a little watery.

Service in general was very good and the waiters efficient and smiling.

All in price including the now mandatory service charge £72.00.

Veeraswamy, 99 Regent Street, London

Veeraswamy Regent Street

The oldest Indian restaurant in the UK, Veeraswamy’s has been in the same location in the Nash Arch, Regent Street, since 1926.  It has recently been refurbished and is far more open-plan than I remember from my last visit back  in the ’60s. There is still a doorman, but he no longer the enormous turbaned Sikh.

We had joined up with Les & Dot Jones for an evening out on the town and as we are all Indian food fanatics had booked a table for 4 at this famous hostlery.

Having passed coats, etc. on to the concierge, we took the lift to the first floor restaurant.  Our table had been booked months ago and even then we could only get a 7.15 time slot.

The service is smooth and unobtrusive. We ordered the “non vegetarian” platter all round for starters. This consisted of a spiced lamb kebab, a beef “burger”, and chicken accompanied by a dip.  Exceptionally tasty all round.

We picked a variety of main courses, sea-bass wrapped in banana leaves, a chicken chatpatta, paneer in a fruity sauce and for me a duck Vindaloo.  It would be hard to pick a favourite as they were all so different.  The duck vindaloo was outstanding and not, as one might have expected, fiery. The sea-bass was firm and the complimentary spice brought out the favour perfectly.  Too often fish curries are mushy and the fish is lost in the sauce. It was all accompanied by a bowl of simple rice and a basket of breads.

For wine three of us had an Italian Bardolinowhilst Dot tried their ginger cooler, which she assured us was delicious, and gingery!

It is not the cheapest place to eat in town but the quality of the food and the service certainly compensates for this. The cheapest bottle of wine is £24.00 The overall bill, including service which is automatically  added at 12.5%,  for the two courses, a bottle of wine and the cooler was a little under £220. I have paid more for a less satisfying evening.

If you are an Indian cuisine fan it is a must.

Well Fed!