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Dec 8, 2006 04:13 AM

A few eats in London

Malabar Junction

A superb chickpea curry, toasty spice of curry leaves, an aromatic wash of coconut milk. Loved the deliciously fibrous bits of coconut, crisp and sharp. Outstanding!


Bombay Brasserie

Sumptuous setting, grand and lush. Suitably pricey for a saturday buffet lunch. Brilliant lamb samosa, deep meaty flavour, delicate mincing, a shell golden brown and brittle.

Fried potato patties with tamarind and yogurt, multifaceted sweet and sour.

Satisfying selection of meat curries -- softly tamarind fish curry, a deeper redder chicken curry (meat's a bit tough), cream and (slightly unsubtle) cardamom perking up ruddy hunks of lamb.

Vegetables are better. Decent potato but better more caramelized eggplant in a curry of the two. Dense bites of cheese in a basic tomato and cream sauce. Articulate rice with peas. A mellow cauliflower curry.

Nutty halwa, just the right bit of moisture with enough dustiness in the texture. A soft layered cake that I loved more than I remembered.

Overall very good but not great.

La Fromagerie

A varied and pleasant cheese plate, with an exceptional St Nectaire, plump golden ripe with a nice touch of hay.

Forgot the name of the dense sticky and flakey cake served with a bright and tangy creme fraiche. Very good and hearty.

Very comfortable and casual.


North Sea Fish Restaurant

Basic and seemingly decent haddock and chips. Slightly fluorescent mushy peas.


La Maison du Chocolat

Wonderful chestnut macaron, sticky chewy, with a whisper of something like cognac in the centre of the chestnut filling.

Nuggets of truffles are outstanding, the thinnest most beautifully fragile shell of chocolate beneath the powdered chocolate. Tremendous tempering. And centres of oozy boozy ganache.

I'd still take the opulent and smooth 85% fleur de cacao from Pierre Marcolini (used to be at Lancer Sq., now closed, new choc place replacing it) over Maison's 74% blend from Venezuela, Indonesia and one other spot that I can't remember (Africa or Caribbean) -- there's too much ups and downsin the flavour (the complexity to it's credit, though) and the tangy soursop note I find a touch too acidic for a blend.

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  1. It would be VERY helpful if you could provide addresses (or at least neighborhoods) where these establishments are located. Thanks for the other-wise informative post!

    2 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      I'm not a local, and am not very sure about the neighbourhoods but here goes. Malabar Junction is close to the UCL campus, Bombay Brasserie is in Kensington I believe, La Fromagerie is just off Marylebone High Street (I think), North Sea is a bit North of Russell Square, and La Maison du Chocolat is a few blocks from the Picadilly subway stop.

      1. re: DavidT

        Bombay Brasserie is about a block from the Gloucester Road Tube stop. It's in the direction of Old Brompton Rd and in a hotel on the corner (can't remember the name). It's a bit further of a walk from the South Ken stop but not that far.

      2. excellent report.

        you got the brasserie perfectly. vegetables ARE better, (dal and rice is practically home made) and it is very good not great.

        by london standards, £20 a head is a bargain as its one dollar to a pound the way things are priced here.

        1 Reply
        1. re: howler

          Thanks for reminding me about the dal -- it was one of the highlights -- it was my forgetfulness, not the quality of the dish that made me neglect it. Wish I have more opportunities to chow in London the future. Would have posted about a Bengali place with pretty good fish curry (sorry not hilsa) somewhat near Russell Sq, but I don't remember the name or address.

        2. The original comment has been removed