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Nov 4, 2010 06:57 AM

Yauatcha and Hibiscus [London]

I'm trying to decide where to take my girlfriend for an engagement dinner later this month but I've not been to either of the above restaurants.
With Yauatcha I've heard the service can be a bit snooty - is that true or is it a nice atmosphere?
Hibiscus - obviously great food but is it the right decor/location for a few hours after a proposal?

Any other great suggestions from the CH community?

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  1. I really like both, but for a celebration type dinner I would say Hibiscus, it really feels special and I am sure if you let them know the occassion they will make you feel extra welcome.

    1. i'd say the opposite to pj26!

      i think the setting at hibiscus is sterile/corporate (views on the board are divided about hibiscus, as you'll see if you do a search, and i admit i'm not a fan) and would prefer the intimacy of yauatcha (i've not had service problems there). not helpful for you, i know

      they are very different settings - what will she like? formal dining or more intimate and buzzy? is it worth popping into each to have a look given its such a special occasion?

      what about galvins at windows - the views are glorious which would add to the sense of celebration. i'm sure you could use the occasion to bag a window table and drinks in their bar is always nice.

      13 Replies
      1. re: abby d

        Thanks Abby and PJ. It's good to get great reports on both. I was even considering St John as it's such a great stripped-down atmosphere there which in a way might be quite good fun.

        Abby: What a great and obvious (although not so obvious that I've thought of it!) suggestion on popping in to the various places. I will definitely go and have a look when I'm in the West End.

        Galvin is a good suggestion for the view but I was hoping to avoid anything too obviously French as we're going to Paris and Pierre Gagnaire the next day. I realise Bosi is very French but I presume he puts a fairly modern twist on everything?

        1. re: ihaveanewusername

          A recent meal at Hibiscus was very good food wise but quite a disappointment aesthetically. The room is too slcik and the FOH Manager is way too uptight. I feel like it would be a very cold place to pop the question. I love St John but I don't think it's the right place for a proposal. What about the Ledbury?

          1. re: Spiritchaser

            Dinner will be a few hours after I actually propose so it won't take place at the restaurant but it's interesting to hear that about Hibiscus. The Ledbury is a long way from where I live so I fear that the long journey might take the mood down a notch or two but maybe I should think about that.
            Would the cuisine at The Ledbury clash at all with going to Paris straight afterwards?

            Edit: cancel that as there's no space at the Ledbury, ditto Marcus Wareing which was my first choice.

              1. re: ihaveanewusername

                Have not been to P a T and they never answered an email I sent them so I doubt I ever will : )

                1. re: ihaveanewusername

                  Extraordinarily snooty service! My gf and I went with another visiting couple who had dined there the previous night. We didn't realize it was set-menu only, and we walked in after dinner to get some desert. We were very clear with the front-staff that we only wanted desert, and were seated promptly.

                  To cut a very annoying story short, the manager then came up to us after having been sat for about 10 minutes (and having ordered drinks) and said we couldn't just get desert, and we'd have to get a full 3 course meal if we wanted to stay. Our drinks had just arrived (if I recall a few whiskies etc -- not cheap drinks) as he told us this. He said we couldn’t even stay to finish our drinks and insisted we pay for them which was totally ludicrous so we left – and he actually followed us out of the restaurant for some bizarre reason (perhaps to argue away from paying guests?). Alas – I will never return.

                  1. re: brokentelephone

                    So you never tried the food?

                    Sorry you had a bad experience but the other couple must have been returning there for a reason, no?

                    1. re: r.vacapinta

                      Can I pitch in here before this turns into a completely one-sided Hibiscus-slagging fest? I had a really fantastic lunch at Hibiscus a few months ago. The food was absolutely faultless and interesting. The waiting staff were all very friendly, albeit the maitre d was a little cold. Nevertheless our sommelier was chatty, useful, and not at all condescending even though it was obvious we were not wine 'buffs'. So I think it would be unfair for me not to point out all of these positive traits.

                      However I do agree somewhat. The decor is a little cold, and it does have a very serious 'focus on the food' atmosphere. Personally that is not to my taste, as prefer a more informal dining environment. But I don't want to put people off what is the most precisely excellent food I've had in London. Chowhound seems to have rounded up on Hibiscus, and I'm going to stand up in its defence.

                      That said - I would be minded to Galvin at Windows as above, I took my girlfriend there the day before Valentines Day at got a hell of a lot of kudos. It's a really good place for a romantic occasion.

                      1. re: r.vacapinta

                        Sort of beside the point, no? Eating out is more than about just the food -- its about the experience.

                        If some people want to eat out just for good food and get treated like shit then more power to them, but in my experience, there are enough great restaurants in London with excellent food and faultless service to avoid places that lack in either department. I work hard for my money so they gotta treat me right LOL

                        1. re: brokentelephone

                          I never said it wasn't a great experience. To my personal tastes it wasn't quite perfect, but I'm sure many people would feel the sort of places I love the most too informal. What I'm getting at is it DOES provide a stellar service. For every experience like yours I'm sure I could find 10 people who had an absolutely fantastic time. I couldn't fault the service while I was there at all. I was faulting the restaurant more as a concept (ie. both itself and the clientele take food a little too seriously for the way I really like to enjoy my meals). Many other people will come out with a totally different outlook.

                          1. re: chief1284

                            Dude I wasn't referring to your post at all.....this was in reference to Pied a Terre not Hibiscus.

                            1. re: chief1284

                              I agree - I had an outstanding lunch at Hibiscus a few months ago, for a special occassion. The service and food was faultless but perhaps not a 'romantic' setting as such.

            1. I also concur with the other comment. Yauatcha is fun but a bit clubby, food is good, but it isn't a place to linger as they try and turn tables (do they still have the time limit). Hibiscus does have a corporate feel, and we also though the staff were too cool - practically tepid.

              In the end it really comes down to your personal style as a couple, Corrigans or Hix could be a nice contrast to France as a lot of the other recommendations are quite French, and they wouldn't suffer from the contrast to Gagnaire.

              1. i rec Cambio de Tercio...elegant, comfy, romantic, friendly, and w/ a staggeringly yummy wine list...

                1. I had lunch at Hibiscus a few weeks ago - it was flawless, yet odly uninspiring. I know it was only the lunch menu, but the food was disappointingly unimaginative for a restaurant with a reputation for innovation. The setting was... pleasant. But I feel they have made the surroundings deliberately muted so as not to distract from the food... The whole experience was 'good quality' but unexciting. A little embarrassing really as I had spent a lot of time telling my guests how amazing it was going to be!

                  I like Yauatcha a lot. The food is excellent and interesting, the chocolates and cakes are nothing short of splendid... the decor is great but I tend to use it as a place to go for a light supper - some fantastic tea, a few dim sum and some cakes. I have never had a problem with the service... but this may be because I don't *expect* the warm welcome that I look for when I go somewhere like Hibiscus (don;t ask me why!)... the front of house people at Yauatcha are efficient and stunningly turned out - but far from warm!

                  To be honest, I am not sure I would choose either for an engagement dinner.
                  Had you considered Texture? I ate there for the 1st time a couple of weeks ago and was blown away. The setting was beautiful - quirky and intimate, stylish without being in-your-face. The food was stunning - interesting, light yet satisfying and the waiting staff and sommelier were friendly and efficient. I can't recommend it highly enough. Central location too.
                  Check it out.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ajhw84

                    I am a big fan of Texture. I thought the food was perfect.

                    1. re: ajhw84

                      i had great food at texture recently too - fish and seafood tasting menu.

                      i was there are lunchtime though it definitely felt a bit like a hotel restaurant - is it better at night?

                      1. re: abby d

                        It's a bit better at night, I think. The room was full and the energy was quite high, in a fine dining sort of way.