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Nov 12, 2012 08:26 AM

Input on weekend plans? Mohsen, Bombay Brasserie, Launceston Place plus Liverpool St questions

Hi 'hounds -

Work is taking me to London so we're doing a weekend (Nov. 16-18) en famille - me, the partner, and the 3.5 year old. Staff travel has me staying in South Kensington, which is a nice change from the usual Holiday Inn Express we're looking to take advantage of our location.

Right now I've got the following in mind:

Mohsen - table booked for Friday night. Howler, any must-order dishes here?

Bombay Brasserie - We've never been to BB (other Indian/Pakistani favourites are Quilon, Moti Mahal and Tayyabs/Lahore Kebab House). From what I read, the lunch buffet is yards above what you get the rest of the week; is it a must-do (especially since we're staying just a few blocks away)?

Launceston Place - either for one of the weekend lunches or maybe a solo dinner Sunday after partner and child head home. Would a relatively well-behaved child be totally out of place here?

Other restaurants in the mix for either Saturday night or Sunday lunch include
Bocca di Lupo
Wild Honey

Have been to Bocca di Lupo (with kid) and loved it. Am reading that NOPI is pricey for what you get - thoughts? Between WH and Arbutus, would one be more kid-friendly?

Harwood Arms - solo dinner booked for Monday

Monday and Tuesday lunch - undecided
Will need to stick close to Liverpool St Station. Any recommendations in that area? I might try to drag a colleague to St John Bread & Wine one day, but that would be the outer limit as far as distance. Has anyone been to Tsuru for sushi?

Thanks to all!

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  1. There's no major difference between Wild Honey and Arbutus. Former has just had a refit and if pressed I'd say Arbutus probably a bit louder and more bustling so perhaps more child friendly.

    I've had better meals at Wild Honey but it's marginal and the service was a bit friendlier at Arbutus so perhaps that would be a better option with your child in tow.

    Near Liverpool Street L'Anima is very good Italian (although quite corporatey) and Duck and Waffle was good fun (see review on front page). St John Bread and wine by far the best choice though if you've not eaten there.

    In the same area as Bread and Wine (basically next door) is Upstairs at the Ten Bells, superb restaurant with a great informal atmosphere and service.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ManInTransit

      Thanks, MIT. Hadn't heard of Upstairs, so will check that out. Not sure if my colleague on the day will be feeling St-John-ish but will do my best to convince. :o) And I may do Wild Honey/Arbutus for my Sunday dinner after Zuriga's input on NOPI below!

      1. re: ManInTransit

        Argh - just saw that Upstairs is only open for lunch Thurs-Sat. Too bad, because the menu looks lovely!

        1. re: Kelly

          Apologies - they keep changing their opening hours. They were open on Tuesdays recently.

          Could you convince your colleague to Tayyabs for a lunch?

          1. re: ManInTransit

            I can certainly try...but work constraints will probably keep us within a 10-minute radius of the office. Boo.

      2. Bombay Brasserie:

        I went to BB for their buffet this past weekend and was quite disappointed. I hadn't been for years since they did a refit, and it really felt like a 4* hotel buffet.

        The service is pleasant, and obviously rather unimportant for a buffet, though as in my last visit years ago, there is an old-world ostentation which I don't like. There is a sense that the owners and staff think of BB on par with a 3 michelin starred restaurant, rather than an all-you-can-gorge Indian restaurant.

        Food was pleasant, but the lack of choice was surprising. 1 lamb, 1 chicken, 1 chicken tikka skewer, 1 prawn curry, dal, and perhaps 2-3 vegetables. That is more than sufficient, and perhaps i'm spoiled by North American buffet standards, but a stand-alone Indian restaurant with a buffet should offer more variety than I would usually order for delivery for 4.

        Naan bread delivered to table was objectively bad -- lumpy, doughy, and quite unpleasant.

        Food was quite good, but again, not any more thoughtfully prepared than my local delivery, and certainly not on par with the Michelin Indian contingent. For whatever it cost (around £30) I'd much rather Quilon or Benares lunch deal, or full price spread at Trishna.


        The baqhali polo (lamb shanks w/broad bean and dill rice) was absolutely stunning when I had it last week -- my companion had kebab of some sort which was good, but mine was excellent and on par with my Iranian mommas (my best friend is Iranian, his mother is an excellent cook). I've had their gheimeh (the lamb with lentils and dried limes), and find it to be average.

        Harwood Arms is great, though have only been once ages ago -- had a beef cheek and mash which was out of this world.

        7 Replies
        1. re: brokentelephone

          Thanks for your review of BB. I had made a res for the buffet for my visit in December and I will now be cancelling it. Hopefully I can find something else worthwhile.

          1. re: brokentelephone

            too bad about your experience at the brasserie!

            but you glommed something with the 'four star' comment - the brasserie is run by the taj group (a tata company). its hotels in india are synonymous with luxury and very often, the restaurants in the hotels will be destination places in that city. thats the vibe you are picking up on.

            sadly, i think you missed all the street food starters: there are guys putting out plates of bhel, pani puri, dahi batata wada etc. thats a great way to begin. then a choice of four meat dishes, and four vegetable dishes along with rice, dal, kadi - simply made. finally dessert - icecream, indian desserts, some barfi.

            pretty generous it seems to me.

            lastly a tip for you - never get naan, get the tandoori roti. its the difference between white bread and proper tasty crunchy whole wheat bread.

            1. re: howler

              I was there at the same time as a huge group of elderly British tourists and I suspect I missed out on the starters - there was only one on offer that I could see and they were taken as soon as they were put out. I wasn't seated near the actual buffet so perhaps just bad luck.

              Deserts were similarly absent -- I only saw ice cream and fruits. I'm thinking the OAPs were there for one last hurrah and were scarfing the food as fast as it was plated.

              1. re: brokentelephone

                give it another try - maybe go early? there really is a lot of variety on offer, and reasonably so at thirty quid.

                its close to where you live, and what the hell - i'll treat you to dinner at mohsen if it disappoints again. but get the roti and avoid the naan.

                1. re: howler

                  Agree with Howler, your experience is quite different to mine. OK there are not endless rows of dishes but I thought it was a good balance of quality versus variety. I also remember a whole range of starters and desserts. I would have thought the "service" wold have meant it was simple to ask them to replenish the chicken tikka. Did they not have the chef working in the small round kitchen in the conservatory area?

                  However, I do agree with the fit out - it lost something.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    There was a chef but he wasn't churning out much -- it was absolutely choc-a-block of geezers eating like it was going out of style who must've grabbed everything in between my trips to the buffet.

                  2. re: howler

                    We'll give it a go and get there early. :o)

                    On an Indian-related note, has anyone been to Roti Chai? I've only seen feedback (which has been positive) from one Chowhound, but am quite curious. The very mention of Indian street food makes me salivate...but just off Oxford Street? What are the odds it can be good?

            2. The food at Nopi is tasty, but I do think it's a bit overpriced. Personally, after having a lunch there a month or so ago, I would tend not to think of it as a dinner place. There are better choices in London for a main meal. I loved the broad bean fritters and the food looks amazing, so don't count it out. 'Pricey' is a relative term and what's pricey to one may not be to another person.

              1. Launceston Place is quite "hushed fine dining", a place for the wealthy middle-aged of the area to get their pearls out, from my experience, so may not be the best choice for a kid. BB is far more family-friendly. Brindisa at South Ken would be good for kids too, but I think is a bit out of fashion these days with more refined tapas places, e.g. Jose opening recently. You're also close to Earl's court, so can consider No 10 or Dragon Palace for more ethnic choices.

                Tsuru is quite passable, but its core business is selling takeaway lunch to office workers and it's vibe reflects that. Limited menu, cold and deserted feeling in evenings and from memory hard backless stools so you wouldn't linger long. Le Relaise de Venise is also quite near, see the board for reviews on that. Or for higher end steakhouses, Goodman or Hawksmoor are pretty close.

                1 Reply
                1. re: deansa

                  Thanks, deansa. Tsuru might well suit, as it's just a quick lunch between meetings. Colleague is pescatarian, so steakhouses out.

                2. a stones throw away from st. john bread and wine is sichuan folk on hanbury street .... some very nice things on the menu.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: howler

                    Oh lord, howler - I've just looked at the website and am feeling my traditional panic when faced with zillions of choices: the fear that I will always order the two things on the menu that AREN'T any good. Any specific recommendations at Sichuan Folk?

                    (I shamefacedly admit to not being keen on offal. It's a texture thing.)

                    1. re: Kelly

                      its pretty much all good ... so don't worry! get what you like the looks of. i particularly enjoy the pork dishes - try their water boiled pork, its very good. the standards are all deftly made too - grean beans with minced pork, fish fragrant pork etc and their 'signature' dumplings are delish.