Kerala Indian restaurant, Central London

I’ve been to Kerala (Indian restaurant near Oxford Circus in Central London) again and it’s just as good as it was when I first went and wrote about it here. I just want to make sure enough people go there to keep it open (it seems busy enough) so hopefully this should appear in some search engines. The dosas are really good… in fact, I think it’s all really good if you like authentic south Indian food.

Kerala Restaurant, 15 Great Castle Street, London, W1W 8LT. Nearest tube
Oxford Circus

Review of Kerala on London-eating

Review of Kerala at
Curry House Reviews

Review of The National Portrait Gallery Restaurant

I went for lunch at the restaurant in the National Portrait Gallery yesterday. I’d already been once before, towards the end of 2000, and enjoyed it then (not least because someone else was paying) and was looking forward to going again. We booked in advance, which I think is advisable at any time.

The menu style is a bit different to usual in that you choose to have either 2 or 3 courses for either £20 or £25. Luckily, you can change your mind half way through i.e. go for a starter and then ‘upgrade’. This seems a pretty good idea, particularly when it comes to splitting the bill in a group. It also means you don’t have to feel guilty about liking the most expensive thing on the menu.

Before getting to the food, though, the best reason to come to the restaurant National Portrait Gallery is for the view out over Trafalgar Square and towards Westminster. It really is a great backdrop to eating. Another good reason to book seemed to be that booking would get you a table by the window whereas people who just turned up didn’t seem to get the same privilege.

The menu was slightly odd, I found, although I wouldn’t have thought it so odd if it hadn’t claimed to be brunch (served between 11:30am and 3pm on a Sunday). For one, that seems a bit late for brunch (picky, I know), but also none of the food seemed particularly brunch-like. Okay, fish would come with a poached egg, and the most common form of potato was a hash brown, but apart from that… I had foie gras for a starter, for example (which was very nice). The courses are all quite small too and it’s more than likely that you’ll end up with three if this is the main meal of the day. Two courses was okay for lunch, with a couple of glasses of wine as well, but for an evening meal I think a dessert as well would be essential.

The food is all well presented (made easier by being smaller portions so plenty of room for layout, I suppose…) and generally the whole experience does feel quite up-market (for what I’d know of that). Pretty good food, a nice space, an excellent view and generally not bad value altogether.

The National Portrait Gallery Restaurant website

The National Portrait Gallery on Streetmap

William IV pub, Leyton

For anyone in the area who doesn’t already know about it, the William IV pub at the Baker’s Arms in Leyton is one of the best pubs in the area. They have a good selection of real beer such as “London Pride” and “Discovery”, and serve surprisingly good Thai food. There is a small beer garden out the back which was fairly empty on a Tuesday night.

The only real way to get to the pub is by bus, either from Walthamstow, Stratford (69), Leyton (any number of buses), or from the centre of town on a 48, 55 or 56.

William IV on Beer in the Evening

William IV on

Review of Nama Bar and Restaurant, London (kangaroo and chips)

I went to the Nama Bar last night on a special offer (vouchers from The Times) since I’d been in a pub in the area. It’s not quite what I was expecting, definitely more of a bar than a restaurant, and not very Japanese at that. Okay, there were the usual Bento Boxes (which seemed to contain a slightly odd combination), but otherwise there were things like Cumberland sausages and mash. Just adding wasabi to mash potato doesn’t seem particularly Japanese.

Feeling adventurous, I decided to go for the ostrich (which I have had before). I wasn’t quite feeling adventurous enough to try the crocodile, but only because it came with wasabi mash which sounded a step too far to me. Unfortunately they had no ostrich but I was offered kangaroo instead. Definitely a result there! Kangaroo seems to sit somewhere between lamb and beef both in flavour and texture. A side portion of french fries were definitely a necessity, though. Plus a glass or two of red wine. The prices seemed reasonable to us since we were on a 2 for 1 offer, but I would expect a meal to come to around £25 a head at full price which isn’t too bad for good food in central London.

Would I go again? I would be more likely to go for the drinks than the food, to be honest, not because of the quality (I actually found the food to be quite good) but because the atmosphere doesn’t seem quite suited to that level of eating. The music was a touch on the loud side and the whole place had a bit more of a ‘party’ feel to it all. Also, I was sat on a sofa which wasn’t quite high enough for the table.

The Nama Bar website
Location of the Nama Bar
Nama Bar details at View London

Review of Wagamama Japanese restaurant, Covent Garden

I first went to a Wagamama a couple of years ago and was fairly impressed. Decent enough food and fairly cheap, being able to eat for around a tenner quite easily. The side dishes seemed particularly good. It was, in fact, the Covent Garden branch where my Wagamama experiences started. At the time I apparently said “I bet as this place gets more popular the food will start to go downhill”. Unfortunately, that does seem to be the case

I went back to the Covent Garden restaurant a couple of nights ago and was distinctly unimpressed. The side dishes were still okay, at least, but I don’t think a single one of the people I was with was actually enjoying their main dish. I was served some chicken of dubious origin with rice and salty glupe. (I don’t think that’s the proper name for it, but it describes what was in front of me.) The taste can be best described as ‘salty’, and that’s about it.

I’m actually guite disappointed as Wagamama was one of those places that I thought I could count on to produce fairly good fast food. I guess that’s just the way these chains go over time.


Review of Curry Capital, Brick Lane, London

A rather good curry

I’ve tried the Brick Lane curry experience a few times now, as I live in
East London and work in Bethnal Green, but have always been disappointed. I
think out of the worst half a dozen curries I’ve ever had in my life, Brick
Lane has accounted for about five of them.

Curry Capital, then, was a real find. It’s slightly further up the north end
of Brick Lane than the large gaggle of Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants
usually are and is almost on its own. There’s no-one outside touting free
beer, wine or starters (a very good sign) and the decor is quite
sophisticated… relative to the rest of Brick Lane’s offerings, of

The food is also pretty good – certainly well above anything else I’ve had
down London’s most famous curry street. The “Katmandu Delicacy” I chose had
very tasty fresh chillies, and lamb that didn’t require oversized muscles to
chew on. The sauce was richly flavoured and the side dishes were equally

Although the menu did offer what they called ‘Old favourites’, the main
focus was definitely on the Chef’s Specialities listing. These dishes were
the most interesting and the descriptions of each makes them very

Beer was the usual offering of Cobra or Kingfisher. Prices came to
£25/head for main course, a couple of beers, rice, naan and a couple of side
dishes, which seemed very reasonable given the quality

Review of Kerala Indian Restaurant, Oxford Circus

I had the good fortune to visit a South Indian restaurant called Kerala,
near Oxford Circus, last night. Located in an unlikely place for an original
restaurant it was a real surprise.

I’m a big curry fan, and Kerala is certainly a treat. The menu is nothing
like the majority of Indian restaurants (read ‘Curry Houses’) you find;
there were a couple of the ‘standard’ dishes (a biryani, something
korma-looking) but otherwise it was generally a lot more authentic and based
(I was told) on Keralan cuisine. My choice was a dosa to start with and a
mutton curry main course. Both were very good indeed, and the meat was much
more tender than any of the lamb I’ve had down Brick Lane. I tried a few of
the other dishes and the roast duck was particularly good.

The drinks list was fairly standard, except instead of “Kingfisher” or
“Cobra” the Indian beer was “Adi adi”. I’d never heard of it, and it had an
interesting taste with floral overtones. Very unusual for a lager.

The service was good throughout, although I’m convinced the waiter will
have aching cheek muscles at the end of each night from so much grinning.
Prices were above the usual curry house, but the quality matched it and it
was still a reasonably cheap meal at around £15 a head

I would absolutely recommend Kerala. It’s a great find, and to find such
good quality in the centre of London is absolutely fantastic. The menu is
very broad and would be excellent for vegetarians, as well as having a wide
range of fish dishes.

Kerala Restaurant, 15 Great Castle Street, London, W1W 8LT. Nearest tube
Oxford Circus

Review of Kerala on London-eating

Review of Kerala at
Curry House Reviews

Restaurant review: Gili Gulu sushi restaurant, London

It’s hard not to know about Yo Sushi, the ‘famous’ conveyor belt sushi
restaurant, but what’s not so well known is that the idea is almost a
direct import from Japan where such restaurants are more common. Gili
Gulu is another along the same vein in central London just off the main
stretch between Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

One of the big things that you’ll notice about Gili Gulu compared to Yo
Sushi is the price: the set meals are more than enough for an early
evening snack and come in at £7.50 for either a large noodle dish and
three sushi’s or miso soup and 6 sushi dishes. Very good value and even
with a drink on top you can have a reasonable meal for around £10. The
buffet is more of a blow-out experience but for around £11.50 it’s all
you can eat, including any of the noodle dishes off the menu.

The interior is well presented but informal. The tables are ideal for
groups of four, yet the bulk of the seating is based around the conveyor
belt which snakes around the space. This is ideal for a couple or if
you’re on your own. Once you’re sat down and have decided which of the
menu choices to go for you simply watch the food go past and pick up
anything that you like the look of. In comparison to Yo Sushi there is
not the same range of dishes, and Gili Gulu is lacking some of the more
time-intensive sushi rolls, but at a much reduced price I certainly
aren’t complaining. There’s a choice of rice and raw fish sushi rolls,
with a light spread of wasabe, as well as a few cooked dishes for the
less brave. On the conveyor belt you’ll also find dumplings, plates of
noodles, peas in their pods, and a few ‘tourist pleaser’ dishes such as
chicken on skewers, spring rolls and prawn crackers.

The main failing of Gili Gulu, though, is that at busier times they
often don’t have enough staff. Although the food from the conveyor belt
is self service the idea of free tea refills loses its appeal if you
can’t attract the attention of someone with a tea pot. Not being a sushi
expert I can’t comment on the authenticity of the food but having
sampled the Yo Shushi experience (and it is still more of an experience)
I can’t say I have noticed any shortcomings.

Gili Gulu is a great place for a quick, informal meal before an evening
out or at the end of an afternoon in town. It’s certainly not an
upmarket restaurant but if you’re in the area and fancy some fast but
stylish food then I think it’s hard to beat.

Address: Gili Gulu, 50-52 Monmouth Street, London, WC2

Nearest tube: Leicester Square or Covent Garden.

Review of Gili Gulu on London eats

Restaurant review: Vic Naylor’s, Clerkenwell, London

Vic Naylor’s in Clerkenwell is one of a collection of reasonably
up-market restaurants along St John Street. On entering the
bar/restaurant one is struck by the effort that has been put into the
interior, yet somehow it appears very natural. It’s also slightly more
distinctive than the formulaic modern interiors that seem to be the
default nowadays.

We arrived half hour early and sat for a drink at the bar. There’s a
relaxed feel to the place and a slow trickle of people coming in through
the door filling up the restaurant. Once our drinks were finished it
took nothing more than hopping off our stools and a glance at the
waitress for her to show us straight to our table. This was certainly
impressive attention to customers, especially given that there only
seemed to be two waiting staff for the 30 or 40 seats in the restaurant.

Service throughout was also excellent. We weren’t hurried at any point,
if we asked for a couple of minutes to decide on something then we would
be left alone and, importantly, someone would come back to see to us a
few minutes later. There were no large gaps between courses (unless we
felt we needed the rest) and despite time being shared between the two
staff they obviously kept in touch with who had ordered what dish so
there was no need to ask as they brought food to the table.

The food was very good too. Throughout the three courses on the menu
there is a variation from the more conservative to more adventurous
modern european food, including (on the night we visited) steak, duck
breast and risotto, and prawn and crab ravioli. Each course was well
presented and richly flavoured yet somehow had a lightness of touch as
the different tastes balanced each other.

The only possible downside was I felt that the winelist was slightly on
the expensive side (ranging from around £12 upwards), although that
seems to be par for the course nowadays. The wine itself (a Rioja
Blanco) was good, however, so there has obviously been some thought put
into the selection. Price-wise we came in at just over £40 a head,
including a decent tip, which for three courses, wine, water and coffee
seemed fair. In fact, given the prices of some London restaurants it’s
very good value for money.

Clerkenwell has certainly changed over the past few years. When I first
worked there back in 1998 you certainly wouldn’t think of going there on
a Saturday evening on the off-chance of a good restaurant being open.
Clerkenwell has been transformed into a trendy night-spot (albeit a
slightly exclusive one) and, along with most of the other good
restaurants in the area, booking is advised for Vic Naylor’s.

Address: 38-40 St John Street, London, EC1M 4AY

Nearest tube: Farringdon

Other reviews:

Vic Naylor’s on London Eating

Vic Naylor’s on London Eats

Restaurant and pub review: The Duke of York, Clerkenwell

“The Duke” in Clerkenwell is hidden away down a back street (Roger
Street) just off Theobalds Road and Grays Inn Road, London. Although the
pub comes across as a ‘local boozer’, it’s clear from the thought that’s
been put into the decor that it’s not intended for a purely local
audience. The beer selection is pretty good (a nice selection of ales)
and the wine-list is not too expensive, if still a tad on the pricey

The pub itself is split into two parts: the bar, and the restaurant.
Both are nicely fitted out in a kind of modern-rustic way and it manages
to pull this all off without appearing to try too hard.

Our experience went downhill as soon as we asked if we could sit in the
(almost completely empty) restaurant half: “As long as you’re going to
eat.”. We said we were waiting for friends, and they agreed to give us a
whole 40 minutes before we had to order. 10 minutes later, we were asked
again if we were ready to order and had to remind them that we were
waiting for more people. The friends arrived, but then we had to run the
gauntlet of trying to attract a waiters attention; it was puzzling that
after so much harrassment earlier we were actually finding it difficult.

The food was very good when it arrived, although hardly service with a
smile. Again, attracting someone’s attention for another bottle of wine
was an ordeal. The meal/drinks came to around £25 a head in the end,
which I don’t see is a sum to be sniffed at by a pub/restaurant on a
Thursday evening, and although The Duke of York has a very good quality food and a well thought out eating area, the feeling that we were imposing on the staff left us
with no desire to return again.

The Duke’s website:
Another review: The Duke review on London Eating