Railhouse Cafe

Location:  South West (Victoria)

Cuisine: Modern European

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

London Foodie Mama was excited to check out the soft launch of the Railhouse Cafe in Victoria. They launched with an interesting concept: The “Honesty Policy” – only pay for the dish if you think it was worth it…so how much did LFM end up paying?….

First we sampled the salmon tartare (£8.50)  for starters – sadly this was disappointing with too much olive oil lathered on top and lacking any zingy flavour. For mains we tried the Crab Royale (£14) which consisted of a generous portion of tasty crab cakes on a bed of English muffins topped with a Hollandaise sauce. We also sampled the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich which was moist but with so much salt added, our tastebuds were frazzled to extinction.

So the food was completely outshone by the decor and groovy fixtures. We particularly liked the toilets and the ‘vintage’ (but new) pull down cistern lavatories. Also, the varied seating areas are great if you have kids – from booths to sofas. Plus, unusual for central Lomdon, lots of room for buggies and high chairs a plenty.

So what did LFM end up paying? That’s a secret Shhhhh

www.railhouse.cafe

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Selesa

Location:  West London (South Kensington)

Cuisine: Asian (Malaysian)

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

Never to keen on basement hotel restaurants in those less established hotels in West London (Park City Grand Plaza Hotel), however, when Timeout ran an offer on Malaysian restaurant, Selesa, LFM snapped up the chance.

Malaysian restaurants in London are rare and the cuisine hasn’t really hit the English tastebuds like Thai dishes have. This is disappointing as Malaysian food has so much to offer. The best dish Selesa showcased was the Assam Laksa  – a spicy, pungent, sour  soup based noodle dish with mackerel  which really hit the spot and was truly authentic. With this high, came a low – starter dish of prawn fritters was raw inside (the chef provided a replacement but I was dubious of their standards by this point).

Selesa is worth the trek to South Kensington if you have that Malaysian food craving. However, the restaurant lacks ambience; there was only one other table on a Saturday afternoon. The premises are spacious for buggies but there are no highchairs available – odd for a hotel (where are families suppose to dine??). No baby changing facilities but you could probably find a spot in the hotel lobby to do the business.

http://www.parkcitylondon.com/selesa-restaurant-2

Sagardi

Location:  Shoreditch

Cuisine: Spanish

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 1/3

Basque restaurants in London are like buses – wait for ages, then 2 come along at the same time. Last month, we reviewed Eneko in Aldwych, now we have Sagardi, situated bang in the middle of trendy Shoreditch. We could attempt to describe Eneko as projecting the image of a sophisticated BMW car, whilst Sargardi possesses more of the  cooler, younger vibe of a Mini – both equally pricey but providing quality.

Our large group of 15 were led to the basement where private rooms reside – this offered us privacy and the freedom to be raucous, however, we missed the theatre of the main floor, showcasing the huge charcoal grill where the steaks were prepared. The staff were very knowledgeable, bringing us hunks of meat joints to choose from, describing their age, type of cow etc – too many details if you ask me..don’t give my food character or personality please..I feel guilty enough as it is!

So how did the food taste? – we tried a huge selection including Fried Txistorra sausages – tasty chorizo like bites, Grilled Biskay black pudding starter  – portion rather copious to stomach alone, definitely a sharing plate. From the grill, we sampled a T-bone Ox steak. Prices were dear at £60 a head for the meat ALONE with no trimmings. We could tell there was pride and joy with the meats offered (showcased in the window display – vegetarians look away).  Sadly, we were disappointed by our first experience of Ox…undercooked and a bit tough and chewy (perhaps Ox just does taste like that). Out of the ‘home-cooking’ style dishes, we selected the oxtail stew slow cooked in red wine for 4 hours which was rich and luxurious, however at £24 with no sides, you begin to realise this place ain’t cheap. Top dishes were the tuna tartare (£16), ham croquettes (£8) and the super tasty clams in green sauce. Bizarre pricing baffled us , with a side order of grilled peppers priced the same as the tuna tartare ….perhaps our ignorance in Basque delicacies is exposed here.

Our impression of Sagardi is that it is not really steered at families (based on our Saturday night with cool hipsters hanging around the bar). Friendly staff helped carry a buggy down the stairs and there is plenty of space for buggies – however, the location and dim lighting of the venue doesn’t really suit kids (plus no baby changing).

In summary, Sagardi is pretty good – some dishes were hits, some not so. Prices are pretty steep (unaffordable for stay at home mums who don’t live off their city lawyer/banker husbands) and if we had to choose between our favourite new basque restaurant, we would have to opt for the more refined Eneko (Note, LFM drives a Mini).

http://www.sagardi.co.uk/

Bears Ice Cream

Location:  West London

Cuisine: Sweet

Price Range: £

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

Ice-cream + cutesy bear logos = kid heaven. Parent hell though, as we bow into toddler pressure to purchase an over-priced Mr Whippy type soft ice cream. OK Bear Ice cream have more of an unique selling point – a selection of toppings from apple crumble to crushed dime bars to top your ice cream, or get it whizzed up in one great mush (think McFlurry).

The ice cream was good, not amazing for the price tag (£3.50 for a ‘small glacier’). However, we like the concept and the kitsch feel of the ice cream parlour – black board/chalk tables for kids to scribble on. Bit of an odd location – stuck on a main road between Turnham Green and Shepherds Bush. They would do better on a high st so not sure it’s worth the trek unless you are a local .

http://www.bearsicecream.co.uk/

MEATliquorN1

Location:  Islington

Cuisine: American

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

Is London sick of the gourmet burger? Can we take more greasy, calorie laden American junk food of hot dogs and cheesy chips? YES says LFM! (Who is eating for 2 at the moment and pretends this is an excuse to consume 1500 calories in one dish).

LFM was left in charge of organising a large, group gathering of 15 people (and 5 babies/toddlers) on Upper St, Islington. The perfect place was Meat Liquor – Not wallet breaking, casual and they take reservations! We were lucky to be blessed with sunny weather and the staff placed our rowdy group in the outside courtyard. Not plush, more alleyway stylee but perfect to let the toddlers roam around.

The burgers were extremely tasty and moist (although we have to say Patty and Bun win the gold medal for burgers in our opinion). Give the mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes a miss (bit stodgy). Chilli fries were indulgent and pretty spicy (adults only).

Go during the day with kids. In the evening, the venue feels dark and more like a nightclub. And the kids might freak out by the uber dark, UV light only toilets..not easy to do a nappy change in that lighting!

http://meatliquor.com/n1/