Polpo (Notting Hill)

Location:  South West (Notting Hill)

Cuisine: Italian

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

The mini-chain of Polpo continues to impress and quality standards are thankfully maintained throughout their branches. LFM headed to the Notting Hill branch and perched on bar stools to admire/scrutinise the impressive venue and floating staff.

The standout dish were the infamous Polpo meatballs served with an intense tomato sauce. The rabbit ragu pasta was particularly lush, however the croquette portion sizes were a little menial. In comparison to other restaurants in this pricey end of London, Polpo offers OK value for money and saves a trek into central London.

The venue is spacious and there is plenty of room for those Notting Hill Bugaboos, although the restaurant feels a little grown up in the evening to bring the sprogs.

http://www.polpo.co.uk/

Dip and Flip (Battersea)

Location:  South West (Battersea)

Cuisine: French

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

Soggy sandwiches – sound appealing? Perhaps not to everyone’s palate but somehow it works.

Dip and Flip are introducing us to the world of the French Dipped Sandwich – slicely thinned beef or lamb, dipped in gravy and served in a fresh bread roll. You get extra gravy on the side to dip the whole sandwich in and then try and stuff the sloppy mess into one’s salivating mouth. Definitely not a place to take a first date! Simple but fantastic. The burgers also impressed as did the huge American oversized thick milkshakes.

The venue is casual enough for the little ones, however we felt the Battersea branch was a little cramped for too many buggies. Highchairs available plus a separate kids menu.

http://dipandflip.co.uk/

Cellar Gascon

Location:  City (Smithfield Market/Clerkenwell)

Cuisine: French

Price Range: £

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 1/3

Shhhh…London Foodie Mama has stumbled upon a little London secret. Not sure we want anyone else to discover this find….It’s the lunch time bargain dish of the day served at Cellar Gascon. LFM is a big fan of the Gascon mini chain having dined at the Michelin starred (stiff and formal) Club Gascon and the more accessible gourmet bistro style Comptoir Gascon. Having spent a fortune at both these venues, who would have thought their baby sister restaurant, Cellar Gascon, could offer a decent dish at £6!

We devoured the Toulouse Sausage cassoulet bathed in beautiful juices and lentils. OK, the dish is on the small size but we were satisfied at lunchtime having filled up on the accompanying complimentary fresh baguette and topping up with the bargain desert (£3) of Pain Perdu (translated as Lost bread). We also tried the Signature Gascon Duck burger which you couldn’t fault – moist shredded duck, sandwiched between a toasted brioche bun (yes it could have been bigger but it was only £5!) Why can’t there be more places like this in London??

Would you bring a baby? Simple answer..No. Do you want to trek to the City/Clerkenwell area at lunchtime with the buggy on public transport and dine amongst serious looking suited and booted business men? Plus, the venue is more of a narrow wine bar with little room for buggies with no highchairs available and no baby changing facilities. Having mentioned all the above, our toddler was happily perched in a booth and staff made us feel welcome despite our noisy tag along. (Parenting tip from LFM: train your kids early on regarding restaurant behaviour and etiquette and potty train early to avoid searching from nappy changing facilities).

http://www.clubgascon.com/cellar/about.php

Yosma

Location:  West End (Baker Street)

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

Yosma – pioneers in London of the concept of Turkish street food, self-described as “A new Turkish Meyhane, Mangal & Raki bar inspired by the streets of Istanbul”. Slightly sceptical and a non-expert in this type of cuisine, LFM attended  the half price soft launch to see if Yosma was more than an overpriced kebab van.

Situated on the busy main road of Baker Street, Yosma is well placed amongst many other reputable venues (neighbours include Royal China Club, Bright Courtyard) , although it feels that this particular area of London lacks the buzzy aura of Soho or Marylebone. The premises are large and spacious (lots of room for buggies thumbs up) and you can tell the designers and architects have really given some thought into the layout (raised bar area, open kitchen, spectacular wood fired oven on display). The décor feels like a brasserie and has a very similar vibe to the look of Dishoom (mega successful mini-chain serving Indian street food). Yosma was so new, the high chairs weren’t even  ordered, but there are lovely pews with sofa type soft seating for little ones to crawl over (not the purpose intended by the owners I am sure, but great for parents!).

The menu is extensive – something for every type of palate and appetite. Highlights were the Turkish dumplings and the lamb kofte – a classic which has been given a twist through the flavours and side sauces. The real treat was the poached pear dessert (supposed to be quince – was out of season) served with ‘candy floss’ – not the fluorescent pink E-number fuelled type found on the funfair, but made with ingredients which we had never experienced before (coined ‘cotton wool’ by our 2 year old). One criticism was the lack of attention to alerting customers to allergens on their menu  – staff had failed to highlight the presences of walnuts in one particular dish which we had ordered and as someone with a mild nut allergy, I was left disappointed.

Overall, LFM has high hopes for Yosma – fingers crossed the staff will have got into the swing of things in a few weeks (service a little slow and many aimless bodies milling around without purpose it would seem). The venue looks smart and innovation has been brought to the menu to excite London tastebuds.  Pricing is decent for the area and  for the quality of the cuisine offered. Good luck Yosma!

http://www.yosma.london/

Eneko @ One Aldwych

Location:  West End London

Cuisine: Spanish (Basque)

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3 (dependent on nature of bebe!)

London Foodie Mama had the pleasure of attending the soft launch (50% discount yeah!) of Eneko, a new upmarket restaurant serving food from the Basque region, fabulously located on the Strand in central  London near theatre land.

The décor of the venue is impressive, with a majestic sweeping stair case which leads guests from the bar area to the main dining room (this is lovely unless you have a buggy with you, although staff were keen to assist). It’s a place you would definitely bring your tinder date to..however we were apprehensive with our  unpredictable ticking time bomb also known as ‘the toddler’. The restaurant surprisingly provided highchairs which were clean..Remarkable! (perhaps never used before as no sane parents have dared bring a child to such a plush venue). The venue was very spacious  – but don’t even consider letting your little ones run around..it’s not that kinda place.

On to the food. We ordered the Txerri Boda Pork Festival (£15)  consisting of Mushroom & Iberico ham duxelle in milk bread, suckling pig brioche and crispy pork jowl. This was a delight, with pillow soft bread and tasty fillings encased in a charming wooden carved pig head box – our only complaint was the small size of these slider type starters for the price tag (OK this place ain’t cheap and you better get some ‘Return on Investment’ from that Tinder date). Our main course was the perfectly cooked Basque style hake in tempura (£21) – soft in the middle, crisp on the outside. We also ordered the Potatoes in herb and txakoli sauce with fried crisp egg yolks – the highlight being the ingenious bursting egg yolks..disappointing were the slightly undercooked potatoes. For dessert, we had the rice pudding (£9) –  sadly this was a low point. Chosen from the pre-made dessert trolley, it lacked the freshly prepared taste and the rice could have been cooked for longer. The flavours failed to excite and live up to the standards set by the preceding dishes. The accompanying sheep’s milk ice cream was marvellous though – not too ‘sheepy’ tasting as feared.

Overall, we had a great experience (and it was an EXPERIENCE, not just fill the tummy and go): the food, dazzling surroundings and friendly service. Would only return paying full price if someone else was treating – can’t part with £9 for one dessert (that’s like the price of ~40 nappies).  Not advised to bring the kids for dinner, perhaps lunch but only those accustomed to dining out and BEHAVING!

http://www.eneko.london/