Il pampero

Location:  South West (Knightsbridge/Belgravia)

Cuisine: Italian

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 5/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

Did someone whisper “Soft launch..half price..in Belgravia”?…yes please, table for 2 plus a highchair thank you..

LFM has found an almost perfect venue. The food served is exquisite….starter of seabass carpaccio was delicate and beautifully presented. We sampled the mains of ravioli of oxtail and cacciucco (seafood soup) which was amazing followed by an inventive tiramisu where the waitress  dramatically doused our dessert with an espresso shot. And must mention the tasty complimentary homemade bread basket – what a treat.

Delighted to see this upmarket restaurant had a kids menu, high chairs, room for buggies plus nappy changing facilities. However, don’t think this is a pizza express which tolerates hundreds of kids through the doors…this is a ‘nice’ place where you can bring ‘nice’ children <ahem>..if the kids get restless, they can be brought into the attached lobby of the neighbouring boutique hotel (Hari hotel).

And why not a perfect venue? Well high quality food comes at a price..so maybe save this for a family treat…

http://www.ilpampero.com/

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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

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/

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/

197 Chiswick Fire Station

Location: West London (Chiswick)

Cuisine: Modern European

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

London Foodie Mama was delighted to attend the soft launch of 197 Chiswick Fire Station. The former All Bar One bar (and previously an old fire station as the name suggests) has been gorgeously transformed into a restaurant/all-day-café/bar. The décor is chic yet laid back and would not look out of place in Chelsea or Mayfair. We particularly liked the different types of seating arrangements guests can choose from – cosy sofas, group tables, booths, stools around the bar or alfresco dining in the garden. Edison filament lightbulbs  a plenty and numerous cactus plants scattered around finished off the swank look.

On to the food. We settled for the beef brisket roast (bit dry sadly but generous portions) and the chicken and ham hock pie. The latter was beautifully presented, with a ceramic black bird figurine poking out of the perfectly cooked puff pastry, however the saltiness of the ham hock overpowered the entire dish leaving us gasping for hydration. Speaking of hydration, try the home made elderflower lemonade. For dessert, we opted for the banana crumble which was wholly executed with a crumbly topping, however the fruit was cooked in maple syrup which was achingly sweet, even for our sweet tooth. Perhaps serving with custard instead of the ice cream would have neutralised the sweetness.

Overall, our experience was lovely. Excellent place to chill and read the Sunday papers. Staff was attentive and the spacious nature of the restaurant meant plenty of buggies could be accommodated. High chairs were provided and the kids menu was prepared at £7.50 for a main course and dessert – only criticism was that all  main meal choices were unbalanced with no serving of vegetables (not that the little one would touch it but at least they can  be teased with the green stuff).

197 Chiswick Fire Station – we welcome you to Chiswick with open arms (now if only the prices were a bit more unemployed mama friendly, then we would be a regular).

http://www.no197chiswickfirestation.com/#home-197