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/

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

Ichiryu Udon

Location:  West End

Cuisine: Japanese

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 5/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

When you’ve been trekking the shops of Oxford Street and fancy some decent Asian food and can’t face the walk to Soho, head to nearby Ichiryu  because you won’t be disappointed.

The udon noodles are made on the premises – they are bouncy and have just the right bite factor. Favourite dish was the prawn carbonara hot udon – don’t let the fusion novelty put you off..the flavours are perfect and the prawns were plump and juicy. The curry udon noodles were tasty and the soft oozing egg yolk was beautifully orange and reflected the high quality of ingredients.

Bit cramped for buggies but the staff were helpful to keep it out of the way for us. Highchairs available but no baby changing facilities (but a very clean toilet is maintained).

A bit on the pricey side for a noodle joint, but the slick décor and innovative flavour combos, somehow,  justifies the price.

http://ichiryuudon.com/

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/

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/