I have recently had occasion to visit a couple Michelin star restaurants. Together with a previous dinner, I have been to a total of three restaurants rated one Michelin star (none higher rated). As there is a bit of buzz at the moment around chefs and restaurants, here are some brief reviews.
River Cafe – I used to share a flat around the corner from this place. There were always expensive cars parked out the front, some with chauffeurs reading a paper in the front seat. I wanted to see what it was like before leaving London. I had a crab pasta dish. It was very nice, but I was slightly unimpressed considering the cost. Nice food, nice wine, it just didn’t grab me. Although I’d be happy to give it another try sometime.
Hakkasan – A subterranean Chinese restaurant in the west end. The decor was very stylish. The tables were spotlighted but the paths were in darkness – a cool affect. The food was very good but my foremost memory of this place is the service. I found it excessive. The staff were constantly checking on us. I joked that if I dropped my napkin one of the waiters would catch it before it hit the floor. Looking around there seemed to be more staff than diners. Neither I or my partner could relax. I enjoyed the food, but probably would not go again.
The Sportsman – This is a gastro-pub on the coast at Seasalter near Whitstable. It looks like a standard pub from the outside. Inside it is light (on an overcast day) and spacious. The staff were friendly, although they did warn me the stout had a strong taste, maybe they thought I was a tourist. I had a crab starter with a lamb main and it was cooked perfectly. In short, unpretentious atmosphere and excellent food. Most surprising of all, the cost was about the same as an average London restaurant. Definitely recommended.