Restaurants in Fitzrovia

Bam-bou – Fitzrovia

In our very busy city-dweller lives, it is rare that 6 people can come together to enjoy a nice meal and drinks without weeks of planning and diary-checking. Spontaneity almost always breeds a successful night out – and the surprise of being able to get three couples together for an out-of-the blue triple date still warms my heart even months later.

Because of the spontaneity of the evening, we didn’t do much planning on where to go to eat. Bam-bou is very central, just north of Oxford Street in Fitzrovia. Walking by it as often as I do (my office isn’t too far), I’ve always remarked at how busy it always seems to be. It’s not super-cheap and doesn’t have a lot of the buzz so many of the restaurants – whether deserving or undeserving – in London have these days, but with the crowds even on random weekdays were a good sign.

The food is Vietnamese-French, which I consider to be less Asian-fusion (such a dirty word!) in the restaurant sense and more of a nod to a not-so-pleasant piece of history, since France ruled Vietnam as a colony until 1954.

But that’s not so much to the point. On to the food.

By far the best starter we had was the duck roll. Coming out of the kitchen  like little mini-burgers, the duck patty was almost flakey in texture, complemented perfectly with a fragrant plummy hoisin. Unfortunately we weren’t particularly impressed with the bland veggie summer rolls or the slightly too greasy calamari (though the spicy aioli served with the latter had a lot of pluck. I like that in a dipping sauce).

Mains across the table were made up of a combination of curries, pork skewers over vermicelli mostly reminiscent of bun cha and a lovely spiced duck with a salted plum sauce, which – despite having a similar description to our duck starter – couldn’t have been more different in preparation.

All of them were quite lovely too. The duck, though somewhat of a small portion for £15.50 (not including any sides or rice) was a bit steep, but expertly cooked. Loved it. The curry sauce was almost  intoxicating, and the pork beautifully tender.

Most of the time, restaurants with a melting pot approach to Asian food are a dime a dozen and rarely anything to shout about, but Bam-bou breaks the mould.

Bam-Bou on Urbanspoon

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Bertorelli – Fitzrovia

Dear Bertorelli,

Awww, according to Urban Spoon down below, no one seems to like you. That’s really unfortunate because the two meals I’ve had at your Charlotte Street location have been very yummy indeed.

This first time I went with a friend from work, the second on a client meeting.  The client meeting one, obviously a bit more grand.

We started out with some of your nice bread and foccacia, a nice olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Our server suggested an absolutely lovely white (not sure what it was because my AD ordered. Tasted a bit like a Chinon Blanc).

The starter:

Whole baby squid filled with crab and saffron risotto in a tomato and basil sauce
Bertorelli

Wasn’t exactly what I expected, but very good none the less.  The risotto-ish filling was rich and delicious.  A bit heavy on the tomato, but oh well. The main thing was the squid. It’s soooo easy to mess up.  This was cooked perfectly.  Not rubbery at all.

My main:

Fennel roasted Mediterranean whole sea bass, new potatoes crushed with Gaeta olives and a lemon and mint dressing

Bertorelli

I loved this.  Well done, sir.  The skin on the sea bass was crispy. The fish itself melt-in-your-mouth.  The lemon mint dressing was very subtle.  Potatoes were just ok (needed some cracked pepper), but the fish made up for it tenfold.

My only complaint – and this has happened both times – is that your service is incredibly mind-numbingly slow.  While it’s true I was on a client meeting where we were discussing business (therefore didn’t want to rush), I think the whole meal from start to finish was over 2 hours.  My advice to your future patrons: Don’t go super hungry because you’ll end up eating your own arm before your starters arrive.

Bertorelli on Urbanspoon