Saturday, 16 April 2011

Dego Italian Restaurant (Saturday, 9th April 2011)

As some of my mum’s relatives were staying with us, my dad pounced on the opportunity to use his tastecard, which allows him to get discounts in participating restaurants. Most of the restaurants that take part in this are places that need more publicity and advertisement. We last used our tastecard at Original Tangines, a restaurant that we were extremely disappointed with. We were expecting more from Dego, an Italian restaurant on Great Portland Street, London.

The restaurant has two floors.  The ground level floor is a wine bar and the underground floor a restaurant. The dark walls of the restaurant are decorated with some random paintings.  The room itself was rather small with a cocktail bar at one end of it. Several bulbs shielded by red tinted lampshades lit the room, whilst the speakers played a monotonous drumbeat. This atmosphere gave the room a somewhat promiscuous air to say the least. As we ordered our meals, it was evident that there was a slight language barrier between us and the waitresses, who did not seem to fully comprehend what we were saying and spoke with a very heavy accent. 

My dad, my brother, my cousin’s boyfriend ( C ) and I all went for the beef tartare to start. This was prepared at our table and was a very delicate process. The beef was not too sharp, something many people get wrong when preparing tartare. The meat retained most of its natural sweetness and the spices added were just recognisable. I personally thought it needed more pepper but my dad and brother disagreed. My mum started with pea and red mullet soup. I had a little of it and was surprised. The pea flavour was very strong but not too sweet, and the fish was flaky, although there was not much of it. The cocktails were also very good both in flavour and presentation. The virgin raspberry mojitos that my brother and I chose were sweet, sharp and had a subtle mint flavour, which was very refreshing.

Amuse bouche of salmon and asparagus

Preparing steak tartare

Steak tartare

Pea and red mullet soup

We were worried at how big the primi piattis would be, as we have experienced gargantuan pasta dishes previously. The waitress told us that they were quite big, as well as gesturing with her hands how big they were, and so we decided to order just one pasta dish to share between my dad and my brother. Strangely, the amount of pasta was very small. The dish was pasta with duck ragu, which was very average. I had a smooth potato and leek soup with scallops. The soup was smooth and saporous. The leeks were a bit on the chewy side.  However, the scallops were very well cooked (although there was not enough of it) and had a crystalline crust. C and my mum had pasta with rabbit ragu. Although my mum liked it, C thought it was over seasoned.

Potato and leek soup with scallops


Pasta with duck ragu

Pasta with rabbit ragu

For secondi piatti, my dad chose the paper steamed sea bass. The fish was fresh and cooked to perfection. The accompanying beans were very good as well and my dad thoroughly enjoyed the dish.  My brother and I had both chosen confit duck with rocket salad and a grapefruit dressing. The dish probably should have been called rocket salad with confit duck, as the former was much more abundant than the latter on the plate. The duck was lacking in nearly everything. The skin was very buttery, which I did not find to my taste. The meat fell off the bone nicely, but it was very unpleasant in the mouth as it had a grainy texture. The whole dish could have been a bit more brackish and the salad needed much more dressing to match its abundance. 

Confit duck

Paper steamed sea bass

For desserts, my mum chose a chocolate and caramel meringue in ginger sauce. Although it was described as a meringue, it was more of a crème. However, the ginger sauce complimented the honeyed flavours of the chocolate and caramel. My dad and brother had rose parfait with real rose petals. This arrived at the table with an entire rose settled horizontally on the plate. My dad was revolted by the flavours and left me with the rest. Since it tasted very much like rose Turkish delight, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My brother and I also enjoyed the rose petals, which my dad could not understand either. My aunt had a beautifully presented traditional crumbly cake. 

Chocolate and caramel meringue in ginger sauce

Crumbly cake

Rose parfait

Food quality 7/10
Presentation 7/10
Ambience 7/10
Service 7/10
Value for money 7/10

Though the food was by no means ambrosial, it was certainly above average. Service was not bad but there is room for improvement. Presentation was varied, with some dishes appearing extravagant and others looking drab. An above average meal but it is unlikely that we will become regular customers. 

Reviewer - CT (age 12)

Photography - DT

Dego' Restaurant and wine bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Blue Elephant 3rd April 2011

 The scent of lemongrass, a cascading waterfall and dozens of exotic plants. These are all things that we were familiar with when we entered the Blue Elephant restaurant. The restaurant is situated in West London and serves mostly Thai cuisine. Though it lacks a Michelin Star, our previous experiences of this restaurant were very pleasant and we have fond memories of this place.

Since it is Mother’s Day, I feel obliged to say that my mum looked great today. Sadly, I would be lying. It was in fact the restaurant’s interior that looked and smelt amazing. The floor of the restaurant is mostly wood with several bridges crossing the tiny stream that runs through the Blue Elephant.  Several varieties of carp swim in this stream and this has always been the case. There was a vague smell of lemongrass in the air and exotic plants could be seen throughout the entire building.

We had come for the Sunday buffet and were conveniently seated directly next to the starter buffet area. A bit further on was the main course and dessert area. The starters were extremely varied, ranging from salads to soups. First were the prawn crackers. I immediately noticed that they were much browner than the usual ones and had a much stronger flavour. There was then a rather odd salad, which consisted of a variety of crunchy, pickled vegetables. The flavours and textures were good, although nothing spectacular. Then there was the noodles and soup. This option had a little corner of it’s own with a lady asking what you wanted in your soup and then serving it to you in a matter of seconds. There were a variety of meats and noodles and you could choose whether to have yours with or without spring onions and bean sprouts. I found the soup luscious with a perfect balance of flavours. Next to the soup bar was the marinated pork salad. Although it was not something I was familiar with, I tried some and was pleasantly surprised. The textures of the onions and pork worked very well and the same could be said for the flavours. Something I do know and love is chicken satay. However, we all agreed that this take on it was very poor. The taste of coconut milk was overpowering, the peanut sauce was too runny and not flavoursome enough. A poor and rather disappointing effort. My mum and dad’s favourite starter was the betel leaf parcel. This was a crunchy betel leaf, which wrapped up an incredible combination of nuts, chilli and herbs. It worked brilliantly, although it was very chewy and you had to put it all in your mouth in one go to realise the brilliance of it. The paper prawns were very good with the sauce inside going extremely well with the fishy taste of the prawn and the crunch of the outer layer. The last of the starters were the spring rolls. They were packed with crunchy vegetables and went very well with the chilli sauce. 

Fresh young coconut



Noodle section

Unlike the starters and desserts, the main courses were very limited. There was Jasmine and wild rice, vegetable stir-fry, chilli beef, duck with vegetables and roast lamb. The vegetable stir-fry was average with no real punch or standout flavours. I did not try the beef myself although my brother said it was very good. The duck was cooked very well and the sauce complimented the pak choi nicely. I did not try the lamb, which my brother said was unspectacular and cooked in an English way rather than a Thai one. 


The dessert table was an wonderful sight to behold. There were piles of fresh fruit, jelly and rolls, which were placed next to intricately carved out watermelons. The variety of fruit was immense ranging from the familiar strawberry to a prickly fruit that we did not even know the name of. The jelly was an exotic version, which I have seen before. It is made of seaweed instead of pectin, giving it a subtle crunch and had chunks of fruit embedded in it. I prefer this to the pectin version, as I enjoy the texture better. The rose rolls were very odd. Whilst similar to a Swiss roll, it had a much richer flavour and a smoother texture and I thought it worked very well. Further on were mini deep fried breadsticks. These were slightly different to the Chinese breadsticks that I know, as their texture was more like that of a doughnut, and lacked a salty flavour. Overall, the desserts were a great success. 

Fresh mini doughnuts



Beautifully carved watermelon

Thai and Oriental Desserts


Food quality 7/10
Presentation 7/10
Ambience 10/10
Service 8/10
Value for money 9/10


A wonderful experience. The restaurant has great ambience and delivered good food that was presented well.  The waiters and waitresses provided good service and they were extremely efficient in taking away our used plates. An impressive meal.

Blue Elephant on Urbanspoon