24 February 2011

Rice pudding with chocolate at Salvador and Amanda, Soho, London

Choosing somewhere to go for Valentine's Day is always tricky, especially when you leave it until a couple of weeks beforehand (uber last-minute according to restaurant land). So after about three unsuccessful attempts at booking a nice Spanish restaurant (my man and I are learning Spanish and thought it would be nice to practise our pronunciation) because they were all booked out, I found Salvador and Amanda on Toptable. It looked funky and contemporary in Toptable's photo and was in a good location (Soho), so I booked away.
When we arrived, the restaurant looked more like a huge, dark cave full of eclectic olde-worlde Spanish paraphernalia than somewhere worthy of being frequented for an extra special meal, but luckily I had my hot date to look at (awww), so the decor didn't matter so much. Plus there were all the other blinged up couples trying to woo each other with too much wine and bad red roses to stare at.
Food-wise, the dishes were pretty standard Spanish fare, but all served with a smile by friendly, on-the-ball waitresses.
Dessert was a surprise. The 'rice pudding with chocolate' listed on the menu, which I was expecting to be like a rice pudding, turned out to be a chocolate fondant with a gooey centre. Not sure how Spanish it is, but it was much better than I expected! Loved the awesome 80s whipped cream plate decorations too.
Two out of five.
Salvador and Amanda, 8 Great Newport St, London, WC2H 7JA, 020 7240 155.

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Panna cotta, clementine and madelines at Oxo Tower, London

Finding a restaurant can sometimes be tricky, but not Oxo Tower Restaurant. From most places near the Thames, its giant tower and illuminated letters can be seen from miles away. 
Riding the elevator up to the eighth floor, you feel a bit like you're entering some sort of posh VIP nightclub that you don't have the money or coolness factor for. Luckily, when you arrive, the reception from the staff is nothing like you'd get at a club - it's all smiles and offers to take your coat instead of grimaces from mean-looking bouncers.
And the views are gorgeous. From up so high, London sparkles just that little bit more. Even from our corner table, you can see the river glistening with reflected neon light patterns. And for £30 each for three courses (a Lastminute.com special), the price is right too.

Despite the fact that my man's chocolate cake dessert was dished up on a strange square 90s blue and clear glass plate, it was actually better than mine. Unfortunately, sometimes what sounds plain on the menu is actually the best bet!
My panna cotta, clementine and madelines dessert was OK, but not quite right. The very beige panna cotta was desperately trying to soak up some of the citrus flavour to gain some character, but didn't succeed, leaving it tasting like an odd-tasting dish of milk. The madelines too lacked flavour and freshness factor. Good thing we had the view to distract us.

Two out of five.
Oxo Tower Restaurant, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH, 020 7803 3888.

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