Yauatcha City – Broadgate Circle

Casual dining dim sum teahouse by Hakkasan Group at Broadgate Circle

We chose a 9-course tasting menu comprising a variety of dim sum, rolls, macaroons and a cocktail as something a bit different for my parents to try, while they’re in town this weekend. Chopstick challenges aside, it was a  novel experience and good value @ £29.00 a head.

 

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From a 9-course tasting menu

– top left: dim sum – prawn shui mai with chicken and garden dumpling
– top right: prawn and beancurd cheung fun (rice noodle roll)
– bottom left: baked venison puff and mushroom spring roll
– bottom right: macaroons

 

The restaurant space is unusual in that it’s long, narrow and circular. Following the corridor along to the toilets (with lovely Aesop hand wash) has the feel of being at an airport or a mall – and a bit soulless.

 

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In the round – Yauatcha at Broadgate Circle

 

We began with a refreshing cherry chaser cocktail along with the first course of dim sum and rolls, served with soy sauce, and two chilli dipping sauces:

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Dim sum – crystal dumpling wrap with pumpkin and pine nut + har gau (traditional dumpling); baked venison puff and mushroom spring roll

The vension puff and mushroom spring roll were both in light, flaky pastry with strong flavours – perfect for a small portion, absolutely gorgeous.

 

Moving on to the next course, we had prawn shui mai with chicken and a garden dumpling, accompanied by Picpoul de Pinet dry white wine @ £30 a bottle.

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Dim sum – prawn shui mai with chicken and garden dumpling

 

This prawn and beancurd cheung fun (rice noodle roll) was a favourite of mine, as it was similar to kakiage (fried onions and veggies in Japanese dishes).

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Prawn and beancurd cheung fun

 

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Sticky rice in lotus leaf

 

Inside this steamed lotus leaf parcel, was a portion of sticky rice with a gooey chicken and dried shrimp middle.

And finally – eight different flavoured macaroons.

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Macaroon selection

 

I’m no macaroon connoisseur and prefer savoury/salty food over desserts/sweet stuff. But these were pretty good. The coconut one (top right) was the least popular (sweet, dessicated coconut) while I enjoyed the peanut butter macaroon the most (surprise).

 

The verdict: Novel experience – you get to taste a good variety of Asian-inspired food items. Service was very relaxed, informal and attentive (bordering on overly attentive) throughout. Our total bill for four came to £193.67 which seemed very good value.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Chinese, Dim Sum, Asian
– Address: Broadgate Circle, London
– Postcode: EC2M 2QS
– Nearest station: Liverpool Street
– Website + menus: Yauatcha website
– Photos on flickr: Yauatcha City images
– Location: Yauatcha City map

 

Yauatcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Pacata – burgers, curries, Asian fusion street-style

After a cultural Sunday outing in London – visiting the Soundscapes exhibition at the National Gallery followed by a coupla beers in a (fairly scuzzy) traditional pub – H, K and I wanted to eat out somewhere.

After much deliberation (over another beer of course) we decided on a Thai restaurant in Covent Garden that we’ve been going to for over 15 years. Initially disappointed that it was closed, we were – ultimately – delighted to stumble across Pacata while aimlessly wondering what to do.

Situated on New Row (a quaint, narrow side street just off St Martin’s Lane) Pacata’s shop-front is small and unimposing. A printed menu propped up in the window caught our eye – an Asian fusion menu serving dishes as diverse as burgers, Thai curries, steaks as well as ramen and pasta, all with an Asian twist and in the currently trendy ‘street’ style. Something for everyone, deliberations sorted.

The restaurant interior was appealing from the moment we stepped in, with its mish-mash of wood furnishings and eclectic lamp collection.

 
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Restaurant interior – downstairs space, creative lighting, wood wood wood
 

Ordering a bottle of Chenin Blanc, Stormy Cape 2013 (South Africa) @ 16.00, we chose these starters to share from the bar-snack menu:

~ Tod mun fishcakes – Thai fishcakes with chilli sauce @ £4.50 (slightly anaemic, under-flavoured and disappointing – the only weak link in the meal)
~ Popcorn chicken in larb powder – bite-size chicken snacks in a spicy coating @ £6.90
~ Beef skewers – with roast mushroom, spring onion and soy sauce @ £4.50 (yum!)

 

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Starters – Tod mun fishcakes, popcorn chicken in larb powder, beef skewers
 

For main course, H and I both chose grilled chicken breast served with mushrooms, green beans and Jasmine rice @ £12.95. There’s a choice of curry sauce (green Thai, Massaman or Japanese) – we both chose green Thai.

The presentation of the sauce was such that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience choosing how *you* want to eat this unconventional Thai green curry.

 
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Chicken green Thai curry – as served

 

So do you:

a) pour your green Thai curry sauce over the chicken first
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Sauce over whole chicken (H’s option)

 

or

b) cut up the chicken and remove bones before pouring your sauce (so more of the chicken is coated in curry)
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Chicken strips coated in curry sauce (L’s option)
 

Either way, it feels like a good and different experience, that engages you (the eater) to customise your Asian curry food in the way you want to eat it. Simple but effective.

K chose this tom yum chicken ramen with a twist: a complete chicken breast on the bone served in a tomato cream soup with egg and spring onions @ £12.95.

 
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Tom yum ramen – spicy tomato cream soup with egg and chicken

 

We were having such a relaxing, comfortable experience here we felt like lingering. And so ordered a round of digestifs (our waitress was unfamiliar with Courvoisier and took several attempts to serve it with “no ice” but at room temperature as it’s meant to be). Altogether, our bill for three people came to £127.00 including service.

I’ll be back. Probably for a ‘burger n beer’…

Restaurant info:
Sample menus:
~ Bar-snacks
~ Burger n’ beer @ £8.50 deal

~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Thai, Korean, Asian
~ Address: 4 New Row, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2N 4LH
~ Nearest tube stations: , Leicester Square, Covent Garden
~ Website: Pacata website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Pacata food
~ Location: Pacata map

 

 
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Gordon Ramsay’s Maze – Mayfair

Gourmet five-course tasting menu experience – French and Asian cuisine

This five course dinner tasting menu with champagne for two was a very generous wedding gift to K and I earlier this year, from my old and much-loved university friend G.


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A red letter days experience


The night before new year’s eve seemed like a perfect time for the booking – following an afternoon of retail therapy (mostly K’s) on Oxford Street, during our long Christmas holidays. And hopefully a climactic LardButty entry to end 2014.


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Bar area purple decor and Christmas decorations


Arriving early so we could relax in the cocktail bar, K had a barrel aged old fashioned (Woodford Reserve bourbon, sugar, angostura and orange @ £15.00) and I had a margarita with salt foam (excellent Don Julio Blanco tequila margarita with all the salt but no mess @ £15.00 – the salt foam is made from salt, egg whites, xanthum gum and nitrous oxide and had a real novelty factor while looking like a lemon meringue pie too).


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Cocktails – orangey old fashioned and salt foam margarita


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Tasting menu – click on photo to see enlarged copy


On being shown to our table, a waiter then sommelier explained the choices (with the vast wine list being presented on an ipad). We started with champagne, an amuse bouche of crumbly cheese, onion and salmon and some light and tasty cracker breads (mixed seed, chocolate, cheese, prawn cracker, paprika, and a variation on peas pudding).


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Cracker breads + amuse bouche – a cheese, onion + salmon canapé


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Flight of three wines from regional Spain – Louro, Navarra + a Priorat


To accompany a variety of foods, we chose a flight of three Spanish wines starting with a nicely dry white Louro, Rafael Palacio from Galicia, followed by a red Navarra, Emilio Valerio (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache blend) and a Priorat, Planetes, Nin Ortiz (Grenache and Carignon blend).

The first taster course was the English breakfast. How elegant does this look? Digging down into the shell, was a treasure trove of tomato and bacon pieces.


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#1 English breakfast – egg, bacon + tomato served in an egg shell with soldiers and crunchy ‘hay’


For the next three courses, there was a choice of two dishes. We ordered one of each and shared so we got to try everything.

The cured salmon was served with mango, pickled onion and tempura crisp – an outstanding treat of flavours, while the octopus had the appearance and texture of a meaty sausage (albeit very tender), served with Szechuan pepper, tomatoes and rocket mayonnaise.


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#2 Choice of octopus or cured salmon


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#3 Choice of dumpling (seafood) or sea bream with enoki mushroom


The light, melt-in-your-mouth, gyoza-style dumpling was packed with lobster, tiger prawns and salmon. And the sea bream was just amazing – served with enoki mushrooms, dashi (miso soup base) and ginger, some of my favourite ingredients. For me, the sea bream dish was exceptional.


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#4 Choice of pork belly or duck breast


On to course number four. Could it possibly get any better? Somehow it does, as each course thrills and delights just that little bit more.

The tender pork belly with a thin crispy crackling top was served with smoked bacon, tiger prawn and miso broth and decorated with bean sprouts and spring onions.

Again, the duck breast was tender with a perfectly crispy skin (we were so pleased to have recently discovered we both like duck breast) and was served with romanesco (beautiful edible green flower bud that tastes somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower), wild mushroom and lemon.


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#5a Blackberry + apple sundae with custard


Swiftly following the blackberry and apple sundae (the first part of the fifth course) came profiteroles with chocolate, Baileys gel and ginger ice cream (divine) and cheesecake – a white chocolate log with ice cream, sprinkled with coconut and Szechuan powder (pepper) on a thin bed of pineapple (which was difficult to cut and could have benefited from being served with a sharp knife – my only, and very minor, criticism of the evening).


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#5b Choice of profiteroles or cheesecake


To accompany the desserts we shared a glass of white Castelnau Suduiraut @ £13.50 and a red recioto corgegiara @ £11.00.


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Dessert wines + a happy new year y’all


Everything about this experience was simply stunning from restaurant comfort, decor and atmosphere through to service, food and wine. I can’t see how our evening could have been improved. For that reason, Maze gets 5/5 in the LardButty index.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
~ Type: French/Asian
~ Address: 10-13 Grosvenor Square, London
~ Postcode: W1k 6JP
~ Tel: 020 7107 0000
~ Nearest station: Bond Street
~ Website + menus: Maze website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Maze food
~ Location: Maze map


Maze on Urbanspoon

Abokado – healthy and great tasting

Last Tuesday, 1st April, was an unusually warm day – I mean t-shirt weather and sunburnt arms!

It coincided with my first visit to Abokado to get lunch, so I ‘dined out’ in Whitechapel’s Altab Ali Park (previously known as St. Mary’s Park, and the site of the old 14th Century white chapel that gives the area its name).


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Tuna + salmon nigiri with edamame ginger, wasabi + soy sauce @ £3.99


Soaking up the sunshine, I munched on a Super Sushi box of tuna and salmon nigiri @ £3.99 (249 calories) described as “a beautiful selection of long line caught tuna and avocado rolls and superior grade salmon and avocado rolls on a bed of edamame with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger”. Excellent; top quality fish.

Shwraps are also worth a try, particularly the avocado and ginger wrap @ £1.49 (ripe avocado and pickled ginger with carrot in a seasoned sushi rice roll – 96 calories) – light enough to have two for lunch.

Great quality, healthy, super tasty and great value; a western ‘take’ on Japanese sushi. What more could you ask for?



Food info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: International, Japanese-style
~ Address: 1 Alie Street, London and several branches
~ Postcode: E1 8DE
~ Nearest station: Aldgate, Aldgate East
~ Website + menus: Abokado website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Abokado food
~ Location: Abokado Aldgate map


RELATED LINKS More East London dining: ~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese ~ Drift Bar – International ~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch ~ Japanese Canteen – around the City ~ Momo’wich – Thai + Malaysian ~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats ~ Pizza Union – stonebaked pizza, Spitalfields ~ Poppies – fab fish + chips, East End



		

	

New Winner – Chinese delivery

It’s take-away time. The other night we decided to order a take-away and settled on Chinese for a change. Well, I say Chinese but New Winner’s menu is more Chinese-come-Thai-come-Asian-fusion.

Our Chinese banquet and carpet picnic began with:
~ Vegetarian spring rolls @ £1.90
~ Sesame prawn toast @ £4.10
~ Chicken satay on skewers with onion, cucumber + special satay sauce @ 4.20
~ Tod mun Thai fishcakes @ £4.30
~ Aromatic crispy duck (a quarter) with 6 pancakes, cucumber, spring onion, and hoi sin sauce @ £7.00


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Tod mun Thai fishcakes, seseame prawn toast, chicken satay


Chinese cuisine is possibly my least favourite but I do love crispy duck pancakes when done properly. And these didn’t disappoint (the duck was roasted and crispy with little trace of fat, pancakes were paper thin and light, and the hoi sin sauce was great). The tod mun fishcakes weren’t the best I’ve ever tasted but they weren’t bad by any means.


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Crispy duck pancakes – crispy, shredded duck with a great hoi sin sauce


For main course, K chose beef in black bean sauce with green peppers (tender beef stir fried in a special black bean paste with onion, pepper and carrot) @ £4.40 and mushroom egg fried rice @ £3.40, while I had vegetarian Thai green curry (stuffed full of crispy tofu, water chestnut, Chinese mushrooms, carrot and bamboo shoots) @ £3.80 with steamed white rice @ £2.20.


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Thai green curry with tofu + veggies


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Beef in black bean sauce + Thai green tofu curry


Haute cuisine this aint. But for a good value, convenient and *not overly unhealthy* Chinese delivery option, New Winner was a hit. We’ll order again, not frequently. But we’ll be back.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Chinese, Asian
~ Address: 278 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London
~ Postcode: SE13 6JZ
~ Tel: 020 8690 7614
~ Website + menus: New Winner website
~ Photos on flickr: images of New Winner food
~ Location: New Winner map
~ Delivery through: Just Eat


RELATED LINKS
More Lewisham Borough take-aways:
~ Catford Chippy
~ El Poco Mexico – eat in or take-away
~ FS2 – Turkish deliveries
~ Pide – Turkish pizza
~ Sapporo Ichiban – Japanese/sushi collections
~ Turkish Kitchen


New Winner Chinese & Thai on Urbanspoon

Silk – in Soho’s ex Courthouse

Could anyone not be intrigued to visit a restaurant in the former courthouse where Oscar Wilde took the Marquess of Queensbury to court on a criminal libel charge, and where Charles Dickens once worked as a court reporter?


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Courthouse Hotel, Soho: l-r, exterior, original cell gates leading to bar, former prisoners’ cells (now toilets)


Silk – serving Asian fusion food – looked a bit hit and miss, from the mixed reviews it gets online. What really appealed to me was the history: that in this court room, trials were held involving Oscar Wilde, Mick Jagger and Johnny Rotten.

On arrival at the Courthouse Hotel, a bloke – half naked in Roman toga costume – ran passed us. That wasn’t really the historical scene I’d been expecting! But as the cheerful receptionist explained – there was a Hercules event on in the hotel that evening. We briefly pretended to be attending said Roman fancy dress event but after thoroughly confusing the receptionist, we proceeded (chuckling) to Silk, as booked.


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Oak-panelled former courtroom


The wooden door to the former court room was closed. On opening, another cheerful waiter told us that this was the second oldest court room in England, pointing out the small restaurant’s special features including the glass ceiling window and an old silk route painting on the wall.

We ordered a bottle of South African Chenin Blanc white wine @ £23.50 (crisp and dry) and sat back for a leisurely read of the menu.


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Lal Maans starter – seared beef


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Pho Pia Je starter – Thai style veggie spring rolls


For starters I had lal maans – beef slices seared with red chilli and Thai spices @ £8.95 (the beef was really tender, and the spices made it dance) while L had Poh Pia Je – Thai style vegetable spring rolls @ £6.95 (really thin, almost pancake-like pastry, packed with crisp veggies).


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Pla Yang Krachai – swordfish steak


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Hakka Noodles – with crispy chilli tofu


For main course I had Pla Yang Krachai – swordfish steak marinated with Thai spices and krachai ginger @ £16.50 (a juicy, flaky fillet with blackened spiced top) with pulao rice @ £3.50 (packed full of flavours: cumin, cloves, and prawn – probably the best pulao I’ve had) and L had Hakka Noodles – Singapore noodles topped with crispy chilli garlic tofu @ £13.95, and a shared side of Phad Boong Fai Deng – stir fried pak choi with black bean sauce @ £3.50.

The only slight mix up happened when we were asked if we’d like to order desserts. We were full so no, we didn’t want desserts but – as we were enjoying ourselves – we ordered two after-dinner liqueurs: amaretto. Well after such a lovely meal, why not rest a little longer and digest our food? So we were quite surprised when two small ice-creams were placed in front of us (two complimentary taster portions of ice-cream it seemed?) – very rich and creamy; not very icey and certainly not something I could have eaten much of.

A short while after after that, the bill arrived but no amaretto liqueur. It turned out we’d eaten our amaretto in ice-cream form, by mistake. It was too late to return them by this point so we could only laugh. Our total bill for two came to £71.18 (with a 2-for-1 Tastecard discount and including service) – very reasonable even without the Tastecard discount, for this standard of food and service.

The food at Silk was simply stunning; service was cheerful, attentive and informative (both in terms of the menu and the room’s history) and overall, a great experience.

More food options at Silk


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Tiger prawn starter


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Fish in banana leaf starter


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Beef rendang


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Mango pudding


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Asian, fusion
~ Address: 19-21 Great Marlborough Street, London
~ Postcode: W1F 7HL
~ Tel: 020 7297 5555
~ Nearest station: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus
~ Website: Silk website
~ Sample menu: Silk sample menu
~ Photos on flickr: images of Silk restaurant at the Courthouse Hotel
~ Location: Silk map


RELATED LINKS

More Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Bistro1 – Mediterranean/Turkish food on Frith Street
~ Cây Tre – Vietnamese restaurant on Dean Street
~ Shoryu Ramen – Japanese noodles
~ Wagamama Soho


Silk on Urbanspoon

E+O – Ladbroke Grove

An Asian-fusion restaurant in yummy mummy W11 (Ladbroke Grove), E+O is part of the Ricker group of restaurants.

It has a formal feel, with its pristine white table-cloths and overly attentive service. We were asked if we’d like to order a “bottle of sparkling water for the table” and some edamame as we were being seated. We declined both, saying we’d prefer to look at the menu first.

Within minutes a big bamboo steamer dish filled with salted edamame was served to our table. Ah well. We were hungry – we chose not to say anything but accepted them and enjoyed nibbling while reading the menu.


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For starters to share, we ordered chilli salt squid @ £7.50 and pork and ginger gyoza @ £6.00. Both were nice enough (nothing out of the ordinary): the squid was packed into, and spilling out of, a small cup – perhaps to give the impression of being a larger portion than it actually was.

Our attentive server whipped away the starter dishes, before we’d quite finished the salted squid. She seemed eager to serve the main courses that were now ready.


20140123_E+O_startersb Starters: gyoza and salt squid


For main course, we both had prawn phad thai @ £10.50: a generous portion with chillis, lime and crushed peanuts served on the side so you could add as much or as little as you like. A nice touch.

I was still chewing the last mouthful of my prawn pad thai when our server took my plate away. I took the hint and put down my knife and fork for her to clear.


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Good food but the over-eager service was off-putting, and the restaurant – on the whole – felt unnecessarily pretentious.


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Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Japanese, Chinese, Asian fusion
~ Address: 14 Blenheim Crescent, London
~ Postcode: W11 1NN
~ Tel: 020 7229 5454
~ e: eando@rickerrestaurants.com
~ Nearest station: Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park, Notting Hill Gate
~ Website + menus: E+O website
~ Photos on flickr: images of E+O food
~ Location: E+O map


RELATED LINKS More nearby dining: ~ Ariana II – Afghan in Kilburn, NW6


E&O on Urbanspoon