If you fancy a trip to Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a great place to use as a base. Here is a list of some useful restaurants and bars in Lausanne and nearby Ouchy.
Beau Rivage Palace Hotel – in Ouchy, do not bother with any of the hotels restaurants*, instead have a relaxing drink or two and some bar snacks on the terrace overlooking the lake.
*Update: Anne-Sophie Pic is now running the Gastromic Restaurant here, so maybe it is worth trying the distinct food of France’s only female 3 star Michelin chef. Especially now the Restaurant has been awarded 2 Michelin Stars.
Alternatively you could have lunch on the Beau Rivage’s paddle streamer while it makes its way across the lake to Evian, dessert is served on the return trip.
Charlies Place – comfortable bar and restaurant in the centre of Lausanne, good cocktail list and free wi-fi. CLOSED
For a group booking it will be hard to beat this location, for either the glamour of the venue or the value for money.
When I went to The Park, it was with a group of 12 people, and we were choosing from an early evening set menu that included unlimited wine with the first two courses.
The food and the service were of the high standard you would expect from the Mandarin Oriental, but what really surprised us was the range of options. How many places do you know that do a set menu where 12 people can all have different desserts?.
On the down side, you do have the Mandarin bar next door, so anything you save on the food will most likely get spent on the fabulous cocktails.
You will however need to get in quick, before The Park disappears in the planned refurbishment to fit in Heston Blumenthals new London venture : see Foliage replacement – the Gossip.
When aiming to eat in the Anchor & Hope “gastropub” (36 The Cut, Southwark) you will need time & patience. It is not an ideal venue for pre-theatre, unless you are very lucky.
The tables in the Restaurant section are for sharing. We found the service was a bit hit and miss but the food certainly hit the mark, with its rustic style and good quality ingredients. My earlier experiences were before the recent change of Chef, however with the kind of reputation the Anchor & Hope has I would expect it to continue to deliver top class gastropub fare.
However if you don’t want the hassle of hanging around the busy bar, you always have the option of Tas on the opposite side of the street.
UPDATE: June 2010 – A recent visit does seem to indicated that the new team are keeping up the good work. I had a beautifully cooked lemon sole with tasty shrimps.
I had been to the rather lively branch of The Lavender restaurant in Battersea, and enjoyed the ambience. So I expected something similar when I went to the Vauxhall branch. This visit was not recent, but it was one of my most memorable restaurant experiences.
We walked into a near empty bar in the middle of what felt like an industrial estate. It looked like the sort of place you go to by mistake and basically turn around and leave immediately. It looked shabby, one of the windows was boarded up. There were a couple of Bikers drinking in the corner and a girl standing by the bar dressed very much like a lady of the night!. However we had made a reservation for dinner, and were hungry, so we braved it out.
We were the only diners and our expectations were so low, we were absolutely shocked (jaw-dropingly shocked) when another biker type from the Kitchen delivered our food. Not because there was anything wrong with it, quite the opposite. The real shock was the presentation. It was totally out of keeping with the venue. I have been to top restaurants that can not deliver food that looked as good. It tasted good too.
This was a rare example where the food took precedence over the venue, which was really refreshing, and made us realise that you really should not judge by appearances.
Marks out of 10
Ambience – so odd I am not sure I can give a mark.
Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Holborn, Marylebone, Mayfair, Seven Dials, Soho, St James and Westminster.
That is a pretty large area, so I am going to focus on the centre of the West End or Tourist Central, i.e., places around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. This is mainly because finding a decent restaurant or bar in this area is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.
So here are recommendations, in no particular order.
Thai Square, Trafalgar Square – it’s not the best Thai restaurant in London by any means, but it is part of a reliable chain. (It has recently won an award to say it is the best – so judge for yourself). It is also a good location for larger groups.
Asia de Cuba, St Martins Lane Hotel – Very stylish and expensive venue, food is specifically designed for sharing, so ideal for groups of 4 or more.
The Mint Leaf, Piccadilly – a stylish, Modern Indian Restaurant and Bar. Good Pre Theatre venue.
5th View Bar & Food, Waterstones, Piccadilly – For a book store cafe, this place is great, it does good reasonably priced cocktails and the food is way better that you would expect (limited choice though). Nice selection of cakes – the carrot cake is particularly good.
The Wolseley, Piccadilly – European Style Brasserie, very popular, stunning room – great for people watching if you can get a table.
Atheneaum Hotel, Piccadilly – The restaurant focuses on British style food. The hotel also does a really good “Afternoon Tea” and has a bar that is both cosy and stylish (and expensive!).