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Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides

The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories

10% Discount with Privilege Card from 11am to 7.30pm
10% Discount with Privilege Card from 11am to 7.30pm
50% off the food bill Monday through to Saturday

In an age when Italian-style fast food means having a quick plate of pizza or pasta, Vapiano takes things one step further and makes things fun and well, practically interactive....

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14-16 Fouberts Place London W1 Tel: 020 7287 6983
Cost – about £40 per person. Lunch and pre-theatre 2-courses £10.50, 3-courses £12.50.

It was like stepping on to a set from Sex in the City. Honest. There were all these tables of fours with 30-something women womanfully drinking down their red wine with their fishcakes. Were they talking about oral sex? Couldn’t tell, couldn’t quite manage to hear over the background hum of conversation and music leaking in through the double doors from the on-premises club (which was on the evening being patronised by Michael Winner). But the amusing thing was that – even though they were having the same fishcakes – they were still tasting from each other’s plates.

Of course, the restaurant was full and it wasn’t full only with tables of women. There was also a table of two MDs from Mezzanine Group, which, besides Attica, also owns Smollensky’s, and they were doing the dutiful thing, forcing themselves to eat caviar and lobster and washing it down with champagne.

There is something rather 80’s retro in the décor – minimal black (granite table tops and stone tile floor) and white (sort of pebble-dash walls) plus the stainless steel of the open kitchen. But that goes along with a menu that includes surf ‘n’ turf and langoustines in garlic butter to start. Regrettably, no black forest gateau to finish. But good Loch Fyne oysters and smoked salmon, steaks, roast chicken and honey-rubbed belly pork and a special of rack of lamb. Roasting and grilling is done exactly as requested and it is reassuring and somehow very precise to see suppliers quoted on the menu.

Our dessert choices came from Smollensky’s and – sad to say – these let the meal down, “these” being chocolate mousse (too sweet) and lemon tart (not tart enough, and a graham cracker crust to boot). But staff are very conscientious, personable, well-trained and capable. They knew which wines to recommend, how to pour it and regularly checked on our satisfaction level. This bears a resemblance to the TGI Fridays “how’s it going guys?” school of customer care, but more of a Rover than an Escort, if you take my meaning. Like the food, this is very comforting and raises the question: Is good service the new comfort food?