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Hampshire Bar and Restaurant: Oasis of quality in Leicester Square
As a matter of principle, I have always refused to eat in the gaudy tourist circus that is Leicester Square. Generally speaking this area is home to poor quality chain restaurants and bars of the most appalling type (Yates's Wine Lodge, Wetherspoons, Angus steakhouses, Chiquitos, All Bar One, and possibly the worst Subway in existence!) Even the quaint looking Italian restaurants to the south east of the square are, in my experience, generally poor quality and not very good value for money.
I was drawn to Hampshire as I walked past it on my way home from work and checked out the menu to notice the set price menu. Perhaps surprisingly it is a hotel restaurant, but it has very good customer service and great quality food which you don't always get from a hotel establishment. The restaurant has a low lit ambience and comfortable contemporary leather seating with a slightly oriental influence to the decor. I took my parents there one evening at about 6pm without a reservation and we were seated swiftly and easily. Great service and fantastic food. Even better value for money. A surprise to find both in Leicester Square and in a high profile and expensive hotel.
Favorite Dish: the set menu when we were there offered a delicious array of well balanced tastes and textures. I started with baked white onion soup, followed by a cod fillet in a beer broth with clams and rounded off with the divine Hampshire pancake with brandy and orange which we almost inhaled. All this including a coffee afterwards was £25 in a relaxed and unhurried environment. Ideal for an evening out with friends.
Hampshire Bar and Restaurant: Before or after theater refreshment
This bar and restaurant is in the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, however, it seems to be independent of the hotel. It has the feel of a bar/lounge more than a restaurant and is quite attractive with sofas, easy chairs and low tables arranged with lots of space. The decor is minimalist and very smart, giving the place a sophisticated but relaxed ambience. The staff was efficient and cordial. I asked for the names of the cheeses and 2 or 3 of the waitresses set about the task of determining exactly what they were. The cheeses were: stilton, cheddar, wensleydale, goat and emmental. When I asked about the emmental, which is Swiss, the waitress chalked it up to the chef's creative side. The only downside to the place is that the nice chairs do not go well with the low tables for purposes of eating
Favorite Dish: We did not want a full meal and decided to have drinks (margarita for my wife and a gin & tonic for me) along with a plate of English cheeses. No matter what you think of English cuisine, you have to admit they do wonderful things with dairy products and these cheeses (6 different ones) were no exception. I don't remember any of the names except Stilton but they were all very tasty. I don't know how a full meal would be but suspect it would be more than satisfactory.
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