Restaurant Bar and Cafe Reviews

Restaurant Bar and Cafe Reviews
Restaurant Bar and Cafe Reviews

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Venus Bar, Sidari, Corfu (2012)…

We first stumbled upon The Venus Bar in May 2010. We’d walked a bit further along Sidari High Street than planned and were about to turn back when we spotted a neon sign over the door and some comfy seats outside. We could hear 80s music from a CD player and went in. The bar looked empty, although I think there were people in another room. The barman didn’t really say much, but he wasn’t rude. We took our drinks outside and sat on the incredibly comfy seats.

The bar is right on the roadside, slightly off the beaten track with a view of a piece of waste-land, so I’m not entirely sure why we liked it so much, although the first time we were there we were able to sit and watch fireflies, which was quite magical.

There’s a little brick wall which separates the seats from the pavement. In 2010 there were some candles along the wall (very pretty). The toilets are through cowboy-style swing doors (through the bar) and aren’t the best I’ve ever used – but functional.

We returned to Sidari July 2011 and made a point of returning to The Venus Bar. It looked exactly the same… bar empty, 80s music, not much of a view, but those comfy seats were just as gorgeous as I’d remembered. No sign of the candles on the wall this time, but it didn’t seem to matter. The whole atmosphere was completely chilled out.

Armstrong's at the Pavilion, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex (2013)...

This restaurant is down several flights of stairs. I'm not sure if there's a lift for disabled access or not.

You walk through pool tables, slot machines and a bar to access the lounge area, which is nicely furnished with big leather sofas, although the small wooden tables could have done with a wipe. The dining area was at the back of the room. It's an odd set-up that was quirky but it won't suit everyone to be eating a few yards away from people playing on fruit machines.

Several of our group enjoyed the garlic bread / cheesey garlic bread starters. Other starters looked nice also.

Not a huge range of vegetarian options (4 choices I believe including a curry and a pasta dish), but nice to see them listed separately on the menu rather than mixed in with the meat / fish dishes (easy to find). I chose the vegetable stir fried noodles. This arrived in a massive bowl and was far too much for me to eat personally (although obviously good value for anyone with a larger appetite). I wasn't a fan of the dried parsley all around the edge of the bowl, nor the mange tout, which were on the dry side (baby-sweetcorn would've been better in my opinion), but overall it tasted quite nice. The noodles were cooked well.

My partner chose steak and although he asked for medium-rare it arrived rare. He chose not to send it back to the kitchen and seemed to enjoy it nonetheless. He was given two small flat discs of something with his peppercorn sauce, but he wasn't told what this was (he probably should've asked). When he bit into one he spat it out, as did the two other people who also tried it. We discovered later that this was spicy butter which should've gone onto his hot steak, although if he had done this it would've ruined his meal as he didn't like the taste or texture.

There was a large group of us so it was sort of understandable that by the time the last main was brought out the person who was served first had finished eating.

Food was plentiful and generally good (positive comments from everyone).

The desserts looked nice and I saw no evidence of any leftovers, which was a good sign.

The staff were really lovely and polite, however we did feel that service was a bit on the slow side.

One of our party ordered a coffee. 30 minutes later staff were reminded and although they apologised profusely it still took another 15 minutes (after payment had been taken) before it finally arrived. A similar story for a £3 glass of lemonade which was totally flat on arrival but we simply didn't have the time to wait for another one.

All in all a mostly positive experience with some minor niggles.
Toilets (only went in the ladies) were functional.
Not sure I'd choose to return simply as a matter of personal preference but I can understand why it may be popular.

The Bull, Long Melford, Suffolk (2013)...

We were in the area so decided to pop into The Bull for a meal.

The restaurant was booked for a wedding so we were directed to the bar for food.

Very 'olde worlde' with low beams and nice atmosphere. Staff were polite and efficient.

It was 6pm and not too busy so we chose a table and checked the menu. I wanted a jacket potato with beans and my partner wanted steak, so he went to the bar to order - only to be told that they don't do jackets after 5pm. This was actually written on the top of the menu but the bar was quite dimly lit and I simply didn't notice it. A separate 'before 5pm' menu would've been useful as sandwiches, wraps and ciabattas were also unavailable after 5pm.

I had another look, and due to the fact it was hard to spot a tiny 'v' next to the food in dim light I opted for vegetable and cashew nut paella. This was garnished with rocket and sour cream (the lemon was missing but not an issue).

My partner's steak was rare (he asked for medium but said it was ok to eat and didn't want to send it back to the kitchen as it wasn't a real problem). He had chips (again, ok but not the best) and 1/2 a tomato with a grilled mushroom (apparently you can't have a side salad with it). This was accompanied by a tiny pot of pepper sauce.

I also had a coffee while my partner had a beer. The total cost was £30, which was actually quite expensive for what we were given.

My paella was ok but for over £8 for a bowl of rice and veg with a few strands of rocket and a spoon full of cream it was (in my opinion) a little expensive.

Cafe Rouge, Colchester, Essex (2013)...

I can't comment on the food as I only ever go in Cafe Rouge for coffee with a friend, however, the ambience is always nice and the staff pleasant. There are a few minor issues with the general decor needing a bit of repair here and there but in general I like the slightly bohemian feel of the place. It's nice to be able to sit next to one of the large windows watching people go by as we put the world to rights. I also like the fact that even though there are just two of us at a table and we manage to make two coffees last a couple of hours, staff never try to rush us or make us feel that we have to order anything else. The toilets are up a steep staircase to the back of the restaurant and are clean.

Compuccino, Colchester, Essex (2013)...

I've been regularly using this restaurant / café for many years and have never experienced a problem with it. There’s a variety of table sizes, so whether you’re dining alone or with friends there’s usually somewhere suitable to sit. As it’s an internet café there’s obviously computers along one wall for those who wish to surf the net.

The menu is made up with sandwiches, toasties and jacket potatoes, along with daily specials such as shepherds pie, steak & kidney pie or meat & potato pie (with chips or veg) and there are hot and cold drinks on offer, including milkshakes. If something is out of stock they’ll do all they can to provide something similar, (there was no pineapple one lunchtime for my pineapple and cream cheese on my jacket spud so I was offered either pear or apple instead).

There are often several OAPs in there, and I’ve always seen the staff pay them respect and a bit more attention (especially if they are on their own). There’s quite a bit of jolly banter that goes on with the ‘regulars’ which is nice. In fact, it’s where my elderly mother insists on eating every time she comes to visit me in Colchester! There are a variety of newspapers in a rack available for customers to read if they wish to.

It’s not The Ritz by any stretch of the imagination, and they've been the victims of vandals (broken windows) on several occasions, but if you want somewhere cheap and cheerful to have a bite to eat in the town centre then you can’t go far wrong giving Compuccino a go.

Lin’s Cafe, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura (2013)...

We wanted somewhere cheap and basic for a spot of lunch, and after checking the prices at Lin’s Café we decided to give it a go. Service was efficient, the place was clean enough and the selection on the menu typical Brit grub (which is what we wanted at the time). I had a coffee and a cheese / onion / tomato / lettuce baguette and my partner had sparkling mineral water with steak, chips and salad. The food was presented nicely and tasted ok – actually, my partner really loved his steak. The whole lot came to about 17 euros, which was reasonable.

Goose and Firkin, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura (2013)...

Just needed a quick snack so I popped into this little restaurant and I was quite pleased that I did. Clean, with pleasant and efficient staff and a decent selection of snacks and basic meals. I paid 5.50 for a cheese and onion baguette with a white coffee, which filled me up and I thought was good value. Bread was fresh, onions crunchy and cheese was nice. Couldn’t really have asked for anything more of this place. I would certainly recommend it to others.

Wild West Restaurant, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura (2013)...

Situated within a the small shopping centre next to the Barcelo Fuerteventura Thalasso Spa, this restaurant was really nice place for our first meal in Fuerteventura. It was 3pm so not too many other people about. Waiters were polite/pleasant. We ordered a sparkling mineral water @ 1.80, and a pineapple juice @ 2.00.  I ate the jacket potato with home-made coleslaw and side salad @ 5.00 which was delicious and my partner ate the chicken kebab with rice, chips and salad. He said the rice was delicious and the meat cooked well although at 10.50 was a little expensive. I was too full for dessert but he had hot apple cake with ice cream @ 5.50, which he said was delicious.

All in all at just under 30 euros it wasn’t cheap but was tasty and the service was nice.

Fado Rock Restaurant, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura (2013)...

This is a large, themed restaurant which caught our eye as we walked past one day so we decided to give it a go.

We ordered 2 sparkling mineral waters @ 2 euros each and the waitress brought us over some fresh bread with a garlic dip. This was very tasty and quite filling.

I ordered cheese and tomato pizza @ 6.50 euros while my partner had the t-bone steak with chips, salad and sauce @ 19.95 euros. The staff were polite and friendly, although in my opinion, service was a little on the slow side considering we were the only customers in there at 2pm on a Monday. Eventually our meals were ready and they were well worth waiting for. My thin crust large pizza was really nice and my partner said that his steak was absolutely delicious.

The bill came to 32.58 euros which was very reasonable considering the amount of food we’d eaten. The waiter brought us over 2 small shots of baileys to drink from tiny brandy glasses while paying the bill.

All in all this is a really good restaurant with great food and quirky surroundings.

Piero’s Restaurant and Music Bar, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura (2013)...

We’d seen this bar (or set of bars) several times so decided to pop in for a snack lunch on the last day of our holiday. Wimbledon was being shown on various tv screens and although neither of us are sporty types we agreed we’d quite like to watch some of it.

We both had sparkling mineral water @ 1.50 euros each and I had a cheese and onion baguette (it wasn’t on the menu but they were happy to make it for me) @ 3.50euros while my partner chose the cheeseburger and chips @ 4.50 euros. My baguette had processed cheese and red onion, and was quite nice. My partner enjoyed his meal and then ordered 2 ice cream scoops @ 3 euros.

For a total of 14 euros it was a very reasonable price to pay for some tasty lunchtime snacks in a chilled out atmosphere.

Trafalgar Restaurant, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura (2013)...

We were wandering around looking for somewhere for an afternoon snack when we saw the Trafalgar and decided that the prices were the best we’d seen so we should give it a go – and very glad we were too!

We sat outside under the parasols and were greeted by very friendly members of staff, who took our order; a filter coffee, an alcohol-free beer, a chicken baguette and a cheese baguette. A few minutes later it arrived, and oh my word… the baguettes were massive. However, in this instance quantity certainly didn’t make way for quality as both were utterly delicious (and more filling than a main meal).

The salad was fresh and crunchy and the baguettes tasted as if they’d just been baked and at only 3.50 each you simply couldn’t have asked for better value for money. Even though we were stuffed to the brim, 10 minutes later the thought of an ice cream in the Fuerteventura sunshine was too tempting, so we opted for a multi-scoop and 2 spoons. The mint-choc-chip tasted just like after eight mints, the chocolate had real bits of chocolate in it, the vanilla tasted extra creamy and the strawberry was sublime – underneath was a strawberry flavoured cream (yoghurt?)

My partner had another beer and when we asked for the bill we couldn’t believe it was only 14.50. We’ve never eaten anywhere that was such great value for money.

The Trafalgar is definitely somewhere we would eat again.

Footnote: We returned the next day and got great service and decent grub at unbelievably good prices again.

Rose and Crown, Wivenhoe, Essex (2013)...

My partner and I decided to try this pub/restaurant for a lunchtime Valentine’s Day treat, and we weren’t disappointed.

The interior is very ‘Olde Worlde’ with beams and rustic furniture, which we like very much. In spring and summer people like to sit outside on the Quayside as there’s a lovely view of the water and boats. At the bar we asked for a tea and a coffee (it was a chilly day) and ordered our meals. The manager/chef told us there would be a short (20 minute) wait for my chips as he was changing the oil, which we didn’t mind and were grateful he’d given me the option to select a different meal if we were in a hurry – which we weren’t. I’d much rather to be told of any delays when ordering the meal than be left sitting at a table wondering where the food was.

I ordered the mozzarella and pesto burger (mozzarella, bound with sweet potato, red peppers, red onion and pesto lightly coated in crisp breadcrumbs) and chips, at £8.79, which was presented on a large, round wooden platter, with the chips in a small enamel bowl and a pot of tasty BBQ sauce on the side. Everything was cooked well, the chips were excellent and the whole meal was deceptively filling.

My partner chose the seafood salad (salmon fillet, king prawns and flakes of tuna, served with crisp lettuce, red onions, a boiled free-range egg and tomatoes - all dressed with seafood sauce and topped with crunchy croutons) also at £8.79 and was really pleased with his meal.

We did look at the dessert menu but to be honest we were both a bit too stuffed to eat any more.

Arizona Restaurant, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria (2012)…

This restaurant is apparently owned by the same person who owns the bar next door, so we weren’t sure where to sit when we went in, but the British waiter was friendly and quickly showed us to a table even though he worked in the bar, not the restaurant.

The tables had proper table cloths and were nicely laid out.

Bread rolls with a pot of herb butter were brought over, which we didn’t ask for but it didn’t matter as they were very nice.

For the main meal I had the vegetable pizza, which was lovely and thin with a delicious topping, while my partner had the mixed grill which hung from a skewer (with chips and a side salad). We had drinks (beer and mineral water) but didn’t have dessert.

After we’d eaten the waiter gave us some shots and cherry-flavoured lollipops (that’s a first!)

At around 25 euros we thought that it was good value and tasty, the restaurant was nice and clean, the staff were polite and we would happily recommend the Arizona to anyone else.

Taj Palace, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria (2012)…

We had high hopes for this Indian Restaurant as it looked really nice from the outside, with coloured lights, plenty of outdoor seating and an extensive menu, however, unfortunately it was a bit of a let-down.

We ordered a beer and a mineral water – these were fine.

We had 5 poppadoms and were given 4 dishes of dips (1 lime, 1 something sweeter and 2 with chopped vegetables). These were nice, the poppadoms were warm and crispy, but it would’ve been better to have been given 4 different sauces/dips.

My partner had 2 onion bhajis as a starter, which he said were great, however, things rapidly went downhill after that.

My main was a mild vegetable curry and mushroom rice, while my partner asked for chicken korma and plain pilau rice with 2 naan breads. There didn’t seem to be much vegetable curry, and it wasn’t exactly piping hot on arrival and it consisted of more onion than anything else. There was a large bowl of mushroom rice, which tasted ok but nothing special. My partner’s chicken was very chewy and they’d given him rice with small chunks of vegetables and peas…and he hates peas. After 10 minutes a waiter asked if everything was ok and we mentioned about the peas, so he apologised and said he’d bring some plain rice asap. (I know we should’ve said something sooner but by the time we realised the rice was wrong the waiter had disappeared). A few minutes later he arrived with a large dish of plain pilau rice, which was lovely but by this time my partner had finished his korma (as it was getting cold and there wasn’t a huge amount of it to begin with) and could only manage a few spoonfuls of the plain rice. His 2 naan breads were a bit flat but apparently tasted alright. He was sitting back letting his food get down and hadn’t quite finished when the waiter came and took the plates away. He should’ve said something at the time but to be honest, after the rice saga he didn’t want to appear to be making more fuss, so he watched while the rest of his naan and curry was taken away. He finished his second beer and we then asked for the bill.

It was just under 40 euros, which would’ve been good value if the meal had been better quality. If they’d cooked the food better and had dished it up hotter, and given us more curry and less rice, and got the order right in the first place, we would have stayed for dessert and more drinks. Unfortunately, we didn’t want to stay and they lost our custom.

As is often the case when you’ve had a less than perfect meal, we spent both the rest of the evening with indigestion, although I guess it could’ve been worse.

El Cenador Grill, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria (2012)…

On arrival we were shown to the tables for two, overlooking the small shopping mall and restaurant area. I ordered a mineral water while my partner had a beer. A small dish of 4 Canarian potatoes (cooked in their skins) was brought out, which tasted nice.

We skipped starters and went straight for mains. I had vegetable pizza while my partner ordered steak, chips and salad. Two small opened bottles of wine (1 red and 1 white) were brought to us but we didn’t want them so they were eventually taken away (they hadn’t given us any wine glasses in any case although I guess we could’ve asked for some). Two pots of sauce were then brought to the table (1 garlic and 1 Canarian sauce).

My pizza was quite nice but too filling to finish. The base was very crunchy in places and a bit doughy in other places but it wasn’t an issue. I dipped my crusts into the garlic sauce, which tasted really nice (quite strong).

My partner’s steak was slightly under-cooked and his chips weren’t the best he’d ever had (although they were ok), but the salad was fresh and the pepper sauce was excellent, and overall he did enjoy his meal.

Several different waiters served our table, which was a little confusing but not a problem, although a waitress did take away my cutlery after I’d used it on the Canarian potatoes and I had to ask another waiter for a knife and fork, then ask another, then someone else brought me fresh cutlery!

Each waiter has a device strapped to their wrist (looks like a watch) and every table has a little wooden block with 3 buttons. You press one for service, one for the bill and 1 for something else (I forget what). This seemed like a very good idea although I suspect the staff don’t think so when customers allow their children to touch the ‘toy’ on the table.

All in all it was worth the 26 euros we paid for the meal.

Toro Bravo, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria (2012)…

We found all of the members of staff to be friendly and helpful. The beer was ice-cold, the food was delicious and the price was very reasonable.

I had the vegetable pizza, which had a thin crust and cheese that wasn’t overpowering or greasy, topped with a selection of vegetables in small chunks (including broccoli, carrots, onions, peppers, courgettes). It made a welcome change from the usual mushroom and tomato you usually get on vegetable pizzas.

My partner had the steak with pepper sauce, chips and vegetables. He was more than happy with the quality of the meat and how it was cooked.

We were too full for desserts but did have tequila and brandies to round the evening off.

We were there for a couple of hours and the entire time we were entertained by a solo performer singing a wide selection of popular songs, while a few people danced.

This is a lovely restaurant and we would thoroughly recommend it to anyone else looking for an enjoyable and relaxing evening with lovely food and good service.

El Faro, Mogan, Gran Canaria (2012)…

This restaurant has spectacular views over the harbour and the ocean.

We started off with a coffee and a mineral water, then we ordered food and 2 more mineral waters.

I had a goats cheese salad (without eggs) and my partner had the tuna with chips and side salad.

My salad was lovely and fresh, with lots of water cress, grated carrot, sweetcorn, Canarian potatoes, tomato, lettuce, goats cheese, cucumber and olives. My partner also enjoyed his meal, and at just over 25 euros it was good value.

We sat upstairs, (outside), so had to go downstairs to use the toilets. Not the best loos I’ve ever used but not the worst either considering just how many people use them in any one day.

I’d be happy to recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Mogan.

La Cantina, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria (2012)…

Judging by the glass cabinets nearby filled with a variety of slabs of meat we thought that this restaurant would be ideal for a steak meal, but unfortunately looks can be deceiving.

To say the eating area was ‘snug’ was probably an understatement, but they obviously wanted to maximise the limited space available to them. Several waiters were rushing around, so it was a little confusing who was actually serving us.

We ordered 1 beer and 1 mineral water.

Prices seemed a little steep so we skipped starters and went straight for mains. I ordered a home-made pasta dish with spinach, ricotta and parmesan while my partner ordered the t-bone steak (the special) with salad and chips and peppercorn sauce. He’d asked for a fillet but as the waiter said the t-bone was the same price for tonight he changed his mind (big mistake).

My pasta arrived on a huge plate, which made the small portion seem tiny for the 9 euros 50 cents we paid for it, but it was really tasty and quite filling.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the steak meal. The meat was chewy and there were only about 4 edible mouthfuls on it, the skinny chips were cold and although it initially looked nice the salad was actually dry (as if it had been sitting around too long). There were various unwanted garnishes / adornments on the plate, possibly to distract from the poor quality meat. At almost 17 euros this was hugely disappointing (and annoying). I would have said something but my partner didn’t want to make a scene, so we ended up paying almost 40 euros and leaving. The waiter brought us some shots with the bill but I only took one sip as it was quite revolting. My partner was not in the mood to even attempt it, especially after the waiter walked off with the credit card still in the machine and then tried to laugh it off.

This was our worst restaurant experience during our 7 days in Puerto Rico and I’d discourage anyone else from wasting their money eating there.

Bengal Spice, Wivenhoe, Essex (2012)...

My partner and I have been to The Bengal Spice a few times before, so chose this restaurant to celebrate his birthday.

There was no need to book as this was a quiet Tuesday evening (they open at 6pm).

The staff were friendly and attentive and we immediately ordered drinks; my partner had a beer while I had a coffee (proper coffee, not instant).

We started off with popadoms & chutneys. The popadoms were warm and crunchy and there were 4 chutneys to choose from.

Once we demolished those our starters arrived. I had garlic mushrooms while my other half had chicken pakora. Both were very tasty. My coffee was topped up and my partner had a lager shandy.

For main course I had vegetable balti with naan bread while my other half had chicken balti with naan bread. I’d also ordered sag aloo and he’d ordered pilau rice. All arrived hot and plentiful; in fact we were too full for any deserts!

On asking for the bill we were given the obligatory hot flannels, and then a little wrapped chocolate each. The bill was just under £45 which wasn’t too bad I thought.

China Town, Sidari, Corfu (2012)…

This was a return visit to China Town as we’d enjoyed eating in there during our holiday in Sidari July 2011.

The restaurant is clean and spacious with very pretty ornamental (plastic) swans and a water feature in the entrance with little turtles swimming around in it. There are many colourful (red) lanterns hanging from the ceiling and pictures and ornamental vases on the walls.

The staff were incredibly friendly and efficient, as they had been the previous year.

We ordered our drinks (one beer and one sparkling water) and scanned the menu. My partner ordered prawns in batter in a sweet & sour sauce, spicy chicken in black bean sauce and I ordered the vegetables and fried rice with pineapple. We had prawn crackers (with 2 sauces) as a starter.

All I can say is “WOW!” The presentation was exquisite and the taste was sublime. Neither of us could quite finish the dishes (not for the want of trying). We had to sit there for quite some time after finishing our food as we were both quite stuffed, however we never felt hurried… in fact, we were given fortune cookies while we sat there watching the world go by.

The bill came to under 40 euros, which was excellent value for money, and hurrah – they accept credit cards! I have no problem recommending The China Town to anyone else and would happily eat there again.

Aquarius Restaurant, Sidari (2012)…

Spiros, Peri, Nikos, Kelly and George make this restaurant and bar the most welcoming place in Sidari.

There is a fabulous menu to choose from, with very reasonable prices, available from 8.30am – 11pm. (The bar opens from 8.30pm til late). The fresh Greek salad is phenomenal and for veggies (like me) there’s also a nice selection of home-made pizza, stuffed peppers/tomatoes, mushrooms in cream and much more…
Don’t worry if you’re a meat-eater as there’s more than enough on the menu to cater for your needs too!

You’ll find evening entertainment several nights per week; Saturdays Poolside BBQ, Sundays Quiz Night, Tuesdays Greek Night with dancers and plate-smashing, Wednesdays Live Music Night – rock and blues with Corfu’s very own Rock God, Nikos Sellas and his band. (Band name roughly translates as ‘3 and a cuckoo’).

Above the taverna is a playroom with pool table, darts, internet, games, library and widescreen tv.

You can order takeaway for your apartment, beach or excursions.

Unlike several other restaurants in Sidari, The Aquarius does accept credit cards which is very useful.

The views of the Mediterranean and Albania are spectacular and, in my opinion, this restaurant is by far the best in Sidari.

Kima Restaurant, Kassiopi, Corfu (2012)…

We were on an evening trip from Sidari to Kassiopi and spotted this up-market restaurant overlooking the harbour. As we were in casual clothing (shorts) we asked about the dress code but were welcomed in and shown to a table (most of the tables were reserved, so it’s clearly a popular place).

It was nice to see proper table cloths, chair covers and cotton serviettes. The staff were very polite and attentive and quickly took our order.

I had a sparkling water and feta with honey while my partner had steak and chips with a beer. We didn’t have bread, but we saw that others did and they were given what appeared to be a selection of breads and dips (yummy).

I’d never had feta with honey before so wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but I needn’t have worried. It was a slice of feta wrapped in a thin, crispy layer of light pastry, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds! It looked like a small portion but it was surprisingly filling as it was very rich.

The food here was sublime. Presentation was stunning and the taste was out of this world.

We didn’t order a dessert but after we’d eaten we were given a dessert to share ‘compliments of the chef!’ (All diners are given this special treat).

It consisted of crispy puff pastry, fresh cream, strawberries, a chocolate stick and some tiny fragrant berries….and was utterly delicious.

We actually didn’t want to leave but as we weren’t in Kassiopi for long we had to get some sight-seeing done.

The meal was under 30 euros which was excellent value, and we would DEFINITELY eat there again if we ever returned to Kassiopi.

Konaki Greek Taverna, Sidari (2012)…

We saw this restaurant had a good rating on Trip Advisor and as it was so close to where we were staying (The Kanali) we decided to try it out.

The waiter was very friendly and the prices were very reasonable. I had a Greek salad and my partner had the steak.

We had fresh bread to start with.

While my partner said it was the best steak he’d ever tasted, and that his chips were delicious, I have to say that although my salad was nice it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. It was fresh and had a nice mixture of green peppers / tomatoes / lettuce / red onion / feta but I could’ve done with slightly less onion and more peppers.

I also wasn’t particularly enamoured with the olive oil which I’d poured over my entire salad. Can’t put my finger on it but it simply didn’t taste quite right to me (personal taste / opinion).

We were given complimentary slices of watermelon, which was a nice touch.

As with many establishments we’ve found, the credit card scanner was out-of-order / broken, so although this meal was not expensive it almost wiped out all out spare cash and we had to find an ATM.

We had a nice meal there but in my opinion it wasn’t quite nice enough to warrant a return visit.

Pizza Romana, Sidari, Corfu (2012)…

This hidden gem is located behind the church, next to the bandstand in the centre of Sidari. It’s a beautiful, quaint place which is close enough to the main strip to be convenient but it actually feels a million miles away from all of the time-share touts and reps trying to drag you into their bar/restaurant.

The staff were very attentive to our needs and, as it was an evening visit, we were given an oil-filled lantern for the table. Nearby, a waiter placed a mosquito coil so we wouldn’t get bitten.

While we waited for our food, a basket with freshly baked, hot, flat-bread was brought to the table along with 2 pots of utterly delicious sauces. One was tomato and the other was garlic. I was not intending to eat bread as I’d ordered a filling pizza but after the first taste I was thoroughly hooked and simply couldn’t leave the garlic dip alone.

I ordered a veggie pizza made with gouda cheese while my partner had the mixed grill. Both meals were huge and fabulous – my pizza being so vast I simply couldn’t finish it no matter how much I really wanted to.

We didn’t order desserts as we were simply too stuffed to cram another morsel in.

As we sat there letting our food get down not once did we feel hurried, even when we were given our little shot of something pink and alcoholic when we asked for the bill.

The people who run this restaurant obviously care about their patrons, and as a result they will get repeat business from us, and, no doubt, many other satisfied customers.

Jeni’s Mediterranean Moments, Sidari (2012)...

Jeni is a wonderful human being who will always go that extra mile for you, with a smile on her face and a big chunk of genuine kindness. The café is not only a hang-out for ‘Brits Abroad’ but attracts all nationalities.

She helps to rescue and re-home stray dogs on the Island and there’s often a furry visitor having a siesta on the floor of the café, or popping by for some attention from dog-friendly customers (cats are also welcome). Jeni sells calendars with pictures of some of the dogs in order to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

Her home-made cheesecakes are literally ‘to die for’ and no walk back from Sidari town to The Kanali (or other nearby apartments) would be complete without a sit down and a chat with an ice cold beer and a snack with Jeni.

There are computers for customers to use at the rear of the café.

If you need to know ANYTHING then just ask Jeni!

As an additional service, Jeni will make delicious sandwiches for your journey home for just a few euros, and will also bring you cold drinks. This will save you from the horrors of eating at Corfu airport. She even delivers to your accommodation just before your transfer bus is due to arrive – now THAT’S service!

The Playhouse, Colchester (2012)...

I’ve been in The Playhouse on numerous occasions over the years, either for a quick coffee while I’m in town or a pre-arranged meal with friends. 

There’s a wide variety of seating options (providing it’s not too crowded) and the menu is very reasonable (standard Wetherspoon fare). My main gripe would be that service, even when the place looks half empty, can be quite slow, as other reviewers have pointed out. However, the food is always cooked well and portions are quite substantial, so it’s good value. Just remember to allow plenty of time for your meal to arrive, although if time is an issue then you may wish to consider an alternative restaurant.

I really like the fact that it’s retained its theatrical theme with the dummies on the balcony at the rear of the building and the tables at the back placed in a stage setting.

Toilets are generally clean and plentiful which is a bonus.

Giorgio s Ristorante, Holland-on-Sea (2012)...

The restaurant looked very rustic and homely, and was spotlessly clean. The staff were immediately attentive; taking our coats on arrival. We’d booked a table for four but due to the bad weather forecast we needn’t have reserved a table as the place was half empty. I’m told that this is a rare event for a Saturday night, and I can believe that.

We were immediately offered drinks, and a basket of bread was placed on the table. The squares of butter were already on a dish on the table, which made spreading it much easier than if it’d come straight from a fridge. I’d been to their website during the afternoon to see what vegetarian options were on the menu (several items) so it didn’t take me long to order my meal.

I’d been surprised at the lack of pizza on the menu, considering it’s an Italian restaurant, but there was still a nice variety of dishes on the list.

I didn’t want a starter, but my companions all had one each, 1 king pawns, 1 melon with orange and 1 deep fried whitebait. They looked nicely presented and all 3 were very happy with their selections.

My main was spinach and ricotta tagliatelle, as it was (no salad or side order). While 2 of our group had steak and the remaining person had a pork dish. All meals drew positive comments for both presentation and taste. My pasta tasted fresh and was well cooked, in a tomato sauce. The steaks were cooked exactly as requested (1 medium and the other medium rare).

Onto deserts, and I opted for the fresh fruit salad, 1 ordered strawberries and ice cream, another had cheesecake while our final member wanted the lemon sorbet in a brandy snap basket. Again, presentation was very good and my fruit salad was delicious.

Coffees arrived, which finished off the meal nicely. Total cost was just under £100 which wasn’t a bad price at all.

Giorgio’s can cater for large groups as well as individuals, couples and small groups.

I’m told that the toilets were very clean, which I can believe considering how clean the restaurant itself was.

I’d be happy to return to this restaurant in the future.

The Crown, Ardleigh, Colchester (2012)...

A group of us had booked our works post-Christmas meal at The Ardleigh Crown, mainly due to the location and free parking. Those of us who had arrived early were able to enjoy a pre-dinner relaxing drink around a lovely open fireplace while we waited for everyone else to arrive. The place looked very festive, which definitely put us into the Christmas mood, and we liked the fact that this large restaurant seemed to have lots of little partially-enclosed areas for privacy as well as what appeared to be the main dining room. When we were eventually shown to our table we liked the fact we had been put into a small enclosed area, relatively close to the bar and toilets.

We had booked pre-booked the meals several weeks earlier, and several of us struggled to remember what we had chosen to eat. I had apparently ordered ‘scrumpy pears’ as my starter. Although not quite how I had pictured it, the dish of dark-coloured slivers of pears on a bed of water cress, walnuts and stilton looked lovely. I had never eaten stilton before, so found the very strong flavour a little too intense, along with the strange after-taste, but it was nicely presented.

My main was the veggie option of lentil pie. This actually looked as unappetising as it sounds – a thick brown wedge on the centre of a large white plate, balanced on 4 asparagus spears with a small amount of relish on top. It looked as if it desperately needed something else on the plate, possibly a few more vegetables and some potatoes. Those who ordered the full Christmas dinner, by comparison, had their plates heaving with turkey, Yorkshire puddings, a selection of vegetables and roast spuds. However, they had only been given the smallest dribble of gravy on each plate.

The waiting staff had been quite attentive and when more gravy was requested a girl immediately returned with some, but it was one small cream jug full! Clearly this was not enough for one person let alone several. More small jugs were brought to the table but there was never going to be enough to go round. Several of us were also struggling with uncooked vegetables. My asparagus was rock hard and several people struggled to cut up their carrots.

Then the desserts were brought out. There was a tiny issue with apple fritters being given to those who asked for apple pie, but this was immediately sorted out. The Christmas log looked lovely, as did the individual apple pies, but those of us who requested the Christmas pudding were bemused at how small the portion was. I have never seen such a tiny slice of Christmas pudding in my life, and it sat in a lake of custard with a sprig of mint jammed into it. It actually tasted fabulous, but there really was nowhere near enough of it.

Finally, it was onto the coffees (we had to pay extra for any drinks at the meal). Unfortunately, mine was the only one which arrived hot (being a cappuccino I expect the hot milk was the reason mine had any warmth to it). The rest were sent back to be re-heated.

All in all we enjoyed the dinner but there were too many niggles with it and I, for one, will not be returning.

The Old Siege House, Colchester (2011)...

We’d chosen this The Old Siege House for our anniversary meal as we wanted to go somewhere local and more up-market than a general restaurant. The fact that they had customer parking at the back of the building was a bonus. It was a Tuesday evening and to begin with we were the only customers in there at 7pm, although a few more arrived a little later.

The décor was nice and everything looked clean. We were seated right by the window so we could watch the world go by, although at times I did feel a bit like a fish in a bowl.

When presented with the menus I was a little disappointed at the lack of variety, especially for vegetarians. The waitress was quite attentive, although service was a bit on the slow side considering how few customers were in there. She immediately told us that the goats cheese was off (one option less for yours truly). My partner had already decided on the steak before leaving home, so I was the one holding up proceedings. I enquired about the asparagus, only to be informed that due to an issue with the supplier that was also off! The only two remaining options, as far as I could tell, were mushrooms with lentils (I don’t like lentils) or butter-nut squash (which I’d never tried before.) As salads or jacket potatoes were not an option I had little choice but to ask for the butter-nut squash and hope that I liked it.

We’d asked for a basket of bread, which arrived with a small bowl of olive oil 10 minutes later and was tasty, and a parmesan and rocket salad to ‘pick at’ while we waited for our mains. Unfortunately, they’d over-done the balsamic vinegar on the rocket and everything tasted a little bitter.

My partner’s steak arrived and he seemed suitably impressed with it, and my butter-nut squash also arrived. Thankfully it tasted quite nice, although it was quite a large plateful of one vegetable. They’d also given me a bowl of chips and a side salad.

We skipped dessert, mainly because we were full.

The toilets are some of the cleanest I’ve ever encountered and a credit to the establishment.

The meal was ok, but quite pricey and lacked variety on the menu.
It was nice for a one-off experience but I probably wouldn’t return.

Madison Bar, Sidari (2012)…

We decided to give The Madison Bar & Restaurant a chance to redeem itself after our previous experience there, but unfortunately we definitely won’t be returning.

The beach-side views are stunning, but even on a relatively quiet Sunday evening the service was incredibly slow. I asked for a sparkling mineral water with a slice of lemon. It came minus the lemon. My Greek salad was plentiful, quite well presented and reasonably tasty although the lettuce could’ve been crispier. I dined alone for the first hour and I asked for the bill before my partner arrived. My meal came to 7 euros 90 cents and I put 8 euros into the plastic wallet for the waiter to take to the till. I didn’t indicate he could keep the 10 cents change but he didn’t bring it to me in any case. If he’d bothered to bring me my change I’d have tipped him (his loss).

My partner arrived and was largely ignored for 15 minutes until I eventually made contact with one of the waiters. He ordered a beer and a meat dish (3 meats with coleslaw and chips). He was less than impressed with the cold chips, which could easily have been someone else’s leftovers (no way of knowing).

I asked for another sparkling mineral water with lemon and again it arrived minus the lemon.

He asked for the bill and wanted to pay by credit card but was told the machine was broken so he’d have to pay by cash (just as well he had enough cash on him).

Yes, I could’ve made a fuss about the missing lemon, the missing change and the cold chips but to be honest I simply didn’t think it was worth the hassle. We WON’T be going back!

The Madison Bar, Sidari (2010)…

Two very different experiences, same restaurant!

We chose this restaurant on the Sunday evening of our holiday as the views of the beach were stunning and it looked very clean inside. We enjoyed a fabulous meal out on the deck while watching the sunset in a calm and peaceful environment.

The starters were delicious, I had the garlic mushrooms while my partner enjoyed a prawn cocktail, and the only minor irritation was with the main meal. I was more than happy with my Greek salad, however, my partner specifically asked that his pepper sauce be served separate from his steak; however it arrived on his meat. No big deal though, as the staff were very friendly and the atmosphere was very relaxing… we chose Madison’s for our evening meal on the Monday evening.

What a difference 24 hours makes! As the weather was cold, wet and windy the next night the doors to the deck overlooking the beach at Madison’s were closed, so we had to sit inside the main part of the restaurant. A DJ was playing music but it was tolerable. We soon began to smell cigarette smoke due to the closed doors, which as non-smokers was an unwelcome accompaniment to our meal, and within minutes of ordering our food the music was turned up much louder.

Our food arrived fairly quickly but was definitely not of the same standard as the previous night. The chips were greasy and under-cooked and there just seemed to be less attention to detail in general, probably due to the fact that there were more customers in there. The staff were pleasant enough, however, the DJ got hold of the mic and began shouting out to customers, encouraging them to play ‘guess the tv theme tune’ in order to win shots. He was trying to hype the audience up into a frenzy in readiness for the Neil Diamond Tribute act due on stage very shortly.

By this point, the racket was unbearable, and we rushed to finish our food and get out of there. It’s such a shame because we really did enjoy our meal in there the previous night.