Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“A girl knows she’s being spoilt” at this Covent Garden “haven” – the survey’s No. 1 romantic choice – where for full effect you must sit in the “magical back conservatory, which is second-to-none for a date”. Service is “charming and courteous” and the cooking “delicious”, if arguably eclipsed by the “massive tome” of a wine list.
“I don’t know how a restaurant could be more romantic!”; the survey’s No. 1 trysting spot is an unlikely “oasis” in the tourist hell that is Covent Garden; but it’s not just the “twinkly conservatory” that sets pheromones pumping – there’s a “phenomenal” wine list to back up “undoubtedly excellent” French cuisine.
“So romantic, you could say yes to anyone!”; this “womb-like” Covent Garden wonderland is again London’s No.1 passion-magnet – “the best tables are in the conservatory”; the food is often “excellent”, but it’s eclipsed by the “encyclopaedic” wine list.
Clos Maggiore Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Let down by poor liasion between the sommelier and server: twice the wine didn't arrive with the course. Unforgivable."
"Considering how adored this restaurant is amongst London's diners, we found it very disappointing. Generally-speaking, the food is overwrought and much too fancy for its own good, and the service is careless to the point of slapdash. We would never return."
"This restaurant never fails to impress for its impeccable attention to detail from the service through to the ambience and great food. The wine list is something else and really quite daunting when the huge volume is presented to you. However, the sommelier will give you all assistance to find the perfect choice and surprisingly on this last visit directed us to a superb cheaper wine than we were originally considering, which frankly shows how much care the restaurant takes to ensure you have the best experience."
"Not sure what to make of this place. We arrived on time and were shown to our table in the wonderful conservatory. And left sitting there. No menus, not asked if we wanted a drink â€“ nothing! The staff were more concerned clearing other tables as soon as they were vacated. Eventually we caught a waiters eye and asked for menus. He brought them, and I said I would like a drink. He totally ignored me. Then another waiter came over, and again I asked for a drink. Again I was ignored. It took three attempts to get a glass of wine. A waiter eventually came to take our order, by which time we had been sitting there over 20 minutes. They operate a time limit on the table, so clearly, through no fault of our own, that was being eroded. We asked for the 5 course tasting menu, and also asked about a wine flight. We were told they didnâ€™t do it, but we could pick a glass for each course if we wanted. How ridiculous!!!!! We ordered a bottle instead. The food eventually started to arrive, and after a while it became obvious that we were going to pay for their mistake of not giving us menus and not taking our order in a reasonable time. After we finished the first course, the plates were whipped away as soon as we put our cutlery down and the next course immediately brought. And so it went on. At one stage I was still chewing my last mouthful when the waiter tried to take the plate. I stopped him! No wonder they donâ€™t do a wine flight. You couldnâ€™t possibly drink it in the time allotted for each course. The food was excellent, and a very fair price, but the evening was spoiled by the poor service at the start, and the way we were rushed. Would I return? I donâ€™t know."
Clos Maggiore WC2
How's your Valentine's booking coming along? One excellent choice - though for next year I'm afraid, given that it was fully booked by the end of January - is the subject of today's review.
From the outside, Maggiore's gives every impression of wanting to 'fit in' alongside the mass-market outlets of Covent Garden. By looking like any other pleasant enough tourist trap, it seems largely to have escaped serious critical consideration. The Good Food Guide omits it. Michelin does find a place for it, but their inspectors - in spite of their supposed eye for detail - somehow fail to comment on its truly remarkable secret: a wine selection over 2000 bins strong.
The presentation of said list is baffling (even for the relatively initiated), but those who really care about these things - the US magazine Wine Spectator for instance - have fÃªted the selection here with a rarely-bestowed clutch of awards.
The interior of the restaurant is another shock. In particular, the rear room - decorated with greenery, a glazed roof and a baronial-style fireplace - is as pretty a dining space as you will find in London. In terms of obvious romantic appeal, it's a knock out. (Perhaps in 35 years time it too will be a 'classic' like La Poule au Pot, reviewed yesterday). Service is very charming too,
If there is a reservation about this place - and sadly, there is -Â it's about the food. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with the cooking, but rather that it can sometimes live up (or rather down) to the simplicity of its menu descriptions. If you choose that great and rare bottle, the food is unlikely to be its equal.
As a prelude to an evening at the Opera, however, the pre-theatre dinner here - with a well-chosen bottle of wine - would certainly be a hard act to follow.
33 King St, London, WC2E 8JD
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lunch noon - 2.30 pm, dinner 5 pm - 10.30 pm, Sat 11 pm
Last orders: 11 pm, Sun 10 pm