|Last Orders||11 pm, Sun 10 pm|
"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 – 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 didn’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 don’t do a wine flight. You couldn’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 don’t know."
"Just the set lunch but the seared tuna starter and salmon and lobster main were excellent, house wine very acceptable at an excelent price. Service and ambience both superb."
"Another visit, this time with friends new to this restaurant. An another triumph. They have changed the way they serve wine with the fixed menu to leave the bottle in case you want more but not in a clever way."
"My partner and I booked a table months in advance and were very excited when the date finally arrived. We were seated in the conservatory, which was pretty and romantic. Unfortunately the food was average at best and we left feeling disappointed having heard such hype."
"Excellent food with seamless service in very comfortable and relaxed surroundings."
"It is so difficult to fault this restaurant. The ambience in the conservatory is superb with a magical lighting level and superb attention to details. Service is always attentive and the knowledge of the sommelier is wonderful when confronted with such an enormous wine list. Every visit maintains the experience."
"Professional and beautifully presented. Crisp service, always a pleasure."
"A really delightful place. Lovely staff and they made our 2 young daughters feel at home (and even gave them a box of petit fours to take home)"
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 fêted 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 - 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.
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