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
"Been many times and food was very good though not in the Le Gavroche class. After lunch today I think they are relying too much on the superb decor and conservatory. Starter of herring with smoked salmon didn't work well. Main of pork loin was too sweet. Trout dish lacked flavour. Desserts as usual were excellent. Maybe a touch of complacency has crept in to the kitchen."
"Food good but the environment is worth the visit"
"As ever, beautiful surroundings make this restaurant stand out above the crowd."
"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."
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