Patisserie Valerie – Brunswick Centre

Reviewed on August 5th, 2012 by Dina

Patisserie Valerie can be recognised by its intricate signature cakes displayed in the shop window! Inside, there is dark wood furniture and counter fridges displaying savoury items as well as more cakes, croissants and pastries. The staff were friendly when we entered Patisserie Valerie and allowed us to choose where we’d like to sit.

It was that time in the afternoon when a cup of tea was needed. The Suki Darjeeling tea was presented on a wooden board. A small green teapot together with a cup and saucer was how the tea came. I asked if we could have hot milk on the side instead of cold milk and that was what was given.

So far, our experience at Patisserie Valerie was going okay. The staff were nice enough, it was a relaxed atmosphere, and we were content with our cups of tea!

Patisserie ValeriePatisserie Valerie TeaPatisserie Valerie Interior

It all started to go a bit downhill when we wanted to order another drink. It was difficult to get the attention of the staff. There were at least four members of staff in this small cafe. They seemed to be walking around with blinkers. So that was one incident: it was a task to be able to order additional drinks.

But after that, things did not improve. It was not just a one off incident. It came to the time when we had finished our drinks and we wanted to pay the bill and leave. We stayed seated, again trying to get the attention of the staff. After a really long time, a waitress did come over with the bill.

Another long wait is not what we anticipated. The waitress had disappeared; maybe she had gone on a break, we were not sure! But no one else came over to collect the money.

After about fifteen minutes, or it could have been longer, we got up to leave. We thought that this would be the only way to get any attention. Even then, there was no response.  We had to go up to the staff and pay the bill. As we did that, we did tell them that we had been waiting such a long time to pay. The staff did apologise and said that they thought that we were being seen to!

Patisserie Valerie is a nice cafe but the service needs to improve immensely. A word of recommendation, only go here if you have a lot of patience or if you have a lot of time!

Patisserie Valerie, 9 Brunswick Centre, Russell Square, London, WC1 1AF

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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Giraffe – Brunswick Centre

Reviewed on October 14th, 2009 by Dina

The bright orange decor and the big wall sized pictures are striking when you go to Giraffe. The atmosphere was very warm and welcoming. It was great that the staff took the time to recommend dishes.

We ordered the nachos and asked for them to be made with less cheese and no jalapenos. They could have done with more refried beans. The guacamole was great and it was nice that it had sweetcorn in it. The red onion salsa also went well with the nachos. Seen as we were having finger food, it was nice that the staff gave us little wet wipes without us having to ask them for it.

GiraffeGiraffe interior1Giraffe interior2

Another item that we chose to snack on was the skin on fries. We were expecting a small bowl and were pleasantly surprised when we were presented with quite a large bowl of fries. The choices of dips that we decided to have were smokey barbecue and bloody mary ketchup. Both went well with the fries.

Giraffe have nice high window seats and they also have seating outdoors. The plastic seats can get a bit uncomfortable after a while. It would be nice if they had some cosy seats.

Giraffe, 19-21 Brunswick Centre, Russell Square, London, WC1N 1AF

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Pizza Express – Russell Square

Reviewed on April 23rd, 2009 by Dina

One of the things that caught my eye as I looked at the entrance of this branch of Pizza Express was that it had been given an impressive five stars from Scores on the Doors. Scores on the Doors is the official local authority hygiene ratings for food establishments.

The Bruschetta con Funghi was not made with the usual ciabatta bread slices that you get in many Italian restaurants. The topping on this starter was mushrooms baked with cream and bechamel sauce. It seemed that the bread was swimming in the creamy sauce but apart from that, it was nice enough.

The Baked Dough Balls were just the right size to snack on and they were made even tastier with the garlic butter. They were actually quite nice dipped in the mushroom sauce of the bruschetta.

Pizza Express interior2Pizza Express menuPizza Express interior1

We had the Giardiniera vegetarian pizza on the thinner crispier Romana base. The pizza was generously topped with asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, red peppers, olives and tomatoes. It had a rich tomato and pesto sauce and it was good that it had no cheese.

The banoffee pie was an ideal dessert with a thick topping of whipped cream. The combination of banana, cream and crunchy biscuit is always a firm favourite. We were pleasantly surprised that it was served with a scoop of ice cream even though this was not stated on the menu!

The hot chocolate was rich and a nice way to end the meal. They do not do soy milk. The tomato juice is from Britvic. One thing that I learnt about Britvic tomato juice is that it has added salt to the juice. I had always thought that this tomato juice would not have anything added to it!

The staff and service were great at this Pizza Express. They were really accommodating when I asked if the starter could be kept warm until my friend got there. They didn’t rush us in any way and were also helpful when asked about details of the dishes.

Pizza Express, Southampton Row, London, WC1B 5AA

Rating: ★★★½☆

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