Asia de Cuba – London

What a treat it is to visit this exotic yet elegant restaurant in the heart of London. Asia de Cuba is situated in the beautiful St Martin’s Lane hotel, giving you a chance to see one of the coolest hotel lobbies around. Look around and enjoy the slightly surreal entrance, the oversized chess pieces, the ambient lightning and odd furniture.
As the name suggests, the food on the menu is a (brave) mix between Cuban and Asian flavours and traditions. The colourful descriptions will fire up your imagination but the food will surpass it. My standing favorites are Seared tuna with Wasabi mash and Surf n’ Turf so try these if you are having a hard time deciding.
The portions are deliberately large to be shared. They are a key element that makes Asia de Cuba unique and every dinner to a social event. For a group of four, two starters and two mains are more than enough.
The staff is the best I have experienced in London. A very good balance between personal, knowing, recommending but never in your face. Always making sure that the customer is fully satisfied. You will often be served by two or more individuals; one of them being knowledgeable about the wines while the other about the food and the rest. Don’t be shy starting a conversation.
If I have to find something negative about Asia de Cuba it would be the prices. It is simply above my everyday budget and some people find it over priced. It’s nice to start the evening with some drinks and they are around £9. The good wines are in three digit price range and thus unreachable. The sharing of the food helps a bit and I think £50 / person is a rough price tag for the superb experience.
45 St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4HX [Map]
Tube: Covent Garden
Tel: 020 7300 5588 (book early!)

Maggie Jones’s – London

This has to be one of London’s better kept secrets, hidden in a tiny side street off Kensington Church St.
When I saw the sign I imagined a small American diner and wasn’t very impressed with Pedro’s suggestion.
I was well surprised to see that inside was a three floor mansion with a very rustic and charming decor; intimate booths in the basement for a romantic first date and a lower and first floor with various sized tables, booths and a banquette table (seats 16).
The menu is a meat feast. While there are classics like filets, saddle of lamb and rump stakes, there is also a lot of game. Choose between rabbit, ostrich, duck and venison.
My Scottish fillet with a rich mushroom sauce was just fantastic. The beef was tender like butter and the dish had a cozy home made feeling to it. Probably the best meat I have had in London during the last 3 years. The deserts are massive and include classics like apple crumble pie and bread and butter pudding.
A main dish is around £15, deserts are £4.50 and there is a set three course menu for £23 if you are hungry.
Maggie Jones’s has an interesting concept for serving wine. It comes in large 1.5l jars and keeps coming until you are ready to pay the bill. You pay only for what you drink
6 Old Court Place, London, W8 4PL (Map)
Nearest Tube Station: High Street Kensington
Tel: 02079376462