May. The month for birthdays, pretty much in a row. It's a wonder we function so well together with 3 (at times) very bull-headed people in the group. With more than one birthday in the span of 2 weeks, deciding on a venue is pretty tricky. With the first of the May babies leaving her teens and joining us in our 20's, we decided it was best to consult Toptable for some ideas on where to go. Ratings and reviews are not the only reasons why we turn to Toptable - it lists promotions (that magical word!) and discounts as well, which really means that we get to choose the fancier places and still have money in our accounts after.
And so, on a Wednesday evening, after some confusion with the reservations, we set set off towards Oxford Street, to The Loop, a restaurant, bar and club all rolled into one.
19 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AH
T: 020 7493 1003
F: 020 7493 0483
We arrived late (trying to get everyone out of the halls on time is quite the task) and were greeted by Ju Vern who had been holding down the fort and who started telling us about the meal promotions almost as if she was a member of staff: 50% the total bill and half price on drinks during happy hour. Music to our ears.
The evening started off with a round of cocktails followed by starters. As usual, there was more passing around of plates than anything as we had made sure that we had all ordered something different.
Avocado and Crayfish with a citrus Marie Rose sauce & wild rocket
Mushroom in a peppercorn sauce on toasted ciabatta bread topped with melted blue cheese, served with wild rocket.
The starters were in nice portions, not too small but not so big that it fills you up either. My favourites were the Chicken Liver Pate with wild rocket, red onion chutney & toasted olive bloomer (not pictured) and the mushrooms in peppercorn sauce (I have a weakness for mushrooms of any kind).
Hanad went for the first thing on the Main Course menu, the Loop Surf & Turf - Sirloin steak & half a Canadian lobster; char-grilled & drizzled with garlic butter & served with chunky chips and mixed salad. It was one of the first to be served, and we were impressed.
From the sizzling fajitas section - Tiger Prawn Skewers served with lightly fried vegetables, soft flour tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, salsa & grated cheese. A sure fire way to get that appetite going is the sound (and sight) of something sizzling. Gets me everytime.
My choice - Loop Sticky Chilli Lamb Rump served on sweet potato wedges and drizzled with coriander, mint & chilli yoghurt. I liked that there was certain sweetness to the whole dish (as the name suggests) but was a little apprehensive about the portion initially. Surprisingly though, it did leave me pretty satisfied. The sweet potato wedges were a nice change from the usual fare. For some reason, I was under the impression that the potato wedges were going to be fried in some sort of sweet sauce as opposed to them actually being made from sweet potato. I'm guessing that it has to do with me not having had any form of sweet potato since I got here.
Loop BBQ Pork Ribs slow cooked in a smoky bbq sauce and served with coleslaw & chunky chips. Anusha sat across from me at the table with her pile of ribs that somehow didn't seem to diminish no matter how many she ate. Of course, it gave us all the more excuse to help her out. The ribs ranked right up there with the best of the night in terms of taste and portion. They weren't kidding went they said it was slow cooked, nor were they kidding when they said it was delicious.
Some other mains that made an appearance that night were the Loop Salmon Steak & Whole Tiger Prawns, Crisp Skinned Sea Bass and the Wild Mushroom Ravioli.
What's a meal without dessert? Naughty but Nice Profiteroles - ice-cream filled choux pastry with Baileys and white & dark continental chocolate sauce. In the background, Eton Mess -
crushed meringues, strawberries & strawberry liqueur bound in whipped cream. The desserts were quite the opposites of each other with one being the comforting classic and the other packing quite a zing. I have to say that I preferred the profiteroles, the classic chocolate infused one.
Somehow, we had managed to get the birthday cake to the venue without the candles. We hoped and prayed that the restaurant would have at least one candle lying around. After some hushed conversations with the waiter, he promised that he would try to locate one (or 20!) but he couldn't and the cake came out all pretty-ed up instead. They definitely won some brownie points for service that night!
While we generally enjoyed the food, the portions were a little too small for our boys and most of them ended up with 2 main courses. The 50% discount certainly came in handy that night. Food on chic white plates, waiters constantly offering to help with the group photos, a pretty-ed up birthday cake - I'd say she said goodbye to her teens in style.