Restaurant reviews

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Dans Le Noir 30-31 Clerkenwell, Green EC1R 0DU - London - TEL : 020 7253 1100

I was wondering what to expect from 'Dans le Noir' having read the reviews on-line (some of which were not too complimentary!) after having booked...
However, I found the experience unique, fun & exciting, the food palatable and the whole experience one that I would recommend to friends looking for a once in a lifetime eating experience.
Upon entering the restaurant, coats and bags were safely stored in lockers and we ordered our eating options (meat/fish/surprise/veggie options and 2 or 3 courses). Then came the exciting bit... we were led from the comfort of the lit bar through two sets of blackout curtains and into the dining area holding on to the person in front's shoulders. I had thought that you would be able to see outlines etc. in the restaurant, but in fact I could not see my hand in front of my face! This was surreal for the first 2 minutes and then actually quite liberating.

After we were seated, the food and drink was delivered to the table by our cheery waitress Lisa. She announced each course/drink and guided you to your cutlery/napkin and glass. Having found my cutlery and plate it was still hard to determine exactly where on the plate my food was so I resorted to eating with my hands - an interesting experience and one which the rest of my party succumbed to also! The dark highlighted the flavours and we had fun trying to guess what each course was. Before entering the restaurant I had wondered whether it would be loud or quiet in the eating area and to my relief the room was filled with chatter, various foreign accents and renditions of happy birthday throughout the evening.

After we were led back into the light (which seemed very bright in comparison!), we were told what we had eaten. One of our party found out that her main course was crocodile! News to her as she had thought is was a nice beef stew...

I would recommend Dans le Noir for an interesting eating experience, but don't go if you are expecting haute cuisine and white glove service. It is also fairly expensive (£275 for 4) but I think something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime.

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Carnevale 135 Whitecross Street, London

Carnevale is another great find for imaginative vegetarian cuisine. Situated in one of London's trendiest areas, Carnevale Restaurant and Deli is as popular with carnivores as it is with veggies.

From the street it appears to be a tiny treasure trove of unusual and intriguing ingredients and most first time visitors are surprised to find the handful of pine tables and chairs in the back of the store, leading out to a cool and shady courtyard. Equally astounding is Carnevale's wide choice of Mediterranean style meat-free food - sharing plates, snacks and full, hearty meals - with plenty of nut free, gluten free and vegan choices too.

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Canteen on Clifton Street 40 Clifton Street, Cardiff, CF24 1LR

Although the name "Canteen on Clifton Street" doesn't fill me with excitement and tantalise my taste buds, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. The evening menu was fairly small but from the website it looks as though the menu changes every month, so if you decide to become a frequent diner there will always be something new to try.

Canteen on Clifton Street attacks the stereotype of vegetarian food being bland & boring head on. The menu offers colourful and adventurously flavoured dishes such as Sweet potato, lime and chilli soup for starters and Gnocchi with beetroot, walnuts, tarragon oil, horseradish cream and beetroot and merlot reduction for main course. An absolute steal at £11.50 for two courses.

The interior has a cosy cabin feel about it with wooden panelled walls and tiled floor with a warming glow from the candle light on each table. Perfect for a chilly winter evening. Parties are also catered for and you can book the entire place if your have over 18 guests!

We'd recommend a visit to Clifton Street especially for vegans.

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Manna 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London NW3 3AJ

020 7722 8028
Chalk Farm tube/31, 168 bus

Set in leafy Primrose Hill, Manna is a veggie escape from the hectic City. Newly refurbished with a stylish interior, Manna is looking better than ever with earth tones and rustic wooden furniture complimented by crisp white tablecloths and black leather, all surrounded by contemporary mood lighting and gorgeous wall coverings.

The look suits romantic dinners as easily as lunches with friends and the menu features fresh, vegetarian dishes for any occasion - try the Manna Mezze to share, enjoy a healthy and delicious salad or indulge in a fantastic Organic Aubergine, Red Pepper, Spinach and Mozzarella Stack - proof that vegetarian and vegan food isn't all about mung beans and quorn.

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Saf Restaurant & Bar 152-154 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3AT

I visited Saf for lunch on Tuesday lunch time. The restaurant had a luxurious feel to it I was seated at a table near to the garden which was quite lively being such as sunny day.

Having never eaten at a raw food restaurant before, I was probably more cautious than normal choosing my order, however to start I opted for the Vegetable Maki made from parsnip & rice and served in the style of sushi with a little cube of Wasbi. For my main course I chose the "Raw Rare Burger" of crushed lentils topped with a honey mustard dressed leaves and accompanied by pickled vegetables

The side bowl of raw tomato ketchup complimented the dish with a slight sweetness and was great for dipping the Cheesy Kale crisps.

I also had the raw apple cake and this was superb. It tasted like a moist sponge caked but it had not been cooked. It also had a creamy coconut and orange frosting it was even garnished with a flower!

I would definitely recommend Saf for a visit even if you are not a vegan or vegetarian this is a place to try. I would be tempted to try the chef's table of 7 courses as I was pleasantly surprised at what could be done without the need to cook. Well worth a try!

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