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The Living Room, Heddon Street, London W1

If you like your restaurants busy and bustling, The Living Room will not disappoint. Located just off Piccadilly, in a very trendy little street groaning with bars and eating places, this contemporary dining space has an informal and relaxed vibe. The look is all glass and wood, with bench seating, parquet flooring, open-gabled partitions and a general airy atmosphere. The music is loud and pulsating - not the place for a quiet dinner a deux perhaps, but somewhere to come for a night out on the town whilst sampling a cocktail or two and generally soaking up the energy. The menu has something for everyone, with every appetite and budget looked after, including a comfort food section with favourites such as roast chicken, bread sauce and gravy - just what the doctor ordered at this miserable time of year!

We kicked off the evening with a Mojito Frizzante, one of the cocktails especially developed and created for the restaurant. It was slightly sweeter than a regular Mojito, the fizz from the champagne adding an extra zing to this exquisite concoction. My starter of cured cod fritters with piperade was disappointing. Although the portion was generous, and it was attractively served, the fritters lacked taste and substance whilst the piperade was bland. My guest faired much better. Her Tuscan cured ham with pear and Gorgonzola was spot on, elegantly presented with tender slices of well-flavoured ham, perfectly ripe pear and succulent cubes of cheese. To follow, things vastly improved for me as my main course of roast cod, pearl barley and shrimps was terrific, the fish being totally moist and tender, with an almost soup-like accompanying sauce that scored very high points. My guest’s tuna with rocket and pomegranates rated very highly too, although some added vegetables or accompanying salad would have gone down well. However, these were on the menu as ‘sides’, which we hadn’t noticed or been prompted to order.

From the extensive and affordable wine list I tried a very palatable, oaky, rich and dry South African chenin blanc. My guest’s glass of Australian Shiraz was deemed surprisingly light, with good blackcurrant overtones and vanilla notes. Every month there is a selection of guest wines available by the glass or bottle, which we thought made rather an attractive and novel twist. For pudding, we tried a very high point scoring sticky toffee pudding, the sponge being rich and moist and served with a lovely accompanying butterscotch sauce. Our other choice, mixed berry Eton Mess, (despite being art on a plate visually) was too sugary to be finished.

Our verdict? The Living Room is a great venue for a group or family outing. There’s something for everyone on the menu and the prices make it an affordable night out, one where you may leave a little hoarse from talking above the volume of the place, (although this is not the case at lunch time) but somewhere that makes a great location for a night out in a lively and vibrant atmosphere.

Louise Elgin. February 2006

The Living Room 3-9 Heddon Street W1 Tel: 08701 66 22 25

A three-course meal for two including wine and service is about £70.00

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