I try Rasoi Vineet Bathia

Saturday, February 09th , 2008

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A busy week of eating. Dehesa is the newly opened offspring of the excellent tapas bar Salt Yard, and is centrally well placed just off Regent Street. It is an attractive venue, so much so, that within days of opening it is already packed out. For reasons that elude me they have decided to not take reservations and, worse, they were poor at estimating waiting times on the evening of my visit, leaving us standing for over an hour (admittedly with a bottle of nice wine to distract us). The food was a mixed bag, with excellent chorizo, pata negra that was not quite as good as its sublime best can be, but some other dishes that were either lacklustre or needlessly complex. I’ll stick to the original Salt Yard, or head to Barrafina if in need of tapas in Soho.  
I tried the opposite ends of the Indian food price spectrum this week: the bill at Rasoi Vineet Bathia was just over £100 a head, that at Diwana Bhel Poori just £10 a head. You might think that this price difference would mean the cooking was no contest, yet an amuse bouche of bhel poori at Rasoi was actually much less good then a freshly made, tasty version at Diwana Bhel Poori. Rasoi produced some excellent dishes, such as lovely saffron rice and high quality tandoori lamb chop, yet there were also some real slips, such as a badly overcooked potato dish and a watery dhal. This meal confirmed for me that the UK Michelin inspectors should stick to French food; a star for Rasoi is very hard to grasp, while the price tells you everything you need to know about value for money.  
In another contrast of expectations, I had a very dull and overpriced meal at the Grill Room at Browns,  an attractive room with prices  that are utterly out of proportion to the quality of the cooking. On the other hand a lunch at Clos Maggiore  was a real surprise. This is a restaurant (pictured) that has mostly been ignored by the critics (other than Nick Lander and Fay Maschler) yet I had most enjoyable meal, with terrific duck breast for example, and generally a very high standard of cooking in a cosy setting. The award-winning wine list here has both delights and sand-traps, but it is a restaurant that deserves wider attention based on this meal.