Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The location: A hop, a skip and a jump away from Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, above a modern but pleasant bar called The International. Looks posher than it is from the outside.

The spec: A Thai restaurant, owned by the same people who own various places in and around Covent Garden, including Tuttons.

The good: The happy hour in the bar, including bellinis for £3.95. The light vegetable tempura starter from the good value £13.50 set menu which came with a free glass of Pimms. The teriyaki salmon from the main course, especially when moistened with some of the sauce from the Thai chicken curry.

The disappointing: The bland chickpea patties in the second starter (admittedly helped by a yoghurt dip), and the overcooked chicken in the curry.

The bad: The service, though my dining companion, who'd been before, said it wasn't usually like that. In a largely empty restaurant, the waitress insisted we had to order deserts at the same time as everything else because "the kitchen will be busy later". (Luckily, when it did arrive, the ice cream didn't look like it had been pre-plated at the start of the meal.) The drinks, for each round, took ages coming, and we were drinkless through most of the main course. Although others had brought happy hour drinks up from the sister bar downstairs, a very abrupt manager told us this was not allowed and we had to pay full price. The kitchen with its dirty plates was far too exposed from where we were sat. These are all minor quibles but they added up, especially as the tone of the stuff was generally far from friendly and occasionally border line rude.

The verdict: I will definitely add the bar to my list of good venues in the area (where it joins The Chandos and The Porterhouse), but am not sure I'll be back to the restaurant.

Katana, The International, 116 St Martins Lane, WC2N 4BF; Tel. 020 7257 8625; Tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Square

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