"All things taken into account, this is a fabulous place"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
I’d previously been to the Great Eastern Dining Room
which is in the same group as Cicada and enjoyed it very much – although logistically it was a bit tricky for me to get to. So I was delighted when a friend suggested that we meet at Cicada for cocktails and supper.
I arrived a little before 6pm when we were due to eat and settled myself at one of the wooden tables opposite the impressively stocked bar. There weren’t too many folk here at this stage, but it didn’t matter as I was quite happy looking out of the huge windows onto the hustle and bustle in the street outside.
The décor is similar to the GEDR – brown floor, brown tables, brown seats although I have to say that it is more airy and spacious and has a much less formal and slightly less romantic feel to the place.
I liked the monochrome wallpaper on one end of the bar area which gives the impression of book filled shelves. My friend arrived and we surveyed the lists of cocktails. However, we declined to select one of the offered compositions and requested two mojitos (it’s kind of like a test for me – how well an establishment makes this drink). The mojitos – despite being a little light on the mint and lime – were rather good and the rum measure was not a small one.
We had another round and probably would have stayed a little longer in the bar but the amazing array of food being delivered to the couple at a table near us made us realise how hungry we were and so we walked round to the restaurant at the rear. We hadn’t booked but there were a fair few tables available around 730pm. It did fill up a bit later on but at no time did it become uncomfortably crowded.
This restaurant covers a large area but doesn’t lose any sense of the atmosphere of the place. We settled into the squishy sofas on one of the many sensibly sized booths and started studying the menu – which has many familiar dishes from others in the chain.
My colleague had a number of favourites which we ordered and I remembered the delicious duck and melon salad I had had at GEDR. The friendly waitress also offered some good choices when we asked her opinion.
We ordered way too much (and subsequently couldn’t finish it) which the chefs managed to deliver in some sort of first and second course:
Sort of starters
Edamame, soy & mirin (£3.25) – Generous portion, firm and salty
• Chilli salt squid (£7.00) – My friend’s favourite - served in a pretend newspaper with a dip. An interesting twist on calamari.
• Spare ribs, black pepper (£7.50) – Delicious, three pieces each
• Soft shell crab (£11.00) – One of my favourite’s. The tempura was light and there were several large pieces in the serving
• Wagyu beef, sesame & shallot (£10.50) – tiny slivers of beef on a bed of grated shallot. Tasty but chilled
Sort of mains
• Spiced honey roast duck (£15.00) – my friend had tried this before and liked it. It was beautifully cooked and tender
• Black pepper noodles (£4.25) – Light and tasty
• Duck, watermelon & cashew (£12.75) – for me, this is absolutely one of the most light and flavoursome salads I’ve ever found. It was delicious and the highlight of the meal (again)
• Green rice (£2.75) – The fresh coriander was wonderful
Whilst I stayed on the mojitos my friend sampled the koi koi cocktail (Goslings black seal rum mixed together with honey, raspberries, lime & pineapple juice, served long over crushed ice) which I think I will be tempted to have next time I go – it was fabulous.
The bill came to just over £100 – including a service charge but you could easily eat as well as we did for much less by limiting how many cocktails you drank (oops) and being a little more selective in your choice of dishes. As my mum would have said – our eyes were much bigger than our bellies.
All things taken into account, this is a fabulous place – less formal, younger, brighter and more charming that the GEDR
(despite its large size) but with the same quality (practically perfect) service and delicious dishes. I think it may become one of my regulars when in this part of town.
KimT reviewed Cicada on Tue 10 Apr 2012