Taste: Bam-bou

Charlotte Street is a little-mentioned nucleus of restaurants in the awkward corner of central London trapped between studentville Goodge and tourist hell Oxford Street. Its pleasurable tree-lined vista offering a somewhat European aftertaste to a sunny day, far less of a mouthful than the pavement bars coughed up along Frith and Greek.

At the southern end of Charlotte Street stands Bam-bou, an almost member's only arrangement of restaurant, small private function-rooms and dark moody top floor bar. I've been here in the latter two capacities and it was well geared to such pursuits. Now I would see if they've managed to squeeze a worth-while restaurant into the labyrinth of small oriental wood and cast-iron furnished rooms.

The main restaurant room is small, 15 tables or so. Its understated, hinting towards Chinese with a detail here or there. Simple western Chinese is the theme and the uncomplicated menu is neither long or fussy with 10-15 choices each for starters and mains. To the bottom of the list is a note indicating that all dishes are intended to share, one wonders why that needed stating. Share we did (as with most Asian meals) and tucked into ginger squid, sticky Hanoi Style ribs, japanese dumplings and a couple of token dim-sum plates, shrimp har gau and sweet potato croquettes. Nobody else wanted to go for Tamarind glazed frogs legs, perhaps they'd have added an elevation from what was a satisfying but far from ground breaking collection. The mains were a little less formulaic with correctly seared scallops, tender beef with kow choi & shaoshing (who?) and a marvelous preparation of sea bass not far from Cocoon's earthquake inducing equivalent. Ordering rice was confusing and we ended up with one big bowl and a handful of smaller ones of steamed rice and another few tiny dishes of coconut rice. Restaurants really need to just put a per-person price then just keep it coming, heck, rice is literally cheap as chips.

Bam-bou has an intimate feel, service is appropriate, attentive and atmosphere is swanky upper echelon. I would first recommend coming here for the other functions with supper a close runner up. As part of Caprice Holdings (which includes The Ivy and J Sheekey) it's not for the shy wallet but will top up the kudos card.

1 Percy Street
London, W1T 1DB (map)
+44 (20) 7323 9130

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