To celebrate the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I had dinner at Cafe des Amis, a French restaurant in Covent Garden, London. On a previous visit, I was really impressed with the food so I decided to dine there again.
Did my second visit live up to the first? Not entirely. It wasn't bad, but certainly not as good as the first time I went there.
The gravadlax was a good start and tasted how I imagined it would taste - not much to say either way. The blinis were also fluffy and soft.
Another starter we had was a salad consisting of Roquefort cheese, beetroot, pine nuts and rocket. Simple ingredients here and it went down well - difficult to get wrong.
Unfortunately, this is where it started to go wrong. The chicken breast and mash (or pomme puree as they call it) was a real disappointment. Three diners on my table ordered this and all three felt the chicken was way too tough. One even wanted a steak knife! Not good. Also, note the single piece of broccoli!
The seafood linguine was another disappointment. The pasta was cooked nicely and the king prawns were large and fresh (hidden beneath the pasta). However, I think the chef forgot to add any seasoning; it was like I was eating boiled pasta.
Things got better by the dessert. The chocolate fondant was firm yet gooey and the contrast with the white chocolate ice cream was really nice.
So I've gone from being a big fan of Cafe des Amis to having second thoughts over whether I will go again. Maybe the time pressures of New Year's Eve affected quality control? It was, after all, a lot busier than on my first visit, which was on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Address: 11-14 Hanover Place, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9JP
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden