I went with my aunt and uncle to Local Friends in Golders Green tonight. We had a great meal.
We were initially given a large menu with lots of items - some clearly Hunan, other things less obviously Hunan. I was able to pick out a few items that were Hunan though, but fortunately I asked one of the servers for recommendations, because when he heard I wanted Hunan food, we were brought a different menu entirely. This menu was in Chinese and English, and also had pictures for every dish - very nicely done, and very similar to many menus I saw in China. There were several dishes on both menus, but this Hunan menu also had a lot more (including sections of cold appetizers, special soups, pig ears, frog, etc) So, be sure to ask for the separate Hunan menu!
Cold cucumber w/ vinegar - This was probably my least favorite - but luckily it was just a small plate. Chopped cucumbers, pickled chilies, vinegar. It was clear it had just been assembled, so the cucumbers hadn't really absorbed any of the sauce. So it was fine, but nothing special.
Pork with Dried Cucumber - Not sure if this translation was super accurate, but this dish was excellent. Lots of fresh chilies, which made it spicy, and thin pieces of pork, cucumber (which is pickled I think? and yellow in appearance). Recommended.
Smoked pork with tofu - I wished the tofu had been the smokier variety, but this dish was very good as well. Some pieces of the smoked pork were smokier tasting than others, but this dish was also prepared pretty well. Also had plenty of fresh chili, as well as sweet pepper. Recommended
Cabbage - This was quite good - my only complaint was that it could have had a bit more wok char, but the flavor was really spot on - perfect level of sweetness, light sauce with some dried chilies thrown in. On the menu, this dish is translated as "Turkish Cabbage" in English. I don't know why. Highly Recommended.
Eggplant with French Beans - This was the star of the table. Limster had ordered this, which was motivation for us, and it was really really good. Eggplant and string beans were both cooked expertly - the beans were shriveled yet succulent, eggplant was perfect level of softness, sauce wasn't goopy or overpowering, but still present and mildly spicy. Very highly recommended.
There were a few choices for tea - we had flower (chrysanthemum) tea, which was very nice.
With white rice, one beer, and a small complimentary plates of carved orange for dessert, total bill for the above was £45. All three of us ate a lot, and there was a substantial amount leftover (which we took home). So serving size and prices are both very reasonable.
Service was very friendly, and everyone seemed quite pleased that we wanted to try Hunan dishes.
The restaurant has been under the current ownership for about a year now, but there seems to be almost nothing written in English about their Hunan food on the internet (aside from limster's comments here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/644175). Most reviews of the restaurant are people complaining about how the dim sum has gone down in quality with the new ownership. :) My aunt said that it was the best Chinese food she'd had in London in years!
The upstairs has a few private rooms, which can be booked for parties of 5 or more...I think I heard one room singing some karaoke, though I didn't confirm this. Very convenient location, practically across the street from Golders Green tube station.
I will definitely be back, and other chowhounds need to get here soon! There is a very big Hunan menu that needs exploring!!!
Also, I have now had three great Chinese meals in London - Cantonese, Sichuan and now Hunan! So I am happy to say my fears about lack of good Chinese in the UK were unnecessary - there is great Chinese food here after all.