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Decor much improved, food and service deteriorated

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Restaurants & Bars

Decor much improved, food and service deteriorated

Gordito | Oct 17, 2011 01:45 AM

Recently made a return visit to Local Friends in Golders Green.

A sad note. This is a place we loved dearly, particularly from the moment we discovered their (not so) secret Hunan menu. I have no inside information, but it is possible that it may have changed ownership. Most of the staff we knew have gone, and seem to have been replaced by a team that is quite young and inexperienced. They have done a large refurbishment and the result is pretty, nice grey and red colour scheme, slightly more seating.

But the food, while still good, does not seem to be on the same level as it was before the refurbishment. There are no changes to the menu (neither the Anglo-Chinese one nor the Hunan one), but the last couple of times we were there the quality of preparation seemed to have deteriorated. Nothing bad, but not as striking or inspired as it was. The Ma Po tofu tasted as though it had been made with a packaged sauce. The hot and numbing fish, which at one time we thought they did better than anyone in London (excepting, possibly, Chilli Cool in its glory days), was ordinary. Mind you, it is still the only place we know in the northern expanses that makes these dishes at all, and it is still better than just about any Chinese we know of in the area. But it is no longer at the level that gets us excited to make the long bus journey.

Maybe it can be hoped that this is a transitional moment and that they will get back on form once they settle into their new decor?

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