After a somewhat busy week I was looking forward to heading to the Chinese Cricket Club. No I’m not a die hard cricket fan its actually the name of a restaurant housed with the Crown Plaza Hotel – London City, a stone throw away from Blackfriars station.
The restaurant is named in honour of the original Chinese National Cricket team and having enjoyed Chinese foods over the years I was amped and ready to see what the Chinese Cricket Club had to offer.
When we arrived at the venue the manager/head waiter was on the computer so said he’d be one moment. I took this time to have a look around The décor looked welcoming and was cosy and chairs had big pillows on them which looked puffy and comfortable. There was no denying, the place had a cosy feel to it; but still maintained a old boys club essence further playing up to the restaurants name.
When the head waiter/manager had finished on the computer he proceeded to show my guest and I to a nice table for two by the window. As we took our seats and got comfortable to my surprise he said he would order the three courses for us. In slight shock I was somewhat taken aback and thought I must have heard wrong. My guest was also miffed as we sat looking puzzled at each other. We must have gotten that wrong; did he mean he would order our drinks or maybe he meant he would suggest/recommend dishes…
Baffled, my guest being a gentleman went and spoke to the head waiter/manager to get a bit of clarity on what we thought he said or what we thought we heard …thinking we must have heard wrong. But yep we heard right he wanted to order for us, now as I regularly review restaurants I’m accustomed to recommendations of meals but never have I had any restaurant say they would order for me. Honestly, where do they actually do that?
My first thought was….. erm I have allergies and not to mention food preferences, I don’t eat red meat for example and quite frankly didn’t understand how someone could possibly think that ordering on behalf of someone doing a review would work. While I welcome suggestions, I do like to be able to make my own choices.
So, we politely explained that we would like to remain in control over what we choose to eat but would welcome recommendations …. a bit awkward but once that was cleared up he returned with the food menu so we could choose our own meals… phew glad that was sorted.
We looked over the menu trying to focus but we were half stunned and half gigging at what just happened. The head waiter/manager returned fairly quickly and we hadn’t quite made up our minds, with my allergies in mind he pointed out that the vegetarian spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce would be a good choice for me. While my guest opted for the chicken and spinach dumpling with plum sauce. He took our orders and returned with table water, but no drink menu! Hmm that’s weird I thought to myself so as we waited for our starter I called a waitress over to ask for the drinks menu as we weren’t offered a drink or a chance to look over the drinks menu at all. I almost ordered a hard spirit to knock down given the turbulent start to my dining experience, but ordered a glass of red wine instead.
Our drinks arrived before the starter so we were back on course after the shaky start. Another waiter came and served us our starters which were well-presented, the vegetarian spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce were nice, not filled with grease, but were crispy as you would expect. I’ve had spring rolls before so wasn’t blown away though they were nice as far as spring rolls go. My guest on the other hand, had never had the spinach and chicken dumplings so enjoyed them, and the hot plum sauce added flavour and spice to the dumpling.
With the starters consumed and out of the way it was on to the main course. There was a lot to choose from, the restaurant offers a modern menu with Sichuan and Dim Sum specialties. There was the emperors crispy duck, slow-braised pork belly, country style beef tenderloin, soft shell crab and Yu-Xiang chicken to name a few.
I personally was stuck between chef Wang’s special sea bass with a secret sauce of ginger, garlic mushrooms and bamboo and sautéed king prawn and scallop in XO sauce which came under the Morden menu. As I have sea bass a lot at home I opted for the king prawn and scallop dish with egg fried rice and wasn’t disappointed.
My guest also ordered from the modern menu and opted for the Chan-do chicken with a honey and plum sauce and shared the egg fried rice with me.
When the dishes arrived, they looked and smelled good, I enjoyed the king prawn & scallops with the rice, the sauce is subtle with a slight sweet taste, very more-ish. My guest found the Chan-do chicken to be a bit bland, I had a taste it reminded me of shredded beef, it was a bit chewy and the flavours were probably too subtle hence the bland comment. Neither of us finished the main courses, but I always save a bit of space for the dessert.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again my favourite course is the finale, the dessert. The choices on offer were unusual, such as a mango custard with passion fruit, green tea mousse, sesame ice cream and lychee ice cream, chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream. I opted for the lychee ice cream which was delicious, I could taste small lychee chunks it was simply gorgeous and had a piece of strawberry fruit on top which was a nice touch.
My guest went for the green tea mouse which was surprisingly tasty even though you could taste the tea. I like green tea for health reason but never have heard of it as a dessert so it was a pleasant tasty surprise indeed.
All in all, whilst it was somewhat of an unconventional and not so warm welcome to begin, it ended up being a fairly pleasant dining experience as we were leaving the head waiter/manager had a chat with us and we learned about his peeve of the word authentic being misused, he seemed to have warmed. Where was this lovely chap at the start of our experience eh? I presume him wanting to order for us was more about him wanting to make sure we experienced real authentic food, but the path taken wasn’t the right way to go.
Overall I would say the food at Chinese Cricket Club restaurant was pleasant however the service could have been much better so left me and my guest feeling away. It could be the result of a busy evening but offering drinks is pretty basic and usually the first thing that is done.
I’d give them a generous 3 out of 5.
Visit The Chinese Cricket Club official website
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