Banyan on the Thames

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50% off food

When ordering from the a la carte menu (minimum order of a starter and a main course per person).

Offer valid until Aug 27 2015

Hotel Rafayel sits between the Thames and an industrial estate, next door to the London Heliport. It makes extravagant claims of being an ‘eco-hotel’, and much more besides: it incorpates a brasserie, cake shop and restaurant.

We phoned to check first, and were told: ‘Yes, the brasserie will be open for lunch.’ On arrival, the clueless staff told us there was no food served that day in the unmanned brasserie (actually a lobby coffee shop), and the restaurant wouldn’t open until the evening.

So we went back in the evening, to try the restaurant (Banyan). On arrival the staff greeted us by telling us they were ‘full tonight’ (the restaurant was empty, and was still only half-empty at 9pm). Then they relented, but insisted we sit at the bar for a pre-meal drink first.

Yet it was worth all these hurdles for two reasons. One was to see the shamelessly bling international hotel guests: we’ve not seen tans, makeup and jewellery like this since Dubai, and that was just the men.

The other reason was – against our expectations on reading the pan-global menu, which spans duck confit to sashimi – some decent dishes.

A starter of seekh kebab was the best dish, worthy of a passable Punjabi restaurant: herby, juicy, fresh. It was served on a bed of rocket, which was also the backdrop to a starter of diced mango and sautéed king prawns, a flavour combination that worked surprisingly well.

Lamb biryani was correctly served with a raita, and tasted rich and spice-imbued, just like the real thing.

Perhaps the least visually appealing dish we tried was the fish and chips, chunks of monkfish deep-fried in an indelicate batter that made them resemble chicken nuggets. Desserts included a chocolate Bailey’s cream cup.

Service throughout was a smiling shambles. Few of the staff appeared experienced at working in a restaurant, although the restaurant had been open for a few weeks at this stage. One waitress confided it was only her second day in the UK.

Wait until the summer when the outdoor terrace is open, and the cheerfully clueless staff know what they’re doing.

Venue name: Banyan on the Thames
Address: 34 Lombard Road
SW11 3RF
Opening hours: Open 5.30-10.30pm daily
Transport: Tube: Clapham Junction rail or bus 44
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £80

Average User Rating

2.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Where to begin? Came here on a last deal for "50 percent off a meal" with my fiance. In quotes as this is what is stated, no asterix involved. At the prices they charge for the meals, it seems half price is about what one would expect to pay anywhere else. The cocktails are vastly overpriced, even by central London standards, sorry, but £9-10 isn't good value. So, we sat down and ordered starters. Scallops for me, nothing special, and it was acceptable. Not great for the price, overcooked and slightly gritty but hey, not bad either. Mains, well... that looks good, lobster tail"S" on a stuffed tomato. Notice the "s" indicating plural. It arrived on my table, one Lobster tail (note this dish had a 4 or 5 pound "supplement". After a few bites, I enquire with the staff and a waitress eventually comes back with an excuse involving different sizes of lobster tails and how the smaller one is included in the filling of the tomato. A lie, but I don't press the matter as I'd rather not make a scene infront my fiance. We order a creme brulee for dessert, the consistency varied from cold rice pudding at the bottom with a couple of berries or fruits thrown in to what approximates creme brullee at the top. Throughout we'd had a few drinks. Finally we come to pay, something which took 40-50 minutes all in all but I digress. I found it interesting that they'd decided to charge 50% off on only the food, and not the overpriced drinks, on inquiring, they simply stated that was policy. Perhaps it would have been useful if they could have told us this at first, or even mentioned it on the menu, or the deal, but it was to be expected. £65 for something that should have cost perhaps half as much (and this is WITH half off... the food). Anyway, after waiting almost 50 minutes to finally get to pay and being lied to by the staff, not even a hint of compensation for their error on claiming multiple lobster tails (you know, even getting rid of that "supplement would have garnered a little good will), and then being lied to, I thought they could suffice without a tip. (An aside, having spent half a year in the US in 2011, you really do learn what customer service in a restaurant environment is about, diametrically opposite to this place) Doubt the message got through though. Don't go here. Please.


Have gone a couple of times now, early this year the food was great but the last two times we went the service and the food has been up to the standard we would expect for the price. Will not be going back!