Garson’s Restaurant Revisited

After attending the official launch of Garson’s Restaurant, I was so impressed and intrigued that I hurried back to see how it was on a regular business day.

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As I’ve just blogged about it so recently, I won’t regurgitate the same thing again, but you can read the details of the new restaurant on my post Garson’s Restaurant official opening/

Daylight photos give you a much better sense of the space, of the glass ceilings and the impressive central glass lantern. (Bizarrely in the photo it looks like half the lights are burnt out, but I promise they were all on.)

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In summer, the glass walls will fold back, blending the strawberry picking fields with the restaurant.

We visited on Sunday, probably arriving about one thirty. The restaurant was very nearly full. There was a nice background buzz but it wasn’t noisy, we could easily have a conversation and hear ourselves without having to strain, possibly because of the slant of the ceiling.

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Outside is still a work in progress, which will no doubt be finished in time for summer. The area overlooks the strawberry picking area and fields to the right. (I didn’t photograph them because the work being done didn’t make for a pretty picture.)

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There are tons of goodies to tempt you, for dessert or if you’re only coming for coffee.

All staff members we dealt with were cheery and friendly. A staff member was greeting guests at the door, to help people navigate the new restaurant. Tables seemed to be promptly cleared.

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Order at the central cash area then take your fancy gadget to a table, it sends a signal out so the waitstaff can easily find you (the wooden spoon of the 21st century.)

We were shock when our food arrived shortly after we’d ordered it. I’d barely sat down from nosing around when it came.

For lunch, Jman had the Hot steak & cheese ciabatta erved with sweet potato fries & house slaw £8.95. He loved it, the beef was really tender, good slaw and nice sweet potato fries.

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Being Sunday, I went for the Roast chicken & stuffing served with roast potatoes, carrots, green beans, Yorkshire pudding and gravy £9.95. Wow, I was really surprised at the quality of the food. Fresh thyme and even half a bulb of garlic was on my plate along with with food, and the flavours were definitely apparent. A real man sized portion, there’s no way I could have finished it. What excellent value for money.

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Garson’s Restaurant definitely didn’t disappoint in the daylight. It’s a lovely spot with a great sense of light that serves up great food. I most definitely be returning.

Winterdown Road,West End, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS
http://www.garsons.co.uk/
Dogs welcomed in designated areas (inside and out)

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Garson’s Restaurant

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the new restaurant at Garson’s Farm in Esher’s West End official opening. I don’t know if you’ve eaten at Garson’s in the past, but throw all those memories of boring out the window, this new restaurant is sure to become a destination lunch spot in Surrey.

Garson's Farm Restaurant octagon glass lantern

Housed in a brand new show stopping building, the octagonal room reminiscent of a city market, complete with art deco steel framework. Highlight is the raised octagonal lantern in the centre of the room, punctuated with a huge chandelier.

Only a small section of roof over the entire room isn’t glass. Retractable glass doors on four sides of the octagon fully open in summer, giving access to the patio and views over their fields down to the River Mole.

Interestingly, they’d laid 8km of pipes underneath their fields, and that provides geothermal heat for the restaurant and heats the water used in the kitchen and restrooms.

Garson's Farm Restaurant interiorGarson's Farm Restaurant inside dining area with sliding glass doors to fields

It’s a huge space. Inside, seating is a mix of comfy booths and traditional country style tables, broken up around the large space with accented seating areas of banquettes and mood lit tables.

Outside is a huge patio area for al fresco dining in warmer months.

We sampled a variety of delicious canapes.

Garson's Farm Restaurant canape spread

The menu changes seasonally. All food is prepared fresh onsite. Often using ingredients grown onsite and picked that morning. Most baked goods baked onsite, including scones and tray bakes. Even Scotch Eggs and some breads are made onsite.

What isn’t made onsite is sourced locally as much as possible (local bakeries, etc.) Meat is sourced form a local butcher.

We sampled miniature versions of several dishes form the menu, (fish & chips, macaroni and cheese, burger with stilton, beef brisket and mash.) They were all tasty, my favourite was the mac and cheese, it was nice and creamy with lots of flavour.

Garson's Farm Restaurant fish and chipsGarson's Farm Restaurant potted macaroni and cheeseGarson's Farm Restaurant beef and stilton burgerGarson's Farm Restaurant beef brisket

The menu offers an assortment of dishes, from salads (£6.95), sandwiches (£5.25-£7.45) and jacket potatoes (6.95-7.95) to full meals (£7.95-£9.75) and sharing platters (£11.25). Kids options are pick n mix lunch boxes (£4.55) and hot meals (£4.95).

Traditional Sunday lunches (£9.95), a selection of meats plus vegetarian option (can accommodate Vegans if advanced notice is given.)

Breakfast is served until 11:30, for which there’s a good selection to choose from, from a make your own smoothie bar (£2.95 adults) to a full farmhouse breakfast (£6.95 meat or vegetarian).

Order at the counter and food is brought to your table.

We sampled a few of the sweet treats, including a mouthwateringly delicious crumble.

Garson's Farm Restaurant browniesGarson's Farm Restaurant apple and berry crumble rubarb

Perhaps most exciting of all (for my Canadian guests anyway) is the Garson’s afternoon tea, three tiers of goodies, £12.95 for two people, or with prosecco £17.95 for two people.

There’s also a daily selection of all sorts of treats, displayed on the counter.

Garson's Farm Restaurant afternoon teaGarson's Farm Restaurant sweet treats, cupcakes

Unfortunately the local council won’t give them permission to open in the evenings so they close at 5.30 (4.30 in winter excluding Christmas) Monday through Saturday and 4.45 on Sundays (year round.)

I’ve got to say, I’m really glad I live ten minutes away and most definitely will be visiting. Even if you’re not so close, Garson’s is well worth an outing. I have every confidence the new Garson’s Restaurant will be a game changer for the local area.

Reservations accepted (and best advised if you have dietary needs – inform them ahead of time to be catered for.)

Winterdown Road,West End, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS
http://www.garsons.co.uk/
Dogs welcomed in designated areas (inside and out)

Naturally Chinese Restaurant

Intrigued by Naturally Chinese Restaurant’s boasts of healthy Chinese food, my husband and our two kids visited for my second birthday dinner (I know, right).

Far beyond claims of no MSG, Naturally Chinese in Surbiton, set menus have been put together with the aid of nutritionists for feel good, detox and natural balance. There’s a huge number of vegetarian dishes as well as a large gluten free menu.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant exterior

Inside is huge. The back corner (pictured) is the most charming section of the restaurant. That big circular table in the corner under the huge light well is the prized place you want to sit, unfortunately our server wouldn’t let me sit there.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant interior

The menu is large and enticing, a mix of some standards and some more interesting sounding dishes. I would have liked more direction from our server in the way of recommendations but eventually we narrowed down our selections.

To start, Jman and daughter 1 shared the tasting platter with raw mixed vegetable salad, marinated chicken satay skewers, spare ribs in capital sauce, crispy prawn rolls, shredded chicken smoked with beechwood £17.80. I, of course, helped them eat it. One taste of the smoked chicken and it was impossible to resist going back for more.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant tasting platter

For starters, daughter two and I shared the Steamed dim sum platter crystal prawn dumplings, prawn and chive dumplings, spicy mixed vegetable dumplings, salmon dumplings with grounded peppercorns £11.20 (prepared on site). They were lovely and light with no shortage of flavour.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant steamed dim sum platter

In typical Chinese fashion, we shared several dishes for the main course.

I chose Chicken with shredded sweet peppers, spring onions and fresh chilli in satay sauce £7.90 This was absolutely delicious, the chicken was tender and moist and the flavours were great.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant chicken with shredded peppers in satay sauce

Jman chose a more traditional Crispy shredded beef £8.10. It might not have fit with my healthy Chinese restaurant choice but it sure was tasty.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant crispy shredded beef

Wanting vegetables for my family, I ordered Pak choy £6.40 stir fried in fresh garlic flakes. I was the only one that ate any. I love love pak choy and that’s exactly what it was.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant pak choy in garlic sauce

Lastly we had an order of Special fried rice £6.60 peass, shrimps and roast pork and chicken. Yep, very nice special fried rice with good quality ingredients.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant special fried rice

They did have some interesting sounding desserts but a birthday cake was waiting for me at home.

Overall I enjoyed the Natural Chinese Restaurant and would like to return for Dim Sum (they even run Dim Sum classes, if you want to make your own). It was definitely a cut above your bog standard Chinese.

59-63 Brighton Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 5LR
www.naturallychineserestaurant.co.uk/
Street parking

Riverside Restaurant

I love the view across the Thames from East Molesey, forget the beautiful bridge or the palace in the background, it’s the boats and the Cartlon Mitre building with the grand semi circle of windows jutting out over the Thames I adore. I’ve often wondered what it’s like on the other side of those windows and now I was about to find out.

Riverside Restaurant from across Thames

The Riverside Restaurant in the Carlton Mitre opposite Hampton Court Palace has a new chef and all new menu. I was excited to visit the restaurant for my birthday. The entrance is to the left of the main hotel entrance.

Riverside Restaurant entrance

We sat in the big circular room overhanging the river, it’s a room rich in wood and cosy lighting, plus one of the biggest rot iron chandeliers I’ve ever seen. A roaring fire and light music completes the atmosphere and make it a perfect setting for a grey winter’s ay.

Riverside Carlton Mitre interior

Outside a patio is tucked between the building, the hotel and the Thames. You could practically dip your toes in the water while you ate. This is one of the best riverside al fresco dining areas around, shame my visit was in November.

Riverside Carlton Mitre al fresco dining on Thames at Hampton Court Bridge

Downstairs is a brasserie with it’s own riverside patio if you are looking for more casual dining.

The restaurant also serves full afternoon tea, complete with divine homemade macaroons.

Riverside Restaurant macaroons

Service is friendly and sophisticated. The menu is modern English with a few twists. There’s lots of fish options and any dietary needs are catered for.

To begin we had Marinate olives with homemade bread, balsamic & aged olive oil £6.00. Our selection was (left to right) soda, Guinness and sun-dried tomato. One bite and we knew we were in trouble. The bread was outrageously good. Forget leaving room for more courses, we couldn’t stop eating it. The Guinness was my favourite, all malty goodness.

Riverside Carlton Mitre home made bread and olives

For starters, J man opted for the Soup of the day £5.95, which was Celeriac. He really enjoyed the soup once, it had a nice texture and flavour. Again was unable to resist eating the homemade bread.

Riverside Carlton Mitre celeraic soup

I started with the Beetroot marinated salmon, capers, watercress, lemon alioli, homemade brown bread £8.50. This is one of my dream dishes and it didn’t disappoint. I loved it, though to be truthful I didn’t dare taste the bread for fear of being unable to stop eating it. I gave it to Jman, who ate it, silly boy.

Riverside Carlton Mitre beetroot salmon starter

For mains Jman had the Whole roast plaice, samphire, brown shrimps, beluga lentils, anchovy & Chervil butter £15.00. I don’t know why he was surprised when it came with a head, it clearly says whole on the menu. Nevermind, once he got over it the fish was perfectly cooked, nice and moist and the accoutrements made it a tasty dish. Most important of all he was able to finish the whole dish after all the bread.

Whole place with samphire and brown shrimp Riverside restaurant

For my main I was intrigued to try the Duck ‘Shepherds’ Pie’, seasonal vegetables £13.50. Wow, I couldn’t believe the size of it when it arrived at the table. Even if I hadn’t stuffed myself with bread, olives and salmon there’s no way I could eat this American sized portion. You may think the dish looks big enough but it was packed full of duck, no mash filler here. The price per pound of food is a steal. As for the food itself, the duck was tender and delicious and the steamed vegetables were lovely.

Riverside Carlton Mitre duck shepherd's pie

It was my birthday and I wasn’t about to let a little issue like being thoroughly stuffed get between me and dessert. Still, I had to concede something and we opted to share a Riverside Fumble, peaches, vanilla custard & marscapone, granola crumble, £6.50. What a perfect way to end the meal, it was light and refreshing, a real palate cleanser and exactly my kind of treat.

Riverside Carlton Mitre peach fool

We throughly enjoyed our meal at the Riverside Restaurant. It’s a great option for both cosy winter indoor and sunny summer al fresco dining in Surrey.

Riverside Restaurant, Carlton Mitre Hotel, Hampton Court Road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, KT8 9BN
www.carlton.nl/mitre/restaurants-en.html
Small car park, can double park if you leave your keys with the concierge, also a few pay and display spots alternatively use the car park at Hampton Court station.

We were guests of Riverside Restaurant but this is no way biased my review.

Castello

Esher has yet another new restaurant. Castello has taken on the old Piccolo spot. Having made big improvements to the site, they opened their doors on September 18th. Some of you may be familiar with Castello as they used to have a location in Old Shepperton, which they have shifted to Esher. It’s an independent husband and wife team and they have one other location in Windsor.

Exterior of Castello Esher

The interior is now all on one level and it works so much better. Décor is bright and cheery. When we visited it was packed giving a great bustling feeling but we still able to have a comfortable conversation without struggling to hear each other.

Staff are friendly and welcoming.

Interior dining area at Castello Esher

The regular menu is pasta and pizza as well as standard mains, including a steak section. A specials menu has several choices of starters, mains and desserts – it could actually pass for a full menu on its own. There’s also a £9.95 daily lunch menu that includes a glass of wine/beer.

All food is prepared fresh onsite to order.

To start Jman ordered from the specials menu, New Zealand mussles tipped with garlic butter and parmesan – finished under grill £7.50 They were massive, which he loved because it was less effort on his part. You know they were tasty because he was trying to shovel one into my mouth before I’d even picked up my fork.

Giant mussels at Castello Esher

I’m boringly predictable and obviously couldn’t resist the Calamari served with tartar sauce and leaf salad £6.50. Lightly battered and tender insides plus an actual salad instead of a bit of lettuce for garnish. This would make a tasty complete lunch, yes, I think I will…

Calamari at Castello Esher

In the interest of not duplicating dishes, for a main we fought over who got the daily special of Pan seared cod wrapped in bacon served with garlic crushed new potatoes, Mediterranean vegetables & Pinot Grigio cream sauce with prawns £14.95. He won. And he relished every bite.

Bacon wrapped cod with prawns at Castello Esher

I chose another dish from the specials menu, Pan fried seabass fillets with saffron risotto, courgette and minted yoghurt £16.50. I didn’t feel too hard done to in missing out on the cod. The fish was perfectly cooked with crispy skin. I couldn’t get enough of the courgettes and the risotto was nice and creamy.

Sea bass with saffron risotto at Castello Esher

As much as I was enjoying the food and ambiance, this hobby is making me fat so I elected to pass on dessert, despite some yummy sounding home made ones.

Castello sits well along other restaurants in Esher. It’s a smaller, more intimate family affair serving up great freshly prepared food and an excellent choice for a grown up meal.

10 High St, Esher, Surrey KT10 9RT
castellorestaurant.co.uk
Sandown car park is closest car park

We were guests of Castello but this is no way biased my review.

Tante Marie

You may have heard of the esteemed Tante Marie culinary school in Woking, in April they opened a restaurant in Woking town centre. As it’s Tante Marie, this isn’t your regular restaurant, everyone working here has completed the Cordon Bleu diploma and is studying for an advanced hospitality management diploma. Meaning the cooking, serving, cleaning and admin is all done by students.

Tante Marie exterior

It’s a brand new building with a nice modern interior, a splash of colour and snazzy finishing touches complete the space. A good amount of other diners creates atmosphere. A large patio area is in front on the pedestrianised shopping street – it’s nice to see Woking town centre being transformed and this area now has a great bustling vibe.

Tante Marie dining room

Service is very professional and discreet, worthy of a much higher standard of establishment.

Shortly after arriving some popcorn appeared on the table, which we enjoyed munching on while making our selections.

popcorn amuse bouche at Tante Marie

Menus change constantly. The lunch menu features a soup of the day, salad of the day, a tart of the day, a dish of the day plus tapas syle dishes. We opted for the smaller tapas dishes in order to try more types of food.

Dishes arrived as they were ready. The first to come was the Smoked mackerel pate, croutes £4.50. It was tasty.

smoked mackerel Tante Marie

Next came the lightly dressed Caesar salad £3.50, although there was a splodge of dressing near the bottom.

caesar salad Tante Marie

We also had Spring vegetables beignets & caper mayo £4.50, I quite liked the mayo.

Spring vegetables beignets caper mayo Tante Marie

And super tender Chicken goujons, chive cream £6.00.

chicken goujons Tante Marie

Lastly we had two portions of the Charred peach, crispy prosciutto, mozzarella £4.50. This dish was excellent, there were tons of textures and flavours that all complemented one another. I wished the other dishes, while good, were as exciting as this one. Possibly my choices were limited by my dislike of crab and my squeamishness about eating rabbit.

charred peach, prosciutto, mozzarello

To finish we split a dessert – Pistachio meringue & fresh fruit £4.00. Again the dish was nice.

fresh fruit and pistachio meringue Tante Marie

Overall the food was good, it’s well worth trying out. You might even be inspired to take one of the day or weekend courses offered in the display kitchen beside the dining area.

59-61 Commercial Way, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6HN
www.tantemarierestaurant.co.uk
Town car park

Emlyn Restaurant at Burford Bridge Mercure

I could scarcely imagine a more beautiful English setting. Snug in the beautiful Surrey Hills is an ancient hotel at the foot of Surrey’s crowning glory, Box Hill. Better yet, inside that hotel is Emlyn Restaurant, serving contemporary British cuisine.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge exterior

It suffered badly in the floods of 2013/14, with water over a metre deep destroying everything. As a result the hotel and restaurant closed for nine months while the interior was completely resuscitated in very up to date, stylish furnishings and décor.

It’s a lovely sedate space with a few clever nods to its 760 years of history. Entrance chairs are printed in Keats’ poem Endymion, which was penned in the hotel. A quote from Jane Austen’s Emma on picnicking in Box Hill graces the dining room wall. Perhaps most interesting of all is a wall print at reception of one of the placemats Lord Nelson gave to the hotel during his illicit last stay with his mistress Lady Hamilton, immediately before departing to what became the battle of Trafalgar.

We started with a relaxing drink in the bar. Often old buildings are cramped and dark feeling, but all areas are open, airy and bright and the bar gets the last of the evening sun.

bar at Mercure Burford Bridge hotel

To the rear of the building is the al fresco seating area with superb views of Box Hill, the view that inspired so many of its poet guests in the past.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge al fresco dining overlooked by Box Hill

Emyln Restaurant is through a ‘tunnel’, giving it a sense of separation from the hotel. Nick Sinclair joined as head chef shortly after the re-opening and has lots of enthusiasm and big plans for making his mark on the Surrey dining scene.

Emlyn Restaurant entrance at Mercure Burford Bridge

The dining room is a bright space with well spaced tables and of course, all brand new furnishings.

Regarding the service, an old-school ornery couple sitting near us were challenging and it was interesting for me to see how the staff dealt with them. The servers bent over backwards to please them, despite the couple have no cause to complain they complained loudly and repeatedly about everything and anything.

Essentially the man was outraged that garlic bread wasn’t on the menu. Staff, always smiling, arranged with the kitchen to get him some garlic bread, at which point he loudly declared he also needed marmite butter – and they got him some. Clearly the staff are both friendly and accommodating, and more patient than I could ever be (this is admittedly a low bar.)

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge dining area

Menus change regularly and use seasonal ingredients sourced, when possible, by local suppliers. Head Chef Nick Sinclair has big plans for the hotel grounds and is in the process of creating a kitchen garden complete with beehives and a smoke house, can’t get much more fresh than that.

Everything is prepared onsite daily, including bread, ice cream and smoked items.

There’s a choice of an a la carte menu, a market menu (which is a weekly set two £19.95 or three £23.95 course meal) and a £55 six course tasting menu (regular or vegetarian). Check their website for special offers. As we were staying in the hotel we were both able to indulge in the tasting menu with wine matchings £90.

Bread arrived first, with regular, poppy seed and balsamic butters. Mmm, balsamic and butter is a new love of mine!

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge bread and flavoured butter

For a canape we were brought a ham hock terrine with pistachios, carrot puree and edible flower. It was certainly one of the more manly amuse bouches I’ve had and marked the first of a string of delightful surprises that evening.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge ham hock terrine canape

First up was Peas & cheese Lanchasire Bomb gnocchi, variations of peas, hazelnuts paired with Faustino V Rioja Blanco Viura) I had to google what Lancashire Bomb is, it’s a cheese that looks like a bomb from a Road Runner cartoon. Lots of combinations of tastes and textures here. The gnocchi and parmesan sponge were a wonderful combo. A very tasty introduction to our meal.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge peas and cheese

The next course was Black Bream, cauliflower, coconut, crispy oyster, ponzu dressing paired with Dashwood sauvignon blanc. Somehow incomprehensible to me I don’t have any photos of it, despite my religion of taking photos of everything I ever eat. Let me describe it to you: scrummy. The cauliflower came several different ways. One of those was smoked in hay, it was beyond good, I would have been completely happy to have nothing but a giant bowl of it for dinner. And the wine was so nice that I went home and ordered a case.

Next came Quail, morels, black garlic, spinach, mustard seeds, baby turnip, onion popcorn. I found each of the dish to be treasure troves of different flavours and textures and this was my favourite dish in that regards. I hadn’t read the descriptions ahead of time, and had a moment of glee when I discovered the popcorn on my plate.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge sticky quail

For the finale of the savouries, Hay smoked sirloin, Jacobs Ladder, onions, horseradish, ale paired with Vina Pomal Centernario Rioja Reserva. Again everything was super tasty and interesting. I’m getting really into this hay smoking, I hope it’s the next big wave in food.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge beef with shallots

The first of the desserts, Chai Tea Panna Cotta, honey, apricots, pistachios. Super refreshing and light, a perfect segue from the savouries to the sweets. It was one of those food tricks, where by appearance you were expecting savoury and you’re not familiar with the flavours but then it was sweet, but not too sweet. I loved it.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge chai latte dessert

The nice thing about this point in the evening is that we were still feeling comfortable, not overly stuffed when the final course arrived. Strawberries and Cream, Champagne consomme, clotted cream, basil sponge paired with Muscat De Baumes de Venise, Cave des Vignerons. Another visual and yummy delight, with the most adorable little macaroons.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge strawberries and cream dessert

It’s apparent that each of the dishes had lots of complex cooking techniques put into them, it all came together to create a truly enjoyable meal. At £55 this tasting menu represents incredible value, you can imagine what a comparable meal in London goes for. I do wonder what will happen to prices when word gets around, you should go now before it’s found out.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge chocolate truffles

Bonus, the breakfast the following morning was excellent as well, one of the better hotel breakfast’s I’ve had.

buffet breakfast at Mercure Burford Bridge

Dinner and a stay at the Burford Bridge Mercure is a perfect spot for a getaway in the countryside. Some nice hiking around Box Hill followed by a dip in the hotel pool topped by a superb meal, what more could you ask for? Even if you don’t stay over, Emlyn Restaurant is well worth seeking out.

At the Foot of Box Hill, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BX
www.emlynrestaurant.co.uk
Hotel Website
Car park

We were guests of Emlyn and Burford Bridge Mercure but this is no way biased my review.