‘OK, so review London’s Planet Hollywood.’ ‘Yes, but I’m a serious restaurant reviewer.’ ‘Go on, you might like it.’ …That’s the conversation I had with myself and I am glad to say I was right. I did like it.
I am not normally a lover of fast food and I wasn’t sure that I’d be the best reviewer for the job, but Planet Hollywood is at the top end of casual dining. It’s kid friendly with a menu that is impressive and offers something for every member of the family.
The location on Haymarket is ideal. It’s just a few yards from its original home of 15 years in The Trocadero. Planet Hollywood attracts an all-day clientele of families visiting London’s historic attractions but also those taking in a theatre performance. A meal before a show or a supper after, and night-clubbers are well catered for with a bar that stays open till the wee small hours.
The decor is subtle and even the movie memorabilia is more tastefully displayed than in other “themed” restaurants. There are comfortable banquettes and contemporary cafeteria-style tables and chairs for couples and small groups. There is an open kitchen and a surprising number of waiting staff. Our server, Katarina, was appropriately attentive without being intrusive. The restaurant was quite full at the time of our visit but there seemed no delay between courses for us or our fellow diners.
Planet Hollywood is designed to be a fun venue. That is a description that fills those of us of a certain age and with no kids with an emotion akin to terror. This restaurant has struck a balance to provide an eatery that is attractive and amusing for all ages. There are video screens and a live DJ but the music reflected the makeup of the visitors. Hip Hop was punctuated with Motown and even an Abba track or two. The decibels were kept to a reasonable level creating a party atmosphere, while still allowing for conversation.
So it’s a nice spot with a few good tunes, but we were there to eat and we were spoilt for choice. I’d probably describe this as American International: a good selection of pasta dishes, pizza, salads, Chinese and American South-Western. The portions for every dish were substantial and the presentation imaginative.
I was tempted by the Buffalo Wings (these are chicken wings rather than those from a buffalo. The name is taken from the town of Buffalo in New York State), but ordered the Texas Tostados which were crispy, flavourful and light with a garnish of sour cream and pico de gallo. My guest enjoyed his World Famous Chicken Crunch – tender and moist chicken strips served with a Creole Mustard dip.
The menu was so broad-based that it was difficult to choose just one dish for the main course. Katarina told us that the burgers and fajitas were among the most popular dishes so I ordered the Chicken Fajitas. This is a hearty dish of moist grilled chicken on a bed of onions and peppers, fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, cheddar and jack cheeses, flour tortillas and Mexican rice. There were also Shrimp, Beef and Vegetable Fajitas.
My guest chose the Lamb Burger which he found to be perfectly cooked and juicy. This is a substantial burger and full of flavour. A long way from the Macwendyking patties of highstreet chains. It was garnished with lettuce, mint relish and red onion and had a dish of fries on the side. The table condiments were ketchup and French’s Yellow Mustard – culinary Americana. The list of burgers boasts a veggie burger as well as a salmon burger. There are also a good number of chicken sandwiches.
There is a Kids menu (age 12 years and under) which has a short list of perennial favourites: burgers and fries, toasted sandwiches, Chef’s Salad, Chicken Crunch and pasta with meatballs or tomato sauce, and ice cream or sundae for dessert.
Talking of dessert, Planet Hollywood offers a huge Banana Split Super Sundae. An ice cream confection in a mammoth martini glass served with a cherry on the top. Take some friends with you or you’ll be inviting strangers to help you finish this one. Cheesecake of various sorts is well represented on the dessert menu. Also try the Carrot Cake, Brownies, White Chocolate Bread Pudding or Key Lime Pie.
Planet Hollywood has much to appeal to families and revellers. The prices are what one would expect in general, but with some value options such as Soup and baguette for only £4.95 and an Appetiser platter for four people for under £15.00. I would visit again.
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018