108 Garage, Ladbroke Grove, London

Will tried to warn me.

It is fair to say that ‘dinner’ last night was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had in a restaurant.

108 Garage is in a buzzy area of Londontown and has a buzzy busy vibe when you arrive. They do that ‘sharing’ tables thing which means as a couple you either share with strangers ( thus spoiling their night when you plonk yourselves at their table) or sit at the bar and watch the action in the kitchen. So, the bar it is.
It is noisy and a wee bit cramped and the stool has no step on it so it’s proper perchy but hey this is London on a Saturday night so cast aside your Northern doubts and enjoy the show.

Which begins in a bit of a haphazard rush.

First off we are asked about water. Tap, please.
Then we are brought some olives. Not keen on em personally but they were nice olives, as olives go, so lovely thank you.
Then brought some pizza/cracker thing with courgette and dill and a hollandaise type gloop. Oh and a mustard daschi. Just as an extra cos it’s cold out, which is nice but , hey, any chance of a drink ??
I have to ask the chef as even though we are sat with the bar behind us no one has asked if we would like a glass of wine. Before the wine arrives, another snack lands . This is great fun. Popcorn which has been liquid nitrogened is popped into a bowl. A paprikaesque powder is shaken over it and we are instructed to ‘eat it immediately and do not drink from the bowl’. Slightly bemused by these instructions we ask why and are told ‘ You won’t feel like a dragon if you don’t ‘. So, we comply. And as the steam comes out if your mouth you do indeed feel like a dragon. This is great fun and I think would have worked perfectly as an introductory course, bearing in mind this is meant to be a tasting menu type of thing. It would also have been great with a glass of wine. Which still hasn’t arrived, weirdly.

Now I admit I am a pain over this next bit. If there are a couple of wines I don’t know I will ask for a taste before deciding which to have. Why ? Well I don’t drink much so want to enjoy what I do have. So we pick a white burgundy which they do in glass carafe or bottle. As there is deer on the menu we ask for a carafe so my other half can choose a red later. The bar guy takes the order. Then comes back and says that as it is their last bottle they can’t do a carafe. WTF is that all about ? First off have you really run out of one of your wines from a list of less than ten on a Saturday night ?? Secondly, given you also sell it by the glass why can’t you do a 500ml carafe?? That makes no sense. Unless of course you are trying to bump us into buying a full bottle because you think we are stoopid. So, that’ll be a carafe of white Rioja instead, please.

I should say at this point, we were still enjoying it. Sometimes you only put all of this stuff together in hindsight.

So, on to the first course proper. Chicken liver parfait dusted with cep powder and served with hunky chunky slices of wholemeal sourdough. Bloody lovely this. The bread is warm, the parfait is cold but still rocketing flavour wise. I could happily just scoff that and glug down my white Rioja.

Which is just as well because now the whole thing gets really weird.

We are given a chicken lollipop kind of thing- Mr Chungs chicken apparently. It is a lovely barbecue chicken thing on a stick. With a spicy sauce. It really is lovely. But we are given one. Between two. The two girls next to us are given one. Each. These are not given to us by a minion but by the chef. He says to us ‘ Sorry there was meant to be two but I dropped one’.
Is it just me but couldn’t you, like, do another one ?

Anyway we don’t say anything cos we had a crap meal out in the Lakes last week so we REALLY want to enjoy this evening.
Plus,it was lovely.

When he takes the plate I say it’s a shame there was only one because that was lovely. He laughs and says ‘ yeah I ate the one I dropped but didn’t think you would want to’. So, we are cool with that if still a bit bemused.

So we eagerly await our next course which is Monks Beard and some other stuff.

And we wait.

And we wait.

And we wait.

The girls that got two chicken things get another course.

We wait.

They leave, so perhaps it wasn’t a set menu only???

And we wait.

I say to my other half ‘They have forgotten us’.

She looks at me as if to say’ Are you mad ? We are sat at the @&:@£ing bar. How can they forget us ?’
Which is a fair point.

Still we wait.

We finish our wine. It is 10pm and we have had one course from a printed menu of six .

We have happily chatted for an hour without food. The chef has gone from the pass and gone out the back weilding a large drink.

The kitchen staff start to tidy some stuff up and cling film containers. The bar manager refills my water glass and asks if we would like some more.
Perhaps he has overheard us talking about the fact that our food stopped arriving AN HOUR AGO ??

At this point I say we would like the bill as our food stopped after the first course. He is very apologetic but seems weirdly unsurprised. The kitchen staff are still smiling but seem bemused.
Not as bemused as we are, folks !

The front of house guy offers us some food in the house, ‘ to nibble on’ while we finish our wine.
This at least shows that irony is alive and well in London.
He offers and fetches us a sourdough loaf ‘ so at least you will have something in the morning ‘. WTF ?

The chef appears and apologises ‘from my heart’ but also from across the kitchen. No one actually explains what happened.

Then again, how can this be explained?

On the way back I ask my other half if she thinks my joking about the chicken lollipops pissed the chef off so he ‘ pulled’ our food on us. It’s the only explanation I can think of.
She says she doesn’t think so.

As the song almost says …Is she just being kind, or am I losing… ?


That has to be the weirdest meal I can recall being reviewed. I’ve had meals where the food has been bad and I’ve had meals of the sort that all of us moan about. But I’ve never had a meal which, erm, isnt a meal. And I’m gobsmacked that no-one offers an explanation. You mention that you asked for your bill - surely they didnt try and charge you?

By the by, where was the crap place in the Lakes?

No they didn’t charge us, to be fair. Not even for the wine!
I just can’t fathom it. The chef seemed in control, if a bit sweary, so it doesn’t add up. Rushing to give us too much too soon at the start, then the long silence and no one even spoke to us, at all, for over an hour even though we were sat at the pass ? I really do wonder if it was something I said ?? GF tells me that is just in my head though!
Lakes place was 1063 Bistro in Pooley Bridge. Two AA Rosettes so went with high hopes but came away thinking unless you go high end in the Lakes just go and have sausage and mash in a pub somewhere. One of those places trying to do twenty things at once. They have ‘rooms’ so bar doubled as reception complete with big flat screen telly. Busy / eclectic decor - like when pubs in the late nineties decided that weird bric a brac, canoes and life vests etc count as design. Menu sheet had been blu tacked into the folder but was loose. I mean for fucks sake, if I can’t trust you with blu tack, why would I let you cook for me ??
Dining room itself was small and they had a window open so it was semi perishing. Sounded like they had a Now compilation playing for the music - cheesy pop to go with weird ambience. Food was okay but nothing spectacular. Given they only had four choices to have the one starter I really fancied sold out on a Saturday night again just seems like poor planning. So I had onion soup to start and GF had beef tartare. She got the better of the two, though it was very rich. For main I had carrot four ways ( oo er missus). It was interesting but was meant to be carrot coriander and sesame but there was no coriander in evidence and instead a taste of fennel which I am not keen on. GF had chicken which she felt was too sweet and too rich but which I gladly scoffed part of to supplement my carrot fest!
Pudding was a highlight- rhubarb cheesecake with a rhubarb brioche weirdly delivered on a side plate. About eighty five quid with one drink each. I think they are trying to do good things but too much of it was amateurish. I won’t return I’m afraid .

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Moor Hall?

Or perhaps it’s like what my other half says about clothes. Better to spend a lot on something you will really love rather than get something which seems like good value but in terms of what you get for your money really isn’t !

Sorry about the experience. It was crap the place, whatever their excuse. I think maybe the server who was in charge of your table was the reason, not the restaurant. I guess the owner or the chef should have a good talk with him… Even if you disagree with a client, the service needs to continue. And in your case, it was his fault on the chicken lollipops, but he didn’t like to admit. From the reaction from the other staff, looked like it didn’t happen the first time. Awful.

I had somewhat a similar experience, but not in a place like yours, a Chinese noodle shop that is very successful. We had been to the places many times already with no problem. The server brought my noodle after we placed the order, mine came quickly, my husband waited for another 20 minutes, we told them that he didn’t get his order yet, for another 5 minutes, his order didn’t arrive. He felt a bit fed up and just want to leave the place. He went to pay and then the manager of the place, a young man in his late twenties or early thirties, start pouring at us, which was a surprise. He started directing his criticism at him that he saw that my husband wasn’t in good mood when he came into the restaurant. I bet my husband didn’t have a great day, but he didn’t offended anybody when he came in, maybe not smiling. The manager never admitted it was the fault of the restaurant until the very end. He said the meal would be offered.

The place is called Pate Vivant in the Paris 9e if you want to know. We never went back. I refused and I don’t want to have anything to do with their group. My husband forgot or forgave quite easily and wanted to. He still went to their other branch in the 1er to buy some take away.

The arrogance of successful places.

I hope you will better experience tonight.


Small places should stick to small menus, so the chef(s) can concentrate on doing things well.

Place is listed in Harden’s guide and, if I was basing on decision on the brief write-up, I’d go. But not now!.

Hey naf
Thank you for sharing your story/ it made me feel better.
The problem is,though, it was the chef himself who gave us the chicken lollipop !

Wow, I get a better picture now, you mean that the chicken comment offended the chef? And he stopped serving?! That’s even more awful! The chef has ego problem, for sure. I don’t know, I have a certain impression the single lollipop, he did it on purpose already…maybe the choice of wine already irritated the guy?! I prefer in this case he has the guts to come to you to disagree rather than just ignoring you… anyway…

Forget about it…looking forward for your next dinner report!

More bizarre developments this afternoon. We booked through my GFs Open Table account. Someone has now called ‘ on behalf of the chef ‘ asking us to call them back !!
Weird upon weird upon weird :nerd_face:

Maybe chef reads HO?

Bell them and see what’s what.

And tell us of course. We lurve a bit of gossip

Maybe after a night sleep, the chef felt bad?!

It’s no good for the reputation of his restaurant…
Every client is like a critic in this internet age. :scream:

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Wow that’s just bizarre, particularly the chicken lollipop fiasco, totally unprofessional.

Hopefully you have better luck in your other London picks; I’ve experienced bad service but nothing like this anywhere, ever!

What an astonishing story! My son worked there early in its existence two years ago, and he has nothing but praise for everyone involved. He’s back in the UK next week for the first time in 18 months, and will be going there with his Kiwi girlfriend. I’ll try to get an unbiased report from him.


I look at Trip Advisor at the place and saw on 1 photo that they charge bread at £4.50, is this common in UK? In France, bread is included, at least there is no additional fee on the bill.

Not common but you see it much more often in recent years. Our favourite bistro near home charges £2.95 for bread. Of course, as it’s a menu item if you don’t want it, you don’t order it. Other places simply don’t offer bread at all. But there’s still places that offer bread without charge. I mean without a separate charge - nothing is really free.

Wow, if this turns out to be anything other than the management of the restaurant wanting to offer you a big apology that would make the story even more strange.

I’m sorry for the extremely poor experience that this place inflicted as you were trying to enjoy an evening out.

Latest update. We rang the lady back this morning. She apparently ‘works with ‘ the chef. Which I read as investor. She told my other half that the chef thought we were just there for snacks and it was the fault of the front of house manager, who has now left the business with immediate effect. They have offered us the chance to go back as guests of the chef with two friends. Discuss!


Wow, do you want to?!

Have to say that I think the update position is a load of total bollocks.

Front of house had taken your order and must have put it in to the kitchen, otherwise you would not have had any food. Unless it’s their practice to offer snacks to everyone who walks through the door - which it won’t be. Frankly, I do not believe that any half decent restaurant would sack its front of house manager simply on the basis of one seriously pissed-off punter.

I still cannot rationalise what has actually happened.

As for their kind offer, I suppose it depends if you’re planning to travel down to The Smoke again any time soon. In which case, you might want to take them up on the offer. Or perhaps just tell them to fuck off which is what I did on the only time we’ve been offered a complete freebie (telling the owner that I do not write adverse Tripadvisor reviews simply to get a freebie meal but rather to help other travellers spot poorly run places, like his. He then complained about me to TA saying that he did not think I was “who I was pretending to be”. I complained to TA about harrassment in his PMs. I win that one - and the next, as the restaurant closed soon after. Still beats me who he thought I was, although I guess maybe a competitor).

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Yesterday, I scanned Google reviews, it seems the chef has rage problem, one remark about him throwing glasses twice at his staff.

But actually, if you think about that, they have already apologised by offering the drink and the “snacks”.

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This is what they said, you would never know if they have really do it. Anyway, we will never really know what had happened that night.