They have, of course, only recently reopened after lockdown so that may be the reason for feeling that service was not the well-oiled machine that you’d hope it might be. We’d arranged to be having aperitifs at 7.15 for a 7.45 dinner. Whilst drinks appeared quickly, it was pushing 7.45 before we got to see menus, let alone order any food.
Current Covid-secure guidelines indicate tables can be only 1 metre apart “with mitigations” but it was difficult to see what mitigations were in place. Unlike other meals we’ve had since early July, staff do not wear masks or visors, tables were quite close together and the service style seemed as it probably was before Covid, with no attempt to do things at a distance. It was a slightly unsettling experience rather than the very relaxed one you’d expected. This does not detract from the skill of the kitchen.
The amuse bouche was lovely. A very citrussy sorrel cream, topped with smoked salmon and chopped nuts. Both starters were very summery. A very delicately flavoured crab salad was held in place by a strip of cucumber, giving a nice texture contrast. The other starter featured San Marzano tomatoes, dressed with a cream, flavoured with the elements of gazpacho and, on the side, a little basil ice cream.It just worked.
Beef fillet was perfect at medium rare and came with some long cooked Jacobs Ladder (or shortrib as Americans call it). There’s a couple of shallots, mushrooms and some wilted greens. A piquant sauce brings it together. Quail was the other main. The breasts nicely pink. And the legs, still on the bone, waiting to be sucked clean – a finger bowl is thoughtfully provided. That sat on a bed of very seasonal veg – peas, broad beans, mushrooms and greens. And there’s spinach tortellini, topped with a fried quails egg. Two good plates.
Tiramisu is a favourite dessert and I’m always going to order it in a new place, if it’s on the menu. This is not a classic version but more a deconstructed affair, featuring the elements of the dessert. Really enjoyable – but tiramisu, it ain’t. A blackcurrant soufflé was a knockout. Perhaps the best thing either of us ate. A perfect accompaniment was ice cream, flavoured with star anise. Tricky to get the spice balance right here, but the chef had it absolutely nailed. Coffee & petit fours were good.