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|Address:||34 Grovesnor Square, London W1K 2HD|
|Tel:||020 7768 3419|
|Price: £59.00||Wine: £22.50||Champagne: £62.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-10.30pm (Sat-Sun 11.30am- )|
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Would you go to a restaurant for the atmosphere rather than the food? The answer for a lot of people, given the huge popularity that the Ivy still garners after many decades of mediocrity, would seem to be yes. 34 too could become another of those restaurants where you go to gawp, rather than to enjoy the food.
There was nothing exactly wrong with the food, but nothing memorable about it either, although there is no denying that the atmosphere is pretty good, some feat for a restaurant that has only been open for a few weeks.
Given that this is Mayfair, you are guaranteed a number of things:
• there will be a bar, and they will serve fine cocktails;
• there will be some hoorayed idiot(s) that you will want to punch; and
• service will be hit and miss.
And so it was with 34.
The bar is small, along the far right as you come in, has some fine spirits and a piano. Well I don’t remember the piano being there when we arrived, but it was there, being tinkled, when we left, so I suppose it must have been. The hooray Berk was at the table next to us, moaning loudly to anyone who would listen (not his companion, she being far to engrossed in her iPhone) about the steaks, and how could the waitress not know the exact provenance of each cow that had sacrificed its life to provide him with sustenance. Perhaps in this day and age, every member of the waiting staff should be expected to know not only the type of cow, but its name, date of birth and inside leg measurement. And service was indeed, hit and miss. More generally than not, it was a hit, but seemed to stumble over small things, like the second bottle of wine, which got lost in the ether between cellar and corkscrew.
So nobody famous was there, alas, but the clientele had that well-heeled glow, that only copious amounts of cash can engender. The buzz that they give off, and not just from the mobile phones that adorn every table, when not pressed firmly to ear, is a contented, happy with life one. The 1% at repast.
Food is solidly protein based, with two or three cuts of four different styles of beef (USDA, Scottish, Argentinean and Australian Wagyu). Admittedly the waitress should have been able to say what the general differences between these were but, when she couldn’t and went to find somebody who could, surely we didn’t have to put up with hooray Berk telling us that she should. What I can say is that the Argentinean was a superb piece of beef; juicy, strong tasting and cooked rare as asked. Maybe it could have been a little more charred on the outside, but that is nitpicking. The USDA went down well with our American co-diner, although I’ve always found that, whilst USDA is really juicy, it can be a little bland.
Rewinding to the starters, these too were perfectly acceptable, and as perfectly unmemorable as you’d expect from a place like 34. The onion tart (from Lincolnshire; the onions I am guessing, rather than the tart) came with a huge helping of almost totally tasteless sweetbreads. The chicken salad and caesar salad both got thumbs up, again, without being outstanding.
Despite skipping the deserts, the bill still came in at a hefty helping, but hardly extraordinary when you are in Mayfair, paying for the privilege of being seen with the other people paying for the privilege. So why then add a cover charge? That too is deeply, deeply annoying. I know it is only a couple of quid, but so what. Include the bread in the price, or at least let me decide if I want to have bread or not. Don’t plonk it down, unbidden and then charge for it.
I am sure that 34 (like the Ivy, Scotts etc.) will do just fine, despite what any reviewer says. That is because reviewing 34 as if it is a restaurant where people go for the food is simply looking at it the wrong way. It is the place to go, just to go. So go, enjoy the atmosphere, look at the way the moneyed crowd look, then go back to being one of the 99%.