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|Address:||438 King’s Road, London SW10 0LJ|
|Tel:||020 7349 1900|
|Price: £50.00||Wine: £25.00||Champagne: £50.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-3pm 6.30-10.30pm|
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“What's a reputation worth” summed up my thoughts as I paid the bill for our third visit to Medlar- albeit the first since 2012. It must cost a lot in terms of both money, and physical and emotional effort to get a restaurant going, earn pretty positive reviews, a star within a couple of years of opening, and so on. So after having achieved all that ( and not without some justification if my earlier review on another website is anything to go by) why do things that put it at risk?
We ordered six courses today between the two of us- comprising four different dishes. None of these met our recollections or our expectations. Now I should hasten to add that we're not talking inedible here- its just that none of our dishes displayed the intensity of flavours I expect from a starred restaurant. Our starters and mains were fairly complex dishes with lots of ingredients, but the individual flavours of those ingredients were not discernible and what we ate was a kind of jumble in which the specifics were smothered. The textures were good, nothing was under or overcooked; the food just didn't taste as it should. When paying the bill I asked our waiter (who'd asked whether I'd enjoyed the meal) whether this was the work of the head chef or a deputy, and I'm not surprised that he answered the deputy, for what we had today wouldn't have passed muster with a professional critic or inspector.
All of which gets me thinking. Is it right to let people read about your great restaurant, and then serve them a meal that's been cooked or supervised by different people than those who built that reputation? Is it right to turn out food on a Saturday lunch that is likely to have been noticeably inferior to that emerging from the same kitchen on the previous night? Equally important from the restaurants perspective, is it right , ever, to risk your reputation by sending out food that isn't as good as your kitchen is capable of? Was that reputation not hard enough won to mean that you'd just not want to do that? Of course I do understand that restaurants often need a second chef. But the point is that for the specific dishes on offer, that second chef needs to be capable of turning out food of a quality that stops customers thinking about who has cooked it. And this didn't seem to be the case today.
Medlar's premises are pleasant and comfortable; its in an area that is frankly a bit short of quality restaurants. Service was a bit slow today – they kept under the two hour mark through the expedient of serving coffee whilst we ate dessert- which isn't what we asked for. Everything Not just food) seemed to take a little longer than it might have done in a restaurant that was almost empty when we arrived and no more that half full when we left.
So, will we go back? Medlar is decent value but I can eat better than this for what I paid. Right now I don't know. I'll keep an eye on the reviews.