29 April 2013
We visited for the first time this past Saturday night. Ate lunch at the Fetter Lane restaurant a while back and found it very good, very business-y. This one (at night, at least) has a much more sophisticated atmosphere, warm and welcoming and nicely energized. Our server commented that things were quiet, which leads us to think it can be pretty boisterous during the week when the after-work crowd is in force. That struck us as one of the nice things about the place, reflecting the sensitivity and taste with which it's been put together — equally good for groups or couples (both were in evidence on Saturday).
She and I are reasonably educated and fairly demanding when it comes to wine, though hardly expert. We know enough to distinguish different grapes and regions so as to be able to guess at what we're likely to enjoy and describe our preferences to someone who is truly knowledgeable — but we're mostly clueless when it comes to vintages and producers. And my taste in wine is very different from Hers. So we ordered by the glass and sampled half a dozen different wines on the recommendation of our server — all were excellent. We also had a glass of the house champagne — too dry for Her, but I found it delicious. The sweet wine paired on the menu with our dessert was very good.
The food is really not meant to be the star of the show here, so can't be given very highest marks (if it's inventive cuisine you want, go to Texture). But the menu is thoughtful and varied, and everything we ate was well-executed and delicious and nicely presented. Oysters were excellent, as were our starters (beetroot salad with horseradish yogurt, aubergine and peppers with goats curd, and salmon confit with marinated vegetables). For mains we shared the spatchcock chicken, utterly simple but practically perfect, crisp and moist and properly seasoned, with a tasty Bernaise alongside. Accompanied by a well dressed green salad — what more could you ask? We had a cinnamon creme brulee for dessert, which was very satisfying, at the firm and creamy end of the brulee texture spectrum. Coffee was also good.
The service was very good, in a manner appropriate to the type of restaurant this is, both professional and warm — the staff was clearly working hard to please. Our primary server was friendly and attentive and knowledgeable about the wine list — as noted above, her wine recommendations were spot on in response to our requests. Two other staff members appeared to be keeping tabs on us as well: someone appeared from behind the bar almost instantly when our wine glasses ran empty; someone else whisked away our plates before we had time to wish they would, then immediately brought us dessert menus. The meal was well paced and we were given the bill and permitted to pay promptly after we asked.
All in all a lovely evening — we will certainly return.