HORRENDOUS FOOD. FANTASTIC ATMOSPHERE.
I'd read Jay Rayner's glowing review in The Observer, so was rather excited about our dinner for four last night. Upon arriving for a pre-dinner drink, we were impressed by the vibe – lovely decor, lighting and musicians by the bar. The bartendress was helpful and engaging, but not overbearing. And they'd provided a round table as requested.
However upon being seated, we were soon informed that five of their key dishes were unavailable. When ordering wine from the seriously inflated wine list, the wait staff failed to produce a promised sommelier. We managed without, of course, but that was aggravating nonetheless. Just admit there isn't one.
Starters were solidly disappointing. “Grilled artichoke” turned out to be some chunks blanched Jerusalem artichoke and two small bits of pickled artichoke on top of Romain lettuce drowning in uninteresting vinaigrette, accompanied by some very suspicious, unidentifiable batter coated rubbery balls. Maybe fried cheese balls..? I mentioned my disappointment to the waiter who proceeded to try and make some excuse about how it was prepared. Not relaly the kind of service one expects in a high end restaurant. A “Beetroot salad” equally had about three tiny bits of beetroot under various lettuces.
Given they were so hard pressed to deliver the whole menu and seemed to be poorly stocked for a Thursday night, I'd avoided ordering fish. Just seemed too much of a risk. The menu advertised a wide range of beef from US, Australia, Scotland, and Argentina. I went with an Argentine rib-eye medium rare. I'm quite sure it was not the 32oz as advertised and had none of the qualities of grass-fed beef, so I'm doubtful it was even Argentine. It was absolutely the most rubbery piece of beef I've since a tourist brasserie in Paris circa 1998. Overcooked, sure, but also something decidedly poor quality about the cut. You can get much better at a pub these days. A spatchcocked chicken was flavourless and accompanied by a heaving mound of flavourless and overly mayonnaise coleslaw. Side veg orders were mushy, overcooked and bland. Even the chips were dry with no potatoey middle and tasted of stale frying oil.
Perhaps the head chef, manager and sommelier had all decided to call in sick as a one off, but it was thoroughly disappointing enough that I'll recommend against dining at 34. Really a shame, because someone has got the ambiance right, but hasn't a care for food. Wasted potential.