So, this is N in a series of N+1 reviews of places I've had a working lunch. Which is possibly the problem. More of that soon. Oh, and “working lunch” is not a euphemism. I feel that's an important point to make. More of that soon, as well.
It's come to my attention that the average standard of London restaurant is now so good, that to stand out in any way takes real effort. To an extent, that is now influencing my choice of eatery more than any other factor (that's sad, isn't it?).
Given that I had to find a restaurant within walking distance of a certain internationally famous newspaper which is printed on pink paper (allegedly – I'm colour blind, so let me know if it isn't true), I was rather surprised at the choice available. Essentially, it boiled down to Borough Market (seafood, or meat recently pulsing with life and only vaguely introduced to a grill via a casual acquaintance), or travelling across t'river to rarer climes. That led me to a straight choice between Chinese Cricket Club & Refettorio. Tossed a coin and Sr. Locatelli won.
Observation #1: I got the strong impression that Refettorio is much more “fun” in the evening. Ignore my rating for “Atmosphere” if you're considering weekend / post-work dining. We were the 3rd table to be seated at 1:15, and ended up talking in whispers lest industrial espionage be committed by the dodgy looking cove on the next table.
Observation #2: if you want good service, go nowhere else (at lunchtime). Following my recent waterboarding elsewhere, I was understandably nervous about waiting staff lurking anywhere nearby. Fortunately, the staff here have been trained in mindreading and could materialise with nano-seconds of a small finger gesture. I like that.
Observation #3: a good gnocchi is a thing of beauty, and I'm in love with what I had.
Observation #4: My guest went for rack of lamb, after trying to order risotto. Good news: risotto is _really_ made then & there. That's the only reason she didn't have it: we didn't have enough time. Fall to your knees and praise the chef that does this. Hallelujah! Yes, yes, yes!
Observation #5: I felt the bill was a tad steep for a working lunch. BUT, for a dinner with friends / partner / lover (note the potential for mutual exclusivity there), it would have been fine.
Go. Have risotto. Smile.