One day after visiting the Ham Yard and upon careful reflection, I'm still thinking exactly the same thing as when I left - I have never had a dining experience quite so contrasting in terms of the quality food and service.
I'll start with the positives. My boyfriend and I visited on a busy Friday evening and the ambience in the restaurant which leads directly on from the bar was lively and buzzy. The dining room is extremely spacious and feels very luxurious, warm and modern. The food, quite simply, for the price, is incredible. It really is modern European food at it's absolute best. My starter of duck egg, white bean puree, burnt leeks, salsify and truffle was a delight. My boyfriend said the Malva pudding was one of the desserts he had ever tasted. The flavours of everything we ate were perfectly balanced and delicious and everything was beautifully presented. The wine list was interesting and extensive. I'm a huge fan of champagne and it was nice to see some lesser known names on the list, one of which is now my new favourite.
Now for the not-so-positives - the service. Upon arrival, despite numerous staff passing by, we were waiting for 5 minutes to be seated. Even when a waitress did approach us and it was evident we had been waiting for some time, there was no apology or warm welcome. Our waiter delivered service rather flatly and really just didn't seem to grasp timing or pacing. For example, we made it clear we were ready to order by placing our menus to one side and some time passed but he chose to interrupt the conversation on the next table to attempt to take an order only to be told they weren't ready instead. In addition, our bottle of wine was kept in the wine bucket away from our table for some reason so we couldn't help ourselves and we had to request refills.
It was all rather puzzling because I felt that it was just the basics that were lacking and that a dose of common sense and some personality could remedy all the problems. In mitigation, our waiter was very knowledgeable about the wine list. I watched the rest of the staff and none of them seemed to be terribly attentive or enthusiastic so I suspect it's down to lack of leadership and training.
In summary, if the Ham Yard resolve their issues with service it'll be one of the best eateries in London. Until then, I'm more than willing to put up with the shoddy service for such sublime food.