We've eaten here quite a lot over the years, both before and after a refurb. that marked a distinct improvement in food, environment and traffic. It became a restaurant to rely on for a quality lunch with true Michelin star qualities at a very fair price, and I've reviewed it on two or three websites. We noticed at our last visit that the food and service wasn't up to previous standards, and the same was more true today.
Which gets me wondering- seems there's very few restaurants that can be relied upon to maintain high standards visit after visit , year after year. There seems to be an art in picking out a restaurant "on the up" so to speak and in recognising that it's on the way down. Today we chose from an interesting looking seasonal menu. We each started with a ravioli of suckling pig resting on a bed of apple. It was decently cooked but not terribly flavoursome or exciting. It did frankly need a broth or a little sauce to pep it up. The "crackling" was more like a prawn cracker. We'd both say exactly the same about our main of slow -cooked short rib. Soft, certainly; but well flavoured, no. Short rib needs either to be finished on a barbecue with a sauce, or cooked in a rich sauce. Without these it's dull and I'm afraid this dish was dull- even the turnip tops were low on flavour. They're getting textures right and flavours wrong.
We were disappointed with the service. Within 35 minutes of arrival, we'd chosen and eaten both starter and main with scarcely a gap between. It was just too quick. The courses came so rapidly that there wasn't a lot of time for cooking to order here. Then as the place got busier, it took 75 minutes to have desserts ( again brought pretty much instantly we ordered them) and coffee. It was proving more than difficult to get the attention of our waitress and we had to involve the maître d'. Then when the coffee came my double expresso wasn't expresso at all. We'd been told coffee was on the house, so I didn't complain, just paid and left. Of course the central issue here is whether the staff and kitchen are working to get food out and orders taken at a pace that is reasonable for the customer , or whether they expect the customer to order and eat at a speed the staff find convenient? In the course of this meal they sadly contrived to be both too fast and too slow, both attentive and uncaring.
None of this is a good sign in our experience; our last two meals here have been below the standard we'd got used to at Kitchen W8 and which led us to feel their star was much deserved. They seem not to have maintained that performance. We'll give it another shot in a few months to reflect the excellent meals we've had here in the past, and hope this is a blip. Our fear is that things might have changed in the way they prepare and cook food, and in the people they have cooking and front of house, that makes improvement difficult to deliver.