Oh dear. We had high hopes for this place, having had a fantastic meal at Mugaritz a few years back and two superlative experiences at Le Chateaubriand. This place does Inaki Aizpitarte a disservice and should be avoided by anyone expecting the following: great food; lovely ambiance; good service. I don't usually pen reports of truly bad experiences, but this one was up there with the worst (for somewhere costing comfortably north of £100 a head), so I thought I would share it with others.
First impressions are well captured by Square Meal - like a hotel restaurant. It's not clear what feeling it is intended to create. It is neither intimate, nor romantic, nor brash, nor elegant. Like some (but for the wrong reasons not all) of our meal, the decor is instantly forgettable. The menu is odd. We could not find a theme. It is a relatively limited a la carte affair, which includes, for the mains, a grand total of 3 side dish choices, one of which, we were told just before our main dish arrived, was suddenly off the menu - apparently something had gone wrong with the spinach! So instead, we had a plain plate of broccoli, looking like something an elderly relative might serve up, only for £5 plus service.
Things had gone wrong well before then, however. I won't recount the conversations with our sommelier, save that he was the rudest, most arrogant waiter I have ever encountered in London. We weren't alone in our astonishment at his "customer is always wrong" attitude and his lack of attentive service. The couple at the table next to ours was equally astonished, unhappy and frankly outraged. I should add that the other waiters were impeccable.
My starter of mackerel in some cold samphire and lovage soup was a mixed affair. The fish was excellent. There was too much broth and it was pretty tasteless. It did not really complement the fish. For mains, we chose the cote de boeuf and asked for it rare. It came with a horseradish dish, which was necessary because the beef, simply served sliced on a plate for us to serve ourselves, was very dry and really rather disappointing. The horseradish dish was not moist enough to compensate for the dreary meat, but at least meant it was edible. There was, however, superb mashed potato, plus the broccoli. The lack of blood or moisture on the meat was apparently due to the fact that it was some fancy aged beef. Regardless of the reason, it was not very good.
Desserts were unremarkable, so much so that I have already forgotten what they were, 3 days after eating them. The maitre d', aware that we had had a bad experience, very kindly brought us two glasses of champagne. He then asked about our meal. When we started enumerating our various issues with the experience, he became defensive and prickly.
This was a pretty awful meal. Substandard food, no ambiance and shocking service from the sommelier. A real let down and I am amazed that a celebrated chef such as Inaki Aizpitarte would wish to be associated with it. One for Londoners to avoid.