There aren't too many great fish restaurants in London and, whilst this is a perfectly acceptable place to while away a few hours with a pint of prawns and a muscadet, it isn't, in truth, even one of the best fish restaurants in Soho (thank you Wright Brothers).
We went for a late lunch on Saturday, and the place was packed. This is perfectly fine if you're in the mood to share a table, but the grumpy couple next to us looked most affronted that their bags would have to get down from the high chairs and sit at their feet, so that we could use the chairs for their intended purpose. We moved to a window seat when one became free before our order was taken. And the window seats are the ones to go for, affording a view over the joys of Soho traffic, some interesting Thai massage shops and being directly opposite Cox, Cakes and Cookies (despite this being Soho, I am pretty sure that only the latter two of these are on sale).
Service is slow, which is fine for whiling, but did mean that more of the afternoon was lost to a second bottle than we had really meant to lose. Not that they got anything wrong, they just didn’t get it right quick enough.
The cover charge brings olives and bread, which was perfectly ok. The calamari was also fine, had a bit of a tang to it, but wasn’t anything to write home about. The liver pate was a better than average example, although it did fox our French waitress.
Mains continued in the perfectly acceptable, nothing to cause a song-and-dance routine to spontaneously break out trend: roasted langoustines at nearly a fiver each were a bit of an ask (and the chips that came with them were really not worthy of the name). Pan fried scallops with fennel was probably the dish of the day, the scallops being nice and firm and the combination the sweet scallops with the tart of the fennel was a hit. Zucchini “frites”, alas, were soggy. Even a liberal dousing of sodium chloride couldn’t revive them.
So overall what to make of R&A: whilst I have always found the word “nice” to be bland beyond comparison, R&A is nice. It isn’t dreadful, it isn’t great – it is just fine; it is OK; it is a nice way to spend some time when there is nothing better to do than look out a window, sip a glass of cold white wine and not worry too much about the food.