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Booked last minute. Checked the menu - seemed to be quite a few things edible for vegetarians, although no an a la carte main. A few smaller plates works better for vegetarians than the usual monolith of starch. The pre-theatre menu had what appeared to be a veg main, so no particular cause for alarm. I put a note in the booking to say I was vegetarian anyway just in case.
Vegetarians go to general restaurants because their dining companions don't want to go veg. Most chefs I know - I've worked for a popular London chef - would rather we came with our omnivore friends and cash than not at all.
The good things - it's a lovely dining room in the Corbyn & King mould. I've been using well-spattered recipe cuttings of Jeremy Lee's since the 90s. The gorgeous menu makes you want to run to the place immediately. Super wine list offering interest at all price points. The grilled cheese sandwich is worth going for alone. However....
- Arriving early on a quiet night I asked at the bar for the cocktail of the day (as per the menu on the internet) and the barman looked blank. Ah...was this was something to do with the restaurant? (which was 1 meter away)
- You got the feeling staff had better things to do than look after you. Staff should do a study tour of C&K joints to see how it's done at this level.
- Sea kale with mousseline came with unadvertised anchovies, as did a side of purple sprouting broccoli, which many omnivores would be unhappy about. The waitress knew I was vegetarian.
- The two salads were murdered by dressings with way too much vinegar and mustard or horseradish. The second one went untouched and was removed without comment.
- Chips and salsify were damn fine and amazingly crunchy. As in, I would be amazed if this was not cooked in duck or goose fat or dripping. No - I didn't ask because it's pretty tedious for everyone. I already knew from the anchovy experience that if there was fat in here I'd be the last to know. £80 p/h.
Last time I had to go somewhere not really geared up for vegetarians, they told me up front. I respect that. I actually had to go anyway. What I got was delicious. Despite the fact that there were even fewer suitable dishes than here, there was no mis-step. Staff were amazing.
My companion's food here was mostly fine, although she's not a big fan of anchovies either and would like to have known. Also her experience was coloured by mine because that's how it goes.
Apart from the crazy salad dressings, there's a customer interface problem here. It's not that the staff were rude or not nice - the opposite. But they just didn't care enough.
If QV doesn't want vegetarians in here than don't let em through the door. But once you knowingly accept them as customers, you cannot feed them stuff they have told you they don't want to eat and hand them a bill.
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Food 5 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5
Saturday, April 25, 2015