Royal China Club
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A proper pre Christmas Saturday night out for my lovely wife and I. A catch up with some old (and we are getting very old these days) uni friends! For once I hadn't been asked to sort out the restaurant so I could relax and let someone go through the pain of getting at table for 8 on the last Saturday before Christmas. As it was the ever industrious Nan did very well securing us a table at the renown Royal China Club on Baker St. This worked on a number of levels: I've never been to the Club version of the Royal China, a Chinese meal is the very best option to share with friends and I could drive there forcing me to get up next morning to go for a long overdue run to pick up the car. So on paper a win but what would it be like? I've mentioned before the perils of eating out between Christmas & New Year when restaurants are slack and so are produce and the kitchens. However pre-Christmas has it's pitfalls as well, restaurants far too busy leading to poor executed dishes delivered by overworked staff. We'd enjoyed a superlative experience at Hakkasan Hanway St a few weeks before so I was anticipating another toppy but top draw meal.
Well first impressions weren't great, our friends were much happier to see us than the front of house who didn't greet us, take our coats or show us to the table. We located them easy enough but it soon became apparent that our table was badly sited meaning waiting staff frequently bumping me coming past and my lovely wife's coat was trod on several times. This would have passed muster 20 years ago at the Chamon Balti house in Selly Oak but here now, not really. Fortunately the food was very good, Nan was lead with the menu and ordered a fine array of old favourites and new specials. Dim Sum and assorted starters were very good though waiting staff weren't terribly helpful with portion advice so we had too much of some bits and not enough of others. The duck was very good but we ran out of pancakes and extras weren't that quick coming. The standout dish for us was the lobster and noodles, I've had this before at the Mandarin Kitchen which is good but this was in a different class, however it was seriously expensive £180 for two big lobsters! For dessert we all had a upscale take on the classic chilled mango pudding which was very nice.
All in all a very good meal shared with old friends but for over £125 a head I was expecting better. Bearing in mind at Hakkasan we paid £58 for some of the best food and service I have had the Royal China Club was lacking. Some dishes were good value for money but others like the lobster eye wateringly expensive. The wine list was another mixed bag, the white Chablis was reasonable but on the red we struggled to find anything good under £80! Service was really poor and amateurish especially compared to our new favourite The Princess Gardens of Mayfair. I made allowances as this was possibly the busiest Saturday night of the year but still we deserved better. I'd have to conclude that if you are all dressed up to do the town then a visit here would bring you back to earth with a bump. Possibly worth a return visit when it was quieter as the food was very good but really paying that sort of money you can do a lot better.
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Food 9 | Service 3 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4
Thursday, January 08, 2015