All reader reviews by Foodie
I am always sceptical of these chef branded outlets which I imagine to be overpriced cash-cows for those celebrity cooks who have sold out on their name in the interest of a healthy pension. With MPW's Steak & Alehouse, I was not disappointed.
First the good; the dining room is lovely, atmosphere on a Friday night was lively but the setting intimate enough for dinner for two. Service was generally ok (they dealt with fussy dining requirements without a blink of the eye) but slow and lacking finesse - they can't be paying much for these part-timers.
Then the bad; the quality of ingredients we found generally to be ok, but there is absolutely no individual flair in that kitchen. Marco has ensured that almost every item on the menu can be executed with minimal use of any kitchen utensil other than the grill. The mackerel pate looked like it came pre-packed, asparagus with hollandaise was a kiddie-school starter, steaks were well cooked and of reliable quality (but over seasoned), and the triple cooked chips a distinct let down (too large cuts and hence the excess steam inside soggied the crust), with desserts probably a highlight (M&S quality lemon tart, but a very decent sticky toffee).
You wouldn't expect a steak house kitchen to be a cauldron of creativity, and indeed simple, well executed dishes would be fine of course, but when demanding nearly £30 for a 10oz steak and chips, you have to be sure you're serving something really special. This, however, is over priced, run-of-the-mill steakhouse fair. Had we paid full-whack, (our internet-site deal saved us nearly 50% - and over half the dinners seemed to be in the same boat the night we went!), I would have felt well and truly robbed.
I hope to heaven that celebrity chefs like Marco and Jamie Oliver will in future back talented chefs with their own ideas and individual styles (Gordon Ramsay has an excellent track record here at the top end of the culinary market; Jason Atherton, Clare Smyth, Mark Askew etc.), rather than fund the expansion of these mass produced, and over priced, steak and grill kitchens.
Friday, November 04, 2011
Food 4 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 1
The dining room makes a nice winter enclave, old dark wood in what some would call a dimly lit, but what I would call an initimate, setting. Service was actually very attentive if slightly amateurish.
Starters and mains were fine - tasty but not stick in the memory quality; the sauce for the game main was spot on, the seafood bisque slightly overpowering, a cheese plate had a couple of tasty goats cheeses, a pork belly with marmalade glaze was meltingly tender.
We very nearly didn't order desert but by my word am I happy that we did. The chocolate fondant was an absolute knock out. I've never seen one so perfectly executed, just the thinest layer of squidgy, cakey chocolate, with an oozing, perfectly balanced, sweet and cocco laiden chocolate gue. I thought I had started going off chocolate but at this level of cooking, it's pure happiness.
Consistency will be the true test of this place - I get the feeling the quality of food and service here changes with the wind - but I'll be sure to be back for an afternoon tea and another stab at that fondant....
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7
The meal I had at Galvins' a year and a half ago still sits so happily in the memory!
When we arrived our table was not yet ready but we were carefully whisked downstairs to the bar, which was a cosy and intimate setting for a pre dinner drink (of water, mind!).
Once seated, I ordered sweetbreads (first time tasting), delicious with a well balanced vinegar dressing that cut through the richness, mopped up with bread, followed by blanquette de veau and smooth parsnip puree. Drenched in thick, sticky and delicious meat jus. Can't recall what she had, but won't be forgetting that sauce! Tart tatin to finish was lovely as well - it was the pastry wot made it. Timing between courses (oh so crucial and oh so overlooked by many a kitchen) was perfect.
Most of all, though, the service was just delightful. Warm humour and discretion mixed perfectly to leave us feeling positively royal upon exit.
Hoping when I next go back my experience will be up to the same and less akin to some of the below.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
Dinner for two on a busy Friday night. Overall impression was of a very smooth operation that delivers pretty much what it claims to set out to do; offering high end cuisine in an (almost) informal, certainly relaxing environment.
The meal was very good. Olive bread was freshly baked; a buttery, pastry, rolly thing that became a danger to the rest of the meal! A starter of pan fried fois gras was forgivingly small given it's richness, monk fish cheeks with carrots and star anise was a little odd but not unpleasant; black leg chicken was back to a more classic palette with a light jus and delicious little fondant potato and braised endive, while duck came with sweet sticky sauce and various little accompanying purees, rich and full of flavour. With a couple of extra helpings of bread, an amouse bouche and petit fours, no space left for dessert. Portions are small but for us, were perfect.
The food was good but our French waiter was really the highlight here. He seemed to genuinely want us to feel princely for the evening, was extremely attentive and yet never loitering, very funny at times as well. It was a shame he clocked off at 10pm so we didn't have a chance to say thank you.
Not cheap at around £60/head with one glass of wine each, but good value for money when compared with other establishments (some gastro-pubs in Kensington spring particularly to mind here!).
Friday, February 25, 2011
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7
Sadly the glorious days following the Duke's opening in autumn 2008 seem over. Where as once the menu was always notable for its cut abover the average gastro inventivness (pigs head "cake", spicy tomatoes and qualis egg) and for the quality of execution of British and French classics (pork rillets, crab on toast and one of the best Sunday lunches in London), what progress there was has been in a backwards direction.
Most of the menu constants (crab bisque, sticky toffee pud) are still good but new dishes lack the full blooded whack of pleasure that I came to associate with the food here. Inventivness has taken flight or else led to dishes that just dont work.
For much the same money I would recommend Galvin Bistro De Luxe around the corner.
A little secret - the Head Chef, who was the clear talent behind the initial success, left here late 2009 to go to the Admiral Codrington in South Kensington. So now we know why....
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Food 4 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 4
I have eaten at the restaurant three times now and would definitely come again.
I love this place - it's more than a restaurant, it's an institution! Great tasting food, simply prepared, although certainly rich in a classical French way (buerre, more buerre!).
The a la carte prices can be a little hefty for a menu which is essentially a posher version of what you'll find in any good Parisian bistro. But it is just about justified by the excellent waiting team who really know how to run a high class service and probably the best dining room in London.
Highly recommended - as good for a romantic evening for two as for a large family lunch.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7