Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“Lovely space, shame about the food!”; as “a convenient option for a light bite”, this attractive dining room “overlooking bustling Trafalgar Square” would be ideal… were it not for Peyton & Byrne’s “atrocious” service and inept catering.
“A wasted opportunity” – such a shame about the “deplorable” service and lacklustre cooking at this spacious central dining room; “great views of Trafalgar Square from the window tables” are the only undoubted plus.
“A window table to enjoy the view” (if you can nab one) is the most certain attraction at this large first-floor dining room – sometimes “atrocious” service contributes to a performance critics otherwise brand a “disgrace”.
The National Dining Rooms, National Gallery WC2
Oliver Peyton is often hailed as a visionary. Restaurants he has launched 'ahead of their time' include Mash & Air (Manchester), Coast, Isola and the Atlantic. None of these endured, not least because - once the novelty had gone - the basics of a good-value dining package were often absent.
Presumably those who run the National Gallery - where Peyton has just launched the restaurant we review today - focussed on the 'visionary' aspect of his CV. Or did he just offer them more money than anyone else? This would help explain the ambitious prices now being charged at the place once called Crivelli's Garden (which - despite a revamp by the fabled David Collins - still feels like the gallery café as which it was conceived).
Mr Peyton's pitch to his prospective landlords seems also to have included putting an emphasis on native fare, and the determinedly British menu - in a vein similar to that at his nearby Inn the Park - does indeed read well.
The prices, however, tend to raise expectations to which the food does not generally measure up. One of the best dishes was a delicious smoked salmon starter with beetroot and orange. It is fortunate that its tastes were intense, however, as the fish came in just three tiny slivers. Similarly a sea bream main course was quite good, but - at £20, including spuds - what left the lasting impression was the daintiness of the serving. Other dishes - such as a dry pork belly main course and some quite nasty chips - were simply below par.
The National opened this restaurant to coincide with its 'Americans in Paris' show, which has been widely reviewed as a much-ado-about-nothing affair. A similar conclusion about the restaurant - with its elevated prices - is difficult to avoid.
Sainsbury Wing, Trafalgar Sq, London, WC2N 5DN
lunch noon - 5 pm, dinner till Wed 8.30 pm, all day Wed
Last orders: 5 pm, Fri 8.30 pm