A large and spacious Bayswater operation, pitched half-way between brasserie and gastropub, offering good-quality food and notably pleasant service; a month after opening, the formula was still settling in, but we suspect they will get there in the end.
he major junction where Notting Hill indisputably becomes Bayswater has seen a lot of restaurant action in recent times. The first cross-street, Hereford Road, now houses not only a trendy restaurant of the same name, but also an ambitious Indian chain-prototype (Urban Turban), as well as the large new joint we review today.
This latest arrival has had slightly up-and-down reviews, but even the positive critiques have sometimes hinted that they found the formula a bit irritating, so we went fully prepared to be thoroughly irritated.
In vain. First of all, we found the service – as everyone else has – consistently friendly and helpful, which is always a good start. Then we noted the various indications that early-days criticisms were being actively addressed (which is something we can’t honestly say we notice that often). Hooks for the coats? Sorry, we’re in the process of sorting that out. Menu? It turns out that the lunchtime ‘offer’ – previously criticised for its pretentious style – has now been cut down to one that’s very short (arguably too short), simple and to the point.
The cooking is not very different from that which you might find in many a gastropub, which – especially at lunch – makes for a very good proposition indeed. Seafood is a bit of a speciality, so – before embarking on the set lunch menu (two courses for £13.50) – we kicked off with three very fresh rock oysters, nicely presented. Then, some very tasty deep-fried squid, followed by an excellent pork chop. The latter came on some broccoli with a Le Creuset pot of dauphinoise potatoes – a generous lunchtime dish. (They make quite a big deal of provenance here, and the meat came from the fashionable Ginger Pig butchery.)
Panna cotta or ice cream looked a bit dull, so we asked if we could go off-piste – or à la carte, anyway – for pudding. No problem, sir. A chocolate tart with nougat was very good, and it was accompanied by a decent espresso.
The operation may not quite be there yet, but we sense that there’s some momentum here, which might end up making this handsomely-furnished and spacious spot quite a destination.