Hidden away in Shoreditch, a classy basement dining room (and cocktail bar) from Sir Terence Conran; solicitous staff help make it a charming destination, but the cuisine, while well realised, signally lacks ambition.
y the standards of Sir Terence Conran, this new Shoreditch dining room is quite wacky. Hidden-away in a basement, it is of necessity devoid of the views which have so often been a Conran trademark. Rather in the style of Bibendum – a Conran creation back in 1986, which also has little in the way of views – this seems to have inspired him to a richness of décor which, master of bland good taste that he is, he rarely seems to have displayed in the interim.
Deep below ground level, and approached via a very atmospheric cocktail bar, the dining room also benefits from what feels like a wonderfully get-away-from-it-all location, even though it is in fact just ten minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street. We liked it very much.
On entering the room, one immediately notices that there are a lot of staff. They are all very solicitous, and turn out to have been drawn from top-drawer London establishments. The other most immediate impression is of the large semi-open-plan kitchen.
On looking at the menu, however, it is not immediately what such a large kitchen is for, as the menu is notable for its lack of ambition. This feeling of mismatch between form and content only grew during our meal. The realisation grew that – although standards here are consistently high – you could enjoy many of the dishes on offer here in the sort of Gallic bistros where everything emerges from a kitchen the size of a phone box.
Eating here, then, is rather like receiving a spectacularly well wrapped gift… and then finding that relatively little effort had gone into the present itself. And the only possible reaction? Is that it?