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Tom Ilic SW8
From the eponymous chef, a superior local bistro, on the same Battersea site that has seen off two very superior local bistros in recent years; while we enjoyed our visit, we left unsure whether the formula is strong enough to shake off the jinx.
Tom Ilic is a chef with a good following on Planet Critic, and that may have contributed to a conviction that he can succeed on a Battersea site that's already seen off two operations in recent times (and many more over the years). And neither of the two immediate predecessors was a slouch on the food front either: both the Stepping Stone and the Food Room were exemplary, so let's hope Ilic realises that - however good his cooking - he's got his work cut out here. This may be S'Only territory (only five minutes from Sloane Square, that is), but - even in a cab - it seemed quite a long five minutes to us.
So what might crack it? Well, food worth crossing bridges for, and we're not quite sure that this place makes it. That's not to say that our lunch (one Harden, one mega-travelled guest) found much specifically to fault. At lunchtime, the only choice, perhaps sensibly enough, was the set menu, which offers three choices at each of three courses (£14.95), so, between us, we were able to sample most of the menu. Bread - baked on the spot, apparently - was good, and one starter of smoked salmon and beetroot was much enjoyed. Another, of goat's cheese salad, suffered slightly from the inclusion of large croutons of almost plate-shattering resistance to the knife. A fish main course was good and generous (especially at the price) and veg were nicely cooked, but our guest did not particularly enjoy his scallops (generously portioned as they were). Puddings were nice enough, going-on a bit ordinary, and the coffee was likewise.
The wine list is sensible, and sensibly-priced, contributing to the feeling that this is a place we'd be pleased to have at the bottom of our street. And it will no doubt be a real boon to the S'Onlies. But good enough to shake off the jinx? Fingers crossed.
123 Queenstown Rd, London, SW8 3RH
Last orders: 10 pm