Regular readers may have picked up that we have a fondness for useful restaurants. Finding them, though, isn’t as simple as it might seem. Firstly, they should also be in a handy location. Secondly, they should offer food of dependable quality. Thirdly, they should be sensibly priced for those spending their own money.
Perhaps most importantly, however, they mustn’t be too obviously perfect. If that happens, then the restaurant may become popular – or, worse, fashionable – and a place at which you can never get a table isn’t particularly useful.
Today’s newcomer passes all the tests. Primarily, it has the right sort of convenient location: just behind Aquascutum, it’s equally handy for shopping lunches or pre-theatre.
The food here – essentially Japanese, but with a modest Euro-twist – is pretty good too, without in any way setting the world alight. A tempura lunch, for example, with rice and miso, was consistently good (with the seafood particularly well done). A cod ‘special’ was tasty if rather dry, but an un-Japanese ‘crème caramel’ pudding with tea-scented ice cream was impressive in both flavour and presentation.
Prices meet the criterion for value. At lunchtime, you can comfortably eat for £20 a head. In the downstairs restaurant, set menus kick off at £25.
Finally we have every confidence that there’s little danger of the place becoming fashionable. In spite of the fact that they seem to have spent quite a lot of money on fitting it out, it’s sadly – as so many Japanese restaurants are to Western eyes – an atmosphere-free zone. So, to clinch that big deal – of the amorous or the business variety – this is not the place. Tuck it away in the back of your mind, though, for when you want a decent West End bite that won’t break the bank.