Opposite Waterloo, an odd contemporary brasserie with an unusually wide-ranging – and rather confusing – ‘offer’; on our experience, we’d recommend it on its practical merits – perhaps as an obvious venue for supper before the neighbouring Old Vic, or if passing through the railway station – rather than as a destination in its own right.
From the name – and its co-ownership with the classically-Gallic Cheyne Walk Brasserie – it’s easy to assume that this open-all-day South Bank newcomer is some sort of straight-down-the-line brasserie, along the lines of the Left Bank’s Coupole, say, or Bayswater’s Café Anglais.
The moment you walk into these odd-but-interesting premises, however, it’s pretty clear that this is not the aim here. There are no Belle Epoque or Art Deco flourishes. This is a darkly furnished, low-lit, thoroughly contemporary interior (complete with lamps hanging just above the tables upon which is is not too difficult to bang your head), which is arguably trying a bit too hard to impress.
The menu is a mess. Sorry, let’s try that again. There are in fact five menus – including one for the bar, and one for breakfasts – and the one we saw was the lunch menu. And that was certainly a mess, including, as it did, details of breakfast (of which service stops at 11 on weekdays), as well as various sections – such as ‘snacks’ and ‘to share’ and ’45 Minute lunch’, as well as ‘Grill’, ‘viandes’ and ‘classiques’ – which are not obviously mutually exclusive, and which seem to come in no obvious logical order.
Given this starting point, our food was better than you might have expected, but it came very slowly for a ‘brasserie’ where you’d have thought speed was of the essence (and service was prone to prolonged disappearances). The cooking was by no means consistent however. We lunched here in a party of five, and the meal spanned everything from moderate highs to moderate lows, and everything in-between. The details hardly matter, but the upshot is that the place would seem a much safer recommendation for breakfast, a light lunch or pre-theatre, however, than it would for anything more.
If you choose carefully, this can be a pretty reasonably-priced destination too – the quick lunch for example, is just £9.99. But it might be wise – right at the beginning – to make clear the time at which you have to be on your way.