Damned in this column last October, the Mayfair offshoot of Rowley’s steakhouse closed a few months later. The site has now been taken over by multiple restaurateur Claudio Pulze. He came to public attention a dozen or so years ago for his involvement in A-Z Restaurants. (The ‘Z’ is Zafferano, still one of London’s better Italians. ‘A’ was Aubergine, then home to some hot shot new chef. Ramsay or something.)
When you’ve had as many sites as Mr P, it must be really difficult to overcome the ‘jelly mould’ effect. You snap up a distressed site just off Bond Street, and whaddya call it? Let’s name it after Rome’s ‘Bond Street’. Brilliant! And the interior? Well, what was there before was pretty shipshape so let’s just jazz it up with a few tastefully framed Italian posters. Bellissima! And staff? Well, Mr P knows lots of charming waiters, and some have been parachuted in here. A chef? We gotta chef. And so on. Everything falls effortlessly into place (or so it seems from the outside).
But why would you, the customer, actually seek the place out? Mayfair nowadays is not short of decent destinations to drop £120 for two. Is the food perfectly nice? Yes, but then it should be at the price, and a four-course lunch scored notable successes only for antipasti and dessert, both the pasta and the fish being bland. Well spaced? Yes. Comfortable? Check. Memorable? No. Impress your girl/boy? Probably not (unless very middle-aged of disposition). Impress your clients? Fine, but there are plenty of places round here offering more cachet, or more fun.
Perhaps we won’t be back in a year’s time to review another newcomer on this site. Perhaps, but we can’t really say we’re sure.