This is the second of two Continental-style steak-houses to open in Marylebone in recent months. Both offer essentially the same fixed menu – salad, steak ‘n’ chips – and both make a big deal of their respective secret sauces. The first to open (Relais de Venise) was praised in this column, but has subsequently been slated by most other critics. If popularity is anything to go by, however, the punters are with us.
Part of de Venise’s success is no doubt due to the fact that it is an authentic – and so far one-off – replica of the Parisian original, and comes complete with a good dose of joie de vivre. This newcomer, however – an offshoot of an outfit from Geneva, and with outlets in Lisbon and Dubai – just seems like an authentic replica of uninspired restaurants everywhere. If they didn’t just inherit the interior here, the person who designed it – in a style 20 years out of date – should be shot.
The food does little to raise the spirits. The salad – marginally better than at de Venise – lost its advantage by being served up with dull bread. Steak/frites were a pretty much total disappointment. It does not help that your dinner plate arrives with the chips already on board – a school-diners style of service that has no place in even the humblest bistro. That special sauce – which had separated – seemed to add little to a pretty pallid bit of beef. If you try this place, we’d certainly recommend a good dose of Dijon to spice it up. A crème brûlée was pleasant enough, but we left our coffee undrunk.
Service – presided over by a man with a wonderfully lugubrious moustache – is something of a saving grace. Whether it will be a sufficient saving grace, however, we somehow doubt.