On the former Chelsea site of Aubergine, a welcoming and elegantly-styled new Italian restaurant; the cooking, though, is tame.
Honey, we forgot the food! Are we imagining it, or is there a bit of a spate of restaurant at the moment which are very nice in every way’ except that the food is entirely unremarkable? The new Italian restaurant on the Chelsea site that was formerly called Aubergine (same ownership), would appear to be a classic example.
Our initial impressions were that the interior has been given a radical – but elegant and comfortable – make-over, of the type you might describe as being suitable for ‘civilised family parties’, and that the all-Italian service is utterly charming. These impressions only became stronger as the meal progressed.
Concerns that the food might not live up, however, started right at the beginning. We have a theory – doubtless we’ve shared it with you before if you read our reviews with any regularity – that you can usually tell everything you need to know about a restaurant from its bread. This was a classic example – the basket of brown and white breads which arrived was undistinguished in both taste and texture, and owed nothing obvious to Italy.
The meal which followed was not bad, but it was, pretty much all of a piece with the bread – not bad or unpleasant, but safe, standard and somewhat uninspired. The best dish was a pannacotta that was almost too generous. But it was too late by then. The feeling that this is a restaurant where they’d forgotten about the food was, by that point, inescapable.