Adam Byatt is clearly not a man to give in easily. Having seen the failure of Thyme – the previous restaurant in which he was involved on this Covent garden site – he has now re-launched the dining room with new partners and a new name.
The new look of the long and thin dining room – on the first floor of a would-be trendy, but rather ‘corporate’ club-cum-media centre – includes the odd obligatory trendy touch, but the sober colour-scheme offers little distraction from the white-clothed table tops. So the focus here in on the food. Fortunately, nothing – from the quail with which I began to an excellent pear and panna cotta pudding – was less than lip-smackingly good, and I enjoyed a meal of real quality (with a couple of nice glasses of wine) for a whisker under £50.
Mr Byatt – whose first restaurant called Thyme was in fact in Clapham – is known as a London pioneer of serious dining, ‘grazing’-style. This approach – where individual small dishes are mixed and matched to taste – might seem commonplace nowadays, but you only have to go as far back as our 2003 guide to find it still regarded, not without suspicion, as something of a novelty.
I chose to ‘graze’, but almost all dishes at the new restaurant are priced for both small and large portions, so you can eat in more traditional style if you prefer. I had asked the waitress which way was better. Not my job to dictate, she said. I couldn’t argue with that.