A former Bayswater boozer, impressively – and surprisingly convincingly – made over as a smart Art Nouveau restaurant; our overall impression was pretty favourable, but we found the Gallic cooking enjoyable rather than anything more.
Thierry Thomasin – formerly manager of Aubergine in Chelsea – has made quite a splash with Angelus. And in Bayswater too, an area it’s tempting to describe as ‘unlikely’, but which – with such recent openings as Hereford Road and Le Café Anglais – seems to be becoming positively mainstream.
It’s still comes as rather a surprise to happen upon Angelus, in a little-trafficked street in the shadow of the Royal Lancaster Hotel, just north of the Park. (Formerly, the thoroughfare was known only to long-term supporters of Gallic local favourite Le Père Michel, opposite, which still seems to be doing good business.)
Entering for our dinner reservation, we were immediately struck by the discreetly buzzing atmosphere – not for nothing, it seemed, had Harpers quickly decided that this was one of the ‘cool’ openings of the year. We headed off into the comfortable bar, and glasses of champagne came quickly. Only the presence of the ladies’ loo at the far end of the room disturbed the harmony of our preprandial drink.
There was no pressure for us to take our table, but when we asked we were quickly ushered through – part of the seamless and professional service that, in the best sort of continental way, enveloped the whole dining experience. Once seated, we noted the large Art Nouveau-style mirror which dominates one wall. The décor generally is impressive – this (presumably) grotty former boozer has been convincingly made over into the sort of traditional dining room you imagine you might find in a sleepy quarter of, say, Brussels.
So, a place worth crossing town for then? Well, for the experience, perhaps, but we’d have to say our food failed to excite. The much written-about foie gras crème brûlée – neither sweet nor savoury – certainly didn’t do us for us. That’s not to say that the food was generally poor – a main course of pollack ‘n’ mash was thoroughly enjoyable, for example – just that it was the ‘weakest link’. We weren’t especially surprised when – the ultimate litmus test – neither of our two guests could bring themselves to say anything particularly positive about their food.
As already noted, though, there are plenty of consolations. The main one not mentioned above is a wine list which reflects the experience Monsieur Thomasin acquired in his time as sommelier at Le Gavroche.