Hidden-away in Bloomsbury, a gastropub venture from the people behind the well-regarded Princess of Shoreditch; it’s a potentially charming operation, but the first-floor dining room can get very noisy, and we found the food rather lacklustre.
If you wanted to impress a visitor with your knowledge of the capital, this accessible (just north of Gray’s Inn) but hidden-away back street boozer seems to have many of the right credentials. It’s a nicely understated sort of corner pub, tastefully got up in a way we like to think the Georgians might have done’ if only they had happened on the concept of the gastropub. As a sibling to the Princess of Shoreditch – one of the better-received gastroboozers of recent time – its foodie credentials are pretty enticing too.
Progressing to the first-floor dining room at the peak of the dinner service, however, the din was such as to overwhelm any other impression; it certainly made it difficult to see how the place could be regarded as the romantic destination as which it would otherwise seem to have potential. The noise did die away somewhat as service moved towards its end, but there was no getting away from the feeling that a certain charm that should have been present was persistently elusive.
Dishes tended to be more intricate in description than they were interesting in realisation, which contributed to the overall near-miss quality of our meal. Bread was a non-event, duck a bit dry, fish a fraction undercooked. Nothing was horribly wrong, but nothing – except perhaps the very pleasant service – really hit any sort of target.
We’d like to think we were unlucky on our visit, but on that basis it’s difficult on our experience to envisage this any more than a place worth trying if you’re in the neighbourhood. Shame. A princess deserves a sibling grander than this, Lady or not.