Is the restaurant god a Sloane? Chelsea’s three historic shrines to Sloanedom – Dan’s, Monkey’s and Foxtrot Oscar – have all been pillaged in recent years, and in each case the vengeance has been terrible.
Most obvious is Monkey’s, which became Tom’s Place, which quickly became Aikens’s ex-place when it was shut down for being too smelly. And then there’s Foxtrot Oscar, which was bought out by Gordon Ramsay, wrecked, and currently exists in a sort of limbo, neither fully closed nor fully open. And then there was Dan’s, which was relaunched first as one Italian restaurant, and has in short order been relaunched as the one we review today.
We wouldn’t, frankly, like to put too much money on the longevity of the new establishment either. That’s not to criticise the service, which tries very hard. Nor the setting, which is smart enough, if somewhat uninspired in the way that the somewhat cramped proportions of this former townhouse seems to dictate.
Our problem is with the food. The menu may read well enough – and the dishes are nice enough to look at – but we came away feeling that we had been subjected to some sort of trial by fat and salt.
The meal kicked off with a (too) generous plate of olives, and a deep-fried cod goujon, and a (rather subtle) bit of pizza, with very salty focaccia (plus a plainer bread alternative). By this point, you’ve probably already had your salt quota for the day, but it just goes on and on through such main courses as liver with potatoes and spinach, and (very good to taste) lamb chops. In the end, the result is just numbing. And then you order an assorted pudding plate to share, and find you’re in total cream and richness overload territory. Don’t they have any fruit in Italy?
It’s not that any of the dishes, on their own, weren’t perfectly fine, but someone here seems to have forgotten that the word restaurant comes from ‘restaurer’ – to make you feel better. We, on the other hand, went out into the Chelsea night feeling we had had some sort of liberation.