15 Feb 2008

'Charm is more than just beauty...'

ANDREW EDMUNDS treats diners like Tetris blocks. They are dropped into the windowless basement, shoe-horned in the corridor, propped up at the bar, or even left on the pavement perched on creaking, slatted patio chairs. And most willingly surrender to this tube like treatment. Why? -Because most of the time, the tube works.
The food here is unceremoniously good, the wine list unexpectedly tolerant and the prices are fine. Above this, however the experience is authored. Somewhere, someone is almost illegibly scrawling a fresh menu every single day. They are taking time to point out the virtues of the sherry spectrum on blackboards, and making prominent mention of other off-piste stickies (Bertrand Rivesaltes '84, Coonawarra Botrytised Gewurztraminer...) under the list of puddings. They are offering decent (Pol Roger) Champagne at an effervescently cheerful by the glass price too.
In the kitchen, retro dishes like Duck a l'Orange are wittily rejuvenated, brilliantly becoming Duck a Blood Orange and Beetroot, with Snow Pea Shoot Salad. There are misses, too, tantalisingly talked-up, but in reality really poorly executed, like the Pistachio and White Chocolate Log, actually made with dark chocolate and lifelessly presented. An enquiry into that identity crisis received: "The Chef is Swedish".
Overall, however, despite being cramped into near claustrophobia, my feelings towards this Hogarthian setting are happy; in this unlovely city, a thoughtful approach has charm.
Andrew Edmunds - 46 Lexington Street, London. W1R 3LH
T. 020 7437 5708 (book upstairs)

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