My partner and I were once again seduced by a Groupon deal that offered the tasting menu for half price. Now, there is always a suspicion that Groupon deals are more a triumph of marketing over value and that's what we felt in this case.
The tasting menu comprised 7 dishes, 2 of which were desserts. They were imaginative, often presenting complex flavours counterpointing one another in fancy formats such as jellies, mousses and purees. I was impressed for about the first 3 dishes until I realized that all dishes were going to be so small they were little more than glorified amuse bouches and that the chef was more concerned about packing the maximum number of culinary tricks into his dishes than delivering a coherent plate of food that satisfied as well as intrigued. In most cases, there was so much going on that as soon as you had prodded the fragile conconctions a few times with your cutlery than the magic turned into a puddle of flavours dissolving into one another.
As a meat eater, I was disappointed that only one dish contained any meat, the delightful roe deer cooked to perfection in juniper and cocoa, though the portion wouldn't have satisfied a toddler. The non-alcoholic cocktails amount to little more than a blend of 2 fruit juices and, at over £6 a piece were overpriced.
Service was competent though a little mechanical and not helped by serving staff whose English was fluent but, at times, buried in a heavy accent which, given the crowded and cramped dining room was very hard to decipher. To say there was nothing special about the ambience would be to confuse L'autre Pied with Ask or Bella Pasta either of which have buckets more character than L'autre pied. Our table was so hemmed in that we had to move it twice so as not to constrict our neighbours' ability to choose when to go to the toilet without our permission. My recollection of the restaurant is brown and of the food, grey.
So, you will guess we were somewhat disappointed. Had we not been aware that the service charge was discretionary, we might also have been angry as they had applied their 12.5% not just to the drinks and wine, not just to the £62 we paid Groupon, but to the undiscounted cost of the meal plus the extras, totaling around £18. Needless to say, we left a tenner and cut our losses which is what I advise anyone else to do rather than bring the evening down further by taking issue with the management.
All in all, a mildly interesting, mildly disappointing, mildly overpriced experience.
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