We (partner & I) were looking forward to eating in this restaurant, having watched its makeover last year on TV. We had occasionally looked in the windows prior to the makeover, but were never tempted to go in as it looked a bit dark and dingy. So, first impressions were good as the room looked bright and fresh on arrival. The sole waitress greeted us and asked to take our coats, however before she could do so the head waiter (Marco) appeared through the front door and whisked her off to the back of the restaurant for a fairly intense looking discussion - our coats were never taken!
He then took over and explained the menu, brought bread and olives and the wine list. So far, so good. Marco was keen to tell us about the improvements they had made to the menu - smaller portions and prices, and also that he considered it to be a fine dining restaurant. Just a couple of tips here Marco, a head waiter in a fine dining restaurant does not usually greet customers with the expression "Hi, guys", nor do they generally wear sleeveless pullovers over a shirt - it looks unprofessional.
He then explained that the wine list was being overhauled but we could still order from the old list at the old prices, as the new prices would be higher. If that is the case I can't see many people ordering wine in the future as the wines on offer are already overpriced, the lowest price for a bottle of red being about £23 - way over the top! The bottle we ordered was around £26 - fairly nice wine but not worth over a 100% mark up.
On to the food. The scallop and aubergine starters were very small - the scallop one was described in the menu as arriving in a mixed fish chowder, it didn't. Three scallops were arranged around a little pile of fish bits in sauce - partner wasn't impressed.
Main courses were cod on puy lentils and pork belly with chorizo. Again, I had made the better choice, the cod was nicely cooked and the puy lentil base was tasty. Partner again not impressed by the pork belly - too fatty and sickly was his description. We didn't bother with desserts or coffee as we were eating prior to a theatre visit.
Another disconcerting feature of this restaurant is the constant disappearance of Marco into the tapas bar next door, leaving only one waiter in the main restaurant - luckily it wasn't full or that would have become a problem.
We noticed that most people (mainly couples) were using groupon vouchers - a good idea as the prices quoted on the menus are too high for the size and quality of the portions. A 10% service charge was automatically added to our bill - I was not happy and asked for it to be removed. We had intended to leave a tip but the presumption of it being added without our consent deterred us from doing so - very cheeky!
After leaving we had a quick look through the windows of the adjacent tapas bar, which was much busier than the "fine dining" restaurant. Igg has to decide if he really wants to put more time and effort into the main restaurant or cut his losses and combine the two spaces into one large tapas bar - that would make more sense! We will not be making a return visit, it was not a success on too many levels.
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