I hate it when you build up a place in your mind and it doesn’t deliver. I’ve already review after review of how amazingly wonderful Mark Hix‘s Soho establishment is. From the oysters to the drinks menu to well, everything. Sadly, it didn’t work so much for me.
I went for a client lunch (one of the benefits of agency life), giddy at the prospect of not having to pay for what I was sure would be quite an expensive meal. Always nice. Service from the beginning was top-notch. Though it certainly wasn’t busy on a Monday lunch, the professionalism of the staff shone through. Pleasant, courteous and attentive. The rest (apart from one bright spot), was lacklustre.
We started out with the Asparagus Fondue (£4-ish per dish) and Oysters with Mini Sausages (£15.50 for 6):
It’s still a bit early in the season for asparagus, but this was fine all the same. Not mind-blowing, but good. The cheese was whipped with an asparagus cream that complimented the (slightly overcooked) stems nicely.
Oysters were lovely (apologies for the missing photo – the picture did not come out as I surreptitiously tried to take a photo from across the table), but as I’ve said before, I’m no expert. I just know I liked them more than the ones at The Warrington.
For my main, I went with Brookfield Farm Veal Dumpling with Snails (priced somewhere around the £19 mark):
Talk about false advertising. Instead of Veal Dumpling, the menu should have read, ‘Huge, giant, ball of salty minced cow’. Even for me, it was too much. What is generally lovely and tender about veal was completely absent. It was so dense, I had a hard time cutting it, let alone eating it. The cream sauce was so heavy with oil and butter, I could nearly hear my arteries clogging with each bite. I tried to dillute the salt with a side of potatoes, but even those were so soaked in butter, it pretty much made things worse.
In fact, all around the table, the feedback was similar. Apart from the Fish Fingers, which were apparently ‘awesome’, we all found our mains to be overly saturated with fat, overly salty and overall mediocre.
Dessert was a different story – and thank goodness for that. I had the ‘Credit Crunch’ Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce:
Dear lord, it was fantastic. Rich vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and crunchy bits of honeycomb. The chocolate sauce was just as amazing. Warm and supple, it melted the ice cream just enough for a lovely little vanilla cream pool to be left at the bottom of the cup as I finished it. Ben & Jerry’s should seriously consider doing something like this. They could call it ‘Honey(comb), I’m home!’
Although the experience ended on a sweet note, I just couldn’t help feeling completely disappointed. I didn’t get a chance to see the final bill, but I can’t imagine it being a cheap affair. Perhaps I just had a bad experience, but I’m not willing to pay out-of-pocket just to find out.