Another solo supper tonight. But, not for once because I am Johnny no mates. Rather that the poor unfortunate who is the subject of my new nascent relationship had to cancel this morning because of work. Ho hum.
All perfectly understandable in an “I am a lawyer and I have to draw up this dreadfully important contract” sort of way but disappointing because I had hoped to take her to supper at DINE which I had been wanting to try for some time.
Never mind, I am not one to be daunted so easily and I am perfectly happy to do the solo supper, so I called up and made my reservation for an earlier time and just for me and the redesigned Evening Standard “ Now with 10 % added Fascism”
I had not been to DINE for eighteen months since it was in its Tooks incarnation and I had heard lots of good things about it particularly from my dear chum, Marina.
Was she right? Well, like so many things, partly.
I was a bit early so stopped at one of those nasty Grays Inn pubs for a pint of decent Bombadier. The pub was called The Blue Anchor. I suspect that is rhyming slang about its clientele all of whom seemed to be being horrid to the bar staff. How very brave of them.
Then to DINE bang on time for my early reservation.
I was the only one there and, while you might then expect the service to be on the ball, it was unusually friendly and welcoming. Likewise, when one is dining alone, I often find I am ghettoised in a section of the restaurant that might as well have a large neon sign reading “BEWARE LEROPSY” Here, however, I had a lovely table near the front laid out just for lonely old moi.
The room did not really appear that different apart from a few tablecloths. But, then it is a long while since I have been.
I was immediately offered water ( I went for tap which was brough with ice and lemon) and some excellent Polaine sourdough was delivered too with some not so excellent, rock hard, butter.
The menu is limited but, unlike some recent experiences ( The Food Room and The Ambassador being a case in point ) real thought seems to have been given to the provenance of what was offered ( the bread being a good example ) What they seem to be doing here is having few ingredients which appear often on the menu but choosing the very best they can. So peas and morels make more than one showing. Fine by me if they are any good.
There were plenty of seasonal ingredients on the menu too. I am sometimes a little wary of the “seasonal” word as I think it is a mantra that is dished out often to hide a less than able kitchen. That is not the case here.
after some slightly perfunctory amuse, I began with a soft boiled egg with English peas, asparagus and roasted sobrossada(sp?). I had to ask about that. A chorizo from Majorca, apparently. Here it was roasted, chopped and served on, the bread. The egg was a tad overcooked but tasted delicious. The peas and the asparagus had a crunch to them as they should . On the whole, a very light and enjoyable dish to begin and it worked well with a glass of Picpoul.
For my main course, despite the presence of belly pork, I went for Cornish turbot with, yep, English peas, roast marrow bone and roast onions. I was less convinced with this course. The reduction that came with it was the wrong side of fierce and the marrow bone, while always welcome to see, did nothing. The turbot itself was a good chunk and perfectly cooked. That’s what I meant about an able kitchen.
I ordered a glass of White Burgundy with this. It did not really stand up to the saucing.
For pudding, a lemon soufflé. Perfectly made but served just on its own where I think it would have benefited from the counterpoint of a biscuit of some sort.
I gave tea a miss and asked for the bill which, with tip, came to a rather heavy £43.
There are many plus points about DINE. The cooking is more than competent even if there are no fireworks. The service (admittedly not under pressure as there were only two other couples in there during my time ) was engaging. The menu showed signs of intelligent composition and the room is light and airy.
However, there are some downsides. £25 for two courses and £30 for three is on the steep side for what is on offer. Wines by the glass while well priced are because they are small pours. I also think, if they are going for a higher end schtick ( which they are as they aced the napkin test ), they should bring the bottle to the table to pour the wine not bring a glass of wine to the table already poured.
Most of all though, one of Dos Hermanos greatest bugbears. Music in restaurants. I don’t mind some, while HP detests it. Here though, it was just plain weird. As they have a bar area, they felt obliged to play music which, while not over loud, was beamed in direct from Planet Bizzare. It veered from what the young folks call, Kicking House ( I, er believe ) to the smooth stylings of AN Other R& B singer to, and I am not kidding, The Dead Kennedy’s California Uber Alles. I always find that helps a meal settle ever so well.
Despite the minus points, I can certainly see myself coming here again. Perhaps next time though, with something/one more fun than The Evening Standard.