UP ON THE HILL
PEOPLE NEVER STARE
I was travelling home on the tube doing my usual thousand-yard eye stare just zoning out after a hard days work when someone asked me if I was alright because I looked a bit out of it. I was tempted to ask the staff at the newly opened Scott’s the same question. My arrival was greeted by that same stare except in their case it was over my shoulder, presumably in case someone more important hove into view.
Scott’s is another offering from the Caprice group (Ivy, J Sheekey, Le Caprice) and is a refurb of the original Scott’s established over a hundred years ago. It’s located on Mount Street in an area so tony it makes Manhattan’s Upper East Side look like Upper Clapton. If you have the odd mill lying around you could probably afford a garage…with a short lease. In fitting with the surroundings the frontage of the restaurant is very classy as well with a doorman and everything. The lovely art deco theme is continued when you enter the room. I half expected to see a hair-slicked Larry or Johnny swan in arm-in-arm. Instead I got hedgehogs with their trout-pout girlfriends and the heady scent of money mixed with Botox.
After managing to getting the staff’s attention I was shown to a nice spot at the large central bar. There are some tables dotted around and a more formal space at the back but the bar is the place to be if you want to check out what’s going on. Although this was mostly meeting-and-greeting with lashings of air-kissing thrown in and a zero celebrity count.
Once seated I got a small pitcher of tap, some tough (as old boots) bread and a small tray with, bizarrely, pork scratchings (!), olives and nuts which I nibbled with a glass of chilled albarino while perusing the menu. And a very nice menu it is too. Mostly fish and shellfish based but with a smattering of meat dishes. It’s similar to, but larger than the one at J Sheekey's.
From a good selection of oysters I went for six natives accompanied by some spicy sausages. The sausages were ok but not particularly spicy, the natives were tip-top, as they usually are.
I decided to fit in a proper starter in the form of a double fried egg with some baby squid in a squid ink sauce. This was rather good: the egg perfectly cooked (not fried twice rather a double yolked egg fried er…once) the squid lightly cooked, fresh and clean-tasting, the sauce a winning amalgam of squid ink and olive oil. I like dishes like this a lot.
I resisted the temptation to fit in a portion of deep fried sprats and went straight to a main course of slip soles cooked in shrimp butter. A lovely dish that would have been even better if it wasn’t served directly after my starter. Instead of whipping it away there was some sort of bizarre fine dining standoff between the waiter, the man behind the bar and myself. Eventually, I offered to take it then. To be fair they did offer to cook me a fresh main but I didn’t want to send back a perfectly good dish. I also had some ordinary chips and a micro-dish of soggy greens. The slip soles were great though, all rich meaty flesh and sweet brown shrimps.
It seemed a shame to come all this way and not have a pud so I had a sloe gin jelly which with the sugar-frosted sloes on top was a nice finish to the the eating part of the meal. There was a bit more drinking to do though as I was comped a glass of dessert wine and then followed up with an excellent double espresso and grappa combo (well of course I did).
When eventually I hauled my body off my bar stool and out the door there was no farewell from the many staff - they were all far too busy. A complete contrast to St. Alban where the service was exceptionally friendly, even to a civilian like me. Still, an enjoyable evening recommended for good food but indifferent service (apart from the chap behind the bar who was very good).
To walk it all off I decided to go via Oxford Street to take in the 'world-famous’ Christmas lights. Oh dear. Back to reality and how.
PS Apologies to any residents of Upper Clapton for any offence I may have caused by comparing their lovely neighbourhood to the hellhole that is the UES