"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


One more expensive kiss-off
Who do you think I am

Many years ago Kingly Street in Soho used to be a quiet place untroubled by the hustle and bustle of nearby Regent and Carnaby Streets. There was a nice little boozer (The Clachan) where you could go for a decent pint and have a secret assignation (I was young, I was in love), an odd Korean restaurant where most of the menu was denied to me by the staff because “I wouldn’t like it” and a wine bar called Champers which is obviously still doing the biz given the number of punters packing it out daily.

Time moves on, things progress and in our increasingly hyper-commercial world such a void is not allowed to exist: business abhors an empty street. So now there is a Noodle bar, a Health club, a small mall, cocktail bars and on the site of what used to be a Strada Pizza joint is Dehesa the latest offering from the people behind the very successful Salt Yard in Goodge Street.

I haven’t visited The Salt Yard for a couple of years but what I do remember was adequate charcuterie – the cutting of the jamon was very inconsistent – but rather well cooked small plates of Spanish and Italian based food served up in an agreeable atmosphere.

Dehesa delivers more of the same (with the exception of the jamon which is cut very well here). All the cooked dishes I had were really rather good. Courgette Flowers stuffed with Monte Enebro cheese and Honey – a regular at SY – was present and correct. The sweet (honey), salty (cheese) and crispy (batter) components all working well together. Thick Lamb cutlets were cooked pink and were nice and juicy. Baby Squid had been char-grilled and came with a garlicky chickpea puree with a chilli hit. Salt Cod Croquettes were stuffed with a good proportion of fish although the fried breadcrumbed exterior did give me a little Findus moment and they weren’t as good as the Morcilla version at SY.

All fine and dandy, but - and it’s a big but - the pricing seems a bit greedy to me. That or the portions are too stingy. Take your pick. A dish coming in at £7.75 could hardly be described as a Tapa. Not in my world any way. This was most galling in a dish of Rabbit Leg stuffed with Pancetta and Sage. It’s a nice idea, it was well executed but it was hardly more than a couple of mouthfuls.

The list of bar snacks seem like pretty standard stuff until they turn up. Those £2.25 olives are some of the most expensive you will ever eat and when you have trouble finding your boquerones in the expanse of a small cazuela you know you’re in trouble.

Even at Moro you get some decent bread and olive oil thrown in. Here, nada.

I wanted to enjoy Dehesa I really did. The staff and owners are efficient and friendly, I liked the room and the food was tasty but I just felt I was part of a bean counting operation. Maybe our visits to the continent especially our recent stay in Munich where good food at a reasonable price is the norm has spoiled us for overpriced London. Maybe Paul Raymond/Crown Estates/Duke of Westminster or whoever owns this part of Soho could perhaps not charge ridiculous rents. Or maybe I just won’t eat at Dehesa again.

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Blogger Bombay Beauty said...

I've noticed you drink cappuccino after your meal. I must stop reading your blog immediately and exile you the planet Xorg for 10 years of penal servitude. But before you push off, thanks for the heads up. Wanted to try this place as well (DH, always ahead of me), but will save it for when the billfold is a thick. Cheers, BB

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 9:09:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Normally a double espresso but this time it was a cafe cortado.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008 9:59:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with your comments about this team's pricing - a recent light lunch for four at Salt Yard was £207; it was all pretty good, but I needed a snack on the way home - not really tapas-bar pricing.

Friday, January 25, 2008 12:04:00 pm  

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