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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I have a gripe. If your special opening offer of two courses for £10 has ended, don’t leave flyers on every table advertising it. At best, it is confusing, at worst well……….

I am getting ahead of myself.

I have a confession to make. This was my first visit to Bacchus. HP had been of course, many times. He was, I think one of the first through the door when they opened and one of the last before they began the refurbishment. But, I had never set foot in the place. In part because of my travel schedule but more that, quite frankly the thought of molecular gastronomy in Shoreditch scared the living bejesus out of me. When I heard they were giving up frippery and foams in favour of something more simple I thought it was the perfect time to pop my Bacchus cherry without fear of being suffocated by a waft of parmesan air.

I can’t tell you how much the room has changed from its previous incarnation, but can confirm that it now pushes all the necessary gastro pub buttons, with plump sofas, wooden floors and uncomfortable dining chairs. Unfortunately, it also has push button beer for those who are scared of taste and there is only one real ale pump, which the young German (?) server thought would have a barrel of Adnams attached to it one day. That day was not today.

The menu reads beautifully and is St John simple. That’s a double-edged sword because there is nowhere to hide as both ingredients and cooking have to be exemplary. Bacchus certainly has the first bit taped as, with the exception of some very ordinary bread, all the ingredients are obviously from the top drawer. It is a shame then that the cooking let it all down so badly.

A starter of duck livers on toast came not “seared” as advertised but cooked through until grey and, although the taste of the livers did its best to shine and worked well with excellent toast, it was swamped with too free a hand given to a vinegar dressing.
More liver for the main course and a simple sounding dish of “Calf’s Liver, bacon & onions” showed that while they know their grammar, they still need to do some homework in the kitchen. Again, the main ingredient was cooked through to school dinner toughness with none of the melting luxury of the best versions. The bacon was a large slab of excellent smoked pork, which would normally be a reason to do a little dance, but when it lacks any crunch, it is reduced to no more than a source of added fat.

If they were being unkind to their liver, I was being kind to mine and drank only mineral water and, skipping pudding, was presented with a bill of £22.75 + tip for service which was friendly and efficient if unhampered by other diners. It’s a fair price to pay, but as I read the flyer still trumpeting the special “two courses for £10” offer, I couldn’t help feeling that one of us had been had. I raised the question but was just told that the offer had finished. So there.

It’s a brave move to change a restaurant that amassed such affection for its food and its owners, particularly amongst the food blogging community. But, on this showing, I am afraid Bacchus has gone from being a quirky East London restaurant that people would cross the city to visit to being AN OTHER gastro pub that I would be hard pressed to find a reason to cross Hoxton Square for.

Ho Hum.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Just to clarify - the offer hasn't ended at all. It is a lunch offer and it very much still stands.

If you were informed differently then you have my apologies. We have a completely new FoH team and given that we opened last Tuesday some of them are perhaps still finding their feet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 10:31:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Thanks for clarifying, Philip.

The young man who served me yesterday, who was otherwise excellent, did tell me that the offer had finished when I questioned my bill, so you can see why I was confused.

Perhaps, if you wanted to bung a few quid in a charity box of your choice, we could call it quits?


Wednesday, August 20, 2008 10:43:00 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Absolutely - in fact, I'll go further and refund the whole meal as a contribution to charity. It was his 2nd shift but it's not an exuse for giving out incorrect information like that.

I hope you will venture back across Hoxton Square for another go in a few weeks once our new team has had the chance to settle in.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008 5:34:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

That seems more than fair. I'll definitely come and give things another whirl and I appreciate you taking the time to answer



Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:00:00 pm  

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