SEARCY'S @ THE BARBICAN
The Barbican is my favourite place in London to see films. The prices are cheap, the programming isn’t bad with a decent mix of art house and commercial stuff and best of all it doesn’t attract the popcorn munching crowds that plague the theatres of the West End and the Multiplexes. And in which other cinema would there be a sign encouraging you to take your drink with you into the auditorium ? Class. Or it would be if the bar wasn’t run by Searcy’s whose sole aim appears to be extract the maximum moolah from mug punters for the least outlay (although to be fair this criticism could probably be levelled at every other cinema chain).
But Searcy’s tentacles reach beyond mere serving out overpriced drinks to the Barbican-goers – they run all the restaurants there as well. Dos Hermanos had visited the main restaurant here a while ago and we found it suffered from ok-ish pre-prepped dishes and indifferent cooking. Now it’s had a relaunch and from the usual PR bollocks we are promised, well, the usual PR bollocks.
The room hasn’t changed – it still feels like eating in the Aeroflot lounge in pre-glasnost Moscow (or at least how I’d imagine it would feel). The staff still seem slightly surprised that someone’s actually come to eat there. The food, unfortunately, has slipped backwards.
The menu has obviously been constructed to push the right buttons: Air dried Beef Rump, Hare Pie (how could anyone not love the sound of Hare Pie), Market Fish Stew, Roast Leg of Lamb and so on. However, between the good (?) intentions of the dishes and their execution there’s a yawing gap.
That Air dried Beef Rump might have been really good but because it was served so cold I couldn’t taste anything. It wasn’t only the beef that was cold – the plate was too. I’m pretty disappointed that the kitchen was so overburdened that they couldn’t take the beef from the fridge and plonk it onto a room-temperature plate.
Hare Pie was listed as a dish for two but they were happy to cook an individual one for me. Good thing too as if I had to eat the bigger size I would have died of boredom long before finishing it. At first I thought it was ok – I could taste the hare – but then discovered there was very little else going on and it was, in fact, very dull. Add to the mix unpleasant shards of bones and a pie crust that wasn’t particularly crisp or flaky and you had a disappointing pie. Not massively important in the grand scheme of things but bloody annoying at £29 for three courses. Fat chips.
It was the Scrumpy bit in the description that drew me to the Cheesecake, but I overlooked the Savoury bit. The French waiter did warn me it had Kirsch. Odd but not necessarily a bad thing. What actually turned up though was a quiche. How I laughed. Neither cake nor chutney were very nice.
I could go on about the cynicism of operations of like Searcy’s but to be honest I can’t be bothered. Just don’t give them any of your hard-earned. Take a flask to the flicks and afterwards go five minutes down the road to Vinoteca and find out that there are operations with soul out there.