DRAPER'S ARMS: STITCHED UP
We have a code, a set of three rules that we rigorously follow when we post. Maybe, if you’re a blogger and you like the sound of our rules you can incorporate them into your own blog - cheques to the usual address - and use the logo (see photo #1) to show you’re one of us. Just to remind you: rule number one is never post without accompanying photos, rule number two is never post pictures without accompanying text.
Dos Hermanos visited The Draper’s Arms in London’s top borough, Islington, a couple of years ago and had an ok meal, memorable only for the fact that HS was the lensman that day but accidentally deleted the photos. Hence no post. I was very happy then when I heard that after being closed for a while its doors were open again. The new owner is Ben Maschler (yes relation) with a kitchen headed up by Karl Goward ex-St John, so you could have a fair stab at guessing what the menu would be like.
It didn’t really surprise on that front. Looking like an amalgam of Hereford Road and Great Queen Street, the menu felt a couple of choices short but as these are early days for the place it’s probably a sensible idea. I would expect, though, given the simplicity of the dishes – most of the starters are composed or pre-prepped – that the execution should be spot on. Expecting and getting though are two different things.
A poor pint of Harvey’s – not off, but flat as a pancake - and priced at a greedy £3.50 wasn’t a good start. Bread provided exercise for my jaw but nothing more.
Potted Pork with Pickled Prunes, in more apt hands, could have been very good, but from this kitchen was dull, mediocre. It was served too cold and the flavour wasn’t nearly porky enough. A dish like this should have you going wow with each bite and looking forward to the next forkful. Here, I just felt distracted, even a little sleepy.
I’m not sure I like the sound of pickled Prunes anyway, but I’m sure there’s good examples around. This version wasn’t it. They had a vicious kick of vinegar that just scraped the back of the throat instead of nicely cutting the fattiness of the pork.
My main course exhibited a similar slapdash approach as the starter. Ox Tongue was cooked ok but was a microscopically thin piece for eleven quid. Fried Potatoes was actually a potato that had been boiled with its skin on, sliced, then introduced to the frying pan for the briefest amount of time. Equally nasty and pointless, it was very poor treatment for the humble spud.
The Piccalilli, which appeared to be comprised mostly of cauliflower, had the same gullet-rasping quality as the Prunes pointing to a lack of maturation and attention to detail.
A little eaves-dropping whilst I waited for my pud meant I located the owners who seemed more concerned with gabbing about their plans than with dealing with the small matter of the service going on about them. I’d like to think this didn’t indicate an enterprise that is all about the moolah and zip about the food. But I can’t.
Unusually, for such a disappointing meal, I persevered with a pud. Lemon Posset would have been so much better without a layer of cream on top which neutered the taste and gave me indigestion. The Shortbread was good but smothered in too much sugar.
So there I was after a run of bad meals, getting my shit together and now my head just hurts again. At least they weren’t doing fat chips otherwise they would have had an exploding noggin on their hands.
Rule number three: if you are a new restaurant charging full price then be any good.