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

Friday, September 04, 2009


HS was talking about his favourite foodie experiences the other day which got me thinking about mine. Well, there’s the obvious ones: supping the Perfect Pint in a good pub; standing at a bar in Madrid quaffing Mahou, eating silky slices of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and crunching pert little Gambas. Stuffing my face with Haddock and Chips in front of the TV with my Dad is up there as well. All pretty standard stuff.

Most of all, though I spend my Summers looking forward to the start of the Oyster season. God, I love Oysters, especially the Native variety which, for me are one of the great foodstuffs of the UK. Between September and April, on most Saturdays, you’ll find me knocking back a dozen, sometimes more, of the delicious Ostrea edulis in Bentley's or wherever there’s a spare seat at an Oyster bar. What a shame then that my experience at the newly opened Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar was so mediocre and disappointing.

Located in the old Lloyd’s Bank building in Cornhill this should have been the setting for a magnificent seafood-fest – think great piles of Shellfish, chilled crisp White Wines and acres of napery. But the owners have somehow conspired to make it feel lacklustre and corporate and more on a par with the neighbouring Green Door where I endured a dire meal just over a year ago. A large bar area could have been a Wetherspoons (which incidentally specialises in converting old banks to pubs) and the restaurant, where I ate, felt more akin to an airport lounge, albeit a Club Class one.

Although DH weren’t knocked out by either of his recent openings, Terence Conran, to give him his due, would have made a lot more of the big space, and I dare say have produced better food. This was the restaurant’s opening day but the problems seemed more fundamental than first night nerves.

I was hoping a stiff £2.50 cover charge might have brought a little more than the dull reheated bread rolls, last seen doing sterling service at cheapo hotel buffets the World over, but no luck. Small things matter, you see, because they contribute to the whole.

I had even less luck with the Oysters. After much too-ing and fro-ing it turned out they’d run out of one of the two Native varieties they’d had. “We had an Oyster competition yesterday” explained my waitress to which there really was no answer. Ditto, the reason my White Wine was lukewarm – their fridge was not big enough. Hard to argue with such cast iron logic - it was like having a debate with John Stuart Mill.

I must have been inadvertently wearing my disgusted of Tunbridge Wells face because the FOH decided to comp the Oysters which was a nice but somewhat OTT gesture. Unhappily for all parties concerned the Oysters, when they did turn up, weren’t worth the wait.

I’m used to seeing my Oysters opened in front of me and I’m always a tad suspicious when they aren’t. Now, call me paranoid, but these specimens seemed odd. They weren’t off – I’m still standing – but they seemed to lack any of the Oyster liquid you’d normally get. The flavour wasn’t great either which I would put down to the earliness of the season. But would it have hurt them to present the Oysters in classic fashion on a nice large tray rather than cram them into a bowl ? You’d never get old Tel treating the poor bivalves like this.

Never mind Sir Terence though, even a cack-handed old fool like me could make a better stab at cooking the piece of Wild Halibut that truly did passeth all understanding. After unsustainable fishing, not paying due care and attention to a good piece of fish is a big no-no for me and the reason I don’t order fish more often in restaurants. The steak hadn’t been overcooked but had been left under the pass to desiccate.

Hollandaise had been pre-prepped, portioned and left to go cold. Chips were sent back for a second frying but were still fat and nasty. In an empty dining room with no pressure this was poor cooking by any standards.

I noted last year how dire the majority of restaurants in the Square Mile are, but given the (slow) rise in standards elsewhere in the capital I had hoped that this would somehow rub off. It seems though that a combination of greedy restaurateurs, expense account dinners and indifferent diners has meant that nothing much has changed. Mark this down as yet another lousy City rip-off.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Heard about this place opening and was really hoping it would be good - doesn't sound like it is worth the visit though

Friday, September 04, 2009 10:00:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try 'The Runner' downstairs. Great value and atmosphere...

Friday, September 04, 2009 4:21:00 pm  
Blogger Foodie said...

Not sure what these guys are about as I had a great experience on food and service. Try the Crab salad (to die for).
Bar in the evening superb.
All this was on Thursday.

Saturday, September 05, 2009 11:21:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

If I was being cynical, I just might think this was a shill. However, as I am in a good mood, just let me say that our heart soars for your positive experience. Please just promise not to say "to die for" if you post again, it is the real giveaway

Saturday, September 05, 2009 12:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went on Thursday and thought it was terrific! Food was great, service was very good, surroudings were lovely (also great veiws of the city from the resturant!) I loved the bar downstairs - will definately be visiting again very soon!

Saturday, September 05, 2009 12:36:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Christ on a bike. If you are going to shill Greens, don't do it from the Greens isp address. That's one I definitely might have to use in a column somewhere


Saturday, September 05, 2009 12:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed Christ on a Bike!! The last time i looked my isp address was with Sky not Green's..... unless Sky is a front for Green's? But who am i to to dare challenge a food critic, and have my own opinion on great food.

Saturday, September 05, 2009 2:45:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

You can have what ever opinion on food you like, great or not. I was merely commenting on the fact that a comment was posted from an ISP labeled GREENS at exactly the same time as yours. Perhaps they deleted it But, who am I to dare challenge a computer expert?


Saturday, September 05, 2009 2:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Bapi said...

Thank you both for that. I am chuckling away merrily.

DH do you do awards for Muppetry?

Saturday, September 05, 2009 6:33:00 pm  
Blogger Chris Pople said...

Haha talk about digging your own hole.

Saturday, September 05, 2009 6:49:00 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

dinner there last night (Thursday) and was very disappointed .... place was almost empty with no atmosphere , poor service and a dire , uninspiring main course selection , 3 veggie dishes out of 9 .... Lasagne of brie and spiced grapes or mushrooms and courgette wrappred in cabbage with cherry tomato sauce or bubble and squeak as a main course anyone ??
They managed not to bring the red wine until we had finished our main courses despite us being virtually the only customers. Haddock 'Parker Bowles' was nothing more than a plain piece of smoked haddock with mash and a poached egg ... very underwhelming.
All in all an expensive disappointment all round

Friday, September 11, 2009 2:22:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Hi Lindsay,

You see, people say DH visit restaurants too early in their life.

In fact aside from when there may be a few service issues (which we always take into account) we know that most London restaurants are unlikely to improve over time.

If they're not already poor they will tend towards that state eventually.

There are exceptions of course but these are few and far between and DH will point them out.


Friday, September 11, 2009 3:17:00 pm  

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