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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Somebody asked me the other day why I’d stopped posting as they hadn’t seen much by me on the blog of late. I said that I’d been busy and well, there just isn’t anything worth going to these days. They politely demurred. Surely there was a feast of new and soon-come openings, they said, especially in the Casa DH nabe: Brasserie Blanc, The Anthologist, Platform etc. Why, we’d never had it so good. I wasn’t convinced.

After eating out for so many years DH have a acquired a bit of a sixth sense when it comes to restaurants. We can sniff out a wrong un a mile off, usually without even having to visit. This, let’s call it spooky, ability rarely lets us down.

The job is made even easier for us these days, thanks to the deluge of emails we now receive from restaurant PR’s. They always describe their exciting new concept, usually wrapped up in an important mission statement. They’re only doing their job I suppose, but sometimes it’s easy to forget it’s a restaurant they’re promoting and not some UN Green initiative.

Platform’s press release contained an interesting looking menu and talk of unusual cuts of meat supplied from a farm in Devon (not sure why this last bit is necessarily a good thing) intrigued me. They could certainly talk the talk. But could they walk the walk? Despite a little voice that said no, I decided to give them a try. After yet another disappointing pint in the Market Porter (why is this pub is so popular?) I toddled the short distance to Platform, located on Tooley Street.

It’s a big place is Platform, cavernous in fact. But somehow the owners have managed to make it feel very non-descript apart from an incongruous giant mirror ball dominating the space. I was told the venue was formerly a strip joint and I idly wondered if the mirror ball was a relic of its grubby past. The menu seemed a bit prosaic. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that if the dishes transcend their description, but a tad disappointing.

A starter of Brawn and Piccalilli seemed promising. The pickle was nicely made with just the right amount of acidic bite. The Brawn (pork head meat in jelly) looked the part and had a pleasingly chunky texture (just like me. Form a queue ladies). Crucially though, it lacked both seasoning and taste. Unfortunately, adjusting the first didn’t compensate for the second. It desperately needed something: a bit of nutmeg probably, better meat, definitely. Charging £7 for such a small amount of brawn didn’t give me a lovely warm feeling either..

As mentioned previously, much had been made of the fact the restaurant would be butchering whole animals to come up with a variety of cuts. The reality was considerably less exciting (wait for it): topside; mince; chicken leg; pie-filling and - be still my beating heart - pork belly. I went for the latter because, well, I like Pork and I love belly. Combine the two and I’m in piggy heaven. This little piggy had obviously gone to piggy hell.

Given the fatty nature of the cut it would take some doing to make it dry. The kitchen at Platform managed that and as a bonus it was stringy as well. The crackling, an integral part of any pork belly, was dry and unappetising. The meat seemed of poor quality too. It didn’t taste of pork, or indeed any identifiable meat.

I could only manage one small bite of a dark puck masquerading as bubble and squeak. Traditionally, this is made from the leftovers (specifically veg from the Sunday roast) but restaurants shouldn’t be taking this literally no matter how sustainable they want to be. Applesauce lacked tartness and limp chips tasted as if they had been cooked by dipping them in warm oil for thirty seconds. I left most of it.

To be fair the waiter did offer a replacement but if a kitchen can’t get some pretty simple things right what confidence could I have in the alternatives? Exit visas were imminent and I got the bill.

Yes, I know, I know, the place had just opened but I’ve been to enough restaurants to distinguish between teething troubles and fundamental flaws. Platform, on my one albeit brief visit exhibited signs of the latter. The sad thing about all this is that it wasn’t totally unexpected but sometimes, just sometimes, It’s nice to be surprised.

Like the man said, there just isn’t anything worth going to these days.

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Anonymous Larry W. said...

Many of the things(all) you say are right about the state of restaurants in London .But, was it not always so too? Looking back over the many blogs of DH the reals gems of restaurants are very scarce indeed.And many of these have probably gone downhill since you were there, as staff changed/got bored/etc. But that never stopped you from "going where no man had gone before" in true Star Trek style.So, why the ennui now?Age?Are you missing H2? Maybe like Dr.Who you need a companion for your voyages to these restaurants. Why not advertise for one(it could be a different one for each place)you have lots of fans, am sure you would have loads of volunteers.You could start with a re-visit to some of yr previous "bests" to see how they are doing now.Some say the Anchor and Hope have gone downhill,for example.
Good Luck ,and Cheer up!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:24:00 am  
Blogger Kalyan Karmakar said...

Don't you feel a bit awkward when they invite you and then you come back and write as you saw it? Which you do. Must be happening to you quite often. I mean getting invited and not, hopefully, bad meals.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 10:41:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

@The Knife - Hi. To be very clear, neither of us ever accept an invitation from the restaurant. We always go under our own steam as it were and pay for our meals. Expensive and often frustrating, but honest



Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:18:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

@Larry W [ don't worry, I shall be home soon, for a while at least. So HP will have someone to be miserable with for a while

Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:20:00 pm  
Blogger Tina said...

Thanks for eating these meals so the rest of us don't have to! There is something profoundly depressing about a bad meal out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 5:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Dave said...

I know what you mean by being able to sniff out good places from bad. Crappy thing is, is when you get it wrong and the meal turns out to be naff and you want to scream. I just hate the thought of wasting not only money but an entire evening to boot. Although I have never had a meal as bad as the one you had at the platform ... Thankfully ...

Thursday, April 22, 2010 11:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

En route from usa stop at shannon and make your way to pakis in knemare and vaughans at the anchor in lehinch, ireland. Two stonking meals of taste, heart and soul.
Piers baker

Thursday, April 22, 2010 11:33:00 pm  
Blogger Alicia Foodycat said...

I'm also baffled by the popularity of the Market Porter. I'm quite a nice woman in my mid 30s, but at the Market Porter people take offence and try to rearrange my face. I avoid it now.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 8:00:00 pm  

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