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.