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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Much as I’d like to believe that the slew of restaurant openings in London will raise the bar by providing more competition à la New York I fear it has instead diluted a dining scene that is, despite what excitable pundits may tell you, not as wonderful as it likes to think it is. The result has been that sorting the wheat from the chaff has become increasingly difficult and very dispiriting, especially when one's own ackers are involved.

We’ve done a couple of posts in the past about St Pancras and its other restaurant and I assume this is the final piece in the refurb jigsaw: the opening of the hotel, the Renaissance run by Marriott and the Gilbert Scott restaurant run by Marcus Warering.

Dos Hermanos have a bit of a soft spot for St Pancras – it has played a recurring role in our lives, so we’re always interested in anything associated with what is undoubtedly one of the most interesting buildings in London.

First impressions were promising. Despite some uncertain service in the bar I managed to get a Dry Martini that wasn't a complete disaster although when it comes to stemware I'm so over the funny glasses shtick - give me the classic Martini glass every time and historical precedent be damned.

Eventually the smiley servers managed to locate us and guide us to our table. The room has a nice wow factor to it despite being yet another space by David Collins – surely the Paul Ross of restaurant design - maybe because it appeared more tasteful than the usual luxury hotel norm which always brings to mind Miles Kington’s phrase “The best taste that money can buy”. They've jammed in 120 covers though so expect a bit of buffeting if you have a table in the centre.

So great room and good service, both of which are the result of no little effort I assume. Shame then, that things went downhill when it came to the food.

The dishes have a nod towards their origin in their name but it’s all a bit forced and comes over as Heston-lite although mercifully there wasn’t all the tedious historical footnotes that you get with Mr B.

My Asparagus with poached egg, almonds and tarragon was a good idea in search of more accurate cooking. The asparagus tasted fine but were mockingly floppy (oh how they mocked) and the whole was rather greasy. A sprinkling of some sea salt might have perked things up as well. The egg was properly cooked though.

Soles in coffins was aptly named – dismal, if not funereal. Whether it was the freshness or this preparation of a delicate fish that was to blame the result was flesh that was too soft and broke up too easily. The vermouth sauce was gloopy; the taste of the shrimp and mace didn’t come through. Chips were fat and could have done with some colour but at least they were cooked through.

I did note there were a lot of choices on the menu so I just wonder whether those dishes that require better timing may suffer compared to those which are mostly about the pre-prep.

Of the puddings the best was a slightly chewy but tasty Eccles Cake with Ice Cream. Not up to St John standards but still pretty good. Mrs Beeton’s Snow eggs with Everton toffee, peanuts, burnt honey custard sounded more interesting than it tasted, which wasn’t of anything much really.

A Bakewell tart was declared "Exceedingly Good" but I think that was in an deeply ironic sense. Then again it's a dish from Derbyshire so what would someone from the wrong side of the Pennines know about it anyway. Bloody Lancastrians.

Now it could be I was just unlucky with my choices. Certainly, my dining companions (Fish Cake/ Jugged Steak, Mulligatawny/Pigeon in a Pot) seemed happy enough with their dishes. But as I get disappointed on a regular basis I do wonder if there are enough good chefs to go around especially as for a lot of them the slightest whiff of greasepaint and they're off before you can say "Red Tomatoes, Green Peppers". That’s fair enough - people have bills to pay - but what does that leave for Joe Diner?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Captain Mainwaring's back from his holidays then I take it?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've looked at this place several times, but it really doesn't tempt me. i find the whole trad named dishes thing a bit of an annoyance really.

maybe its just me, the dishes don't look very exciting at all.

Friday, June 03, 2011 8:57:00 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

I ate in the Bar this monday, and while I'll concede that I was impressively hungover it was a rather dispiriting experience.
The service was slapdash to the point of farce given how often there were 3 staff all with the backs to the room at the bar. The bar wine list came over rather odd as it was split between quite dull choices and a couple of oddly funky ones (Catherine et Pierre Breton Vouvray la Dilettane being a case in point, they're at the avant garde of the zero sulphur movement and are the kind of people you find in brawn, I quite like the wine but it doesn't half stick out from the safe choices with it's raised levels of volatile acidity, I really wonder how long it'll last as a menu item).
I thought the chips were on the not great side of ordinary, fluffy and crisp when they were good, but overall a bit tasteless, but they were a side to the rabbit and prawn pie that I ordered on the waitresses recommendation. A lovely gleaming crust gave way to a slightly meagre filling (£17 and I want quite an impressive pie, I'm thinking Hix's beef and oyster territory) that seemed to hark back to an era of needless austerity. Both rabbbit and prawns may well have been cheap accessible sources of protein but I was a long way from being convinced that they should ever have the misfortune to meet again.
That said the room was quite pretty, in a sort of posh porch like fashion....

Friday, June 03, 2011 9:45:00 am  
Blogger tori said...

Thanks for the vicarious visit. It's been on my list for a while- I've got a sweet spot for St Pancras as well

Friday, June 03, 2011 10:11:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Hi Anon 1, No idea what you actually mean but it sounds like you're a lover of shit food. Good for you and don't anyone sway you from your quest for the mediocre.



Saturday, June 04, 2011 7:29:00 pm  
Blogger Gastro1 said...

Can not complain about my Fish Cake and Jugged Steak - will make up my mind after 3rd visit.

Thought service once in the restaurant was very good.

Saturday, June 04, 2011 10:27:00 pm  
Blogger Alicia Foodycat said...

The pigeon (if that is the final symphony of brown) looks a little greasy too. You shouldn't be able to see the little lenses of fat on the surface in a photo!

There have been quite a few good reviews of GS. Do you think they are swayed by the pretty room and the blue eyed boy's name over the door?

Sunday, June 05, 2011 12:03:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

>>Can not complain about my Fish Cake and Jugged Steak - will make up my mind after 3rd visit.<<

You're a better man than I, Dino.


Monday, June 06, 2011 10:19:00 pm  

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