Well this place had been on my radar for awhile and I was keen to go with a client of my day job who had invited me to lunch. The client is shortly to open his own place not dissimilar in style albeit a bit smaller.
Well it is firstly in an area of London that I am not overly familiar with as venturing into the city quarters is something I do not do too often. As I arrived I was slightly early so had a quick wander around the other shops and eateries in the complex.. it was a revelation as there was certainly much to offer.
My client’s text informed me he was awaiting my arrival at the bar and a glass of something bubbly was awaiting me… be churlish of me not get my skates on then. Bread Street Kitchen is a property that has been the development of Gordon Ramsey Holdings… not my favourite chef patron but I guess one has to admire his achievements.
It is a cavernous place with a real noisy buzz. In fact that for me is one of it’s drawbacks. The noise was incessant and added to this the background music was too loud and only added to it. The urban chic decor of open to view ducting and the use of many angle poised lamps and sections of banquette seating tries to break up the large space. An open to view kitchen with chefs beavering away all adds to the somewhat frenetic atmosphere…
Whenever one eats out there is much to be learnt, both good and bad. I garnered much from this visit. The menu firstly is well laid out with a good array of dishes that seemed to showcase no one particular style but provide a little something for all. It was however not totally seasonal.
We chose our respective starters of a pressed Goosenargh chicken and foie gras terrine that came served with an onion chutney and a brioche roll. Presentation was simple and constrained with no fussy garnishing… something I am all in favour of.. My starter was the potted salt beef with grain mustard, piccalilli and buckwheat crackers.
This was a very clever dish when you looked at it more in depth… considering the place could possibly do some 300 plus covers over a lunchtime period you need some dishes that are quick and easy to prepare and then just assemble.
This was one such dish… the salted beef had been shredded and when mixed with some grain mustard mayonnaise, just enough to bind it all and then placed in a ring mould to make it neater and then a dollop of piccalilli on the plate with some crisp buckwheat biscuits flavoured with caraway seeds finished it all off. All component parts bought together quickly and I am sure if all “en place” efficiently.
Next we both went for what is described on the menu as Wood Stone dishes. These are dishes that are finished or cooked with a wood fired oven.. very much a cooking process in vogue and up to the minute! A pork collar described as mustard glazed was melt in the mouth with an unctuous sauce and creamy smooth mound of mashed potato. It was well balanced and the smoke flavoured bacon of the pork was very good.
My choice was the braised neck of lamb, garnished with some polenta chips and a drizzle of gremolata. Again melt in the mouth tender meat was well balanced with the crispy polenta chips that had a lovely hint of cheese and rosemary. Overall a well constructed dish…
Extras with this were Minted Jersey Royals, now out of season, Spring Greens with anchovies and lemon was fresh and zingy and then a bowl of coleslaw with red onion brought it all together. To complete the meal we then shared a chocolate tart with a ball of salted caramel ice cream and some crumbled honeycomb… sublime and perfectly executed…
So all in all could not fault the food (apart from some less than seasonal ingredients) but it was however the service for me that let it down and failed to deliver the total package. Much effort is put into the place – it is rumoured the place cost £3 million to open and it exudes class but for me it falls short in delivering the right level of service to match it all.
When I arrived the welcome was OK nothing more than that… it could have been allot more engaging. Bar service was OK, the service at our table was average and no check backs made and wine service was also not much cop, a wine waiter that spoke limited and difficult to understand English and along with the high level of decibel background noise was not overall particularly conducive.
This lack of attention to detail in service meant we were left wanting and no attempt to up-sell and then on departure apart from a young waitress who had not even served us there was no acknowledgement of our departure and nobody of seniority on hand to check we had been looked after well. In fact I felt we had been just another bunch of customers who did not matter.
This may sound harsh but the place is frenetic and staffing levels possibly insufficient or structured well and correctly trained to ensure the right level of service is delivered. It is possible just see my review for Pollen Street Social. The clients place opens soon and I am sure you will see a review here… I am sure they will have learnt lessons from this as much as I have.