Fernando Peire (IVY - Restaurant Inspector!) this is a GIFT for one of your shows! And not too far from London for the whole crew to assemble. They simply can't be making any money on this restaurant and it must be an absolute gold mine given the location and the wealth of the area!
We should have known it was a doomed meal when we asked for Campari and soda and they couldn't find any campari! And it's an Italian Restaurant!!
The decor is unbelievably awful, gaudy and overcluttered and shabby and clearly once was fab in a 1970s sort of way. The only thing missing from the tables were those old chianti bottles dripping with candle wax!! The menu - really really worryingly too huge. But promised to be authentically Italian. And very expensive for a pub - but this pretends to be posh nosh. The location - oh it really is fantastic. The Lee drips with picturesque English hugely expensive houses, and the pub/restaurant itself could have a lovely garden. Again it reeks of past success, with a now disused large barbecue area.
Menu - my 12 year old son had a steak which cost nearly £20. It was good and cooked medium rare just as he liked it. But the red wine and mustard sauce was so strong it overpowered the food (he said I make it better at home.... wow!) Husband had overpriced, very disappointing seafood pasta. My mum had the sea bass, which was grilled (overlong) and arranged on the plate to match the decor - that's 1970s once again. Disappointing. I had the ONLY fresh pasta from the extensive list - black pasta with salmon and cream and dill. No they didn't make this pasta in their kitchen. There was probably a good mouthful of salmon in the whole dish, it looked pretty on the plate - but my portion of fresh pasta was less than half the size of my husband's packet stuff. Weird. And it was absolutely swimming in cream - so I had to abandon it halfway through because too sickly and my arteries were screaming NO!!!
But the owner - and the staff - were honest, straightforward and very nice really. When they asked if we'd liked our meal and I gave them a truthful answer about my dish they took the whole price of it off the bill which was a surprise.
The owner has been there at least 25 years, and some of his staff over 12 years. If they are prepared to seek help and invest in modernising, updating and simplifying their menu they still have the chance to make a fabulous success of this pub restaurant. The bar clearly has regular trade, with lower prices and a different menu they could encourage all these potential diners too! good luck to them - I'll eat there again when they've made the changes.
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