A friend booked this place for us to have a catch up and as it turned out he just bought his first house - so this became a celebration. I trawled through the TA reviews worried that we were in for a gamble. It was definitely worth it!
Atmosphere: it's dark woods and fairly moody but not glum. Think French bistro with tall ceilings and large windows with an entertaining view on to the street outside. For dinner this is all pretty atmospheric so I recommend a corner table near the window, which we did not have. It's not a deal breaker though.
The wine: I had a glass of the house Riesling which I thought was excellent for a white wine by the glass. It was honey coloured but balanced swaying between citrusy sharpness and smoothness. I wouldn't have a problem drinking a bottle of this over lunch with company. We later drank a bottle of Spanish red, the name of which escapes me. It had a black label with loads of red writing on it - hopefully that's apt enough to get to you find it! Equally delicious.
The food: I had thesteak tartare (starter) followed by a rare venison rump with roast vegetables and a side of purple broccoli and sauteed spinach. This was one of the best steak tartare's I've ever had. Seriously. Now it is not conventional but it was really delicious - my problem with steak tartare is that I end up seasoning a lot as it can be very bland. To oversimplify, this steak tartare was reminiscent of a well-seasoned bloody mary. I would definitely come back for this alone. The venison was really well cooked too and pretty hard to fault - except that I wanted more and perhaps that's a good sign.
Dessert was a little odd. I ordered affogato which usually arrives in two halves (coffee then ice cream separately). This however was not the case. It turned up in a bowl already combined which just doesn't make sense to me. The coffee is now cold and, to be honest, the experience of combining the two should be left to the customer to decide how much they want - plus it's fun.
Service: the staff here was pretty friendly - especially the Australian waitress who was all smiles and recommendations throughout. I can't fault them.
Price: so this seems to be where the reviews are split. Is it pricey? Do you get value for money? Pretentious? Maybe I am jaded but years of living in London tells me that the value here is about right. The food was cooked with skill, the wine list is thoughtful and does not go crazy with many bottles £20 and south of that and finally: the location. It's a stone's throw from Paddington station and within striking distance of other areas where the price of our mains would have been a starter. If you are looking for cheaper then you're looking for a chain and all that comes with that.
I would happily come back here again and look forward to it. I have recommended it to others too.
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