Don’t be fooled. I’ll admit, the Subway on one side, dry cleaners on the other, doesn’t scream fine dining. The strange location belies what’s inside.
In a former life this place was a failed pizza parlour but the new version is a storming success. Nico Simeone is rightly proud of this new venture, so proud in fact, that his name is all over the place. We’ll forgive the slight megalomania given the food more than lived up to it.
The attraction was the 3-course menu for £20. In London you’d be lucky to get a drink and a half for that. Here you got three courses and a surprise amuse bouche.
This surprise was absolutely spectacular. It was, without doubt, the best bit of the meal. A simple mushroom velouté, it smelt like the forest and slipped down like cashmere. This sounds over the top, I realise, but I can’t sing this soup’s praises enough. I could have eaten a whole bowl and gone home happy. If only it were on the menu.
Starters were fine. Maybe slightly disappointing after the soup but almost anything would have been. Smoked ham hough arrived with mini cloche and smoke, a presentation a bit too fancy though it was a nice take on the Glaswegian fried sandwich.
Mains, the pork belly was delicious. It looked a little singed but there wasn’t a hint of bitterness from the charring and it tasted all the better for the lack of cloying, claggy fat which can ruin pork belly. Every element was the tastiest version of itself. The mushrooms, in particular, were exceptional.
Desserts were middle of the road. Having tried it, I think I can now say, I don’t think rhubarb, salted caramel and chocolate are a match and the parfait wasn’t creamy but crystalline. The flaming coffee crème brulée was a better choice.
Open kitchens are a double-edged sword. We came away leaving wafts of kitchen smells behind us but to see the dishes finished at the pass by the head chef himself is a real treat. Overall a lovely dinner complemented by friendly service and all at a steal of a price.