The Eight Over Eight dining room has good natural light on a summer evening, though with the wooden floor noise levels are high when it is busy, which it always seems to be. The place was heaving with the gilded youth of Chelsea this evening, with the bar completely full as well as the dining room, and tables being turned.
Seared tuna (£11) was nice enough if rather ungenerous in size (3/10), while spicy tuna roll (£8.50) had a pleasant spicy kick (3/10). Prawn and chive dumplings (£7.50) were rather heavy in texture, and lacked much prawn flavour (1/10). Crab tempura avoided greasiness, but the tempura batter was rather clumsy and would not pass muster in Japan (2/10). Mushroom toban yaki (£16.50) had nine different mushrooms cooked together in a spicy broth, and this quite simple dish was fine, though the broth was a little sharp (2/10). Prawn pad Thai (£11) had good texture and correctly cooked prawns (3/10), which was better than Malaysian noodles (£4.50) which were rather heavy in texture (2/10). A chocolate fondant was carefully made, with an enjoyable rich liquid centre (4/10).
Service was friendly, though a little pushy on the upselling. The bill quickly mounts up as you add the various little dishes, and with a bottle of champagne (£63) between us the total came to £83 a head, which felt like quite a lot of money for the food level that was delivered. Clearly the local market sees it differently, as the place was buzzing.
Below are brief notes from a rather better 2006 meal.
This is a virtual carbon copy of E&O, down to the exact décor and even the layout of the bar and dining room. The clientele is also indistinguishable from E&O, with lots of pretty young things in their 20s and 30s, who looks as if they all work in film, TV or advertising. The food also manages to be similarly trendy. We had prawn and chive dim sum, which have excellent filling though the casing is rather heavier than the feather-light version at Yauatcha (3/10). Soft shell crab tempura was perhaps the best dish of the evening, which avoided even a hint of greasiness, which in fact puts it ahead of even very good Chinese restaurants (5/10).
Kim chi rolls were very spicy (2/10) while seared tuna was capably executed and the tuna of decent quality (3/10). Black cod was less good than at Nobu but nonetheless still had quite silky texture (3/10). Monkfish curry and pad Thai were the Thai dishes, and though the curry spicing was less accurate than at Patara this was still pleasant (2/10) while the noodles had good texture (2/10). A chocolate fondant dessert was not from the top drawer but still had a pleasant liquid centre (3/10).