Deep has a potentially excellent location at the smart Imperial Wharf development, though it doesn’t really have a river view. There is a window which looks on to the river at the narrow end of the dining room but bizarrely they have built up the two tables there so that they face inwards rather than outwards, and the screens block the view. This is a dreadful design choice, wasting the best feature of the location. The dining room is large and smart, with cream upholstery and bright lighting, with a glass wall down the long side (but a view here only of the next building and the pavement). On the far side of the dining room past the toilets is a large, smart bar, and the very large kitchen is in partial view from the dining room (though in this case only when you go to the bathroom).
The menu is of course almost all seafood, with half a dozen starters and main courses plus a few “market” selections like crab and oysters. The restaurant was completely deserted on this Wednesday evening: there were only two other diners other than us the whole time we were there, and indeed the other restaurants in this new development appeared entirely empty as we walked past them. It was like a smart ghost town this evening.
The meal started well with an amuse bouche of crayfish soup: this could perhaps have been more concentrated but nonetheless had good flavour and a few small pieces of fresh crayfish in the bowl (4/10). Bread is apparently made on the premises here: a crisp bread (the owners and chef are Scandinavian) a brown bread with Guinness and raisins, and a roll with fennel: some slightly odd flavour choices but the Guinness bread worked well enough (4/10). The wine list is pleasant, organised by grape variety and not too long; there are plenty of new World choices, and mark-ups are not excessive.
My smoked eel had very good taste, resting on a bed of leek and small pieces of potato supposedly flavoured with truffle oil, and topped with a poached egg that was covered in a light batter and deep fried: an odd sounding idea but it worked fine (4/10). A selection of five different herrings was very good, served with crisp bread and a little cheddar cheese on the side (4/10). Sadly the standard deteriorated from here. A slab of steamed halibut was cooked for too long and was somewhat dry, served with a few small prawns and a butter sauce with eggs and (restrained) horseradish. This also had some really poor new potatoes, grossly undercooked and hard (1/10). My John Dory was wrapped in Bayonne ham and served with a smear of (good) red wine sauce and correctly cooked new potatoes and a bed of reasonable if acidic choucroute. Unfortunately the fish was also seriously dried out and I sent it back. The fish came back a little less dry but the potatoes on the second attempt were undercooked (1/10).
For dessert a chocolate sorbet was tolerable but a “mango” sorbet clearly was actually mandarin, and lacked much flavour (1/10). My chocolate fondant was too hard on the outside and not liquid enough on the inside, topped with a few cherries (1/10). A shame since the meal started well, and I do feel sorry for them struggling away in this desolate spot. I can only hope this was an unusually quiet night. The kitchen looks big enough to feed an army, and a total of four covers is certainly not going to pay the rent.