Noisette does its best in an awkward site

Saturday, July 29th , 2006

 rasa-maricham 2848 uttapam-crop-v2.JPG

An adventurous week, with two places I had not visited before. I tried Galvins, the bistro in Baker Street that has had adulatory reviews in the press for a year. I have to say that I was underwhelmed, with very pleasant bistro cooking e.g. fish soup, chicken with peas, that was hardly out of the ordinary, and at £60 a head with a modest wine scarcely a bargain. Perhaps it is suffering from one of the Galvin brothers putting his attention into Windows on the World.

I also went to Noisette, the new Gordon Ramsay opening in Sloane Street, featuring the chef from the Greenhouse who gained a Michelin star. We had a delightful evening with some charming American friends, and tried the “inspirational” tasting menu paired with wines, but I could really only give this 5/10 objectively; there were no real errors, and ingredients were good, but somehow nothing really lifted the cooking out of the ordinary. At prices only a smidgen less than Gordon Ramsay’s main restaurant, I am sceptical as to how well this place will do in this somewhat cursed location, the site of Pengelleys (where I reckon I may have been about the only person ever to eat there before it closed; it certainly felt like it the evening we went). Chef Bjorn van der Horst did at least provide entertainment by screaming obscenities at his kitchen staff for part of the evening; someone should point out to him that this is quite audible from the dining room. Perhaps his new association with Gordon Ramsay Holdings has encouraged him to adopt Gordon’s famously vivid vocabulary.

As well as the new places I had another fine meal at Zafferano, which for a decade has been the best Italian restaurant in London. The salad and pasta dishes here are truly superb. We also had another pleasant meal at Rasa Maricham (uttappam pictured), the branch of Rasa in the surreal location of the Holiday Inn Kings Cross, and also at the ever reliable Brilliant in Southall.