This fifty seat gastropub is named after Sir Edward Codrington, who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar and was later made an admiral. It is situated between Sloane Square and South Kensington, and aims at a more ambitious culinary level than the old pub staple of scampi and chips. There is a bar at the front of the premises, and an L-shaped dining room at the back, with wooden floor and a few booths as well as seating along one wall opposite the kitchen. Prints of assorted fish line the wall with the tables, but there was also a picture of the HMS Queen Charlotte, the flagship of the Channel fleet in which Codrington served as a signal lieutenant and which saw action against the French.
The excellent wine list had 75 wines, starting at £15 and with an average price of £32. Mark-up levels were modest, especially for this area, averaging just 2.2 times retail price. There was a wide range on offer, from The War Horse Chenin Blanc 2009 at £21 for a wine that costs around £8 in the shops, through Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume 2009 at £30 for a wine that retails at £14, up to a nice selection of grander wines. Chateau Talbot 2003 was £75 compared to a retail price of £43, Sassacia was available in several vintages, with the 2001 vintage at £185 for a wine that you can find for £135, and Henschke Hill of Grace 1996 at £499 for a wine that will set you back £350 in the shops. We drank Lagrange 2000 at £90 compared to £66 in the shops, which struck me as a very fair mark-up. Bread was bought in from Millers in Wimbledon, and was pleasant enough. Still water was £3.25 a bottle, barely half the price of a bottle of Evian at Balcon (where I dined a few days earlier).
Salmon ceviche (£8.25) was a successful dish, the Loch Duart salmon marinated with lime juice, onion and a little jalapeno, the overall effect being refreshing, the lime providing just enough acidity to balance the salmon (14/20). This was a lot better than my starter of linguine with crab, garlic, parsley and chilli (£9.25). The crab flavour was present well enough and the parsley was not too strong, but the problem was the distinctly doughy pasta, which was not good at all; I didn’t bother finishing this (just about 11/20). Sea bass (£16.95) was served with mash, shrimp and spinach with lemon and parsley butter; this dish simply lacked flavour. There was not much seasoning, but I think the fish itself was just not of very high quality, although it was cooked correctly; the mash was also lacking in seasoning (12/20).
Chef Fred Smith (editor's note - Fred moved on in the summer of 2012) has an avowed interest in burgers, using a mix of chuck steak and the fatty outer cut of Black Angus cattle for the burgers here. The meat is supplied currently by two butchers, both called O'Shea. Butcher Jack O’Shea supplies The Fat Duck and others, while Darragh O'Shea runs the entirely separate O'Sheas of Knightsbridge, who supply Hedone, Goodman, Zafferano and others. The burger (£15) was the best dish of the night, neatly presented, and with very good quality meat. The cheese used on the cheeseburger was Cheddar, and the bun was supplied from Millers bakery. The burger was good, though for me the bun was rather tasteless, and the cheese rather mild, though this meant that the meat was the main flavour coming through, which is as it should be; the meat itself had excellent taste, and the burger was cooked to order. It wasn’t love at first bite, but it was a very good burger indeed (15/20). It was served with reasonably crisp hand-cut chips. On a second visit I tried two miniature burgers, one a take on the Big Mac, which was also good. The burgers here are up there with the best in London.
Apple and blackberry crumble (£5.75) was very good, the fruit sufficiently tart and above all the crumble having a regular, reasonably fine consistency, and being in sensible proportions relative to the fruit (14/20). Coffee was, not to put too fine a point on it, bad. Double espresso was served as a laughably small measure, barely covering the bottom of the cup, and was initially served almost cold. Normally I would whinge about the mean measure size, but in this case the coffee was sufficiently poor that the small measure was a mercy.
The bill came to £105 each, but this was unrepresentative because I splashed out on some good wine (hint to sommeliers: people spend more on wine when the list is fairly priced). With a normal bottle of wine, three courses would set you back around £55 per person. Service was friendly, and our Estonian waitress efficient. The dishes came out at rather a slow pace, but this was simply due to a packed dining room, with tables being turned even on this Monday night. Overall this was certainly a pleasant experience, though the cooking was rather uneven tonight.