109 Commercial Street, London, England, E1 6BG, United Kingdom

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Editor's note. In August 2013 Luxe closed. It will be converted into a branch of Smiths of Smithfield.

The Luxe is just next to Spitalfield market, and is a large building with a bar on the ground floor, dining room on the first floor and private dining room above that. Like its sister Smiths of Smithfield, there is an emphasis on meat, though there are also fish and vegetarian dishes on offer. Starters are £5.50 - £12, main courses £13 - £28.50, vegetables £3.50 - £4.50 and desserts £4 - £7. The atmosphere was fairly boisterous, the noise levels amplified by the wooden floor. There is an open kitchen, and we noticed dishes waiting a surprising amount of time under a heat lamp at the pass, something some of our dishes later suffered from.

The wine list is fairly global in nature, and has plenty of choice in the £35 - £70 range. City types or passing rap stars can indulge in Cristal 2002 at £285 (retail price around £143), Gatekeeper Chardonnay 2006 was £39.50 for a wine that you can buy in the shops for a tenner, while Mountford Pinot Noir 2002 was £68 for a wine that costs around £23. The bread offered is slices of crusty country bread from Flourish Bakery in north London (13/20).

My mackerel salad turned out to be as good as any dish of the evening, the mackerel fresh, served with good watercress leaves and piccalilli (13/20). This was better than a rather disappointing wild mushroom tart and adequate tortellini, which were around the 12/20 level. As perhaps might be expected here, the pieces of meat were themselves good. I had a rump steak (23 days aged Devon beef, supplied by Steve Turton of Newton Abbot) that in itself was very good, properly cooked (comfortably 14/20 on its own) but was let down by lukewarm chips, so perhaps 12/20 overall. Similarly a piece of Old Spot gammon steak that I tasted was very good, but again let down by lukewarm vegetables.

For dessert, my strawberry trifle was let down by rather tasteless strawberries and a truly awful shortbread biscuit which appeared to lack butter or sugar: the effect, as my dining companion eloquently put it, was “like eating sand” (10/20). The service from our Latvian waitress was excellent; she is wasted here. The bill came to £91 a head, admittedly with some wine, but even so this seemed an awful lot of money for what was being delivered. I’ll stick to Hawksmoor or Goodman.


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