We came here because we wanted to have some semblance of socialisation with a friend, and it being in the City, it was available on the week-end. I had never been to this restaurant, but I was intrigued to see the building (1 Poultry) from inside.
It started with a bit of confusion: our “designated” table had two chairs, but it was three of us. I was wondering if we were to play musical chairs, as the music was quite prominently in our face, but the waiter came with another chair… without cushion or fluffy comfortable padding like the other chairs had, just a bare wire chair. And they looked to the chair as if it was obvious what I should do with it… and what I did was (politely) ask for cushions and padding. Then they were confused as to how to accommodate my request, even as I looked around, at all the other empty chairs with cushions and blankets, trying to send them telepathic cues. Eventually, after some brief exchanges with their superior, a cushion and a blanket were taken from another chair, and I could place my noble parts on the now padded chair.
Then, a surprise: the menu was a brunch menu! Mind you, it was 13:30 already. I think it’s well past the “brunch” time, but OK. It was a set menu too. And the options were as old-fashioned as the music was.
But before I talk to you about the options, let me talk about the music, because it was quite a presence.
In theory, there was a DJ playing “live music” during the brunch, but I never saw such a thing. What I noticed is that from time to time the music was “going away”, in the same style of brokenness you get when either the cables are not making a proper contact, or when your mixing table faders are dirty and don’t make proper contact. In any case: not a good impression.
It was also quite disturbing, because you were in the middle of trying to have a conversation, while straining your vocal chords in a way that has not been necessary in the last year (i.e. shouting), and all of a sudden, the music volume would fade to a precarious level, and before we could ask each other what was going on (“is it me or the music is getting very quiet?”), the damn horror would be blasting back at full volume.
And what horrors! It was like as if someone found the “NOW! THAT’S WHAT I CALL HOUSE MUSIC 2005” CD behind the bar, and thought it’d be a good luck omen for the Big Reopening.
Given the abundance of young people in the other tables, I suppose if you weren’t even in school yet in 2005, this could feel extremely hip, ironic and vintage Ibiza, but to me it just felt as if the mediocrest things of the last decade were trying really hard to come back and be fashionable again.
And unfortunately, this included the menu, which was like an old-fashioned pub trying to do “gastropub à la French”, and not quite achieving. I really, really struggled to find a combination of interesting starter and mains that did not include eggs in both dishes, as I did not want to eat five eggs in a single sitting.
So I settled with a starter of eggs benedict, with the argument that I could make myself an avocado toast at home but it was a bit more unlikely that I’d cook the hollandaise sauce at home:
The muffins underneath were so dry and hard to cut into—I had to apply considerable force to get the knife to do something. The salmon was ok (not too dry, but not too tasty either), and frankly I could have done without it. Then the cutlery kept not resting on the sides of the dish and threatening to fall on my lap, which was quite disturbing. The eggs were nicely cooked though; they seemed like Burfords Brown eggs; very intensely orange. That was the only good thing about this dish.
While we ate this, the waiter kept walking behind me, and their ballpen, which was in their trouser pocket, fell three times as it caught on a blanket on the chair behind me. Said ballpen kept landing under my feet or nearby, which was quite disturbing as well, as the waiter would then kneel to pick something under my feet. At some point another waiter decided to stand to my left, to explain something to the table on my left, and each time they bent to point at things in the menu, the antenna for their walkie-talkie would tickle my back and startle me. Which was, again, deeply disturbing.
Then came the mains. After all my careful calculations, they ran out of the option that I selected for my main, so I ended having the same as everyone in our table: sausage and mash.
This was described as a fancy “Artisanal Saucisse de Diot with creamy potato mash and red wine sauce”, but it was “sausage and mash with the saltiest gravy from a stock cube” for all intents and purposes. The sausages were also hard to cut into; the potato mash was the nicest bit of this dish.
For the dessert, I had the strawberries, because I could not fathom the idea of more cooked creations.
This was the most enjoyable bit of the lunch.
That, and when each of the tables of loud, cackling people would leave, and the decibels would reduce (minimally).
I don’t think I’ll ever come back to this place, so here are my final comments:
The drinks list was also so uninspired. There were a few uninteresting wines and beers on a list where the mark-up made your eyes bleed sad tears of outrage. In keeping with the old-fashioned style, there were no attractive non-alcoholic options in display, and the waiter was also not very collaborative in discussing options to concoct a nice mocktail drink for our pregnant friend. At the end, she ended up having a plain elderflower tonic from Fever Tree. I mean, fine, but things have moved on from the “pregnant ladies will have a lemonade” era.
I was also quite unimpressed with their covid arrangements. There was a lot of theatre when you came in: a thermometer for guests, lots of hand sanitisers welcoming you, signs asking “only one party” to use the lift…
But then you were given paper menus that someone had already touched, and which were taken away from you to reuse again. The tables were also quite close to each other. And having loud music is like the literal worst idea you can come up with if you want to prevent people from projecting their virus loaded particles all around themselves and into the menus. Seriously, what were they thinking?
Other restaurants have taken advantage of the new situation to modernise: offering digital, QR-code accessible menus, paying online, etc. This one is so very stuck in 2005. And the menu had typos! Bah!
I’m not even going to bother adding the website address. You know how to find it if you’re so inclined 😝
I never imagined I’d say this, but the Bank junction felt so peaceful!