I really liked the Ape and Bird. Wasn't sure at first - the Marquis used to be a favourite footie pub - but the makeover works and its now massive with two extra bars and another floor. Food is pub classics with some nice retro touches (scotch egg, welsh rarebit, mince and dumplings) and an already epic burger. Good wine list, unusual for the Polpo team, and HALLELUJAH they serve it in wine glasses rather than tumblers. It was rammed on my Monday night visit but the service (from Georgina?) was lovely and attentive. The pub part looks popular already and beautifully designed - stunning copper bar - but my main gripe is only 2 cask ales. It's certainly a welcome addition to an area that's poorly served with restaurants and bars.
Ape & Bird
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Tue Dec 31 2013
‘Woop woop!’, we cried. The chap behind Polpo and Spuntino (both brilliant restaurants) was to open a West End pub – a civilised spot, no doubt, where you could sit and relax over a decent pint, and eat proper British grub. Yet on our (second) visit, Ape & Bird was in the throes of an identity crisis, neither taking flight nor swinging through the trees.
It’s a whopping space, and – for the most part – attractively decorated. There are ceilings of tin tiles (a trademark look), banquettes of green leather, and industrial light fittings that work in harmony with the grand Victorian proportions. But a trip to the convenience now involves an inconvenient fight through not just one, but two bars: the ground floor ‘pub’ (on our visit, heaving with a post-work boozy crowd), and then a much cooler ‘dive bar’, down below.
Yet it was our meal that was most wanting. Plenty of the dishes were perfectly fine (if not memorable), but around one-third too expensive. There was a £7 scotch egg (at Fulham’s Michelin-starred Harwood Arms you’ll pay £3.50; at nearby Opera Tavern it’s £5.25). We enjoyed our plate of full-flavoured mutton mince, but the trio of dumplings was minuscule. Worse still, they were undercooked. Only a slice of chocolate and hazelnut cake (£6), was a generous size – but even it arrived with a burnt crust.
Factor in cheap, flimsy cutlery and nothing-special service, and Ape & Bird appears to be just another hit-and-miss food pub, but with bigger price tags. There are, however, a handful of craft beers, and well-chosen wines. So take my advice, and go for drinks, giving the cooking a swerve.
PS In March 2014 the chef at Ape & Bird is to be replaced by Alex Windebank, who previously worked at the Sportsman near Whitstable. It seems likely that the standard of cooking will improve.
Reviewed by Tania Ballantine
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