The unusual cylindrical shape of this basement restaurant gives it a height and grace that compensate for the lack of windows, and, with its serene decor, make for a calming bolthole from the Theatreland crowds. Axis is comfortable, quiet and chic, if not especially memorable, with most of its character coming from personable, experienced staff good at intuiting whether you want to banter or be left alone for a business lunch.
The carte dishes are also mainly based on a few good ingredients prepared to order, with some nice touches but no unnecessary culinary vanities. A starter of delicate mackerel fillet was expertly grilled to a genteel crispness, served prettily with cauliflower polonaise; and a pre-mixed (slightly bland) steak tartare. Mains were gutsier: generous roast loin of pork with an over-intense risotto; and halibut with pea purée and a highly concentrated red wine jus. The former came with victoria plum jam, the latter with succulent girolles – bearing out claims of seasonality.
Catering for its hotel clientele, Axis also serves salads and light main courses (fillet of bream en papillote, for example) plus some crowd-pleasing desserts that are slightly out of keeping with its cultured mood (knickerbocker glory with popping candy, anyone?).