Going by the nom de plume of 1980s satirical writer William Donaldson, the Henry Root struggles to live up to its subversive credentials. The decor might be a happily offbeat melange, with shelves of books and curios and even gilt-framed postcards of risqué Edwardian ladies, but it feels out of step with the strait-laced clientele embroiled in debate about conservatories and London house prices. The small open kitchen at the back seems stretched at peak times, with dishes arriving at unpredictable intervals. And while the menu features staples such as a choice of aged steaks, and, unusually, cottage pie as a special, the cooking didn’t make them shine. A bright starter of fig, walnut, feta and rocket salad proved a slightly meagre helping; barbary duck breast was a touch rubbery and came with disappointingly greasy sarladaise potatoes. Better was the rolled pork belly, though it was overpowered by peppery tarragon mash. Service was polite but haphazard, and while we were indeed tempted by the novelty ‘glugging’ fish water-jug (available to purchase), the awkward up-sell on sides and drinks was unappealingly transparent. Yet the Henry Root is popular, a decent wine list perhaps softening the lack of attention to detail.