After a promising start, Mark Hix’s chicken and steak restaurant has lost some allure. The room remains a winning combination of fun, glamour and heritage: a Damien Hirst cow and chicken in formaldehyde suspended over the main dining room makes a striking first impression set against the backdrop of a building that once generated the power for east London’s trams.
The child’s meal deal is generous, and the house wines are very drinkable. But the overly keen table-turning (we were moved on long before our slot was supposedly up) and variable food soon strip away any stardust. The short menu has steak (rib, sirloin or salad) or chicken as mains. Steak salad passed muster, though we’re unconvinced by the topping of battered onion rings. Whole roast chicken (barn-reared these days, rather than the free-range birds initially used) arrives at the table up-ended on a spike, and surrounded by fries; at £25 it easily serves two and can stretch to three, helped by seasonal sides such as (delicious) wild garlic mushrooms.
Starters (just-so yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers) and desserts (super-sweet salted caramel fondue with marshmallows and doughnuts, £12.50 to share) had more wow factor. Staff are friendly yet stretched, leaving diners feeling more than a little processed.