It could all have been so much better. A late Sunday lunch at this beautifully battered and refurbished old building on a slightly shabby corner in Maida Vale, a new chef (Aidan McGee – a Heston Blumenthal alumnus), easy online reservation, and a come-hither menu in the elegant upstairs dining room. But the staff seemed mildly put out that we had turned up at all, and took painfully long to locate us hovering by the bar (in the end, we seated ourselves), bring menus, take orders, and indeed everything else.
The kitchen, too, was terribly out of step – our one starter took nearly an hour to arrive, and in that time no one came over to apologise or explain. Maybe our murderous starving glances eventually made their point, because the chef did eventually make a harassed appearance to say the starter would be taken off the bill; then he sent out an extra dessert. But it was hard to appreciate the seared scallops, small square of suckling pig, scattering of raw cauliflower and puddle of apple compote when hunger pangs were so advanced.
Still, things did look up after that. Dish presentation was uniformly excellent, the Sunday pork board of loin and pulled meat is an impressive beast, the vegetables were beautifully roasted and very generous. Cod with confit potatoes was beautiful and had some lovely flavours (though the mussels were somehow cold in the middle), and the roast fig, chocolate mousse and passionfruit sorbet dessert was a real high point.
The drinks list is enormous and interesting, with plenty of wines by the glass. But on the day we visited, the service needed a kick up the proverbial.