There’s no menu, the tables and benches are made from recycled planks, and a wooden shepherd’s hut is squeezed into the back yard: PipsDish sounds like the sort of restaurant you’d find in the backstreets of Hackney, not the heart of touristy Covent Garden (next door to Theatreland stalwart Joe Allen, no less).
It’s a two-year pop-up from food writer/cook Philip Dundas (after similar no-menu ventures in Islington and Hoxton) where dishes vary daily depending on what’s in season – and available – from their favoured suppliers.
On our lunchtime visit, this meant fennel soup to start, followed by venison stew with juniper, cinnamon and root veg, and an autumn fruit crumble. They cater happily for veggies too; we were served chunky wedges of roasted squash (served cold) with green salad and toasted sourdough.
The fresh ingredients, robust flavours and hearty portions are certainly appealing. Execution can be slightly rough-edged, though: the soup was too salty, as was the dressing on the salad. And the stew wasn’t quite as rich as we’d hoped.
A subsequent evening visit was even more disappointing, seeing ill-judged combinations (lemon and fennel chicken served over coleslaw, with roast potatoes, pomegranate seeds and coriander), and a simple lack of finesse (over-cooked shortbread) from the kitchen; and amateurish service out front. A pity, because it's a nice idea, but at £30 for three courses, it needs to do far better.