It’s unusual for a drama to start and end limply while enjoying a mid-series peak, but Julian Fellowes is the sort of screenwriting maverick who doesn’t play by the rules (unless they’re rules about cutlery).
Plots fizzle out and liasons are thwarted tonight, with one stupefyingly dull love triangle (Daisy, Ivy, Alfred) coming to a conclusion and another marginally more absorbing one (Mary, Blake, Gillingham) likely to be extended beyond its natural life. And of the case of Anna and Mr Green, we cannot say much – other than that we felt slightly short-changed by this evening’s events. Even by ‘Downton’ standards, there’s an accumulation of curious interludes and absurd coincidences, while the episode centrepiece – the village bazaar – pales in comparison to the epic majesty of last year’s cricket match and the running time feels terribly indulgent.
‘Downton’ traditionalists will be content, but it’s a disappointing conclusion to a reinvigorated series. Perhaps Fellowes is keeping his powder dry for the Christmas special?
Restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, creators of the Wolseley and the Delaunay, have struck gold with this grand art deco basement brasserie. It’s a huge set-up and attracts a mix of tourists, office types and couples. Affordable French staples are the big draw and set menus start at under a tenner for two courses. In the months after it opened, we’d been impressed by the quality of cooking and on-the-ball service, but recently we’ve detected a dip in standards. In a meal of hits and misses, highlights included a generous main course of beef bourguignon – meaty chunks simmered in a robust red wine-onion-garlic sauce, accompanied by buttery mash. The haché steak was less impressive, though; instead of chopped meat being shaped and loosely held together, we were presented with a salty, overcooked burger patty. Chocolate profiteroles helped to restore faith – the perfectly baked crisp globes of choux pastry, crammed with splendid whipped vanilla cream, went down a treat with an indulgent chocolate sauce. The house wine, priced at bargain basement rates, provides great value. Let’s hope the kitchen brigade is back on track soon, and service staff numbers are increased at busy times.
Venue says: “Dine with us and enjoy live music! Our swinging house bands play six nights a week from 9.30pm (9pm on Sundays).”