Based on Dorothy Koomson’s novel, this is the latest in a respectable line of ITV mystery adaptations. Lorraine Burroughs is Serena, a woman returning with her family with her home town to care for her elderly mother. She harbours a dark secret to do with an old school teacher – but will her past catch up with her? With an old friend called Poppy (Jodhi May) just released from prison, there’s every chance.
A pleasing level of ambiguity sustains this opening episode – Serena is a likeable character and the real degree of guilt she bears for the crime is far from clear at this point. The chain of events which contrive to bring Serena and Poppy back into each other’s orbit starts to feel a little tortured by the end but even so, this is promisingly atmospheric and enigmatic fare.
This lofty café/bar, situated down a side street near Fenchurch Street station, may have a wholesome ‘Good Life’ look – planky bits of wood, watering cans, salvaged herb growers mounted on the wall – but the food is more school canteen than ‘River Cottage’. There are big bowls of salad, a few bagels, a smattering of hot dishes and a large bowl of houmous laid out on the counter. A detox salad of raw kale, apple, date (date!) and avocado was a cloying jumble of ingredients that would probably have been better whizzed into a smoothie – it might have tasted better than an actual cold-pressed combo of celery, lemon, romaine and spinach, which was tart and refreshing, but hardly what you’d call delicious. Purple sprouting broccoli slathered in a creamy dressing and dotted with raisins and almond slivers was, on our early spring visit, super-seasonal, at least. A larger dish of chicken curry and rice – that was the full description – was an imposing pile, heavy on grain and potato, warming and subtly sweet with mango. But refined it was not. Aesthetic aside, the school dinners vibe is overwhelming, even nostalgia-inducing. It could be rather charming if it weren’t for the prices – nearly £9 for the curry, around a fiver for the salads and juices – which are punchy enough to snap you out of your Proustian daydream, and straight back into the traffic-packed tumult of the Square Mile.