I love a good deal, so when the Lady put the Evening Standard down in front of me the other night I almost wet myself. The papers current offer is a selection of set menus across the city and explained in more detail here.
Available only at the old Conran group restaurants it seems; some good, some bad and some ugly but some worth a punt at these prices. For our first foray we tried the Butlers Wharf Chop House, dining in the Bar you can take advantage of two courses for a tenner.
Now between you and me I can spend that for lunch at work so this seemed well worth a try in my books and it’s not too far to walk from Wapping over Tower Bridge so off we popped.
The main restaurant was really busy but we were eating in the bar which was quite a bit quieter and seemingly had less staff. I could only see two guys looking after the whole floor and they were doing a really good job under the conditions.
Through a combination of the waiter being Irish, the bar being noisy and me not being great at listening I got the impression they only had Guinness available on draught so I went for a pint of the black stuff whilst the Lady went for a small glass of Ortago at £6.50. I was to realise later that it was a good thing I went for the Guinness.
What struck me immediately when we got the menu was the simplicity of everything on offer. I’m going to sound a little harsh here when I say this but it seemed a little bit Ready Steady Cook. In the sense that someone has been to the market, bought what is cheap and plentiful with a couple of interesting additions and based the menu around that. Not necessarily a bad a thing mind so don’t think I’m being too brutal here.
I went for the Ox Tongue with spiced Apple Chutney and Melba Toast to start, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t normally order tongue in a restaurant but I wanted to see what marvels they could do with this difficult piece of Offal.
I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest but I was a little surprised when it came out cold. Texturally it was fine but it was flavourless and took a lot of seasoning before it was palatable. The chutney tasted like a cheap Christmas air freshener all spices and no real redeeming quality.
The Lady’s salad of Flat Mushroom, Bacon, Figs Walnuts and Beetroot was much better. Fresh, light and on the money it was a simple dish and could not be faulted really.
For mains I’d chosen the Golden Cross goats Cheese Mousse with Dandelions, Figs and Cheltenham Beetroot. Distinctly absent was any mention of Eggs. So I wasn’t expecting them on the plate but they were certainly welcome as it wasn’t a massive plate of food by any means.
The Mousse was delicious; savoury, salty and sweet. Very reminiscent of a strong French soft blue cheese, I should have asked for some bread with this but it was good all the same. The Lady chose Mackerel with Braised Swiss Chard; the fish was amazing with a really meaty quality to it and loads of flavour. It looked a real pretty dish as well with its base of Chard glistening away under the fish.
The bill came to £45 for two with 2 rounds of drinks each and a cheeky dessert of Gooseberries and Vanilla Cream. I think had I not been drinking Guinness I would have left hungry but for £10 each I feel it was good value and without the booze it would have been a very cheap meal out.
The service was really good as well, under the conditions, as the guys were really busy but still came across as friendly and attentive so they should be commended for that.