This place is tiny, with tiny tables with a tiny space between them, and it is noisy. The good way of putting it is that it is charming French bistro style. The bad way, that it is tiny and none too comfortable. It depends on your mood.
The bread neither improves nor depresses your mood.
Two starters promised well but they ended up being the best dishes of the meal. A grilled asparagus, poached egg, parmesan crisp and poached shimeji was simple but effective, the asparagus with a pleasantly chargrilled flavour. the poached egg cooked just right, the crisp light and intense (the shimeji were so few that they didn’t add much, but in principle they gave a pleasant acidity). A fresh pea pannacotta, crushed peas and ham hock cromesquis could not be faulted, the cromesqui crisp outside and moist inside, the pannacotta and the peas very very, very, eatable.
The mains were more complex and they failed. A maple glazed duck breast was tough, and the dish was a messy one, with Savoyarde potatoes, a bland duck leg bon bon, and cherries and pistachio that were there just for the name, being in such small quantity (especially the pistachio) that they added nothing to the dish. No jus to speak of.
A hake, while of good quality, was reduced to a rather textureless, mushy consistency: how basic a mistake can this be, steaming a moist chunky fish to death? But this wasn’t the worst of it after all. The piece of fish was floating in an incredible slop of creamed sweetcorn with some chorizo and perfunctory avocado (mostly missing in action), unprepped tomatoes forced by the lava heat to ooze their acidity into the creamy madness. The only saving grace were the chunky chips on the side.
Desserts. A cheesecake of the day was flavoured with coffee and chicory. We learned that this is not the worst combination of flavours, but not the best either, and anyway it was timidly executed, neither sweet nor bitter enough to make an impression. The base was quite thick and more soggy than crumbly.
A coconut milk pannacotta carried only a hint of coconut flavour, probably mostly coming from the flakes on the outside, but was sitting on top of a good roasted coconut, without which it would have been one of the least memorable desserts ever without tasting bad.
Prices are low (both for the lunch/pre-theater menu at £14.50 for 3 courses, and in the a la carte with mains at around £11-13 and starters at £5-6), but this is reflected in the quality and the setting. Service was smiling and friendly, but that won’t be enough for us to return.