Opening times are shown as 11am - 11pm for the Oyster Bar and in the evening, 5pm - 9pm for the restaurant. Being an early bird at 4:30 pm I chose the Oyster Bar but when I tried to order food was told that the kitchen did not open before 5pm so I had to wait till then to order. I asked if I could order oysters now, was told 'no, they come from the kitchen too'. So much for 11-11.
The waitress was nice but poorly trained and the focus in the ground floor area is not really about food but the drinking and she struggled with a seeming dual responsibility to serve both behind the bar and deliver table service. As an aside, the wine list at a quick glance did look attractively priced.
There is also a September deal on currently to celebrate Colchester oysters: two free oysters with a glass of champagne, while I ordered an addition three oysters Rockefeller, mostly to see how the kitchen would fare. To follow, I ordered a half lobster frite.
After a little wait, an oyster fork and Tabasco was brought to the table, and then shortly after that the lobster arrived. I asked the waitress (different to the one with whom I placed the order) about the missing oyster starter and she gave me a puzzled look and left. With no proper knife and fork, I started on the lobster with my oyster fork, but then resorted to my fingers. A small lobster, it didn't take long to make headway into the plate and half way through, the oysters finally arrived.
The raw oysters were okay, nothing special, while the Rockefeller were terribly disappointing, piled high with spinach that dominated everything else. After eating the first, I took to removing at least half the spinach from the remaining two to restore some balance. The lobster was adequate but on the small side and at £20, struggled to feel like value. The plan was to eat light today, but had I been hungry and ordered the whole lobster (£40), I doubt whether I'd feel like I had an adequate meal.
As I was finishing, the table next to me leaned over and asked if they could borrow the Tabasco, adding that they felt the waitress was struggling somewhat. If Gows do believe that they are serving the best meals in the City, they really need to get out more.