Of a Thursday lunchtime, with an empty restaurant, you'd think they'd be pleased to see customers walk through the door but the greeting is indifferent while the waitress for the early part of our meal was outright surly. One got the feeling that she didn't really like having to serve people. Only the waiter who brought our main courses to the table managed to rise above the indifference. Much (but not entirely all) could be forgiven if the food was bang on, but that wasn't the case either.
The menu reads well because it embraces much that is classic about British food and choosing a main sees us torn between attractive sounding offerings. To start however we nibble on Freshly Baked Sourdough Bread with smoked cods roe (£1.95) but the bread's overly chewy and the smoked cods roe too dense, faring badly in comparison with the lighter, airier same from Bubbledogs Kitchen Table. Indeed, as the meal progresses we we think that British food in London is now being done rather well in fact in both a traditional sense and in a reinterpreted way, so what if anything does this particular new(ish) entrant have to offer that's different.
One thing they have tried to do is to keep prices down which, in Mayfair, is admirable, but there is a sense the dishes suffer due to this. My starter is Blue Monday cheese & pear salad, candied walnuts, watercress and chicory, a relative bargain at £5.50 in Mayfair. The problem is, when the dish arrives, I find myself asking where's the cheese? Where's the walnuts? Watercress gives volume but the cheese is in the tiniest of lumps at the side, and the walnuts are (as far as I could discern) ground to crumb and sprinkled on the cheese. I might be wrong, they might have simply forgotten to put them on. Instead of what you assume will be on the plate, a cheese mousse is left to fill the vacuum and whereas the impossibly small quantity of Blue Monday cheese at least packs enough flavour for the whole week, it's hard to even realise that the cheese mousse is in fact a cheese offering, for it is simply bland such that we had to ask the waiter what it in fact it was. This dish is also available for a main at £10 which seems to be excellent value but if it is twice the portion of the starter, a fair guess, you'll leave very hungry indeed, and we'd wager unsatisfied.
The mains are mediocre in a similar fashion and more. The Thursday special is a Barnsley lamb chop with mint relish which again offers a 'bargain' at £12 (before sides) but the lamb is overcooked and nondescript. It is so vastly inferior to the lamb elsewhere, such as the bastion of traditional British cooking Wiltons where the lamb chops are heaven, that it again leaves you thinking that to use the word Great in the name was ill judged. Wiltons' lamb is however more than twice the price and never knowingly called a bargain, and maybe that's the thing, perhaps the restaurant here should be called Budget British or something, but for anyone seeking the joy of the British food experience, this doesn't seem to us to be it. Even the mint relish, overpowered with rough cut shallot could have been better thought through and better executed.
As well as the Great British theme on the menu, there's 1980's Great British music through the speakers also: Depeche Mode, The Specials, The Jam, which is not particularly what we want to hear at lunch time either. But while the restaurant seeks to anchor you in a British experience, the front of house staff offer the usual multi-national backgrounds such that the menu to them seems quite unfamiliar, and ordering at times presented its own difficulties. Barnsley Chop did not seem to be a word combination our waitress recognised despite it being on the menu (on Thursdays at least). We didn't stop for dessert.
Maybe at the price point it doesn't matter and it certainly must be one of Mayfair's cheapest eats. On North Audley Street, it's a stone's throw from the hyper-bills from the likes of 45 Park Lane where a side of chips will cost you £7 which is on top of the £32 you've already splashed out for the lamb chops themselves. But in our opinion, this restaurant lacks what is needed for it to be even a good meal, let alone a great one.