Resto 29 Ochre, Charing Cross

A curious one. We intended to go to the Winslow Homer exhib at the National so we thought trying out their rebooted eatery opposite St Martin’s afterwards would be a good idea. I had a bit of time to kill before meeting at the show so thought I’d pop in for a glass of wine and while I was at it book the meal for later. Readers impatient to see what the food was like might want to skip the next few paragraphs.

My immediate impression on going through the door was that they’d changed the room a lot. Less exhibition-goer friendly Scandi pastels, more Dubai style ‘you’re lucky to get in here you shabby bastard, why aren’t you wearing a big gold watch?’ sort of thing. While I waited for someone to come and talk to me I wondered idly whether eventually the whole of London will look like Dubai in a horrid pincer movement of transformation from Harringay to Knightsbridge.

Eventually someone came up and asked me why I was there. ‘I’d like to book a table for 7 o’clock.’

‘You want a table?’

‘Yes, at 7 o’clock please.’

‘I don’t think we have any tables now.’

‘No, I’d like a table for 7 o’clock – can you reserve it for me?’

‘Oh, right, you want a table at 7 o’clock?’

‘Yes.’

‘Right, let me put it in the system.’

There was much exchanging of information that was put into a computer.

‘We have that for you.’

‘Thank you, I’d like a glass of wine while I wait for my wife to go to the exhibition.’

‘A glass of wine?’

‘Yes, can I sit at the bar?’

‘A glass of wine?’

‘Yes, I’ll have a glass of wine, meet my wife, go to the exhibition then come back for dinner.’

By this time the manager had arrived. He asked me if I wanted a table. No, I said, I’d like a glass of wine at the bar while I waited for my wife.

‘At the bar?’

‘Yes, at the bar.’

‘Certainly sir.’

So I sat at the bar and ordered the wine. Meanwhile the manager came back.

‘I’m sorry sir, your reservation didn’t go through. We’ll have to do it again.’

I went patiently again through the rigmarole of his online booking system.

‘You should have received a confirmation of your reservation.’

‘Ok.’

‘Can you check it.’

I checked my phone, no confirmation.

‘Is this the right email address?’

‘Yes.’

‘But I can see that you opened it on my system. Can you check it again?’

I resisted the temptation to ask him whether having spent so much time in one another’s company, in fact more time than some officers spent with their troops in World War 1, that he might at least pay me the complement of remembering my face when I returned at 7 o’clock and just have a table ready for me. Or maybe I could just write on his massive forehead in Biro, ‘Levett, table for 2 at 7.’

I checked it, no email. Was he going to tell me I couldn’t have the table without the email? It definitely crossed his mind but I think he saw that it was wiser not to get between a man and his glass of Cabernet Sauvignon any longer.

The wine was nice and I read my book. I asked the barman for the bill.

‘What did you have?’

Given it was the only drink he’d served in half an hour, this was unexpected. Was he trying to give me a complimentary drink? I squinted at him like Larry David. No, I think he was genuinely stupid. So I told him and coughed up.

I asked him if I could go through to the gallery from the restaurant. No, I’d have to go outside.* Mind you, I’m not sure the barman knew there was a gallery next door. He might have thought I’d asked him if he knew where I could find someone who knew how to do their job.

I was glad I went to Homer for a few paintings but wouldn’t bother to go back. Bit of foreshadowing there for you creative writing people.

We arrived at the room for dinner – ahh, you booked the table for 7 o’clock!!! Yeeeeessssss!!! We have it here for you, right next to these other people in a nearly empty room. Greeeaaaattt!!! Fortunately there’s good elbow room in Ochre and I had a nice rear view of Nelson while Denize had the room. And the room did fill up a bit.

Starters of halibut ceviche and a fish taco were excellent. Fresh fish, expertly (and prettily) assembled.

Mains took a little while to arrive but we weren’t in a hurry. Just as they did arrive so did the manager from a different direction. He seemed to have realised he’d dropped a bollock earlier on and wanted to redeem himself, Fawlty-style.

‘Any desserts for you?’ he enquired ingratiatingly.

‘No, no, we’re just waiting for our mains.’ I could see them behind his back, supported by a patient waiter.

‘No desserts?’ He seemed mystified. Maybe he was a big fan of Dylan Thomas and thought we should eat our courses in reverse order. Or in random fashion.

On this the waiter skirted him and gave us our food.

This waiter was young and seemed to be on his first day. And he made a few mistakes but that’s fine. I’d rather a team of him than one manager like that. He seemed clued up enough to be the sort of person to learn from his co-workers and ignore the faults of his supposed superior.

The mains were excellent as well – perfectly cooked monkfish, stuffed courgette. And I even had a blood orange sorbet as a palate cleanser as we still had a fair amount of tasty Albariño to get through.

Maybe it was a one off and they’re still getting over teething problems but I won’t be around to find out, there’s other places to go.

*Yet another crapstain on the Museum-going experience post-C***d and not the restaurant’s fault I’m assuming.

7/10 for food & drink (high quality but a bit expensive for what you got)

6/10 for staff

0/10 for management.

To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.

Food France London

f1insburyparker View All →

Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).

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