69 St John Street
020 7253 9000
Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, 27 November 2007
The Victims: Marcos, Colleeen, Isabelle, Aya, Nanta, Christine
The Damage: More about this later.
The Background: So more than a year ago, I got big time suckered into a Taste London card. £40 or something for a green and black plastic card that gets you discounts at restaurants around town.
This made me bitter because TopTable.co.uk doesn't charge you anything for discounts…so £40…hmmm…steep.
And then for the kicker–Taste London auto-renews your subscription, so you get stuck with it for another year if you're not paying attention.
But you know…I say "got stuck with it" very loosely because after our dinner at The Clerkenwell Dining Room on Tuesday–with our 50% discount–I'm sorta hooked! This was a very nice dinner for seven for £170 quid. That's £24.29 each. Not so bad. Sure, we went light on the wine and only 28.6% of us had dessert, but six out of seven of us had a starter. And all of us had coffee. So £24.29 each is a good value. Let me tell you some more.
The Entrance: They take our coats. This place is a lot fancier than I thought it would be. I'm in jeans and trainers. The patrons are all doing business in their cufflinks over their sea bass. Ack…the drawbacks of working for an "everyday is casual day" company.
The Service: Is SURLY. I accidentally tell them we're eight people, not seven. And they reset that table like they were about to walk the plank. It was funny.
The Starters: Mine was squid. It was okay. Better was the salad that it was served along with. Zingy.
The Mains: I went for the sea bass and it was a hugely generous portion and it was served with three HUGELY insane scallops. (No cutting in half to make them look like more here.) I was really impressed with the portion size and the general tastiness. I looked around later and there wasn't a scrap of food left on the table.
The Tap Water Test: Our surly server brought the jug, poured me a glass, and then took the jug away. Others at the table fell for "Still or Sparkling?" and when I wasn't looking, the server filled my glass up with paid-for still water. I was HAD. Don't let this happen to you.
The Verdict: I would take a business dinner here. Particular ones where there are Americans present and they are a bit sensitve about the exchange rate. (£1 = $2.07 according to Google today.) And I would use my TasteLondon card again. It takes a little bit of planning (the first couple of places we tried on Tuesday afternoon were booked) but it's worth it.