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Gastro: The Hat & Feathers

by Krista

2 Clerkenwell Rd
Tel: 020 7490 2244


Date of Last Visit: Monday, February 19, 2007

The Victim: Michael

The Damage: Unknown! Michael paid.

The Background: Michael is unemployed AND homeless. Out of the kindness of my heart, I agreed to take him in for a few days to help get him back on his feet. The lure of my wireless Internet, stand-alone dryer, and full-size (albeit empty) refrigerator were too much to resist. He was over in a jiffy.

In thanks for my hospitality, Michael took me out to dinner with his last few schillings. I felt guilty about this, but only until I saw his laptop. After a grueling day at the office for me, and a day of ripping my CDs for him, we agreed to meet up at the Hat & Feathers.

The Approach: Now, I’ve been wanting to go to the H&F for quite some time. It’s been empty for as long as I’ve lived in the ‘hood, although it always looked like someone was in there working, working, working. I don’t know who they were, but they sure were slow. Either that, or the H&F must have been a s*&%thole previously. So I was excited. But my excitement was tempered by the–how shall I say–tempered glass. See, the H&F uses this ridiculous frosted glass all around the property, and it is seriously 5 ft 4 inches tall so if you are walking by the place and less taller than me, you can’t see in. This is annoying.

The Bar: I swear I do not make these stories up. I went in and Michael, my homeless and unemployed friend, was not in there. So I went to the bar and ordered a beer I’ve never heard of before–The Cruzcampo. My server poured my beer, and I was reminded of my first days at Jones Beach State Park, when I had no idea how one went about pouring a beer. My first 47 were pure foam. With ice. Being that we’re in Europe and all, my server skipped the ice. But there sure was a lot of foam.

But this was the best part–these two women came up next to me while he was pouring my foamy beer. It was obvious they were thirsty. He gave me my beer and took my money. (He had poured all the foam away.) And then he walked away and went in the back. Totally. Completely. Gone. There were no other servers. The two women were like, "Ummmm…where the hell did he go?"

So being the person I am, I tracked him down. He was behind the bar. Eating his dinner. Oblivious. I tried to get his attention. But then I remembered that he was French and this was a fruitless endeavor. (My apologes to any French people reading this. But really. Welcome to my world.) I took my beer and my seat and proceeded to watch the two women attempt to get his attention. Finally, he returned to the bar area and offered them a foamy beverage. It was terrible.

The Food: It gets worse!!! Michael arrives and being that he is homeless and all, he is starving. So I order the steak and chips and he orders soup and pork belly. We wait and wait and finally, the food arrives. All at the same time. Michael is a tad upset about this…why did they bring him his soup at the same time he brought his meal? Why did it take 15 minutes to bring the soup? How can he possibly eat all of the food at the same time? Our server blinks…there is a language barrier. Michael has an excellent command of the French language and I so want him to bust it out, but he won’t do it. So they take away his pork belly. (Michael has some fine tastes for a homeless man.)

I am not optimistic. I am convinced that we will never see the pork belly again. And I am partially right. Ages later and Michael is done with his soup and I have v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y made my way halfway through my steak and there is no sign of pork belly. He has to go to the bar and practically beg for his food.

I should note that through all of this, the restaurant is fairly empty. We are perhaps two of the four people eating.

The Verdict: The sad thing is that the food was pretty good. My steak was moist but not in a bloody way. The chips were some of the best I’ve ever had…almost as if they fried mashed potatoes. But the service? It was laughable! Some of the worst I’ve ever had. The clincher? They automatically added 12.75% to the tab.

We think not.

P.S. I do want to credit our friend Richard with the unemployed AND homeless line. I can only wish I were that witty. Grazie.

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