There is so much choice in London for eating out – so many fabulous independent restaurants and hidden gems to choose from, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to try, and to be invited to, some really incredible places.
I’ve never reviewed an establishment negatively before, but after my recent meal at Jamie Oliver’s Recipease in Notting Hill, I wanted to give an honest account of my time there.
The venue itself is light, spacious, and conveniently located a stones’ throw away from the hustle and bustle of Portobello Road. Recipease is a shop, cafe and a cookery school, part of Jamie Oliver’s chain of restaurants. I’ve been to several Jamie Oliver establishments, and although it’s never earth-shattering, on the whole they’ve been reliable and enjoyable dining experiences.
So last Sunday afternoon, when we were looking for a quick bite, we popped into Recipease. Considering that Recipease is part of a large, well-established brand, the cafe was ridiculously understaffed. Despite several empty tables and benches, we were made to stand around for a good long while as the only two waitresses dashed around, clearly completely overwhelmed. For Sunday lunchtime, in my opinion this could have so easily be avoided.
The service was slow and unprofessional, requests for additional cutlery and condiments had to be repeated multiple times, although I did feel this was down to mismanagement, and not the wait staff themselves.
As a starter, I ordered the spicy smashed guacamole on homemade toasted Recipease tortilla chips. What arrived was a tasteless, texture-less avocado mush on a burnt chip. In my opinion, guacamole needs to be chunky, and full of flavour, enhanced by the taste of lemons, chillies and other spices. The offering at Recipease seemed to have no flavour, and was the texture of baby food – devoid of any joy. Although presented nicely, the burnt chips showed a lack of attention to detail, and was a really disappointing start to the meal.
The main, a pan-fried fillet of seabass with baby potatoes and a tomato, red pepper and olive sauce, is the only reason this review got the (spoiler alert!) two and a half stars it did. A simple and uncomplicated dish, it was executed well.
Unfortunately, this was followed by an incredibly tepid latte – after such a disappointing experience, we didn’t stay for dessert.
It’s hard to say whether or not I got there on a bad day, or whether, like many chains, Recipease is simply riding on the reputation of the brand without providing quality service. If anything, it’s another argument in favour of patronising more independents.
What’s your opinion? Are you in favour of the big restaurant chains?
Recipease can be found at 92-94 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3QB.(2.5 / 5)