Pharmacy is a bit of a pill really. Please be patient, as we are extremely
busy says the recorded message. . They aren't. The phone is answered immediately;
there is a table free that day for lunch; and the restaurant is more than
half empty. How the mighty are fallen.
It's almost a theme restaurant but not as much fun. Is it Art or just
post-modern irony? I imagine the people at the bar downstairs don't realise
they are looking at their future inside the Chemist-shop cases - beta-blockers,
anti-coagulators, and calcium antagonists. Which is, I suppose, terrilby
post modern, and so ironic you can smell the filings.
Today, I'm being a West London lady who lunches meeting my glam magistrate
friend. We usually 'do lunch' at 192, but lately there always seems to
be someone with a baby slung across their arm like a grubby designer handbag,
and I've done babies. Now than mine finally have table manners I really
don't want to suffer anyone else's. So, up to Notting Hill Gate for a
place that's slightly past its sell-by date.
Of course. it has just been taken over by the Montana group so there's
a good reason for the lost, bewildered air hanging over the place, despite
their somewhat haughty insistence that they are still hot and happening.It's
a shame -and something the management need to sort out quickly before
the place sickens and dies for want of TLC and a shot of its own pharmacopia.
The lunch menu £14.50 for 2 courses almost begs you to chose a la
carte. 2 choices of starter, main and pudding in which only two items
differed over two days - and those dishes not inspiring: Tomato and Basil
Soup, Braised pork and exactly the same pair of pedestrian puddings.
A la carte was somewhat more interesting and the prices reflected the
interest - pan fried red mullet for £12 and scrambled egg, spinach
and caviar tart for £12.50. There was also spit roasted suckling
pig - a very fashionable dish in NY when I was there in the summer. but
call me sceptical - was the chef really roasting a whole piglet in the
kitchen on the off chance that one of the handful of diners would choose
I didn't fancy pig that particular day after my husband had made some
unflattering remarks about me in a pink dress earlier in the day. So I
had chestnut and cep mushroom soup with spiced apples and the magistrate
had shaved fennel, globe artichokes and preserved lemon salad. I liked
my soup but it was cold in patches - as if it had been dossing around
in the kitchen for a while, talking about its record deal - or maybe standing
at the back door having a fag. Her Honour said her salad was fine but
looked unimpressed. I would have liked to try it but since she had turned
up that day looking rather fierce and wearing full leathers, I was reluctant
to stick my fork in her plate unbidden.
And if I had known we were dressing up I'd have worn my PVC vest.
To follow I had mushroom and thyme risotte with truffle oil. It was well
done though I couldn't taste the thyme - just the truffle oil. Don't say
earthy - everyone says that!, barked the magistrate as I scribbled in
my notebook. So, although that was what I had scribbled I will certainly
not say earthy. I will leave the space blank for you to add your own simile.
She had sweet potato cappelletti with pesto and pine nuts. I had imagined
the pasta would be made with the sweet potato but in fact it was the filing.
One starch two many I'd have thought. I did get offered a spoonful of
this and can say it was stodgy and dull.
Upstairs the restaurant is papered with more ghosts of Christmas future
- pharmaceutical catalogues with some cheerful lepidopatry atop. There
are a few skeletons hanging over the stairs which if you gave them a pashmina
and a production company, wouldn't look out of place in the restaurant,
and a nice view out of the window of Camden Hill Road where we usually
sit in traffic. Nice to be on the other side of the glass for a change.
Otherwise, it's unremarkable.
At 192 the
lunch menu is cheaper and invariably more alluring, and it's also possible
to just have two starters, a glass of wine, share a pudding and leave
with change from £40. Equally - you can have a hipper, better meal
at Kensington Place just down ther road, although they really are busy.
A loud ageing,
greyback was lording it over a table of pre-pubescent chain smokers, talking
on his mobile phone - big kiss, darling - do come along - there's virtually
everything but a blow job'.
he was, I hasten to add, talking about his car.