So A. and E. were reunited once again for a third “date” evening of culinary experimentation, hilarity, wine-guzzling and mutual exchanges of geek knowledge. A. tanned and relaxed after three weeks swanning about in Corsica gorging on smelly cheeses and wild boar, E. shaking from caffeine overdoses, soaked to the bone and pale as a corpse. This time they met at Foxtrot Oscar, in who’s hype E. was naive enough to believe because of the blasted words “Gordon Ramsey” so often attached to this place. The fact is, beyond owning it, and – according to his fan club of diligent waiters – coming in now and again for a cheeky snifter, good old Gordon clearly has nothing to do with this place whatsoever except perhaps inflate the staff’s sense of self-importance and fill them with pretentious twaddle.It began when A. was told “Sir, your potatoes will be served at room temperature” as though serving them any other way would be catastrophic scandal of hideous proportions. Poor old A. probably didn’t even want the room temperature potatoes in the first place, but the waiter was plugging them to him with the fervour of a used-car salesman on speed and A. got the feeling if he didn’t order them, he may well be evicted. E. secretly hoped A. might ask to have them served “hot” but heads might have rolled.
Before even ordering any food, A. and E. already knew the life stories of all the waiters, and the chef, who is from Naples despite the fact that the menu fails to offer anything Italian, or neapolitan, prefering to focus on British classics. Brilliant, thinks E. Locally sourced produce, delicious British food, perfect for impressing A. who is too full of French fancies that the British can’t cook anything (except room temperature potatoes).
Well, it appears that the Neapolitan chef, or his team, aren’t really very good at cooking anything either. Perhaps they should’ve stuck to pizzas? A. had a goosnargh duck that could have been chicken. It also appeared to have fallen victim to a shrinking machine. E. had potted salt beef, which could well have come from the same shrunken chicken. The blandness of both dishes was alleviated by a bottle of Nergoamaro A Mano 2008, the choice of which prompted one of the over-enthusiastic waiters to give E. the coveted “raised eyebrow of approval” and tell her “You must be very knowledgeable, this is a very rare grape, how do you know it”. To which E. mumbled something silly when really she should have said “Look, mate, you can buy it in Tesco’s”. It was in fact, rather ordinary, but in a delicious way and far more thrilling than the salmon “Which we serve half raw, Madam” and the mackerel “which we serve bland, Sir.”
A. and E. had previously been to a pub which offered giant toothpicks which could have been an interesting addition to the choice of weapon in Cluedo. Stupidly neither A. nor E. thought of poking the waiters with the toothpicks – which would have been amusing.
All in all, the restaurant was cosy (so cosy I was wedged up to the table by means of a giant springy cushion and to the couple next door whose table I could have rested my elbows on it was so close), the waiters were in fact charming and effective in their quirky way, and at least Gordon wasn’t there bellowing obscenities at everyone. E. was also enjoying A.s company and banter far to much to care about trivial things such as the food, which frankly was a bit pants. Foxtrot Oscar? Over and out.