Review: Newman Street Tavern

I was really excited when I hear the Newman Street Tavern was opening, because it’s not too far from where I live, and let’s face it, I love eating out. The promised menu of British-focused properly bred and hung meats, seasonal, wild and foraged flibbertigibbets is bang on trend. Plus the chef,  Peter Weeden, previous of Paternoster Chop House and Boundary, has a pretty good repuation. Newman Street Tavern isn’t a hard sell.

As regular readers of this blog will know, the Strawberry Blonde’s day off is Friday, which means we often go out for a long lunch, preferably boozy. Last Friday we couldn’t get a table at the Green Man and French Horn (another place I’m dying to try). I knew the Newman Street Tavern had only opened the day before…being on the vanguard of the avant garde is *such* hard work. I phoned and reserved a table for two, and we headed towards Goodge Street hoping for some Fitzrovia fabulousness

I like to try restaurants out before they become too hip and hot; we went to Dabbous the second week it was open, and Colbert while it was still in ‘soft launch’ phase. In some ways I think it’s unfair to judge restaurants too harshly in the first week or so. Everything- especially waiting staff- takes time to bed in, and while teamwork can definitely make the dream work, it can also make for a torturous dining experience.

I didn’t review Colbert for this reason. Between you and me, I think the food is bland and overpriced compared to their sister restaurants, but then again you can get away with just about anything in Chelsea as long as it’s expensive and not too scary.

So, Newman Street Tavern…to review or not to review? I’ll give you just some of the highlights. We had to ask for menus after we had been seated for a quarter of an hour. We had to ask for bread three times and when the waiter finally brought it he plonked it on the table with more than a hint of irritation. The staff spent most of their time chatting with friends who were popping in to see how things were going on the opening day. I wanted to scream “NOT VERY WELL IF YOU ASK ME!”

We waited a half an hour for our starters; the Cornish fish soup was stunning- served with a little pot of homemade marmalade to stir through it- but the tiny bowl contained about three spoonfuls of soup. My main course- rare breed pork with ale onions- arrived cold.  I sent it back to the kitchen, and it came back to me vaguely lukewarm. I ate it, and it was ok, but not nearly as nice as it would have been if it were hot. Various people arrived looking for a table, were ignored by the staff, and left. We weren’t asked if we wanted dessert, or coffee, or if everything was ok at any point in our meal. 

Until the end, by a waiter who wasn’t even our waiter. And we were totally honest, something that isn’t all that easy. We said we didn’t want to pay the service charge. He was charming, appreciative, apologetic, and seemed very concerned. He also knocked 50% off our bill and gave us a complimentary glass of Domaine Pouderoux Maury, which definitely made things a bit better.

So this has, after all, turned into a review. 

Will we go back? Probably not. Should you go? Maybe. The restaurant was open for just a day before we darkened its doors, and I do hope they iron out all the issues. There are so many places to eat in London offering a similar style of food but with much more authenticity and better service. I wish we had gone to lunch at Great Queen Street. It may not be the new kid on the block, but GQS is consistently brilliant and chef Tom Norrington-Davies doesn’t put up with any nonsense. 

Newman Street Tavern, 48 Newman Street, London, W1T 1QQ

Anyone else been to Newman Street Tavern? Post your comments here.