Friday, 12 November 2010

Electric House

191 Portobello Road, London. £???

Disclaimer – At the very best the objectivity of this review should be doubted. What we ate, drank, and indeed whether we were actually there at all are all matters of some debate.

First of all it should be noted that Electric House is a private club, part of the Soho House Group, with sister venues in such retro-glamourous locations as New York and Berlin. This particular establishment was less salubriously located behind an unmarked door on Portobello Road, though within convenient reeling distance of a Sam Smith's pub.

In theory one should be a creative new-media type on an informal networking lunch and a paid-up member of the Group in order to gain entry, so what follows will probably be of little use to anybody bored enough to continue. However this is, in fact, no barrier to lunch, assuming you are a tenacious sort. Put on a good hat, storm in, hastily scribble a made up name and signature and run upstairs to the bar for some Espresso Martinis. Which is what we did.

The restaurant was curiously busy for a Friday afternoon, but TOD was quick to mark out territory by shouting loudly about an important call he was expecting and forcing a frankly scared-looking barman to look after his phone.

Once it had become apparent that we weren’t leaving, we were seated in good time having polished off our aperitifs at the bar.

The menu has a fair breadth of starters, mains and various bar snack type things, three of which we ordered; chicken livers on toast, fishcakes, and something else.

TOD also plumped for a bottle of Meursault, as part of an ongoing campaign to drag me through his inexplicable fondness for white Burgundy. There may have been some bread and/ or olives involved at some point before our charming and long-suffering waitress brought the food.

The livers were mouth-fillingly rich and rather tasty, the fishcakes unmistakably that and served with a white dip which I recall quite liking. It was doubtless Tartare, or some variant thereof, but in the interest of journalistic integrity all I can say with absolute certainty is that it was white.

I don’t imagine the third plate was much cop as neither of us have any recollection of it whatsoever above the fact that it existed. The wine was jadingly typical, 'though not, if I recall, subjected to a horrific mark-up.

We enjoyed coffees, and I whiled away pleasant half hour watching TOD on a concerted but predictably fruitless mission to extract our waitress' phone number. As he began to lapse in and out of consciousness it became clear that it was time to make a move. Unburdened by the credit card we had left at the bar, we made a fleet-footed escape.

If all this sounds a little damning-with-faint-praise, let me assure you that Electric House is actually a superlative eating experience. The food is good, the ambience buzzy and pleasant and the staff met behaviour that must have pushed the limits of credulity with an heroic stoicism.

*If anyone from Electric House ever happens to come across this review, please feel free to contact me with any revisions or clarifications you may have. Especially if you know what the third dish was.*

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