First impressions count and while I know not to judge a book by its cover, sometimes it’s easier said than done. When I walked into Restaurant Ours and felt like I had been transported onto a set of Made in Chelsea, my expectations for the food experience somewhat plummeted. The infamously instagrammable entranceway and flower wall was every bit as elaborate as all the snaps had portrayed, the bar was a showstopper, the music was blaring; this place made it pretty clear what kind of clientele it was seeking. But was it the kind that cared about what they were eating or only cared about being seen to be eating there?
Given the chef patron is none other than Tom Sellers, the man behind Restaurant Story, one of the most creative and intriguing dining experiences we have ever had, one would expect that the quality of the food and that appreciation of that quality would be important. However, early reviews for Restaurant Ours from many acclaimed critics would suggest everything to the contrary. Perhaps some might have even inferred that Mr Sellers had actually sold out, so to speak. Scathingly harsh but everyone is entitled to their opinion, though as I’ve said before, in this game, no one’s opinion is gospel…
My view is somewhere is in the middle; I think there’s slightly too much style over substance, but what substance there is, is actually pretty good. As always, we gravitated towards the raw options to start; being the accommodating lady that I am, I let a certain someone have the steak tartare while I had the salmon tartare. I was reliably informed that the tiny, uniform cubes of beef and equally meticulously prepared accompaniments combined to make a well-balanced and textured tartare, and after a small taste myself, I completely agreed. The halo of salmon slices layered with radish and bergamot was just as refined but infinitely more delicate on the palate which I liked; such a light, guilt-free starter.
A perfectly cooked fillet of fish with crispy skin is not something I’ve yet mastered in the kitchen so I do enjoy having one cooked for me. The sea bream fillet with turnip and roasted shallots was again, another uncomplicated dish but one with distinct and complimentary flavours, all faultless when they came to the table. The chicken with foie gras, celeriac and endive was more substantial in size and flavour than either of us expected, but it was the crispy chicken skin which was the cherry on top of an already succulent dish. We also ordered a side of red cabbage, apple and almond which was more slaw than the braised we for some unknown reason imagined in our minds but happily, the reality was rather delicious!
For dessert, we couldn’t resist the doughnuts with salted caramel, whimsically presented in striped paper bag, reminiscent of something you’d grab at the local fair. As you might expect, these were far from those stale, greasy versions, but not the best we’ve had. A bit more of the salted caramel to ooze from the pert, sugary doughnuts would have been just the ticket. I had the artistically presented pear, pistachio and chocolate saffron arrangement. Each of the aspects, from the broken cake pieces to the pear cubes to the perfect quenelle of ice cream, came together to create a really vibrant dessert that I was more than happy to end my meal with!
We were pleasantly surprised with our meal at Restaurant Ours; it was by no means cutting edge cuisine but it was far from the trainwreck that critics had experienced early on. As we had plans later in the evening, we dined early and took advantage of a set menu deal which was absolutely steal for the quality and quantity of the food. There was even a glass of prosecco thrown in to sweeten the deal. We still spent just over £100 including wine and service for what I had sold to a certain someone as a casual midweek meal… but it easily might had been double had we dined a la carte. I wasn’t at all surprised and I doubt that anyone who makes the decision to shimmy down that mesmerising hallway really cares! They say what’s yours is ours and what’s ours is yours at Restaurant Ours… so be prepared to share your pretty pennies!
What do you think about restaurant critics’ views? Do you follow their recommendations religiously?