We were seated in the extended atrium - if one could call it that - lit by some uncomfortable red lights. Our table was up against the full length window of the main dining room, which meant it was almost like sharing a table with the people inside; we'd be rubbing shoulders if it wasn't for the window.
We asked our server for recommendations, she launched into an explanation of how the plates were designed for sharing, and that we should go for the tasting menu. So we asked again... As if to punish me for asking, she began reading out each item on the menu in a jumbled order, testing my literacy. 'Hmmm... Bread, chicken butter is bread served with butter that tastes like chicken... Potato, hummus, truffle is new... Chicken, sweetcorn, curry is like a chicken curry...' Thanks. We sat through the full recital.
The snacks started off well.
Cheese, Doughnut, Summer Truffle
The cheese doughnuts reminded me of deep-fried custard buns in dim sum restaurants, just a savoury version; a crusty shell enveloping an airy bun, filled with melty Gruyere cheese, sprinkled with Parmesan and truffle shavings. Absolutely divine and we could see why they had to put it on the menu twice.
Beer, Beef, Chilli
The crackers were smeared with a layer of raw beef minced with chopped chillies, which were more like a playful poke as opposed to a powerful spicy kick. The smooth tartare went well with the brittle base, we both enjoyed it being something different. We couldn't tell where the beer had gone, probably in the crackers.
Burnt Tenderstem Broccoli, Verbana, Salt-Fried Egg
The broccoli was sold under 'garden'. It's a side. And at £8 for 6 pieces of broccoli with a fried egg, it's outrageous. It's broccoli!
BBQ Veal Tartare, Chilli, Garden Herbs
The egg yolk looks massive right? No, there just wasn't much tartare. It was a regular-sized yolk with a thin stretch of dressed tartare around it. The veal was finely chopped, too smooth and too mild for my taste, I prefer more bounce and more powerful flavours from beef. The BBQ was lost on me.
BBQ Octopus, Potato Skin, Black Garlic, Sour Cream
It looked like the kitchen had to spread every single ingredient out to mask how little food there was on the plate - where there was too much blank space, it was dusted with black garlic powder. For £17 we only got a short octopus tentacle and a half, scattered with morsels of potatoes (mostly skin) and droplets of garlic aioli. The octopus was good, bouncy but soft with some char for smokiness, and worked well with the sour cream and purée globules, just needed more substance.
Kid Goat, Ponzu, Shallots, Grains
The kid goat was very disappointing. The meat was slow-cooked and shaped into a roulade, topped with crispy fried shallots. It was terribly overseasoned; one side was much worse than the other, as I was biting into large crystals of sea salt. Even on the side that was not studded with a salt crust, the thick gravy was too strong and it killed the goat. The ragu mixed with grains was quite enjoyable with the it's forkful, then I was reaching for water again. There is a distinctive difference between intense meaty flavours and just downright salty, this was no doubt the latter. The portion was fine though.
Burnt Honey, Malted Ice Cream, Lemon
It was alright, the ice cream tasted much like vanilla, especially with the thick sickeningly sweet paste of 'burnt honey' curd on the side.
The menu was confusing. We were told that it was designed for sharing and so they recommend 3 or 4 dishes per person, and like a tapas restaurant, it was split into fish, meat and vegetables sections. But then within each category, some dishes were intended to be a starter portion.
Looks like the chefs couldn't decide their serving style; the menu was not big enough to warrant a tasting menu option, but they wanted each table to order more to jack up the bill, as they couldn't just increase the prices for each item when diners were basically sitting in an extension into a car park...
Service was atrocious. As well as their lack of knowledge in the menu. Staff don't use trays for drinks - I'm okay with that. But the lady held my wine with the bowl of the glass in her palm - that, I don't like. It's not mulled wine, it doesn't need warming up.
The other guys standing round the place were more like bouncers than serving staff, carried an accusatory tone when clearing the plate. It was nice when the chefs brought the dishes out themselves, though they don't say any more than what it does on the menu.
We finished our evening with some Orange Buffalo Wings from the food truck park. For some real food.
Definitely not coming back to The Frog.
2 Ely's Yard
Old Truman Brewery
Tel: +44 203 813 9832