There’s something quintessentially English about the experience: first-class, friendly but unobtrusive service; the pleasure of sitting outdoors when it’s really only just warm enough to risk it, and bits of tree are falling into your wine; well-meaning but gently over-privileged persons speaking at a slightly excessive volume; the live jazz (of a very high standard - Friday evenings throughout summer). If you’re indoors, the fabulously picture-laden walls will probably absorb a good amount of your attention during your evening.
The menu is a selection of the usual suspects of modern British-Italian cuisine (quail eggs, calamari, asparagus, corn-fed chicken, risotto, steak), and the prices aren’t as high as they might be given the gentility of the surroundings. As a guide, appetisers weigh in at £3.50-£5, starters £6.50-£8.50 and mains at £12.50-£20.50. You can mix and match appetisers, starters, mains and accompaniments, some starters can be ordered as mains and there’s a burger or fishcake option for the kids. The wine list is extensive, and the waiting staff is happy (and able) to make recommendations. The food is excellently cooked, exquisitely presented and the portions spot on - and when the weather’s really good, there’s a regular barbeque. If you’re feeling super-indulgent at the end of your meal (or too full to countenance pudding), they also do a range of delicious dessert wines and cocktails (the Brandy Alexander comes highly recommended).
The non-arrival of one appetiser didn’t bother us once we’d realised how much we were attempting to eat in total, the weather held, and whilst the jazz was just a tiny bit too loud, it was all part of the fun (our excited neighbour even leapt up and made a request). If the experience was marred by anything, it was only by the unfortunate misapprehension of a neighbouring party that their perpetual smoking wasn’t going to bother anyone because we were all outdoors. Next time we’ll remember not to sit in the down-draft!