Heaton Butler and Bayne received some nice press following it’s opening, yet unfortunately this new restaurant shows a great example of when a PR is almost too good at their job, knowing all the right buzz words, but nothing about the restaurant he/she is promoting.
Headed up by Swedish born chef Jonas Karlsson, who spent his early years learning to cook with produce he foraged on his grandmother’s farm in Sweden, the brand new Heaton Butler and Bayne has just opened in a former stained glass factory in Covent Garden. This opening paragraph is exciting, no? All the right words thrown around, Swedish chef, foraging, stylish transformed venue, enough to make you book a table. Well we did, for an early dinner on a Wednesday night.
The venue is funky with designed low backed wooden chairs with deep green upholstery and well lit white brick archways. It’s a nice space to dine in. The menu, which is due to change daily unfortunately hadn’t changed since I walked past the restaurant a few days prior, is interesting, hearty and British. To start we ordered the Portland dressed crap with apple salad. It sounded light and fresh, but sorry HBB, it wasn’t. What landed in front of us was an ice cream scoop of yellow crab on a thick piece of bread and a bit of apple and greens to garnish. The first bite answered our question of why the crab was yellow, it was dressed in curry powder that tasted like it could have come from Tesco and disguised all remnants of the crab. The bread was lightly toasted on one side and soft and a little soggy on the other. I did a little exploration around the bread to find most bizarrely the hefty slice was stuck to the place with a dollop of mashed potato. WTF! The whole dish was odd, but not horrible. Perhaps some further explanation on the menu or at least a mention of a curry dressing would have prepared us for what we go.
For main we went for roast duck breast with potato rosti and glazed beetroot. The duck had been overcooked to white, but tasted pleasant. The potato rosti was very nice, as was the glazed beetroot. I would however like to have seen more beetroot on the plate. I finished with the pistachio sponge cake which tasted ok, but was nothing special. There was no rich pistachio taste, instead just an artificial almond taste. The sponge was simple and executed well but could have been made at home from ready cake mix.
The bill came to a shocking £106 for two people. I wouldn’t ordinarily quiver at a £50 dinner, however for the quality of the meal we received there was no way I was going to pay that bill! Lucking we got a 50% discount by mentioning TheNudge.com but I wouldn’t even call £30 fair for the sub-standard pub meal we received.
Heaton Butler and Bayne was ok, at best. If I had sat down in a gastro pub in Covent garden and paid £11 for the duck course I would leave happy, but for the prices they charge and the hype they have successfully created HBB really need to step up their game before too many people catch wind of what’s on offer.