Thursday, 24 May 2012

Electric Brasserie

Why isn’t West London better in foodie terms? Openings are thin on the ground, and for such a well-travelled and well-heeled populace, the foodie offerings are fairly poor. Soho is booming in foodie terms of course, and East London and SE1 are buoyant too. Eateries are opening all over, so why not here? Maybe because the current residents can still afford the frequent holidays which all this eating out has replaced for the rest of us...

Notting Hill was once like East London, but the edginess was counterbalanced with penniless aristos and a good sized European community, which gave it such an international feel. Whereas East London feels very British, and has international folk admiring and integrating into the vibe, rather than bringing their own.

Notting Hill has the Moroccan and Portuguese of Golborne, it has Garcia, Mr. Christian's... genuine foodie heritage, and The Ledbury at the top end of things is stellar. So why on earth is The Electric still one of the hot spots in W11? 

It’s one of the weak links in the empire for sure. The brasserie is packed daily, but smells like a greasy spoon. The pseudo-Parisian, quasi-McNally bistro menu is tired, and the food lacks flair. Let me caveat this moan by saying that I found the service very professional and slick, and the drinks are great. Price-wise it's reasonable too. But the food isn’t well seasoned or executed at all.

The burger used to be a bit of legend around these parts. But in 2012 you can’t get away with mediocrity in the >£10 burger field any more. Even worse, it’s a £12 burger. And you can get far better for little over half that.

London is awash with post-gourmet burgers; with fastidious thought going into the bun, the cheese and the other accompaniments, let alone the meat. This patty was mealy and heavy on the breadcrumbs. I also wasn't asked how I'd like it cooked, leading to a medium-well husk. And this floury cold bun is more at home in a chain pub in Basildon.

The bar steak-frites was overcooked for medium rare, and the fries – again once a thing of legend – were tasteless. At £15, one should be suspicious I guess. Which is why at this price point, most places will deliver a bavette with much better results.

Fish-wise, there was a choice of sea bream, cod and salmon and this at least did receive some positive feedback. I think the particular one appears cooked to a cinder but the recipient liked it.

The Electric is trading on past glories and disappointingly complacent. But unlike its Soho equivalent, Café Boheme, the quality has deteriorated. And whereas Café Boheme's trad feel can support some louche decay, The Electric's recent modernity cannot. Fundamentally it desperately needs a food revamp; their brunch is no better unless you want a croissant and a bellini…

However, looking at it pragmatically, the buzz is still great, the drinks are good and the people-watching is enough for the crowd to overlook average food as they scope out the room. On second thoughts, perhaps different priorities for Notting Hill’s diners are what keep would-be openings at bay. That and outrageous rents of course.

And to think I made it through a Notting Hill post without bringing in the shambolic Granger & Co, or the ham & cheese toasties masquerading as croque monsieurs scam. Oh.
Food – 4/10
Drink – 9/10
Service - 8/10
Value – 6/10
Tap water tales – 8/10
Staff Hotness – 7/10

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