Empty Chairs at Empty tables: Part 1
Alas, not a review of Les Miserables nor the song from the show, instead a review of two recent dining experiences at two rather lovely restaurants, but sadly, both were somewhat deserted hence the title of our latest two-part blog. Our first review focuses on NW3 Bar & Kitchen.
We begin on a mild Thursday night in February. Regular readers will recall our love for Ballarò, our localist of all local restaurants which we loved so much we blogged about them twice… sadly Ballarò didn’t make it to their first anniversary and in their place has arisen NW3 Bar & Kitchen. Speaking with the friendly and charming maître d’, he implied that the new owners are in fact the original owners of the property, so when Ballarò failed to pay their way the owners reclaimed the restaurant lock, stock and barrel. And when we say ‘lock, stock and barrel’ we do literally mean that; the restaurant interior remains identical to the old Ballarò – the same furniture, placemats and cutlery, including the wood “barrel” sitting by the front door.
Whilst clearly a good deal for the owners alas what Ballarò got wrong from a styling point of view (bright lights, décor that was somewhere between brasserie and fine dining, and the use of a bizarre neon lime accent colour throughout) these issue are still present at NW3 which without customers creates empty tables and lack of atmosphere…hence the theme of the blog.
It’s a real shame as the food at NW3 is great. It’s so good that we’ve been back a second time but even then (another Thursday) we were one of only three tables. As we were leaving we somehow struck up a conversation with another table and soon we were all discussing the décor, with the maître d’ (pst. the owners son), all of us offering advice on how to de-Ballarò the restaurant and turn it into it’s name-sake: a bar and kitchen.
Back to the food. A few standout dishes were the risotto, which was stunning, perfectly cooked and seasoned; it was so good that Ell has had it as a starter and a main (not on the same day). Drew enjoyed the chargrilled lamb leg and stated the chicken special was one of the best chicken dishes he had tasted. The food however isn’t cheap; one of our grumbles with Ballarò was that it wasn’t local prices. Whilst NW3 may be a price point down it’s still a price point above many other local restaurants, and that will make us question how often we’ll pop back in. But to be honest the main turn-off at the moment is the lack of customers and ambience. The owners are apparently looking to redecorate when funds are available but without the customers we can’t work out how and when this will happen.
We’d like to end this article by reinforcing the fact that local restaurants deserve local support and we’d encourage any of our readers heading to the NW3 area to give them a chance. We hope to be able to update you in the future with good news that NW3 has refurbished and are taking pride of place on the High Street.
Tomorrow we look at Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood.