THE SCENE Masterchef co-presenter Greg Wallace parlays TV fame into his second restaurant (after Wallace & Co in Putney), at the Bermondsey Square Hotel. The brasserie, with al fresco tables, is in a regenerated square at the unexceptional
end of otherwise hip Bermondsey Street. It offers diners a nostalgic Seventies Britain nosh-up in a faux-retro-styled open-kitchen restaurant. The decor is of muted colours and tongue-in-groove panelling – not unlike a hotel reception.
A cast iron bra and Y-fonts on the toilet doors point at Wallace’s jocular approach to the whole venture. He is around tonight, greeting diners with cringeworthy familiarity. That the Seventies hardly gifted the nation with culinary excellence
(in fact, to some it evokes abhorrent memories of school dinners), indicates the owner is taking a bold step with his chosen theme. My experience suggests it may have been the wrong one.
The grub The Welsh rarebit, and egg salad are a humdrum start, but there’s shock and horror when my dining partners (we all had a taste) almost choke on several strands of what appears to be hard plastic cooked inside a plate of thickly battered Spam fritters (ham hock, actually). It’s duly reported, and our waitress is as mortified as we are. Needless to say, it puts a dampener on proceedings. Thankfully mains came free of foreign bodies. Unfortunately, neither a heavily crumbed, bloated chicken kiev, with whipped blob of mash, nor an unambitious beef stroganoff can lift our spirits.
Behind the bar There’s great variety in the cellar, and London ales on tap.
Bill please Starters and desserts from £5; mains from £13; glass of wine from £4.50; beer from £3.90.
Verdict There’s an overwhelming sense someone’s not taking this place seriously. However, there’s hope in head chef Jordi Vila, who has since come from Vivat Bacchu in Farringdon to join the team. He sure has his work cut out. rebecca kent
Bermondsey Square Hotel, Tower Bridge Road, SE1 3UN greggstable.com Bermondsey