Sea Containers: Smoother sailing

My initial visit to this venue in February was characterised by a mix of positive and negatives: design, views and cocktails in the former camp, but a poor menu concept and disappointing service distinctly in the latter. It is often said that bad service trumps all else and if this holds true, then it is reasonable to wonder why I might have been tempted to return to Sea Containers. However, a work-related event saw me back in the venue sooner than I would have imagined likely. Perhaps this was not a fair or like-for-like comparison since this visit saw our large group accommodated in the venue’s snazzy private dining room, while on a Monday night, the servers were far from rushed. Nonetheless, full plaudits to Sea Containers for mostly delivering on this occasion (service was still a touch rough around the edges). We were all impressed with the quality of the cooking, sampling seven sharing dishes across the group to begin and then four mains after. Ceviche tacos were as good as I had sampled anywhere recently, while the crab on sourdough toast had a lovely piquant finish, enhanced by the introduction of avocado and jalapeno. The preparation of the meat too demonstrated promise, with the beef being the standout offering, an impressive mix of ribeye and exceptionally tender cheek, procured from a farm in nearby Surrey. Our wines also pleased and were, this time (in contrast to the previous occasion), served at the right temperature. A Chenin from South Africa was followed by a Rhone blend red, both priced reasonably and drawn from an extensive list. Whether this experience is indicative of what diners can expect in the restaurant proper on a busier night of the week remains to be seen, but the ship seems to be sailing in the right direction. A further visit may be merited.