Mr White’s English Chophouse: Disappointing

Do people ever get bored with the concept of nostalgia? Did some marketer looking for the next new thing need to reinvent the chophouse for the 21st Century? You can probably guess where this review is going. Mr White’s is depressingly predictable, an unwelcome throwback to the past in so many ways. The concept is a tenuous one and the man behind it may well have had his time. Presumably the market researchers did their work, but the idea of going to a restaurant that pays homage to the 1960s concept of“serving large individual portions of meat to wealthy customers” (this quote is taken from the restaurant’s website) does not strike me as instinctively appealing. It also hints at elitism. Perhaps this should not be too surprising given that the ‘Mr White’ behind the concept is none other than Marco Pierre. Yes, he was the first and youngest British chef to achieve three Michelin stars, but this was some time ago. The world has moved on. Moreover, when I go to a restaurant, I do not desperately want to see large blown-up photos of said chef staring down at me from the walls. They also clash with the exposed brickwork and piping, an obvious nod to fashion, but one which is by now perhaps also somewhat dated. When my comrade and I visited on a recent weekday evening, the place was curiously lacking in atmosphere, which did not improve our experience. Only half a dozen tables were occupied. Our server suggested that this perhaps due to the hot weather or the summer holidays. Both valid reasons, but average food at expensive prices may also explain it. Our starters showed promise, but both mains and desserts disappointed. The menu is mainstream (or old school) British and French with the likes of fresh crab with “sauce mayonnaise and toast Melba” or “crispy calamari” adorning the first section. Plaudits to the chef for the crab, which was moist and artfully displayed, with the toasts arranged like the fins of a fish. There was little to criticise the preparation of either our steaks, but both were let down by their accompanying sauces. My comrade impelled me to try his peppercorn sauce in order to confirm to him just how bad it was. I had to concur: little evidence of pepper, and far too much vinegar. The puddings were also thoroughly depressing. The words synthetic and rubbery sprang immediately to mind. What adds insult to injury is that the experience does not come cheap: starters at around £8, but mains costing up to £30. Furthermore, the wine list mark-ups (by a factor of five in some cases) bordered on the egregious. Let’s leave this chophouse in the 1960s.