|Is this a laksa?
First impressions weren't good. I wasn't expecting a large bowl of noodles but nor did I quite anticipate being served a kid's meal from Lilliput. On the plus side, the broth was different class with the liquorice adding another dimension. But was it a laksa? I'll leave that question to my Malaysian friends to debate further, but in my eyes it wasn't.
|World's smallest dumpling
Joining me for lunch was El Greco and I asked him to see if he could spot anything vaguely Greek on the menu that he might feel was an affront to him or his forebears. He struggled but there was some feta in the sweet potato, feta, spinach, and herb tortilla with yoghurt, basil pesto dressing, pine nuts and greens (£8.80). This was a finely balanced dish that was better suited to summer rather than winter but it was good quality nonetheless. El Greco just wished there was more of it.
|At least they were generous with the salad leaves
|Has my hand grown?
|Duck but no char siu!
The Providores and Tapa Room is one of London's most celebrated restaurants and needs little introduction. It consists of two separate dining rooms, the first floor Providores restaurant and the ground floor Tapa Room. We dined at the latter, which being a more casual café-style operation is the cheaper of the two.
The owner, Peter Gordon is a famous Kiwi celeb chef and a champion of fusion cuisine. These influences can be seen throughout the menu, which is quite possibly the most irritating menu ever. For God's sake, is there really any need to list all the chuffing ingredients in each and every dish?
The bill came to £27.34 including 12.5% service – this was just for the food, as we drank tap water. Even allowing for its Marylebone High St location, this was bloody expensive for what it was.
Restaurants like The Providores and Tapa Room aren't my natural habitat. However, it wasn't the fusion cuisine that I disliked – our food was by and large fine – it was the relationship between portion size and price.
We could've easily eaten double the amount of what we ordered or to put it another way, spend nearly £30 each (without drinks) on a quick workday lunch. For that kind of price, there are many other places that I'd rather visit.
But hey, what do I know? Despite the exorbitant prices, this is a very popular restaurant and in the 45 minutes or so that we were there, it was never less than busy. No mean feat for a Tuesday lunchtime.
The Providores and Tapa Room, 109 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4RX
(Tel 020-7935-6175) Nearest Tube: Baker St