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Drive down Upper Brook Street past Le Gavroche and the US Embassy into Grosvenor Square. Deep in the heart of Mayfair this is one of London's poshest address's.

Gordon Ramsays Maze (or should that have been Jason Atherton's Maze?) is on your left, but we see no other restaurants among the grand old buildings on the square.

So where is it?

Its at least fifty metres off the square into South Audley Street, thats where.

No, dont ask I don't know, but I can guess.

34 bills itself as a meat, game and seafood restaurant with a bespoke charcoal grill imported from Argentina taking pride of place in the kitchen. Its the latest opening from the same group who own famous names, The Ivy, Le Caprice, Scott's, Daphne's, J Sheekey etc, etc. I admit to it having slipped below our radar but it has received some good reviews so we thought, why not?

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The room is long with a bar at one end and an open kitchen at the other, where you can watch the chefs beavering away prepping the food. At the kitchen end is a small private-ish return which seats about fifteen.

We found a comfortable spot looking down the room.

The greeting was in line with all (except Scott's) of mega bucks Richard Caring's establishments, big happy faces with acres of teeth and a warm disposition.

The menu makes good reading, lots of untaxing comfort food with more than a smattering of interesting dishes for us. Eleven starters, eight mains, six salads, twelve grills including a burger for £16.50. Or how about a 240 gram Aussi Wagyu sirloin steak for £85? etc, etc.

There is cover charge of £2 per person which seems dated but includes things like bread and butter which was decent quality.

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Octopus is not something we eat much of at all, if at all, come to think of it. My version came with some soft peppery and highly seasoned chorizo, and some sliced waxy Roseval potatoes, lying in a moat of herb flecked butter. I found this enjoyable and worthy of its £10.50 price tag.

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My wifes starter was something altogether different, Foie Gras and garlic torteloni with chicken livers. This sounded a lot better than it actually tasted. The chicken livers were blasted into oblivion, there lightness destroyed by overcooking. The pasta was touching on leathery, thick and far from pleasant and the foie gras? Don't ask, I did not get any thrill of in the three tastes that I tried.

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Far better was her main, a trencherman portion of Rump of Glencoe Venison served with beetroot and sour cherries. My god did she enjoy this, barely surfacing for air. I did manage a taste, but best not disturb her too much whilst she is enjoying herself so much.

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I was pleased to see Slow braised Short ribs on the menu and when they arrived tableside it did not disappoint. Yes presentation wise the dish would not win any beauty contests but it lifted my heart with the generosity in portion control. "Winter roots and horseradish" proclaimed the menu, and the roots were wintery, they were hard, as in undercooked.

I did assume the ribs would be prime given the pedigree of the other meat on the menu, but this did not hit the target. Beneath the layer of fat the meat was strangely dry and very stringy. One of the ribs was very heavily fat laden and should have been trimmed further. The bite of the veg irritated me more and more and in the end I left half of the dish uneaten.

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We had a couple of side dishes which in honesty were not really needed as portion size and composition of the dishes largely rendered them a little overkill.

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The sprouts and tops were delicious.

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Good mash.

Service, which had been excellent throughout, seemed to falter a bit at this stage. It was if the staff breathed a big sigh of relief in having got through another service unscathed. It seemed an age before our plates were cleared and I wondered if our "new" shift change? waitress would comment on the half eaten plate of food.

She did not and I had to bite my tongue initially not to say anything.

About to make haste from the table I told her of the faults with the dish, she shrugged her shoulders and made no comment whatsoever.

I could not be bothered to make a fuss but I'm positive the top brass in this well oiled machine have based part of their success in getting feedback from customers through their foot soldiers. They clearly did not get any here.

We thought to share a dessert, and with plenty of choice available plumped for apple tarte tatin with cream brulee ice cream.

After a not too long wait (20 mins) said tarte arrived tableside looking as good as expected.

Good pastry, chewy toffee rim giving way to the sweet, slightly tart apple, crispy buttery base and a decent ice cream to boot. Whats not to like?

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Well. A mixed bag. It all started off so well, great feel to the place, service slipped and dropped off the edge at the end. I left disappointed with some of the food and some of the service.

Its not cheap of course but its managable on a budget, not that you will find many budget concious diners in this area.

Expect to pay about £60 per person without cocktails or any after meal drinks. You will be able to buy an entry bottle of wine with that money but the list soars skyward thereafter. If you fancy a steak with a name to it, (think Creekstone Farms USDA) expect to pay over £100 a kilo for it.

The million dollar question, would we go back?

I don't think so.

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Amusingly I walked past this place the other day without knowing its provenance. I had a bit of a chuckle about the (enormous) carte which seemed to be doing its outside best to name-check every conceivable gastronomic fad.

Retro prawn cocktail and steak tartare... Check.

Crispy pork (I bet its belly)... Check.

Salt baked root veg (errrr, Arpege or Ledbury anyone?)... Check.

Jamon Iberico... Check.

Parilla... Check.

Hamburger with foie gras... Check.

Wagyu beef... Check.

USDA prime beef... Check.

But then again I guess that's why the Ivy is so popular!

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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