Donastia, Lurra's sister restaurant, has the
honour of being on my list of banned London restaurants. Oh yes, the list is real and it is lengthy. I wanted
to like Donastia when it first opened but, a bit like Lurra, some of the
dishes failed to hit the mark. Donastia's overcooked pluma was unforgivable while their mini wagyu burger was a pale imitation of the drool-worthy iberico burger at Opera Tavern. That's not the reason for the ban though. Donastia
is the only restaurant in London where the staff turfed me
off my table at the end of my allotted 2 hour dining slot. We were
handed the bill and our coats with the last bites of dessert while a couple stood next to the table.
Needless to say, I haven't been back. Lurra wasn't like that though, but to invoke a sporting analogy to describe the food, there are a lot of swings, a few hits but no home runs.
The Sportsman is one of those seemingly mythic restaurants existing beyond Zone 2 that always seemed unreachable to this non-car owning city slicker. Yes I know there are trains but really, who would entrust their punctuality, or anything else for that matter, to SouthEastern Trains? The four hour lunchtime tasting menu at The Sportsman kicks off at midday and I'd prefer not to have to leave home at 6am to reach Whitstable in time thanks very much. So we bit the bullet, hired a car, organised a shady mid-week hookie day from work, et voila, found ourselves in Kent on a frosty mid December day. For some reason, I had thought the focus of the meal would be solely on seafood given the proximity to the coast, but I was wrong. The seafood courses were my favourites, but vegetable-only and meat-based dishes held their own. There was very little to fault in the meal and with the relaxed and friendly service, I'd even brave SouthEastern to get another taste of the terrific brill braised in vin jaune sauce.
It was a rookie error really and considering I can no longer honestly tick the juvenile box on questionable questionnaires, I have no one to blame but myself. Frenchie, newly landed from the Rue du Nil via Eurostar in Covent Garden, suggests that dishes from its confusingly structured menu can be shared. Well of course they can be shared, but it doesn't mean they're suitable for sharing. Portion sizes are on the, shall we say, modest size. This means you'll need a couple of their foie gras dishes at £14 a pop unless you're happy with a thumbnail-sized mini mouthful. Likewise, pasta dishes can be shared, but only if you fancy smearing some ragu across the metal tables. So, my advice is to ignore the advice on the menu. These dishes aren't for sharing. Treat Frenchie like a three course (ok probably four) kinda place and you'll enjoy it. The food is well executed, the wine is good, the space is open and light and service is...let's say the service is still a work in progress.