Watching Jason Atherton at the moment is like watching his former boss Ramsey at his peak; he does not seem to be able to stop opening restaurants. After already opening Social Eating House and Little Social (see review) this year he has just opened B Tavern in the new Edition hotel just north of the Plaza shopping centre on eastern Oxford Street. All this plus some new openings in Asia and City Social in the ‘Natwest Tower’ planned for next year, should keep him busy.
The room here is very grand without being too formal and it is almost worth coming once for the surroundings. The tables are a little close together but then this is more of a brassiere style restaurant. Accordingly there are various menus for different parts of the day including breakfast. It was pretty busy with all the tables for two occupied by 7 on a Tuesday evening.
A starter of Orkney scallop ceviche, avocado, radish, baby gem, jalapeño and lime ice (£12.50) was overall a pretty good dish. The scallops themselves were nicely sliced and had a fresh sweet taste. The ice was too spicy but worked okay if it was carefully divided out proportionally over the whole dish; I suspect for many people this would still be too hot though and may take away from the subtle scallops. The basic flavour combinations were good though. “Egg, Ham and Peas”- Deep fried Clarence Court duck egg, mushy peas and crispy Cumbrian ham (£8.50) again had good flavour combinations and the duck egg was perfectly cooked.
Pan braised Atlantic halibut, squid ink risotto, garlic squid and broccoli (£24) was actually presented as a main plate and a side. The risotto with the squid on top came in a separate metal pot. This was a dish that differed considerably depending on what vessel it was served in. The fish was very well cooked and was obviously good quality and the broccoli was fine. On the other hand in the pot there was some almost non-existent squid, tiny thin slivers and a couple of tentacles that had been deep fried to an inch of losing all texture. These sat on top of a nicely cooked risotto which tasted very much of parmesan, this was nice on its own but I am not a fan of cheese and white fish as a flavour combination. Better was roasted Cornish sea bass, brown shrimp, samphire and kale with wholegrain mustard (£24.50). Everything here was cooked well and came together with the help of a very good mustard sauce; a tasty dish. A side of tenderstem broccoli, almond and lemon (£4) was well cooked and the almond added some nice texture.
I don’t think everything was going exactly to plan at least on that night. The table next to us sent back a steak that was supposed to be cooked medium, I would have barely commended if I had order it RARE. When it came back I think it was still underdone for the customer but he kept it anyway. Also although the service was good at the tables I had to wait ages at the front desk as someone was on the phone and then we waited for a ridiculous amount of time for our coats.
I have now eaten in all 4 JA restaurants in London in the last 6 months and although this was a decent meal it was defiantly the worst experience of the four. Although as yet he does not appear to be spreading him too thin, there are perhaps danger signs showing; perhaps after a couple more openings the quality will be hard to maintain.