I've often remarked upon my cameraphone's unique ability to judge quality through the level of focus it applies to pictures, so there is only one image I need to show you today to sum up my feelings towards the Hoxton Grille:
Yes, the Hoxton Grille was pretty bad. And this is a shame because I actually wanted it to be good and went in with quite an open mind. Service was good enough too, although the place was nearly empty so allowing us to choose where we wanted to sit probably wasn't too much of an imposition. And we were also (initially) impressed by the budget pre-7pm menu, which had a choice of 7 dishes from the main menu for half price.
But oh dear, the food. The two of us ordered rump steak, one with peppercorn sauce and the other with bernaise. Of the two, the bernaise was the better - the peppercorn just tasted like slightly peppery milk, a horrible thin concoction. The steaks were cooked to the required medium-rare but were anaemic looking things, tough and stringy and quite a battle to eat, even with steak knives. Is it really that hard to cook a good steak? There must be more to it than I understand because of all the steaks I've ever had in London, only those at Hawksmoor and Santa Maria del Sur have been any good. Even my own Fox & Hounds can't really pull off a good rib eye. I have a sneaking suspicion it's all to do with the sourcing of the meat, and to make a profit on anything less than a £18 steak you have to sacrifice quality somewhere down the line. Hawskmoor steaks are expensive - about £18 for the rump from memory, much more for the sirloin - but they are drop dead gorgeous things and never disappoint. Is it really worth boasting a £7 steak and chips on your menu if it tastes bloody awful?
We paid up and left, the modest bill going some way to offset the disappointment. When I got home my sister had made chocolate covered strawberries, and the bitter memory of the Hoxton Grille faded away for good.
P.S. I have just gone through this post correcting the spelling of "Grille". A ridiculous bit of Hoxtony pretention but I suppose it's their call.