I was pleasantly surprised at this place, having selected it for a Birthday meal (due to a cross section of family and friends needing certain food and cheaper prices), the possible sense of forboding from the review title is not warranted at all.
The restaurant has a slightly front-room rustic feel to it, with various pieces of literature and British/Royal Family themed paraphernalia placed around the door into the place. The seating is comfortable enough; the place feels quite relaxing, homely and warm without being too familiar.
There was a healthy selection of British cuisine available on the menu, ranging from Lamb Shank, Pork Belly, Steak and Pies with starters including a generous slab of black pudding 'crostini' with scallops, soups, ham terrines and fish cakes.
There were a few vegetarian options available for those who aren't able to eat meat or seafood, but it is the usual cheese, mushrooms and stuffed vegetable scenario, with a pasta dish and interestingly a veggie wellington. It is good to see more than one or two vegetarian options available for people, rather than the obligatory lip service of a single dish.
The food itself seems currently to vary quality. Whilst my dish and a couple of others were very good (if slightly overdone - lamb shank which was a little bit tough and singed around the edges (but very tender otherwise I hasten to add), pie and yorkshire pud, some were (according to friends) a bit underwhelming considering the price (I'm looking at you Sirloin Steak). I am willing to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt having been whilst it had only been open about a month. The food was definitely seasoned well and the lamb itself was tender and of excellent quality, which is a indicator that the restaurant is true to its word on sourcing local and high quality ingredients for its wares.
The selection was good with regards a wine menu which was fairly comprehensive, although the beers were a little lacking; £4 a pint for Peroni or Kozel Pilsner is not going to light anyone's touchpaper. A choice of some Belgian and British Ales would be more appropriate for the food on offer and in keeping with the seeming remit of the restaurant. The wine menu had a selection of around 8 reds and 8 whites, all of which covered the menu adequately and were all quite reasonably priced (under £20 for a bottle of decent looking Sancerre – quite refreshing (pun intended). The Rioja which we ordered to go with the lamb was good enough for the mark-up too, under £15 per bottle for something very drinkable is a good sign, especially when some places seem feel it is appropriate to slap a 400% mark up on a bottle of Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon (it’s simply not, you look rather greedy, regardless of the rent on your premises or staff costs etc).
The service wasn't quite the best, although symptomatic of some places on Lark Lane. There's a bit of a laid back attitude from staff in the bars and restaurants in some establishments, which can be quite refreshing and relaxing, although there were a couple of occasions where staff were nowhere to be seen when we required more drinks. The restaurant wasn't especially busy, although there were only 3 serving staff across the restaurant, it should have been adequate. This didn't detract from the staff's friendliness and politeness; they were impeccable in this respect to their credit.
Give it time, this place could be a really excellent addition to Lark Lane if they seek to improve. They’ll need to in order to make sure they compete with some of the more established places along Lark Lane, although they have an edge with the cuisine they offer.