My late dad once joked that my mum had gained weight because of her snacking habits.
He dubbed it “graze anatomy”. (Don’t worry, I will hide this mag issue, she need never know).
Like her, I need to pad out the saggy and rumbling pauses between feeds.
However, to satisfy those genetically inherited pangs, I probably wouldn’t go to this misleadingly named place from chef Mark Greenaway, whose eponymous restaurant on North Castle Street closed down last year.
While grazing might suggest casual tapas and sharing plates, it’s actually a pretty standard three course affair, with a few options designed to serve two. Stuffing Your Face with Mark Greenaway might be more accurate.
As you might expect from a chef with Mark’s experience, setting up in the five star Waldorf Astoria (aka The Caley) prices for main courses hover under the £30 mark – a bit more spendy than this venue’s former resident, Galvin Brasserie de Luxe.
The interior looks about the same though. It could do with a bit of a revamp, to tell us a bit more about the new resident, but maybe that wasn’t part of the deal.
When it comes to food, it’s not The Pompadour, so there are no amuse bouche, though diners do get some rather good treacle stout bread with a pot of meat-flecked sticky duck butter.
We were lucky it wasn’t yucky, though not particularly sticky or ducky.
From the starters list, I went for the “mackerel/hibiscus/apple/beetroot” (£10). It looked so bonnie, with the fish’s chrome skin camouflaged against the textured plate, and there were slivers of beetroot, pansy petals, buttery blobs of couscous and other pretties.
The flavours were rather restrained though – I got a wakey-wakey ping from the green apple gel, but nothing much else. If this was a disco, I’d be asking the DJ to turn the music up.
We preferred the “ham hough/quail egg/pineapple” (£9), with a puff of pea purée speared with shards of dehydrated pineapple, two discs of compressed ham and a Liliputian fried egg.
Apparently, our main course of 11-hour slow roast pork belly/mash (£27.50) was a dish Mark cooked on his Great British Menu telly stint. I missed that, since I have a backlog of Netflix stuff.
It was rather good though, with a block of sea-salted meat, savoy cabbage, a bank of smooth mash that was a glistening vehicle for a gallon of butter, some copper coloured toffee apple jus and cubes of apple.
The “hake/shellfish cannelloni/bisque/leeks” (£27.50) was one of Mark’s typically aesthetically pleasing dishes. It’s true what they say about eating with your eyes (though I don’t like it when the crumbs get stuck in my lashes).
The monochrome cannelloni was as stripy as Beetlejuice’s suit, and was stuffed with meaty and sweet minced shellfish, with a foamy and stock-rich sauce, a strip of burnished leek and other bits. Easily the dish of the day.
They have lots of sides here – eight, which is more than anything else on the food list. We went for the craggy bollards of “Kentucky fried cauliflower/garlic aioli” (£4), but they were hard inside.
Also, the “ugly potatoes/gruyere/thyme/garlic” (£4) didn’t really work, since the knobbly nutty tubers were under-seasoned and I wanted more cheese, please.
Since we’d exhausted our budget on side dishes, we went for a single pudding – the brown sugar cheesecake/tomato/feuilletine (£9.50). My other half is a bit of a cheesecake purist, and didn’t rate it much.
However, I enjoyed the ozone-y tomato flavour in the syrup and the creamy basil-leaf-topped layer of fluff on top of a toasty-flavoured and crispy densely packed crépe base. Clever.
I get the feeling Mark has done some compromising when it comes to the food. At his own restaurants – Bistro Moderne and Restaurant Mark Greenaway – there was theatre and a sense of occasion.This feels a bit like the stifled and lite version of his cooking/style.
Still, I’m sure he’s just settling in, and when he does, I shall return to work on my graze anatomy.