We arranged to meet some Chinese-food-loving friends for a lunch at Hutong, which features at 88 in the National Restaurant Awards' list of the UK's top 100 restaurants. Impressive given it's only been open a matter of months. And with 88 and auspiciously good luck number in China, we had high hopes.
Reading the reviews, it was clear that we should expect eyewatering prices, spectacular views and knowledgeable service. What struck us in the end is actually how little the staff seemed to want to take our money.
Do these people actually want our money? It didn't feel like it, and we were dissuaded from ordering additional main courses...
I greatly enjoyed pairing a Grand Cru d"Alsace Gewurztraminer with the meal. (Sorry, no more details available as I forgot to photograph the bottle and there's no wine list on the web site. It was £61).
I was unsure how my friends would take to this departure from the crisp, acidic and citrusy whites which they drink as a norm. The scent of lychee and the full bodied texture of the wine won everyone over and matched up well to the variety of flavours on the table. However, we finished our wine and mineral water and weren't offered any more. We weren't offered any tea at the end of the meal. We'd been warned on booking that we could have the table for two hours, yet after 90 minutes the restaurant around us was virtually empty, and I felt like we were keeping staff back from having a break. They didn't want us to linger.
It was a good meal, and yes my iphone photos don't do justice to the view. The staff knew their stuff and were friendly, but somehow it all felt slightly wrong. This just didn't live up to my expectations of a restaurant in it's class and despite some rather lovely food, it'll probably be my only visit.