Octave, 27-29 Endell Street, WC2H 9BA; T. 020 7836 4616; Tube: Covent Garden; www.octave8.com
Friday, June 15, 2007
Another week, another not entirely perfect live music/dining venue. Octave is hidden on the back streets around Covent Garden. Inside, it's quite dark. Some of the wooden tables are laid for food, with stiff white napkins and solitary red flowers glass vases. But many are unadorned, for those who just want a cocktail or several. The menu is not cheap. Our bottle of Australian pinot gris was nice but unremarkable at £21.50. The dinner options come on one list, with starters around the £8 mark and mains £14-20. Add on a £5 per person cover charge for the music, and it's clear this won't be a cheap night. But the food's pretty good. The fried chorizo came on a bed of sweet potato which my companion pronounced to be the best he's ever tried. The chunky chips with goats' cheese (£4.95, from the bar snacks menu) were lovely and clearly home made and a nice take on the old chips-n-cheese combo. The rib eye was tender and nicely rare, and I didn't even miss the absence of peppercorn sauce (which wasn't on offer). It came with crispy herbed potatoes, and we were glad of the waitress's recommendation to order something green - the rocket and parmesan salad contrasted nicely. The service is swift, friendly and competent. So far, the place wins hands down over Volupte (reviewed earlier). But the music was a bit of a let down. The three-piece jazz band was ok, but nothing special. Which was just as well as no one seemed to stop talking when they started to play. I am not a fan of the hush-hush atmosphere of places like Ronnie Scotts, but when several large group tables are talking over the music at full volume, you wonder why they'd bothered to come to a music venue and pay the cover charge in the first place. Still, it was a nice night, which ended sweetly as there was no mention of the advertised cover charge on our bill. We might well come back on a Monday or Tuesday when they do a £15 set menu.