Named after the ninth restaurant chef Jun Tanaka has been involved with, The Ninth on Charlotte Street may not win any awards for name innovation but it did recently receive a Michelin star.
We arrive to a busy and bustling ground floor dining room. We’re taken upstairs however which is far less atmospheric (request the downstairs if possible). The walls are grey and distressed in an interior design kind of way. Jelly moulds hang on the walls – very Dinner by Heston. It’s OK.
The first thing we’re told is a reminder of the two hour time limit we have on the table which isn’t exactly the height of hospitality. The menu strikes us as large with numerous sections; salads, snacks, starters, raw and cured etc and a huge selection of vegetable dishes.
We start with particularly good oxtail croquettes (£2.50 each) and barbarjuans (£4), which are crisp, cheesy pastry things. A duck scotch egg (£5.50) is less successful because it’s void of flavour.
Food then steps up a gear. Ossubuco tortellini (£9.50) comes with a hazelnut gremolata which adds texture to the soft bundles of pasta and even softer veal. Rabbit confit lasagna (£10), I imagine a signature dish, is a thing of beauty. Sheets of soft rabbit and a cheesy sauce make up the bulk of it with flavour being top notch.
Gnocchi are well made (£8) and the mushroom sauce, filled with trompettes, is a good bedfellow. Pasta is clearly a strength of the kitchen.
Chargrilled Iberico pork (£25) is a bit plain for the price point. If I’m going to spend that much on a chunk of pork I’d rather go to Pizarro and have it cooked by the pro himself.
A beetroot tarte tatin with feta and pine nuts (£6) is so sweet it could be pudding but my God it’s really rather lovely. Crisp Charlotte potatoes (£5), which are in fact Hasselback potatoes – y’know, where half the tatty is thinly sliced so it goes super crispy, are the thing of dreams.
Feeling podged, we skip dessert and leave via the now raucous ground floor – a reminder that upstairs lacks that special something. Fair enough, the food was pretty darn decent at The Ninth but the service and the room didn’t quite do it for me.
Would we go back? No.