Ten Cases, Covent Garden, London
We celebrated the end of the year with a team lunch out at Ten Cases in Covent Garden. Whilst the food was kind of good, the service was definitively, one of the most shocking I’ve had to date. Not sure if our waiter was having a foul day, but yeah, I don’t think it’s quite the career for him. Ten Cases has a fun concept at least. Ten tables, ten cases of wine and a narrow menu.
A special case
Things started off awry when our group was bigger than anticipated for the booked private space. Our host had emailed the day before of the updated numbers, but the waiter took liberty to argue this fact in front of the group. It was “physically impossible” for him to have fifteen people in the space. Well, we did. There was some drama with chairs and missing cutlery, I just zoned out and thought about food.
Ten Cases keeps things sharp with a seasonal menu offering three starters, three mains and three desserts. This I like. There are also tapas and sharing dish options. Not for us though,oOur group dined to our own greedy selves.
And another case
We weren’t sure if it was poor humour or just poor knowledge, but it wasn’t long before any chance of getting good service was out the door. “Don’t ask me about food, I’m more of a wine guy”, followed by “cider. It’s sweet”. The description of the food was one of the most laborious exercises I’ve endured to date, excluding all the work at the gym.”Truffled parsnip soup, if you like truffles”. “Turmeric cake with chickpeas, it’s double chickpeas”. “Pecan pie, with pecans, not like American pecan pie”. Not that I was really offended by any of this, I know how to read.
But declaring a person with lactose intolerance as getting no dessert was not acceptable. Our host had to make a scene and only after a stern talking to did he bother to check with the kitchen. Keep in mind we’re corporate drones celebrating Christmas and spending a grand or so.
The food, was delectable in places. The above doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of two of the three courses. My entree was the Stuffed Quail, Morcilla, Lentils (£9.50) and this sweetened my mood right up. The quail is tender, lightly seasoned with the broth. The lovely char and sweet filling make it a well wholesome dish and left for some hope. A few guys went for the Gratinated Scallop, Cauliflower, Ventreche (£9) which was all good, the only downside being that it is a single scallop.
No idle dining
I was rather impressed by the speed of the mains. The kitchen excels; serving up a party of fifteen is no easy feat. Dishes across the table included Hake, Saffron & Carrot Risotto, Fennel Salad (£17.50), the Chargrilled Sirloin, Forestiere, Chips, Red Wine Jus (£22) and my choice of the Confit Duck Pastry, Spiced Pear, Winter Vegetables (£18.50). I quite liked my selection of the duck pastry. A tad on the sweet side but the filo is full of tasty, tender duck and well paired with the spiced pear. I didn’t care so much for the vegetable side, the was an odd sourness to it all.
The steak was well received, slightly messy presentation relative to everything else on show. The boys are it right up. I didn’t hear great things on the hake from those who had it. General feedback was that it was under-seasoned, boring.
We finished off with a round of desserts, including the Vanilla Cheesecake, Lemon, Quince (£6.50), Pecan Pie, Anglaise (£6.50) and Chocolate Mousse, Pistachios (£6.50). I wasn’t a huge fan of the pecan pie, it was much too sugary and it would have benefitted from more filling and less just straight pecans. Anglaise helps a bit. The chocolate mousse is rich, a huge portion size and shareable. But the winner here were the cheesecakes. Delicate, fruity and balanced. Coffees are espresso only (“we don’t have a foamer”) which seems like a missed opportunity, as the brew was okay.
So overall, we spent quite a bit of dosh, and quite a bit of time with this restaurant. I don’t mind most of the food, some odd misses for the small number of options, but seriously, the service was just horrific. It was isolated to one guy, so we may have had really bad luck. Whilst I’d love to recommend Ten Cases, that’s just physically impossible.