It was the Monday that the Beast from the East had sidled its way into the British Isles and Nappy Valley was shivering under icy ... Read Feature
I like dining at new restaurants don’t you? The tingly anticipation of looking at a new menu, the idea that you might be at the start of a freshly minted relationship with what will become your favourite eatery, it’s almost like going on a date. Unfortunately like dating for each spark, there are also innumerable damp squibs, and so let’s talk about Fixed.
The Northcote road must be a challenging place to open yet somewhere else new to eat. If you lobbed the proverbial brick from outside All Bar One you’d be in with a chance of nutting at least half a dozen restauranteurs. The area has famously seen a number of launches of what have become successful chains, GBK, Be at One, Dip & Flip to name a few.
Fixed has an appealing sounding concept, taking the idea of the Prix Fixe, i.e. all starters and main courses the same price. This then remains constant all day everyday on the menu, £5 for starters and £10 for mains. To my mind, Fixed would appear to be chasing the budget conscious diner, like Fish in a tie also in the Battersea area and pizza mavens, Franco Manca, the Northcote brand of which is pretty much next door.
My companions for the night were 3 old friends, 2 of which know each other well and one who has survived so many nightlife campaigns with me he deserves several medals and to be mentioned in dispatches at the very least. All of them are well versed in the art of dining out and so I was interested in what they’d make of Fixed.
Fixed is as alluded to about 300 yards up from the junction of Northcote road and Battersea rise. It’s next door to Franco Manca and close to Buena Sera, Bills, Byron, GBK and all the other options that tempt diners and more important their wallets.
Inside it’s decorated in what could be called meh….modern, a sort of yellowy beige or beigey yellow I’m not sure which with bits of metal caging in wine etc. It’s pleasant enough, though feels a bit functional rather than anywhere you’d want to linger which is I’m sure the idea.
The menu is divided into 3 short sections of starters, mains and puddings. The wine varies from about £16 – £25 a bottle and so is cheapish, but was actually a nice selection. A £50 champagne also featured.
We all skipped starters and headed straight for the mains, with each of us opting for something different. Grilled chicken with thyme jus for me, a steak, a North African lamb and the crab and seabass fish cakes making up the rest of the list.
There’s no way of sugar coating this, the food was disappointing. My grilled chicken seemed more boiled or microwaved than grilled, with nothing crispy about it. The thyme jus taste more or less of nothing. The most enjoyable thing I devoured were the green beans which at £4 added another 40% to the price of my main course.
This annoyed me rather. Most of the mains were sufficient in terms of what they offered that they didn’t need anything extra, having courses that need a side dish seemed out of step with the concept of a prix fixe dinner.
My companions were equally unenthusiastic about their choices. The steak looked and apparently tasted OK, but that was it. The fish cakes were let’s say, aesthetically challenged, and tasted more like potato pancakes than anything related to the marine environment. Whilst finally the lamb was compared with a school dinner.
I have to say though that the wine, the Englishman’s choice of the second cheapest, a sauvignon blanc was light and refreshing. The staff were friendly and enthusiastic, and this led us to give Fixed a chance to redeem themselves through pudding.
Lurking at basecamp on the menu was something called a chocolate pot with rum and raisin cream looked like it could be something of a house speciality. At only £3 it was cheap, but tasted it, a bit like a GU pudding from Tesco dressed up with anchor squirt cream and some rum flavoured raisins. It was fine, but again seemed improvised on a budget.
The bill when it came was £77, which is cheap for 4 people with a bottle of wine and two deserts, but I would have rather paid more for something more satisfying. I like the concept, and wish the staff well, but the execution on the night we visited left much to be desired. Budget does not necessarily mean basic or unstylish. I can’t help but compared fixed with the aforementioned Fish in a tie and Soho stalwart and last remainder of a national chain Pierre Victoire. Both do varied menus cheaply and well. And whilst you’d be hard pressed to it haute cuisine they both offer a more fulfilling experience. So Fixed I’m sorry to say at the moment you’re not a spark but a squib, let me know if you smarten yourself up.
Join me next time for a trip up West. Rob