You’d have to pitchfork the Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin to get here near Stoke House, the new restaurant from Will Ricker in London Victoria, again.
“An updated rework of the great British carvery” is what we’re promised from [Stoke House] owner Will Ricker (E&O and other noughties pseudo-Asian sleb magnets), and – with the exception of a heavy emphasis on the smoker and some imaginative and rather delicious salads (sweet potato with chilli; a butch red cabbage coleslaw; fat Israeli-style couscous with roast veg) – the, uh, joys of a British carvery are what we get. The short ribs are fibrous and taste of yesterday’s roast dinner, despite a modish flourish of pickled red onion and chilli; the chicken is cotton-woolly with no sign of the promised embrace of smoke; “smoked” cauliflower cheese, too (“bit on the side”: how very Travelodge), served in a dinky copper saucepan and pleasingly cheesy, is unsmoky.
Salmon comes as pallid, morose and wanly pink as an unwilling bridesmaid.
The music is deafening, the place full to the rafters: my hell doesn’t seem to be other people’s. The menu makes a song and dance about being “pocket-friendly”, but we manage, with two cocktails each, no wine and no dessert, to ramp up more than a ton of a bill. The staff are lovely despite it being open from breakfast to fall-down; the cocktails are decent. Ach, who am I kidding? To get me near the place again, I’d need to be pitchforked.