A newly opened restaurant replacing La Sophia near Ladbroke Grove, a French bistro that I was rather fond of, stands a proud British establishment aptly named John Doe.
With a large enough dining area that feels roomier towards the back of the restaurant, we were seated at the front not only suffering from the cold every time the door was open but also on the most uncomfortable stone based high-chairs. Taking it in our stride and trying to feel a little more optimistic, we also had a clear view of the kitchen.
Apart from its popular British menu, one of the highlights and continuous conversations around John Doe centres around Bertha; the head charcoal oven who gives each dish that woody, smoky edge.
Supposedly the most popular starter, we ordered the grilled Cornish octopus which was a little too rubbery for my liking and fell a little short off the mark.
Bone marrow with toast swiftly appeared. A rather decent portion size for sharing and with enough fat to coat each piece of smoky toast.
Another great starter and although a fairly simplistic dish, the ash roasted leeks were packed full of flavour and surprisingly were a hit with everyone on the table.
Then the main courses started to arrive, and unfortunately that’s where the food started to go downhill.
Duck confit with lentils had been coated in far too much salt that left me gasping for water with just one bite. Fortunately, this wasn’t my dish.
The best of the bunch was the pork chop where the smokyness worked in its favour and paired with the earthy coco beans, was a well-rounded dish but a little boring if you ask me.
My dish of choice was the venison with more bone marrow. It was probably my own fault but there’s only so much bone marrow one can eat in a single sitting. The venison itself needed more seasoning and was overcooked leaving it incredibly chewy but fortunately, wasn’t overly salted.
Always one to enjoy a longer evening dining, we didn’t even glance at the dessert menu and instead tried to hide our disappointment by drinking more wine and promptly asking for the bill.
John Doe has had many a person rave about the establishment but with many haphazard mistakes leaving some of the dishes unbearable and also expensive pricing, I just can’t see what all the fuss is about. To add to the chaos, Bertha was more disruptive than productive and we left John Doe smelling like an ash tray with stinging eyes and most disappointingly, with stomachs that craved better food.
– John Doe, Ladbroke Grove