Okay, this one is a Do with a disclaimer. Goode & Wright, on Portobello Road, teeters on the edge of not so good, and even poor sometimes, but there’s something about this place that keeps me coming back. I’m not sure what it is, the food, the decor, the location–all of the above?–but one thing I know for sure, it’s not the service.
I love the look of Goode & Wright. It almost reminds me of a restaurant you would find in France or even New York. It has perfect lighting (when they remember to change the light bulbs–an embarrassing total of four were out!), warm colors, and classic vintage decor, with a mid-century modern flair. It’s casual, yet fancy, and perfect for a leisurely brunch, a first date, or even as a place to bring the folks when they’re in town.
It’s one of the nicest restaurants on Portobello Road, since most of the street is filled with commercial shops or tourist traps. During the day and weekends the restaurant serves as a nice escape from the market crowds, while still allowing for some interesting people-watching. At night, though, is when the restaurant shines. The only bright light among all of the dark storefronts, Goode & Wright becomes a scene from a movie, looking in at happy diners, clinking glasses and filling their bellies. When I finish a meal at Goode & Wright, perfectly buzzed for the walk home, I find it amazing how peaceful Portobello Road is late at night. It’s like the streets morph as Eponine describes in Les Miserables during On My Own. It’s something beautiful and poetic. So yes, I’m a huge fan of the location and the magic surrounding me whenever I’m there.
The menu is pretty amazing, too. It’s a creative mix of food classics with unusual ingredients. You’ll find a duck egg omelette, bone marrow spread, buttermilk schnitzel, fried brussel sprouts, grilled octopus and gypsy toast. All of the dishes and sides are perfectly seasoned and really flavorful. I’m really such a fan. The French toast I had for brunch was crisped with a toffee coating as an unusual twist on a basic maple syrup topping. Despite it being very difficult to eat once it hardened, and sticking to my teeth, the breakfast was one of the most decadent and delicious items I’ve ever had in London.
My only annoyance with that meal, and any others I’ve had at Goode & Wright, really, boils down to the service. It is slow and aggravating.
I sat down for my brunch and looked at the menu. After awhile the waitress came over to take my order. Once I ordered, I was then informed that they were out of the dish I was requesting. I then asked if there was anything else they were missing so that I could accurately start over. She mentioned a few more items. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my biggest pet peeves. Why would you not give your table any pertinent information at the time they are seated? Why have them peruse an inaccurate menu for twenty minutes and then expect them to have a different decision on the spot when you inform them of your kitchen’s lack of demand planning? I needed more time. I was hungover so this was a big decision.
After asking the waitress for a few more minutes, she came back 15 seconds later, and then again. I swear the only time I get good service here is when I don’t want it. Finally she left me alone to make a new decision, and then, in true Murphy’s Law fashion, she never came back. I eventually flagged her down and I ordered the French toast that was coming with strawberries instead of bacon, due to another kitchen amendment. This change was actually what sold me on the dish since I’m trying to eat less meat.
Without building this up too much, the waitress was wrong. Or the kitchen. Somewhere there was a disconnect and not only did the dish have bacon, but it was caramelized onto the top of the dish. What if I was not just trying to cut back on meat, but an actual vegetarian?! It really aggravated me and made me realize that every aspect of this woman’s service bothered me. Down to her oblivious tone. The end of the meal was no better. And I left puzzled: Would this be a do or a don’t? I had to fall back on the test question of ‘Would I go back?’ And like a battered woman, the answer was yes. There are too many goods in Goode & Wright to just give up. Plus, there’s always hope that they will read this and get their shit together.
So, with all that said. Good luck at Goode & Wright!
Goode & Wright
271 Portobello Road
London W11 1LR