Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sake No Hana - great food and location, mediocre service

I admit that the whole furore surrounding this place had totally passed me by. To the extent that, when looking to book a cheap Wednesday night dinner with friends, and spotting it on the Tastecard listings, I assumed it must have been a much cheaper affair than it actually was. After all, TasteCard doesn't usually offer you deals on anywhere remotely fancy! I didn't follow through to the restaurant website (poor research I know) and was rather mortified when I turned up, having promised the girls a quick, and cheap, bite to eat, courtesy of my 50% discount.

Nonetheless, the surprise ended up being less embarassing, are more fabulous. Luckily, despite the dinner being scheduled the day before pay day, everyone was so excited by how goddam GORGEOUS this place is, that we barely registered the prices.

Sake No Hana is situated in what looks like a commercial building just off Picadilly, near Green Park. There is an intimate, low-lit cocktail bar on the ground floor (drinks from £9.50... I'm afraid we passed!), and to reach the main restaurant you go up a floor either by lift or escalator. Riding the escalator felt like entering a trendy nightclub, all black lacquered walls and low-lighting. Once you emerge onto the first floor you are greeted by an open sushi-kitchen and a minimalist but luxuriously designed restaurant, with the emphasis on sculptural woods (especially gorgeous was the wooden design suspended from the ceiling), and sleek furniture in varying hues of white.

Unfortunately, it transpired that my 50% off deal did not apply to the sushi and sashimi, which is unfortunate in a Japanese restaurant, but again it was my fault for not doing the research as on post-meal inspection this was clearly advertised on the TasteCard website. Not that it mattered, of the four of us, three ordered Japanese mains.

The food, when it arrived (and it arrived as soon as it was ready - I understand this might be the Japanese way but I do think expensive restaurants should make the effort to make sure food arrives together) was absolutely delicious. I order Tonkatsu Pork on a bed of white cabbage, whilst two of my friends ordered the seared tuna salad. The last clearly couldn't control her sushi cravings for the sake of her wallet and went for a selection of, very expensive but divine-tasting, handrolls, maki and futomaki. The food was also beautifully presented on dark slates - I know this is not the most original, but I do think it looks good. However, the service was less than brilliant. I think we might have ended up with a bit of a rookie, newby waitress but she tried to bring us somebody elses food on three occasions, didn't know which plate was meant to go to each diner, and we did have to request a glass of wine three times over. However, on debating the service charge with the restaurant manager, he was extremely professional about the whole thing, removing the 13% charge (ouch!) without fuss.

All in all, we had a wonderful experience, and the few hiccoughs didn't spoil the evening for us. Although, admittedly the experience probably seemed even better because we were totally unaware of any of the hype surrounding this place, and had been expecting somewhere on a different scale completely. Plus, we were long over-due a catch up!

 Sake No Hana on Urbanspoon

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