As an old ex vegetarian I’m still probably more of an omnivore than any of my friends, and as open to good vegetarian fayre as any other cuisine. Terre a Terre, with its mad menus and gourmet dishes of diverse ingredients lovingly assembled with perfect balances of flavours and textures, is a favourite purveyor. Food for Friends was always reliable if unexciting, producing seventies style veggie bakes and brown rice in a typically home style manner, honest good food. The market changed, the likes of Terre a Terre appeared, and Food for Friends had to change too.
So, cut to the present day. The founder and original owner Simon Hope sold the business in 2004. Everything is about four times the price of the old Food for Friends, and the menu is distinctly more refined and poised, promising much… And sadly failing to deliver.
Our visit was marred by slow, fairly dismissive service from the start, almost as though we were an inconvenience. The food was unexciting, over-ambitious for the abilities of those preparing it, and lacking flavour. Flavours that sounded delicate and refined on the menu were in reality loud, brutish and unbalanced, such as my starter which tasted of nothing other than garlic. Towards the end the staff were eager to hurry us out to make way for the next sitting, despite the delays having been of their making. The final sting was the bill – for six adults and four children the total amounted to just shy of £250. If this had been good food, lovingly and skilfully prepared, and served with a smile by polite, courteous staff, then we wouldn’t have minded. Unfortunately the worst taste of the evening was the one left in the mouth by this monumentally failing, overblown, arrogant restaurant. Bring back the honest, well-cooked food.