Food and Drink: Good sauces and service; shame about the fish: Emily Green finds a dash of the bad old days in a seafood menu that makes a little stretch too far

A DAUNTING number of dishes are assembled on the menu of Walsh's, a new fish restaurant in Fitzrovia, central London: 21 hors-d'oeuvres, 37 main courses, two specials. It could be the offerings of a hotel dining room between the wars. It could be a Wheeler's. It is meant to look substantial and reassuring, but there is less to all this fish than meets the eye.

Menus such as Walsh's stretch a few types of fish and shellfish a long way. Take lobster: the list includes cold lobster, lobster Florence, grilled lobster, lobster Americaine, lobster Thermidor, poached lobster. Trout is given three treatments, plaice another three, Dover sole 12.

The resemblance to Wheeler's, a chain of 12 seafood restaurants throughout the South-east, is deliberate: Walsh's was opened early this year by the family of Elaine Emmanuel, the grand- daughter of Bernard Walsh, the founder of Wheeler's.

From the style of the place, Walsh's could be a chain restaurant: the fittings are handsome enough, but have a job-lot feel about them. Yet there is only one Walsh's so far and the service, if not the cooking, bespeaks extreme care.

An oyster bar at the entrance gleams. Linen is starchy, glasses delicate. During my lunch, this sparkling room was sparsely populated, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for with media types. Michael Grade, of Channel 4 fame, gossiped about the BBC, luxuriated over a big cigar and departed well primed for Sir David Frost's annual garden party.

A hostess is backed by a handsome fleet of waiters in ministering to the customers. She not only welcomes and waits, she also flatters. Order a kir and she murmurs 'delicious'. A request for crab salad is approved with a 'wonderful'; trout gets a 'lovely'.

When it came to the trout, the kitchen did not agree and she returned confessing that it was not so lovely after all. My companion chose grilled turbot ('delicious') instead. In fact, this was neither wonderful nor delicious, but, to the credit of the staff, it was served as if it was.

The rest of the meal harked constantly back to the bad old days. An avocado pear with crab or prawn salad is far from a trendy dish, but it can be a good one. Ours came in a precarious assembly. A handle-less sauce boat sat on a plate covered by a paper doily. The boat was filled with lettuce. On top of the lettuce sat half an avocado pear. Piled in the pear was a sweetish crab salad in what was supposed to be piquant sauce.

A special of seafood salad was better, with bits of fish and crustacea. But the excellent pickled mussels were best. Main courses were consistently greasy: 'grilled' turbot was battered and oily, but its bearnaise sauce was good. Bream, too, was battered and oily. Vegetables included pureed carrot and broccoli florets. The only seasonal addition to a fruit salad during this month of abundance was raspberries, served with kiwi and orange segments.

The wine list contains some big players with high prices in the Cheval Blanc league. The modest offerings are pleasing enough. A brouilly was perfectly chilled. Filter coffee was good of its sort. Cost: about pounds 30 per head, including wine, coffee, service and VAT.

Walsh's Seafood & Shellfish Restaurant, 5 Charlotte Street, London W1 (071-637 0222). Open lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Major credit cards.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower