More, 104 Tooley Street, London SE1

Livebait and The Real Greek are now chains –but is it third time unlucky for the team's latest venture, More?

To the casual observer, More may not seem like much. A small, nondescript café near London Bridge, it's the sort of place you might get a cappuccino from if the queue at Starbucks is too long. Hardly a destination restaurant, then – and not the sort of place you'd expect to see reviewed in a national newspaper.

But More is the brainchild of Theodore Kyriakou and Paloma Campbell, two of the capital's most successful restaurateurs. In 1995, they opened Livebait, one of London's first market-driven fish restaurants, and in 1999, they followed up with The Real Greek, which quickly became a Hoxton landmark. Both restaurants became successful chains, with Kyriakou and Campbell cashing out along the way, and they're clearly hoping to do the same with More. Can lightning strike for a third time?

Conceptually, More is all over the map. From the outside, it looks like one of those posh delis you might see in Primrose Hill – the sort of place Kate Moss might have "breakfast" in at 4.30pm. The window boasts an array of freshly prepared takeaway food, such as butternut squash, leek, feta and ricotta filo pie, and spiced black bean, vegetable and coriander soup.

Go through the door, though, and it looks like a greasy spoon, albeit one given a makeover by a Young British Artist. The L-shaped room is dominated by a long, curving bar, complete with red-and-chrome bar stools, while the main seating area is occupied by moulded plastic tables and smaller versions of the stools. You can take the restaurateurs out of Hoxton, but you can't take Hoxton out of the restaurateurs.

"The energy here is the same," assures Campbell, who is stationed at the bar to make sure things run smoothly. "We think Bermondsey is heading in the same direction." I find precious little evidence of this "energy" on my visit, though to be fair it is a Monday lunchtime. Only one other table is occupied, while a solitary man props up the bar. Nearby businesses include PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young, but More may be a little too cutting-edge for the local accountants. In any case, why schlep 10 minutes to a café when they've probably got perfectly good canteens in their offices?

"We'd consider ourselves a restaurant, not a café," says Campbell, sniffily.

A glance at the menu confirms that More takes itself quite seriously. While it offers a set lunch for £12.50, the à la carte menu is ambitiously priced. A starter of taglierini with crab costs £9.95, while seared, spiced venison steak will set you back £16.50. That's £26.45 for two courses. If you add a dessert of Colston Bassett Stilton and St Tola cheese, the total climbs to £33.45. And there's a bottle of wine on the menu for £58.75. I pity the working man who mistakes More for a greasy spoon. It could be the most expensive place in Bermondsey.

I start with hare and pork rillette accompanied by gherkins and pickled mushrooms, followed by slow-cooked lamb shoulder with flageolet beans, almonds, prunes, saffron, cumin and coriander. The rillette has a suitably coarse texture, without too much fat, but the flavour is a little bland, requiring some mustard to bring it to life. The lamb is similarly unexciting, a bog-standard Mediterranean dish. At over £20 for two courses, I was expecting them to be better.

I ask Campbell to explain the concept, hoping for some enlightenment, but she just gives me the usual guff about the ingredients being fresh, local and seasonal. Doesn't every restaurant trot out that mantra these days? I've begun to long for a restaurant that boasts its ingredients are canned, imported and out-of-season.

I've eaten in both Livebait and The Real Greek, but only after Kyriakou and Campbell had sold them off, so I've no way of telling whether those restaurants were better than More in their heyday – but it's hard to imagine them becoming successful chains if they were this uninspired.

Conceptually confused, and with an unremarkable kitchen offering mediocre fare, More is unlikely to be coming to a high street near you soon. Less can be more, as we know from restaurants such as Polpo, Russell Norman's hole-in-the-wall bacaro on Beak Street. But in this case, More is less.

10/20

Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook 10-11 needs help, 12 ok 13 pleasant enough 14 good 15 very good, 16 capable of greatness 17 special, can't wait to go back 18 highly honourable 19 unique and memorable 20 as good as it gets

More, 104 Tooley Street, London SE1, tel: 020 7403 0635. Monday to Friday, 7.30am-11pm; Saturday 10am-11pm. About £50 for lunch for two without wine

More classy cafés

Glass & Thompson

2 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 557 0909

A smart and elegant café/deli handy for New Town ladies who lunch, some of whom are happy to cite it as an all-time favourite

Café Royal

8 Nelson Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, tel: 0191 231 3000

Newcastle's Wolseley – this grand café is excellent for coffee, cakes and sandwiches and does good fresh bistro-style dishes too; good for people-watching

The Pump Room

Stall Street, Bath, Somerset, tel: 01225 444 477

Great for a tourist tea – this gracious Georgian chamber has been at the heart of Bath life for over 200 years. Its ambience makes the food almost incidental

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2010'. www.hardens.com

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn