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18 May 2012

The Italians Do Not Do It Better

Trim headed out to Mayfair for the 2012 Pret-A-Diner pop-up restaurant. Sorry, not a pop-up but a "dining experience", as stated on their website. We were greeted by a casual Giorgio Locatelli and an over-zealous front of house with a smile that reached each ear. We entered the grandiose main hall, our heads tipping up, taking in the oversized 'street art' canvases and gothic hanging things. On closer inspection, it was all a bit Camden Market meets Brick Lane on Halloween.

Sat down we dribbled with anticipation of the food to come. The menu arrived and we were presented with two 3-course options, both priced at £75, one devised by Giorgio Locatelli and one by Accursio Craparo. Oh, but what's this? 'Pimp it like an Italian', beef fillet for an extra £18. And that's weird, the dessert costs an extra £9 (so it's £75 for a 2-course menu then?). The live performance too, will cost you an extra £8. Mmmm, so what exactly is £75 covering? The miniature tuna burger, that tasted of, well just patty tuna. Or the rustic penne with red mullet- a big old 'meh'.

At the perfect moment our spirited front of house bounced over and gave us his best salesmen pitch for us to 'pimp it like an Italian', and boy was he good. Two trimmers crumbled under his bright, glistening eyes and went for the extra beef fillet option. The quality of the beef and the lamb was great, but the accompaniments and sticky plastic bottle excreted sauces made the dish feel more country pub then Michelin star. This is the kind of cooking that most people with oversized wallets and undersized tastebuds seem to be into. They think it's professional cooking, it's passion and it's a privilege. We don't, we think it's lazy and boring, and whoever is running this whole Pret-a-Diner concept is laughing his head off all the way to the bank.

It was too late, we couldn't go back, the 'Trim Hulks' were unleashed. We managed to make the nutty salesman's lower lip quiver when we told him what we really thought. His face dropped and he said he couldn't tell if we were joking or not. But then he immediately deterred the situation by going back to salesman mode, banging on about the experience. "Isn't the experience great though, such a wonderful concept, such a brilliant experience, have you ever had such an experience?", he screeched. I still don't quite understand what the "experience" was. I think he must have been referring to the experience of being robbed blind in broad daylight.

I'll leave you with a solitary positive note though, the dessert was very good.