There is nothing sadder than an empty restaurant on a Saturday night and in London probably nothing stranger. So it was at 7.30-ish that we approached La Pietra to be greeted by scores of empty seats. At a similar time only two-weeks ago I approached the door of Bodean's to be told the wait for the second-coming would be shorter (to be fair, that was in Soho). Better than a TripAdvisor review, redundant chairs are a good indication of quality - and La Pietra definitely lacked that. The staff were kind and attentive (although so slow my temptation for a pudding was snuffed out) and a pizza oven burnt brightly at the back of the room. When it arrived my pizza was a mountain of ham atop a soggy base, made all the worse by thick slices of cold mozzarella, the liquid from which had oozed in to the bread.
The Luxe - a prominent three-storey restaurant/bar/club/takeaway on the edge of Spitalfields Market run and/or owned by John Torode of MasterChef fame. Impressions are important, particularly in this part of London, and The Luxe doesn't disappoint on that score. Slack service and poor beer, on the other hand, are surely enough to drive the punters away (not to mention the £3.00 charged for a 'fresh from concentrate' orange juice). The beer itself I can't find online and didn't note the details. It was a flat tasteless lager named after the venue. 'Is there any on tap?' one of the bar staff asked another. I really wish the answer had been no.