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Saturday, 27 February 2010

Driver, King's Cross: Portobello Bridge, Notting Hill (CLOSED. Now The Earl of Portobello)

Don’t believe websites! I did; but driving to The Driver (pictured) for its advertised Sunday lunch, found it cancelled ‘due to lack of local demand’ as a waiter puts it on our return reccie. So, did The Driver pass at its second attempt? Let’s just say it’s roadworthy and a re-vamped interior - an amalgam of well-worn ideas osmotically absorbed from elsewhere - is an improvement on the lacklustre Driver of yore. Particularly appealing is Patrick Blanc’s inspired vertical garden; a patchwork of exotic flora, it envelops the building’s four floored exterior to visually arresting effect. Staff are sweet; there’s TT Landlord on tap and, from a reasonable list, house Languedoc merlot/ grenache is as serviceable as can be expected for thirteen notes. Yet, even though it works on many levels  - some ugly velours and chrome furniture, carved ‘elephant’ chairs and overpriced, underwhelming pub-grub-by-numbers aside - the Driver fails to move me. Like the Renault Megane, it’s all quirky styling and no real grunt and as with that car, I won’t be shakin’ my ass in it again any time soon - not even at its Saturday DJ all-nighters spread across four rooms, sunrise over King’s Cross on its roof terrace included or not. Portobello Bridge is a predictable dark wood/ bare brick gastropub. It replaces predictable dark wood/ bare brick gastropub Golborne Grove whose duds it seems to have appropriated down to the last napkin. A mirror in the shape of a guitar - Bridge. Guitar. Geddit? - is a nod to weekly live music sessions that feature...guess what? Kazoos? Didgeridoos? Tonight it’s all a gone Simon and Garfunkel-shaped, as in the sounds of silence. Not drawn to our five fellow drinkers, we sink a very acceptable cherry-violet-y CĂ´tes de Provence (£22) and boot scoot off.

The Driver, 2 -4 Wharfdale Rd N1 7284 0513

Portobello Bridge Bar & Grill 36 Golborne Rd W10 8960 6260