FoodIssue 20

Six Storeys (of Hell)

Six Storeys on Soho, 11 Soho Square, W1D 3QD

If you ever want to eat here, stop reading. If you don’t take a shine to schadenfreude, stop reading. If, however, you delight in derision, revel in ridicule, and crow at incompetence, then by all means read on. After an evening of what felt dangerously like mortification of the flesh, I sit here, fingers swollen from excess salt and threatening to burst like overfilled balloon animals, mortified for Six Storeys, and at the mortician’s door for having eaten there.

Alas, the story of Six Storeys is more mortuary than legendary. Sprawling over six floors of a beautiful, converted 18th-century townhouse in Soho Square, the building is arresting. The designers and chefs, on the other hand, should be arrested. While Fran Lebovitz insists that Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person, I hold firm that Six Storeys is a redneck’s vision of posh Great Britain.

Leather-bound books (or were they pleather?) cradle menus, as girthy pickles slither about in specimen jars. Mismatched china is whirled about on tea trays by waistcoated waiters. Heavy damask wallpaper transforms the space into a Prohibition-era speakeasy. How novel.

Upon booking, you’ll be welcomed into the sickeningly twee world of this ‘member’s club without membership fees’ via email by none other than Six Storeys’ ‘Head Butler,’ Cornelius S. Lushington. Like Willy Wonka after a Molotov cocktail of speed and uppers, Lushington announces that his “Junior Butlers are polishing the glassware” and “looking forward to spoiling you and your distinguished guests rotten.” Although he’ll have you know, “dahhhling,” that they “are extremely sought after,” the Parlour remained quite empty for well over an hour’s dining, save for the young family upon whom we eavesdropped from the safety of our curtained booth next to the server’s station.

While our secluded love nook provided ample privacy, we too, perhaps, became part of the misplaced kitsch scattered about the restaurant. Easier to ignore than the flotilla of crystal decanters and Victorian lamps, we went virtually unnoticed by the wait staff. Never graced with a tablecloth and only tossed cutlery for two, my supper companions and I dined like savages upon the modern British fare, fingering gelatinous Scotch eggs and clawing at sallow deep-fried pickles.

As with the décor, the menu pulls out all the stops, sparing no truffle, leaving no pub staple un-elevated. Chicken salt fries! Muffin croutons! Heritage beetroot relish! Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter. Though Six Storeys cannot be faulted for lack of innovation, some ideas are best left percolating in the frontal lobe.

The menu reads like a gastropub and tastes like room service at a Hilton, with prices to match. Open muffins (if you can tell me what these are and why they are on a dinner menu, I’ll eat a copy of the Soho Revue) hover around ten quid, and a selection of five starters comes in at £25. And, in the interest of financial prudence, Six Storeys has kindly saved you a whopping 50p, or should I say ½ pound, with Honey Glazed Ham Steak priced at £14 ½ and Casterbridge Rib Eye Steak at £25 ½ . This silliness has me feeling that my glass is more than just half empty.

If you are brought what you’ve ordered – and I could’ve sworn our Pigs in Pastry looked and tasted oddly like Truffled Somerset Brie – you will, at least, go home quite stuffed. The portions are generous, leaving you wondering whether some really do value quantity over quality. The meat that forms the Chicken Scrumpets is as white and homogeneous as the new U.S. economic team, and the tomato dip that accompanies the Mac ‘n’ Cheese Balls will have you feeling like Proust, with a remembrance of Dominos past. That being said, the snowball dusting of cheese on the outside made them pleasant enough for me to snuffle more than my fair share. The Braised Beef Cheek and Cottage Pie is tender and silky but wonderfully bland. The Bacon & Cheese Burger is thoroughly passable.

Six Storeys veils mediocrity in pomp and circumstance. A lack of imagination cowers behind luxe ingredients and affected exclusivity. So, darling, if you’re looking to dine well, look elsewhere. If you want to be satisfied, move along. If, however, you’re dying to experience the overwrought and underwhelming, by all means, make a reservation.

 

Monday to Wednesday 8:00am – 12:00am
Thursday
8:00am – 1:00am
Friday 8:00am – 2:00am
Saturday 10:00am – 2:00am
Sunday 10:00am – 12:00am

£3040/person