This week, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells gives one star to The Peacock and another to The Shakespeare, both of which share a chef and a kitchen in The William Hotel, where he says the food is “appealing” but the setting is “less so.”
“This was particularly true in the Shakespeare, where in the early evening packs of beer drinkers can crowd out those of us who are there to find out if the shepherd’s pie made by Mr. Aikens is better than the mound of ruined groceries that went by the same name in our mothers’ kitchens,” Wells says.
His verdict: “It is, by leaps and bounds. The potato crust, golden with sharp Cheddar cheese, blanketed a lamb stew, thickly spiced with thyme and rosemary. All winter, I had hoped something would push back at my interior polar vortex. This cast-iron pot of ground meat buried under mashed potatoes finally did.”
Other standard English pub food, including bangers and mash, fish and chips, and Scotch eggs were “true to form.”
Wells describes why the settings at both venues are less than appealing, as he put it: “The Shakespeare’s two rooms have low timbered ceilings, and the one with the bar, where I sat, has two TVs bigger than some movie screens. I couldn’t make out much beyond that because the place was crammed with after-work warriors there for the drinks, not the food.”
And on the Peacock’s two dining rooms, he says, “One has the flickering allure of the cocktail dens up front, along with emerald wallpaper in a peacock pattern. I wanted to eat below those peacocks. Apparently so did everyone else, because there were never any free tables. Instead, I was seated in what’s called the Garden Room. Bright and oddly under-decorated, it is probably a better place for lunch than for the nocturnal consumption of meat pies.”
For Wells' full review, click here.