The white table cloths are gone, there's a new head chef in the kitchen and its sommelier has left for pastures new.

Does this mean the Gordon Ramsay-owned outpost London House can still deliver the goods when it comes to being the sort of local restaurant Battersea Square deserves or is it a case of one change too many?

When London House first opened it had aspirations to quickly make the pages of the famous red Michelin guide.

Formal dining with formal service. Its head chef Anna Haugh-Kelly, had come with a CV reading like a who's who of London's best eateries and her cooking was making a name for herself in her own right.

Whether its quick u-turn is an attempt to be at the head of the new trend for a more "US-style" of restaurant rather than the grand establishments of Europe or is just an effort to aim for the younger Battersea market is not clear.

What is clear is that with such a quick change in direction so early into its life, its latest incarnation has to be a hit if London House is to take off.

We entered and were greeted immediately with a firm welcoming handshake. I saw we, the reality was it was my dining partner for the evening who was greeted with the firm shake as SB is a regular.

A conservative estimate would put the number of times SB has been there at about 20. I'm sure I'll be corrected and most likely upwards.

Immediately this says something, and if you are looking at this review to find out if London House is recommended then look no further.

It is everything you could hope for in a local. Welcoming, good food, lively atmosphere; its layout ensures a sense of warmth and vibrancy regardless of whether it is heaving elbow to elbow or, as on this particular Thursday, a little more thinly spread.

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We start with cocktails. London House has transformed itself into a bar these days after all, and watercress-infused gin (£9.50) gets the ball rolling.

The menu, now designed by Ramsay look-a-like (it's actually quite scary) George Lyon is much simpler than before.

We plumped for pigs head croquette (£8) that had the ideal combination of being both light and crispy to the bite to follow with that wallop of deep flavoured pork.

Other starters seemed fairly unambitious and standard bistrot fare, nothing wrong with that but how many reviews of mussels in garlic or a terrine do you need to read?

What did catch the eye, and reward the palette, was a "snack" of Venison scotch egg (£4.50). Only a few days later SB would return for drinks and order this again at the bar.

It's that perfect thing of runny egg, wrapped in venison and covered in crispy crumb. Hmmm.. I've spotted a theme in the selected starters.

One slip in service came when we ordered the Venision to come as a (big fat) amuse bouche but it arrived at the same time, a few seconds after to be precise, as the starters.

The mains on offer shows the kitchen opening up its playbook but still remain on safe ground.

Braised beef (£20) that had been cooked so slowly it achieves that wonderful texture where the meat breaks down to its fibres. The red-wine reduction adding, as all sauces should, to its deep flavour. A hit and the dish of the day.

The grilled lemon sole would have been a star as well if it was judged purely on looks and taste. Roasted on the bone and served with brown butter, shrimp and samphire, it had all the ingredients for success but eating it was a serious endeavour.

The central bone is one thing, holds the fish together, imparts flavour. The bones on the edges could have been removed prior to serving though because they got into almost every mouthful.

With the lighting as it was it made it more of an effort than one might have hoped. Taste wise though, spot on.

SB skipped pud, full yet managed to find the room for a London House style espresso martini, but was quick to point out that old highlights from the old menu were still present - hello doughnuts I'm talking to you.

It was left to me to order pear tart, mascarpone (£8). Ramsay's tarte tatin at his three-star flagship is legendary so the opportunity to eat one of his stable's fruit pies was not to be passed.

While it may not bump the apple pud from the menu of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, it certainly ended things on a high.


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