By Alistair Martin
There are several Locale restaurants across London, and like all good (and bad) chains, they all share very similar menus, styles and atmospheres. The menus: all bog standard for an Italian chain. The styles: all bog-standard for an Italian chain. The atmospheres: well, you get the picture.
I could therefore easily understand why the proprietors of the Locale clone on Fulham’s leafy Munster Road had convened an exclusive invite-only party to celebrate the launch of something as unspectacular as a new ‘alfresco terrace’ (aka patio). If there is precious little else by which to distinguish your restaurant, you can be forgiven if a little over-excitement accompanies the opening of a five foot wide sliver of outside dining space.
Amongst the efforts the Locale team had made to celebrate this auspicious occasion, half the restaurant was cleared away to form a dance-floor area near the bar, in which a DJ had been plonked to spin house records at a volume presumably chosen to drown out all conversation about the very subject we had all gathered to see. This reconfiguration worked reasonably well. Indeed, if the event had been organised to showcase Locale Fulham’s potential for use as a half-decent (if fairly small) late evening bar venue and private party area, it would have been a comfortable success.
However, assured by the ever-friendly and attentive PR people that this was a one-off rearrangement for the patio - sorry, alfresco terrace launch party - the transformation only served as an indication of what the venue could be like, but isn’t. To that end, the variety of delicious canapés distributed provided a similarly accomplished indication of the type of sumptuous food that is not actually on the usual menu, while the very Hoxton-looking crowd of young writers shipped in for the event exemplified the sort of crowd you shouldn’t expect to see chowing down a bowl of spaghetti carbonara on an average night.
In the end, only the Prosecco cocktails actually showcased Locale’s strengths; and, in all fairness, all Locale restaurants I have visited have great cocktail menus. However, when the provision of free booze ran dry, I still wasn’t drunk enough to make sense of the fact that I had come to toast the opening of a pavement with tables on. However understandable the over-excitement of the Locale staff was, it didn’t quite compensate for the surreal pointlessness of the occasion for everyone else.
If, however, you are in the market for a decent al fresco dining experience, follow this link to the Top 10 Best Al Fresco Restaurants & Pubs in London