I can forgive a new restaurant a lot of things.
I can understand if they haven't got the A team welcoming people at the door and this leads to confusion and a certain amount of brusqueness when taking the coats. They're having to train people up after all and hanging up a jacket while smiling at the same time is obviously going to be too much for some newcomers to the restaurant game.
I can just about forgive an overenthusiastic hand on the sound system's volume control, and even a deeply odd choice of music. I won't attempt to categorise it, but I somehow doubt it would have gone down well with the clientele of the pub I drove past recently on the Isle of Wight which boasted music "for your inner thirtysomething". In this case I can forgive it partly because (arguably) a big empty restaurant needs something to pep it up, but mostly because the maitre d' spotted the problem almost as soon as it started and did something about it without being asked.
And I can almost excuse a little shakiness from the sommellier about the wine list, although describing every wine from a page of spendy clarets as 'nice' wore a bit thin after a while.
Where I draw the line, though, is with quite the worst soup I have ever tasted. In a restaurant whose menu is basically a checklist of brasserie classics with a few voguish hearty sharing dishes thown in for good measure, you'd have thought the fish soup would have been a banker. Instead it was execrable. A layer of fat on top that must have been a quarter of an inch thick distorted both the colour and the taste of an underlying soup that had precious little of the latter in any case. I plodded around with the accoutrements while others tucked into some more successful offerings (indeed most of the rest of the food was pretty good) before giving it up as a very bad job. The waitress took the rejection pretty well considering, although it's not clear how her saying she'd it had looked wrong when she'd brought it out was supposed to help. I was offered a replacement which I could't face and not charged for the soup. But the damage had been done. And the chef having a laugh with his mates at one of the only other occupied tables and giving barely a second glace at the soup being sent back under his nose didn't exactly help.
The perpetrator of this fishy felony was the Waterloo Brasserie, recently opened just opposite the Old Vic. I should get in there quick. If you must.
Waterloo Brasserie, 119 Waterloo Road SE1 8UL 020 7960 0202