Jon and I really wanted to like Homa. We showed up on the Friday night after this super-positive (4/5 stars) TimeOut review was published on-line, and we were happy to see the place – which spreads itself over two large floors – full. The dining rooms are spacious and have a clean-lined Scandinavian look going on, and the menu offers crowd-pleasing Italian-Spanish-”Meditteranean” dishes at reasonable prices (i.e., with most starters less than £7 and mains less than £13).
So what went wrong?
As best I can tell, nobody warned the kitchen that there’d be hordes of people showing up after seeing that glowing TimeOut review. I’m ragging on the kitchen bc there were scores of waiters hovering by the kitchen pass, waiting for food to come out. So I don’t think there was a shortage of servers that night to explain my marathon wait for food.
8:30 pm – we sit down.
8:45 pm – we put in our order.
10 pm – we let our server know that this is the last time we’ll be put off with some vague promise that our food is on its way.
10:15 pm – our server shows up with a “free” cauliflower soup. It tastes scorched, but we wouldn’t have cared as much if someone had brought us this freebie, say, an hour earlier. Comped stuff should have been fast and furious long before this point.
10:20 pm – amusingly, this is when our starters arrive. It’s worth noting that we hadn’t ordered anything complex (though even if we had, waiting almost two hours would still be unreasonable). Basically, we were glad someone in the kitchen was able to find 5 seconds to ladle out a bowl of sweet corn soup for Jon and assemble mozzarella and tomato for my salad caprese.
Sadly, we were too hungry to notice much about our starters other than that mine tasted very cold (fresh from the fridge, I reckon). I’m amazed I even have photos of the food, actually. I probably had to stab Jon’s hand with my fork to shoo him away.
At this point, we thought we’d cut our losses, cancel the rest of our order, and see if Datte Foco up the street was still open. Another couple sitting near us clearly had the same idea – we enviously watched them head for the door after not having been served anything for the last hour.
Laughably, the moment our server came to collect our starter plates (i.e., when we planned to ask for our bill), the mains arrived. No pizza al taglio for us.
Jon’s plaice definitely had too much going on. And as a lover of all things buttery, I thought I’d never say this: too much butter.
Re: my linguine. The good news was that it was perfectly al dente. Otherwise, it looked and tasted like a so-so self-cooked weeknight dinner. A bit soupy. No clear flavors.
At the end of our dinner, our server offered us free coffee and apologized several times for the wait. I liked the impulse (of offering us something for free), but the prospect of waiting for more “stuff” scared us. Why not comp us our wine? or just something we already ordered and had to wait for? Why comp us something that requires us to stay longer?
Because our server’s heart was in the right place, and because the evening’s disaster seemed to lie with an overwhelmed kitchen, we still left a full tip. But our dinner was 60 quid and three hours of life that I will never get back.
Based on the resto’s decor and well-intentioned service, I reckon Homa is a nice place to drop by for a coffee or pastry in the morning. But otherwise, either Homa should limit the number of diners to a size its kitchen can handle or else it should bulk up its kitchen staff. Either way, it’s embarrassing how unprepared they were to take advantage of a great TimeOut review.
Homa. 71-73 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0AS; 020 7254 2072. Tube? Not so much. Lots of buses run from the Islington Green, near Angel.