At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, good restaurants are about feeding people well.
Yet too often frippery gets in the way, with dishes over-decorated and ingredients lists over-complicated.
Give me a chef who can make a great sauce rather than an a egotistical twat with tweezers who delicately places obscure micro-herbs precisely on plates that ultimately disappoint.
At which point we arrive at Trivet, recently opened just a short stroll from London Bridge station in Bermondsey.
The pedigree of its owners is impressive.
Jonny Lake was executive head chef of the Fat Duck for 12 years and Isa Bal was its sommelier.
But the difference between Trivet and the Fat Duck is remarkable.
Here’s a place that’s utterly straightforward. Or, at least, appears to be.
No elaborate tasting menus. No clouds of dry ice rising from bowls. No mad scientist trickery. No earphones assaulting your lug-holes with the cackle of gulls as you tuck into seafood.
Instead there’s a menu offering a choice of five starters, five main courses and five desserts.
We sit in a sunny room dominated by light wood and enjoy glasses of sherry as we nibble extraordinary celeriac crackers – airy slices boldly seasoned but retaining the gently acidic snap of the vegetable from which they were made.
The open plan kitchen is calm – chefs working quietly, efficiently, utterly focussed.
Great sourdough with proper elasticity is brought to the table with house-made butter than’s rich and tangy.
And soon we’re brought our starters.
The veal sweetbread I’m served is a big and impressive bugger – delicately flavoured, moist and tender.
It comes with thinly sliced raw mushroom that adds an interesting spongey texture and fungal flavour.
Grilled king oyster mushroom give umami oomph and a deftly-judged seasoning of cumin offers a gentle spicey warmth.
It’s held together by a meaty jus that has depth and balance.
This is a dish cooked by a kitchen with extravagant technical ability and the confidence to let good ingredients sing.
My wife’s starter combines puffini – a bit like light waffles – with sour cream, onion, caviar and a mirin sabayon that tastes like the best salad cream you’ve ever had… and I mean that in a very good way.
The whole thing is enlivened by a vivid green leaf salad impeccably dressed.
The same attention to small detail illuminates my main course – this time in the form of that sometimes brutish vegetable, kale.
Here the leaves and stems, gently braised in stock and butter, are tender and their flavour is delicate.
The kale comes with Iberico pluma – a cut of pork from the loin – that’s blushing pink, soft and flavoursome.
Beetroot adds sweetness and earthiness, a sort of stir-fry of radicchio and fermented blueberries creates fascinating and beguiling extra layers of flavour.
Crunch comes from a little cracker of aerated pork skin.
Lynn, meanwhile, eats perfectly cooked roast duck served with a cabbage leaf encasing confit leg.
Melon and miso-braised white cabbage bring all sorts of extra nuances.
Desserts prove to be equally accomplished and impressive.
The mille feuille I order is constructed from thin layers of baked potato rather than pastry. The layers are crisp and are slightly less sweet than pastry would be.
They sandwich a rich sake and white chocolate mousse and alongside lies perfectly-textured butter and sake gelato that’s got a proper grown-up flavour.
But our greatest wonderment is reserved for the almond and cherry tart eaten by my wife.
Not only because of the extraordinarily crisp pastry, but because of the snappy, almost sour notes of the cherries.
And cardamon gelato that conjures up memories of ras malai or kulfi.
This is a reworking of a classic that’s coherent and absolutely successful.
Indeed, Lynn, whose Scottishness means her hyperbole is usually reserved for the negative rather than positive, insists: “It’s the best dessert I’ve ever had.”
By the time the bill is brought, I’m already pondering when we can return.
This is cooking of a very high order – the work of master craftsmen informed by modern processes, open to influences from far and wide, but absolutely committed to the core purpose of their trade.
Back to my intro… feeding customers well.
Trivet is a rising culinary star.
Need to know
It’s not cheap: we paid £300 for two with drinks.
Bar snacks are available.
Expect friendly, welcoming but very professional service.
The wine list is Biblical in length, with some very obscure bottles and lots of sakes.
There are veggie options.
36 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, London SE1 3SU.
020 3141 8670.