In the very bowels of Somerset House it’s Spring all year round. It’s possibly the prettiest room in London, the picture of the corridor approaching the restaurant only gives a mere hint of the brightness beyond where you find fresh flowers, elegantly snowdropped chandeliers and plenty of room for conversation to develop.
We were four for a birthday celebration prior to a visit to The Seagull (the play, not a pub, though The Seagull isn’t a bad name for a pub. I wonder if there’s a Seagull pub in Sarfend?*) To business. We ordered off the set menu which gives you a somewhat measly two choices per course, although despite this none of us had difficulty in finding something that we liked.
I went for a celeriac salad up top followed by mackerel with beetroot. The salad was a generous portion, beautifully arranged on the plate and with lots of different textures and flavours making it very munchable. The mackerel, swimming in a thick slick of beetroot purée, came with a good dollop of hot horse-a-radish*** All very civilised and tasty but if you’re hungry you’ll have to rustle up extra stodge because stodge is solely in the form of bread stodge.
Service was by stripy-topped charmers (I don’t mean that pejoratively) who did a bit of chit chat in between dishing out the stuff. And a very good sommelier. We went for a Cypriot white which he commended as a good choice before informing us of its character and provenance (from the Troodos mountains, a name redolent of the improbable double act of Larry Durrell and Francis Urquart) which included the magic formula of ‘high altitude vineyards’ – almost a birthday present in itself. I only wish I could remember its name!
So yes, a very good meal and one I would recommend, especially for a treat. We were there on a very rainy Autumn day but the room is so airy and the staff so easy going that it really did feel like optimistic Spring was still with us. I can’t wait to go back and order à la carte.
*Google reveals that there isn’t, which seems a shame. Curiously, when you tap ‘seagull southend’ into Goole Maps (ahaa, serendipitous typo, I wonder how many people have tapped maps.goole.com by accident and what happens if you do?**) it comes up with Southend University Hospital where once I had a coathanger extracted from my eye. No, I don’t know how it got there either, I think it was a self-inflicted wound.
**Nothing, which seems a shame.
***’Ah know ah do’ © Edouard Lapaglié
To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).