Posts Tagged ‘bloomsbury’

Resto 32 Great Court, British Museum

July 9, 2017

The Great Court used to be a family favourite when it first opened at the beginning of the millennium. However, over the years its standards declined quite markedly as it seemed to lose a sense of purpose – did it want to be a destination restaurant or did it want to be the kind of place the average tourist would think to pop into with the kids? But I’d heard good things since its revamp under Benugo management and as we were there for an evening of Hokusai (highly recommended) we thought we’d give it a go.

The ‘room’ of course remains unchanged. Nestled under Foster’s great glass roof though sadly one can no longer see into the Reading Room.* The décor is light and airy with generously-sized tables. Service at first was a little slow but improved subsequently. I went for the themed Japanese inflected dishes, starting with a teriyaki swordfish and finishing off with a green tea mousse. The swordfish was delicious but beware, it comes sans stodge; I was glad to have laid in a round of bread and butter on the side. I’m not much of a dessert man but this one I demolished very quickly, aided by an inspired decision to get a Grand Marnier to go alongside it.

With a bottle of wine the bill came to around forty quid a head which is not cheap but did reflect good value for the quality of food and ambience. I’ll be back.

8/10

#Food #London

*As an aside it’s an absolute disgrace that the Reading Room, one of the great sites of global intellectual history, is no longer open to the public. I do hope the new Director has plans to re-open it.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Review #110 North Sea Fish Restaurant, Bloomsbury

December 25, 2016

Last night a fish bar saved my life. Well, kind of. In the crazed fashion of the festive season I’d sorely neglected solid nourishment while maintaining a steady intake of liquids. The North Sea Fish Restaurant proved to be an excellent remedy for the consequent hunger.

A table in the window gave a good view out onto a quiet Bloomsbury byway and we selected from a wide range of fishy beasts. I took a skate with a dollop of chips and mushy peas on the side. The skate was perfectly cooked. Crunchy batter wrapped around a generous helping of delicately flavoured wing. Chips in a basket were proper chips and too plentiful even in my empty-bellied state. The tartare sauce was homemade and tangy. The only small disappoint was overly mushy peas. They were not quite up to Ferryhill standards but I guess it’s not unusual to find one’s childhood treats difficult to replicate in the here and now.

With beer on tap the NSFR is my new favourite chip shop.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #71 Bi Won, Bloomsbury

August 24, 2016

After a quick look at the Sunken Cities exhibition (recommended … also featuring an unexpected familial connection on the sponsorship side of things!) we were looking for hearty food. Bi Won delivered.

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Bi Won is right next door to Cocoro (where we went last week) and so making a comparison between the two is inevitable,. But that would be slightly unfair as while they both offer Asian food they do offer distinctly different menus, which is not always the case with Japanese and Korean restaurants. For example, Bi Won doesn’t offer sushi/sashimi on its starters, although the battered starter selection was reminiscent of the tempura next door but a bit on the heavier side. Which wasn’t such a bad thing as I was ravenous.

Being early arrival they plonked us at a table for four in the window from where you get a good view of people milling around on Coptic Street or hurrying down New Oxford Street on the way home from work. The menu was all in English so despite my inexpertise at Korean food even I know that their stews are bibimbap but I guess this is tourist central and there’s a menu for the regulars and a menu for the visitors.

Well, I took the spicy kimchee pork stew and it was perfect. Fierce heat and good sour cabbage interspersed with strands of porky good stuff. Seaweed on the side was a bit overpriced for what it was, as was a kimchi to share. With a good portion of rice after a starter you really only need the main course. Max beer was good and malty and helped mitigate the heat of the stew.

With good service (included in the bill) I was happy to pay around twenty quid a head. It reminded me that I must go back to Dotori in Finsbury Park this year, which in my experience is yet to be improved upon for this kind of informal Asian cooking.

7/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Review #70 Cocoro, Bloomsbury

August 20, 2016

After meeting at the excellent Skoob Books we were looking for a hearty lunch to set us up for an afternoon of exhibitioning. I’m rapidly running out of options in Bloomsbury so we opted to raid Coptic Street where good food is usually to be found whichever restaurant you choose to visit.

We tossed up between Korean at Bi Won and Japanese at Cocoro and Japan won. Trade was decent for a midweek lunchtime and a good sign was that half the clientèle were Asian. Asahi on draft was sweeter than I remember it being and we got stuck into the menu. There’s the usual range of sushi/sashimi, curry, teryaki, ramen and sides. They do a lunch option of ramen, salad and rice for around eleven quid which we both went for.

To start we shared a plate of tempura prawns. They arrived freshly done and piping hot, in fact too hot to eat before out ramen arrived. The batter was lovely and fluffy, I only wished I’d ordered a whole portion to myself. My ramen was kimchi with good lumps of cabbagey goodness in a spicy sour soup. The rice seemed a bit surplus to requirements on top of a good dollop of noodles.

Service was quick and cheery, the only downside to the room is that it lacks natural light but I guess there’s not much they can do about that. I’m looking forward to trying out Bi Won soon to see who wins this East Asian head to head.

8/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Review #27 Pizza Express, British Museum

March 18, 2016

For me this Pizza Express is the original and the best. I’ve been coming here for over twenty years and in a normal year I would eat here about once every couple of months. Anyone who read my review of their branch in St. Paul’s in 2013 will know that I’m an admirer of their operation. So obviously I’ve made a massive tactical mistake in using it up so early in 2016, in a central London location (as PE is a dependable option when you’re alone in a strange town), and on a one-man mission to boot!

My bad.

Well, not really. I was ravenously aware of the  need to lay in some bait before the Fullback quiz and I had a pizza sized hole in my stomach. I used to bring my infant children to this branch after school and before I abandoned them to the Birkbeck nursery while I improved my mind. It brought genuine nostalgic warmth to my heart when I saw that the manager on duty on this evening was the same one who used to welcome us all in on cold Tuesday evenings all those years ago. Such continuity is rare in the West End.

The room itself is a bit echoey but it’s in a beautiful old building that has been carefully tended over the years. You get a mixture of regular locals like me and tourists like the big family at the round table in the centre of the room. It feels homely. The pizza, as ever, was just right and washed down with a slug of Chianti made me a very contented man.

I strolled off to contribute to a narrow win. A good day.

9/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #22 Cigala, Lamb’s Conduit Street

March 5, 2016

A catch up with an old friend who’d been around the world aye aye aye (that’s one for the kids) and we descended on the increasingly Monoclish LCSt. Intending to go to the old school Italian (as recommended both by my chum’s Italian pal and the FT) we didn’t make it past Cigala, of which I have only fond dining memories.

Cigala is long-established and not part of the new wave of Spanish restos exemplified by the likes of Salt Yard.The room has that homely, lived in feel that makes you feel relaxed as soon as you sink into your seat. The customers seemed to be for the most part locals and the tables are generously sized to allow discreet conversation.

We went for a slew of tapas – a few staples like padrone peppers and tortilla, as well as things less often eaten like porky crunch things (I forget the exact name!). All good. My dining companion was a bit sniffy about the tortilla (‘Not as good as Barrica’) but I munched my way through it quite happily.

There’s an extensive Spanish wine list and I decided to make a random choice which happily led to one of the stranger exchanges I’ve had with a waiter,

‘I’ll have a bottle of the Mencia’

‘Would you like it chilled?’

This threw me. I didn’t know what Mencia was but it was listed under the reds.

‘Ummm, should it be chilled?’

‘Yes, this wine is like a Beaujolais … We drink it chilled’

‘Ok … I’ll have it chilled.’

‘But it’s fucking cold outside …’

That raised an eyebrow.

‘Yes, it is!? … Does that make a difference.’

‘Only, I wouldn’t have it chilled when it’s so fucking cold outside, you know?’

‘Okay, we’ll have it at room temperature’

‘Very good’

He went off and brought back a chilled Mencia, ‘Sorry, this is the last bottle’

It tasted good! Especially as brought to us by the hardest swearing waiter in London.

8/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap


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