Posts Tagged ‘Holborn’

Resto 2 – Holborn Dining Room, Holborn

January 21, 2019

Back in Blighty, I was to Holborn to meet a friend for dinner. He insisted that I book the Holborn Dining Room on the recommendation of Jay Rayner. (I don’t read The Guardian – not because of JR but because I can’t be arsed. As an academic this is quite the social disease.) In return I insisted we have one in the Princess Louise first, it wasn’t a difficult sell.

The HDR turned out to be in the Rosewood Hotel, seemingly a venue where superlawyers of various nations go to spend their Brexit earnings. We seemed conspicuous by our normalcy, perhaps that was why the waiter marched us past a whole slew of empty tables and plonked us in a corner at the far end of the room. Was he worried that we might make a break for it before settling our bill? Certainly Phil, with his double hip replacement, isn’t up to some Olympic-level table hurdling, so he needn’t have worried.

And besides, that’s not the way we roll.

This minor irritation aside the service was excellent throughout, as was the food. And at £23 for a steak and kidney pudding (accompanied by the richest sladge of gravy, poured steaming hot from the boat) I should bloody well hope so. But Rayner’s no liar, this stuff was the shit and no mistake. Fray Bentos seemed a very distant memory.

Sides of sprouts (a bold move in the post-festive season!) and chips were equally good even at the risk of pushing the bill to the yamma hamma end of expensive. If you’re on a budget and hungered for stodge load up on bread, it’s complimentary.* The cheapest wine comes in at £34 (if you’re drinking red) so bear that in mind too.

The room is a great barn of a place, quite masculine and, frankly, full of the kind of people I would usually cross the street to avoid. So a weird one this – I had an excellent dining experience that cost me a packet yet I couldn’t wait to get back to my usual milieu amongst the Pitmen of The Whippet for a digestif and a good chat about home.


*Though I forgot to check if there’s a cover charge.

#food #London

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

Resto 22 Viet Eat, Holborn

August 1, 2018

In torrential summer rain we ducked into Viet Eat for a quick dinner thinking a bowl of Phô would be just the job. But it didn’t go well. It was early evening and the room wasn’t busy, just a smattering of tourists, so there wasn’t really any excuse for the slackness of the service. Asking for a fork and spoon we were told that Vietnamese food is usually eaten with chopsticks. No shit! But just give me the flatware and save your condescension for someone who gives a toss.

The food too was underwhelming. The broth on the Phô was a bit underpowered so I slathered in some sauce for a bit of flavour. The rest of the dishes were fine, not memorable. Not worth revisiting.


#Food #London

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

Resto 14 Bill’s, Holborn

March 4, 2017

Is Kingsway the most functional eating street in London? It has all the chains in a relentlessly mid-range bracket and in the mid-range of the mid-range sits Bill’s. Bill’s I think has some kind of history attached which means than technically it’s no longer Bill’s (or at least not the chainy bit) but someone else’s. But ‘Someone Else’s’ wouldn’t be such a snappy name as ‘Bill’s’ would it? So I reckon whoever bought the right to Bill’s (Hedge fund? Lottery winner? Shadowy drug cartel? I could find out but life’s too short to worry about such things as long as it isn’t O****r. But then why would he purchase the ‘Bill’s’ name when he has a name of his own to push.*).

So yes, Bill’s. A safe bet on the food front covering as it does a gamut of bases from your carnivore to your vegan, from your lactose intolerant to your gluten free. Some sections of the menu read like the key to an Ordnance Survey map with the cutest symbol not referring to dietary requirements but rather to Bill’s Heritage items. Which made me sigh.

But still they wouldn’t be there unless the marketing people hadn’t drilled down precisely into how much extra spend they would get out of pitching 10% of the food to the kind of people who think, ‘Hmmm, I was going to have the sea bass until I saw that the felafel burger was one of the original lines sold in Bill’s back in the day when Bill’s was Bill’s rather than someone else’s so I’ll have that instead.’

Which cynicism on my part makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy Bill’s. I did. Putting aside the guff around the faff the product is solidly reliable. A good range of food executed well in a pleasant room with good service. Not everywhere manages to do one of those things let alone all four. My fillet steak was tender enough but had a little too much fat around the edge for my liking. Although this was forgivable as it came in at around half the price of say Hawksmoor’s steak. With a decent glass of Merlot for a fiver I had no complaints when it came to coughing up the cash. And the atmosphere was calm – enough room between the tables to not feel hedged in and the music pitched at the right volume to allow for normal conversation.

It just seemed that the package as a whole was the exact opposite of the vibe that they’re trying to sell. And they’re trying to sell a lot – food to eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner), food to take home, aprons, in fact anything that isn’t nailed down seems to be for sale. Well, not the staff I’m sure. Which kind of makes it difficult to take Bill’s seriously as a happy go lucky, stretch out and relax kind of place. You can’t repackage an atmosphere as a heritage item, as anyone who’s been to Beamish would know.


*Prick’s, in case you were wondering.

#food #london

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

%d bloggers like this: