"A fabulous dining experience at a stylish and iconic favourite"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
It must have been 12 years ago when I last visited this iconic Conran restaurant – I remembered the staircase down to the main floor and in those days the place was bright, brash and noisy. But that staircase didn’t seem so intimidating for a grand entrance and with the soft lights and massive tasteful central flower arrangements it seemed much softer and more mellow than I remembered.
The discrete entrance on Bury Street takes you down some steps to the reception area. The welcoming women – all in tasteful black outfits with some subtle sparkle on the shoulders – offered to take our coats and gave us the option of enjoying a drink in the dark and sumptuous bar on the upper level. Lots of sofas and so much style here. It’s well worth remembering that you can pop into the bar without having to eat here.
We walked the length of the dining room to our table at the far end – right next to a mirror wall where we couldn’t really see the two large screens showing video clips of glamorous people.
It was nice that there was live music playing from the upper bar – there were some interesting covers of American Boy, Price Tag and Ain’t no sunshine. The soft lilac ceiling lights definitely made it feel warmer than I remembered.
Whilst I remembered it being expensive before there are all sorts of different menus and special deals. For example, pre and post theatre menus with two courses for £18.50 or three for £24.50 – which includes a glass of wine. And there was quite a lot of choice. The large glass of Jean Paul Blanc de Blanc was perfectly chilled, smooth, light but rounded – and reasonably priced at £5.50
There was a good selection of bread provided – all snug in a napkin even though it wasn’t warm. My chichory salad starter was superb – crisp leaves coated in a creamy dressing with just the right amount of blue cheese and good size slivers of firm pear with a bite from the walnuts. And a surprisingly sizeable portion. My companion enjoyed her chicken and bacon saltimbocca with peppers although she commented (but didn’t criticise) that it was quite salty.
On the main course, my companion was content with her lamb shoulder, root vegetables with rosemary jus which was thoroughly cooked and came on a bed of mashed potatoes. The vegetables had a good bite. I was disappointed with my ricotta and spinach ravioli which I felt was overcooked and a little bland. Perhaps it was just as well that the portion was small and I was glad that I had ordered a side of chips (£4).
We were tempted to try the desserts – my companion’s chocolate brownie was a little too soft for her taste but she enjoyed the creamy caramel ice-cream which was soft and rich and not too cold. The granular texture of my coffee pudding took me a little by surprise, but I liked it and the cool creamy orange ice cream and Chantilly sauce were subtly flavoured.
The staff – a variety of waiters and a sommelier – were all charming and attentive. And they were confident enough to have a bit of a chat and a laugh with us (we talked about chocolate). They explained that it was the 21st anniversary and drew our attention to the huge range of bellinis that had been created in celebration.
We had dined early and by the time we left the place was full to capacity – but still the ambient noise wasn’t distracting.
With the set menu and an additional glass of wine each the total bill came to £72 including 12.5% service which we felt was extraordinary good value for such a fabulous dining experience at a stylish and iconic favourite – even if a couple of the food choices hadn’t really excelled.
KimT reviewed Quaglino's on Mon 17 Mar 2014