This month sees the launch of new restaurant Dalloway Terrace, part of The Bloomsbury Hotel and making clever use of the terraced patio garden to one side of the building. A retractable roof and heavy duty clear plastic ‘walls’ have been built to keep diners warm and dry during cold or wet weather; easy to open up when it’s warm and dry.
I visited at the beginning of the month and loved the contradiction of sitting outdoors on a cold but crisp day with paving underfoot, greenery climbing up outer brick walls and everything lit by lanterns and generously-strung fairy lights. I was certainly not cold – overhead heaters pour out lots of warmth and every guest is given a thick and soft woolly blanket to drape over their lap or around their shoulders if they prefer. I know it will be a glorious space during the summer but oh, on the cusp of spring giving way to winter, it was magical and romantic and rather enchanting.
Cocktails are at the higher end of the London pricing scale, quite a contrast to my recent favourite at Bukowski Grill, though of course I appreciate that the styles of these two venues are completely different. The Mrs Dalloway champagne cocktail (£12) I’m recommended as an aperitif is lovely – champagne, Courvoisier VSOP, sugar and Angostura bitters; I ask them to go light on the latter and they do.
Wines are reasonably priced; a bottle of house red or white will set you back £21.50 and there are (a handful of) other bottles below £30.
Bread is not complimentary, as I’d expect it to be at this kind of restaurant (hell, if the Newman Arms, which I visited the day before, can afford it on their stunningly bargainous £19 lunch menu, surely the Dalloway can too?) Our basketed bread selection (£2.50) contains Guinness brown bread, soda bread, sourdough and oh, that Guinness brown bread has a fantastic flavour.
There are many appealing dishes on the menu, so it’s hard to narrow down our choices.
Helen orders the crispy pig cheeks, mustard crème fraîche, apple & raisin chutney (£8), and these are superb. The meat inside each parcel is beautifully cooked, meltingly soft, full of flavour and the breading and deep-frying gives much-needed contrasting crispness. The chutney with it is also very good indeed, and balances the beefy pork cheeks beautifully. A winner of a dish.
My Balmoral Estate venison carpaccio, creamed horseradish, pickled walnuts (£11) is also enjoyable, though I am surprised to be served dried rather than fresh venison; my understanding of ‘carpaccio’ is that it’s fresh raw meat, not cured.
No complaints on the number of fat and juicy scallops in my main of hand-dived seared scallops spinach, chanterelles & teriyaki dressing but the price tag of £25 still feels too steep, especially as the dish is not very filling without the addition of sides, at additional cost. The presentation could also do with some work, the scallops hidden in a mess of spinach leaves, drenched in far too much teriyaki dressing which makes everything soggy and forms a huge pool at the bottom of the bowl. That said, flavours are excellent and the scallops are beautiful and nicely cooked.
Shoe-string chips (£4.50, not shown) are decent, though could do with half a minute longer in the fryer. The rocket & parmesan salad (£4.5) is shockingly small, the smallest side salad I think I’ve ever been served anywhere. Stinginess like this makes a poor impression, a shame when the rest of food is making a good one.
Helen’s seared tuna, soy & ginger dressing, pickled radish (£18) is gorgeous, a good portion, beautifully plated and cooked very well. Flavours are again very good. But it’s odd not to include any vegetables on the plate, one is absolutely reliant on ordering side dishes, and if the portions stay as they are, you may well want more than one side dish per person.
Dessert for both of us is a chocolate mousse tart on a crushed pecan base served with salted caramel ice cream and fresh raspberries (at £3.75, one of the best value dishes of the meal). The tart itself is very good indeed; great textures, excellent flavour from good quality chocolate and a perfect portion to finish the meal. The salted caramel ice cream has a properly salty punch, a nice change from many that are far too sweet with hardly a hint of salt. The fresh raspberries finish it off perfectly. We both enjoy dessert enormously, perhaps the joint winner of the evening alongside the crispy pig cheek starter.
Some of the niggles on presentation and portion size will no doubt get ironed out after a few more weeks of service. With two drinks each the bill with service, comes to £140; at £70 a head that feels a little high even taking into account the hotel location and the professional service from well-trained staff. That said, it’s a really rather lovely setting, and perfect for a romantic meal or a low-key celebration.
Kavey Eats dined as guests of Dalloway Terrace.