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Supper at The Gilbert Scott

September 22, 2011

I was extremely excited to be eating at The Gilbert Scott this week.  I’d been watching its progress since I found the restaurant tweeting (@Thegilbertscott) a couple of months prior to opening, earlier this year.  Due to a diary full of other, fairly expensive, meals out, I thought it was going to be at some point next year that I would get to walk through the infamous revolving door into the decadence of the bar and brassiere originally designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

Instead, one of my London-living friends informed me that they did a very reasonable ‘supper’ menu that you could sample if you booked from 5.30-6.30pm (or indeed 10-11pm, if you like a late nibble). So, finding myself with two days of meetings in the capital, I persuaded my big brother (who lives in nearby Islington) to accompany me for a spot of what I hoped to be splendid dining.

Deciding to head straight to the restaurant just before 6pm on a Monday night meant that we were dining alone for at least half an hour, so it’s hard to comment on the ambience of our setting.  The decor, however, was beautiful.  Not over-the-top; in fact a subtle suggestion of what dining would have been like in such a place nearly 150 years ago. I found my eyes wandering to admire the elaborate ceiling on more than one occasion.

Being the only ones there for some time, I would have been disappointed if the service had been anything but efficient and they didn’t let us down.  The waiter did however bring us sparkling water when I asked for still and looked a bit crest fallen when I informed him that we would only be dining from the supper menu, but aside from that, everything was in order.  Maybe slightly lacking a little in warmth; there were none of Fred Sirieix’s ‘magic touches’…

I often try the special menus from a restaurant before committing my bank account to a full onslaught.  It’s a great way of gaining insight into the kind of delights the kitchen may dish up, and should there be disappointment lying in wait for you, you don’t feel too bitter about the experience afterwards.

On this occasion, I’m neither disappointed nor elated. In fact, and I’m sorry to say this about anything that the talented Marcus Wareing is involved in, I was left feeling a little bit flat about my time with Gilbert.

A choice of two starters, two main and if you could manage them, two desserts made up the £19 (for 2, £24 for 3 courses) Supper menu.  Barry slipped right into his male stereotype and opted for the Pork Pie, served with Piccalilli, followed by a Cottage Pie (a firm favourite of his and one he was very much looking forward to).  As we wanted to try all that was on offer, that left me with the Butternut Squash Soup with Goats’ Curd and Pumpkin Seeds, followed by Sea Bream with Broccoli and Almonds.

My starter was an elegant representation of a firm Autumn favourite.  They brought out a beautiful bowl with the curd and seeds artfully arranged in the bottom before pouring in the silky smooth soup.   The pork pie by contrast was rustic in the very least – such a big wedge would not have been seen out-of-place at a miners’ picnic.  The taste was good though, and once Barry had got the hang of eating it without constantly losing parts of it to the tablecloth, it was soon devoured.

The main course is usually the point where things get even better, so we waited in eager anticipation to see how The Gilbert Scott had transformed a ‘home-cooked’ Cottage Pie into something more spectacular.

And this is where the ‘flat’ feeling came from.  The Cottage Pie and Sea Bream arrived, and far from being something elevated from the standard of my scruffy kitchen into a mouth-watering moment of magic by a chef, they were literally something I could have (and do) cook at home.  When Barry saw the size of his Cottage Pie, he looked like a six-year old at Christmas who has just been told that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

Yeah, ok, so it all tasted perfectly pleasant – but not any better than the Euston Flyer down the road could have whipped up given the same ingredients. (By the way, I’m not basing that statement on fact – I don’t even know if the Euston Flyer serves food…)  But, with the name Marcus Wareing attached to this fabulous looking establishment, we had just expected something more.

There was however, one major saving grace that means I will be re-visiting The Gilbert Scott at some point in the future.  One glimmer of hope that makes me think that the À la carte menu holds more excitement and promise than its poorer cousin menu. The Pease Pudding.

Ordered on a spur of the moment decision, along with some well-crisped fat chips, due to the persuasion of the waiter who rightly suggested that the dishes on their own might not be enough, the Pease Pudding was a marvel in a miniature bowl.  I would go back there and happily eat four bowls of that everyday for the rest of my life (you’d understand my greed of four bowls if you saw the size of one!).  It was this creamy, smoky, moreish delight that I cannot do justice with my tired and limited vocabulary. It’s this party-bag of delight I shall remember about The Gilbert Scott, instead of the party itself where I didn’t win the Sleeping Lions or Pass the Parcel.  It’s the bit that I’m taking away from my experience.

Pease Pudding – who would have thought it?!

The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras International Hotel, Euston Road, London NW1 2AR   0207 278 3888
Twitter: @Thegilbertscott


From → Eating Out

  1. Alison Woodstock permalink

    Mmm….pease pudding nom!!

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