After walking around for the London Open House event, I settled in for a late lunch at the place that just won British Restaurant of the Year in the London Restaurant Awards. It’s been on my list for a while, and because they typically take bookings, and I know that its sister gastropub, the Anchor and Hope is hopelessly busy I was fortunate it was fairly quiet for that time of day. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary restaurant or pub, with only a picture of a crown amidst a dinner setting instead of name distinguishing it from its neighbours.
Dozens of tables inside huddle near the front of the restaurant, with only three or four alfresco tables outside. Even though they had plenty of tables to choose from, I decided to sit at the bar, if anything, just to get a better perspective of the entire place, and for an easy sideways glance into the kitchen, full of flames and a relentless stream of orders in and out.
Service wise, this place impressed me because not only was it fast, efficient but it was also friendly. Whilst perusing the interesting, apparently ever changing menu, they immediately placed a board topped with hearty bread chunks, butter, salt and coarse pepper, in front of me as well as a jug of chilled tap water and a small glass. I love this about places where you don’t even have to ask for it.
Despite the great service, what really matters to me is the quality of the food and I cannot express how delicious my meal ended up. With lots of tempting daily specials and many dishes resembling those you’d see at St Johns, I eventually settled for the seven hour lamb shoulder, and based on a recommendation, a side of green to go with it.
At the same time, as I contemplated a red wine to go with, the bartender graciously offered me a sampling of their wines including their Beaujolais wine, a lighter red wine whose full flavour peaks when it’s chilled. Although I settled for something different, I thought it very nice of them to offer.
Being a seven hour lamb shoulder, it unsurprisingly came out quickly since it didn’t really need any other cooking. Even at £13, I thought the entire bowl was going to defeat my normally fearsome appetite, only to be satiated by the soft, melt in your mouth flesh accompanied by sweet carrots, and other vegetables in the dark gravy. The bright green cabbage brought a sharp and fresh contrast to the almost overpoweringly rich flavours of the lamb, and let’s just say I walked out of there a very content person.
Great for groups, couples and individuals, Great Queen Street offers something for everyone. If only I had room for dessert, I’m sure it would have been just as amazing as the main dish.
TheKua.com Rating: 9 out of 10