Have been to Berners Tavern twice in the past 10 days so debated if I should review twice or just once-decided to consolidate. First visit was a couple of month ago in their private room (review posted December 2013) and now twice in their main dining room. Avoid the private room! A great part of Berners’ allure is the experience, the gorgeous setting and the people watching. The bar is also amazing and the drinks very creative (similar list to http://www.socialeatinghouse.com/) and Jason Atherton’s other restaurants (seems like a fast growing empire).
It was fun going two weeks ago knowing that I would return soon and would be able to cover the menu extensively. So, long list of food considering the two visits:
1. What we ate:
First visit: With our friends Paul and Christiana who are fantastic (met through my friend Mike in SF). Our next outing will be at the Chicken Shop (http://www.chickenshop.com ) with their daughter who wants me to try it (and review it).
Eggs, ham and peas: I dare to say their signature dish as every table seems to order it. Deep fried egg with crispy ham and mushy peas. On the first visit we almost had an issue as the whole table wanted this as a starter. Since I had tried it before, I was eager to explore the menu. We ordered two between the four of us. Very fun presentation and good balance of flavors. The egg in my opinion should be runnier as the peas were a bit dry, and would make a better forkful. But love the crispy salty porky ham with the breaded egg and the yummy mushy peas.
Beetroot cured salmon with horseradish and watercress: Absolutely gorgeous minimalist presentation but the flavors are powerful and delicious. The salmon is perfectly cured and has an amazing texture. The beetroot adds a whimsical touch of color and the horseradish ties it all together with its creamy texture. The yellow and red beets decorating the plate are al dente and nicely cooked.
Grilled Caesar salad: not too memorable. Husband was trying to add diversity to the table by not ordering the egg, the salmon or some other items we had tried before. It was a fine salad, but I am not a big anchovy fan and those are sprinkled all over the salad.
Pork chop with braised chicory and fig chutney: The two men ordered it as we were told by our waiter (the one who wasn’t high as a kite…) that it was the best dish on the menu. It was delicious. The pork was juicy and perfectly cooked. I devoured the figs from my husband’s plate as he doesn’t care for sweet main courses. A very good dish!
Cod with lentils and cured bacon: The bacon slab on top was insanely good! Smoky, tender and delicious. So good they should seriously create a dish with this bacon as the centre of it. The fish played a supporting role and was ok, bland in comparison, but tasty when consumed with the lentils on the plate. Was hearty and appropriate for the London weather.
Rhubarb and Custard with warm vanilla brioche, rhubarb, almond crumble, custard: I kept seeing this dish served around so when our good waitress said it was a must, we followed. It was super interesting, the textures were fun and the layers added complexity. Very very tasty, creamy, pure indulgence (since it has rhubarb I am calling it a healthy dessert though).
Warm cinnamon donut: Usually you get multiple ones smaller donuts but in this case, you get one big donut with 70% chocolate ganache oozing from inside and a side of the most amazing almond sorbet. I am not a donut girl usually but could eat the ganache with the almond sorbet repeatedly. The chocolate was warm and rich and the sorbet light and very “marzipany” (which I inherited the love from my dad and older sister who almost pray daily to the marzipan gods).
Chocolate rice pudding, white chocolate and orange sorbet: The rice pudding was delicious; I would have called it a chocolate risotto as it was served warm in a copper pot. The orange sorbet was totally irrelevant and weak. Bring more of the almond sorbet instead. Delicious and interesting dessert
In Sum 1st visit: The desserts were amazing; some of the pork was brilliant and the fish good. Stick with meat, lamb and pork versus fish.
Second visit: early girl’s dinner with my friend Claire, her sister Charlotte (visiting from Seattle) and her fantastic mom. Charlotte is great, the first time we met was at Wynn Las Vegas she started skipping down the hallway as she was so excited about being in Vegas. I knew I liked her right away, and then she made the funniest while warm and loving toast at Claire’s wedding. I was excited to see her.
1. What we ate:
Crispy lamb breast with pecorino pumpkin fregola: Minced lamb in the form of a patty, breaded and deep fried and served with fregola (aka risotto meets orzo). The meat is crispy from the breading exterior and very tasty. Would be a bit too dry if not for the fregola, which is gooey, cheesy and with perfectly toasted bread crumbs on top. Every bite must contain some lamb, and some gooey goodness
Salmon: we had the first time, too good and waned it again
Potato and green garlic soup with snail, morel, and foie gras toastie: They first present a bowl with the morels and snails and then pour the rich potato soup on top. Absolutely delicious, the snails and mushrooms are earthy, the soup rich and creamy. Halfway through eating the soup we discovered the toastie hiding under a folded napkin. It was supposed to be consumed with the soup. YUMMMM. It was like a grilled mushroom sandwich but instead of cheese, we got foie which just blended in to add richness and some necessary fat.
Bacon cheeseburger: Good burger, tasty, well cooked, yummy bread. Fries were perfectly crunchy outside and soft inside. The bacon was crispy and the caramelized onions just added a subtle sweetness to the portion of the bun they were in contact with.
Rack of lamb and neck, aubergine and apricot cous cous: Wish the neck to rack ratio was the opposite, I vote more neck and less rack (sorry guys…). The rack was a bit too rare for us, ok but not amazing. On the other hand, the neck, humbly hiding under the chops was the star of the dish, braised and falling apart in a shirt rib sort of way. The cous cous was tasty as well but got a little too wet from the meat juices. All in, solid but wouldn’t order again.
Venison with pickled cabbage, carrots and fondant potatoes: looked very nice (not in my picture, sorry) with a really ombre red, deep on the inside and pink on outer part. But it was too sweet in my opinion
Desserts: We had the same ones as last time but with the rice pudding we swapped the orange sorbet for salted caramel ice cream. They should adopt the change as it was the perfect combination! On the other hand, if they did, no one would order the apple éclair as the ice cream I bet is the main draw to that dessert
In Sum: After several meals I think the way to go is: order loads of appetizers and loads of desserts. Skip the mains apart from the pappardelle, gnocchi (from my first visit in December) and pork. Ignore the service which is not amazing and instead, look around, stare at how gorgeous the place is and to some celeb scouting (always some sprinkled around).
Berners Tavern http://www.bernerstavern.com/#welcome
10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP
+4420 7908 7979
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