Recently, myself and a fellow new mummy, lets call her the blonde, decided to ramp things up a bit and leave the safe haven of Italian chains for something more…us. You see, once you’ve become a mum it seems certain restaurant doors are closed to you forever for various practical reasons but mainly because of one big reason; they hate children.
My friend and I know this because once upon a time we were the haters, turning our noses up at the slightest noise or appearance of a snot-infested child. But now that we are in the same boat and can no longer roll our eyes and turn up our noses (actually wait…we still do that to children not bearing our own flesh and blood), we miss and deeply long for a ‘propah’ restaurant experience. One where we can brush our wooly mammoth legs against the crisp folds of table linen (its been a long winter, besides who has the time?!) and eat bread with a decent plate of butter instead of fluorescent yellow margarine from a wholesale cash and carry.
As the square mile proved a mutual meeting ground, we opted for the mighty sweary’s recent venture – Bread St Kitchen. Now, when I cast my mind back to its much delayed opening, it received some pretty dire reviews that should have seen it close its kitchen almost as quickly as the customers and critics leaving it. But as its still standing and that too in such vast square footage, I’m assuming something must have changed, so off we went to break bread but mainly drink wine.
The blonde and her mini blonde were running late due to some gardening fiasco, so I took in the surroundings as we waited for them at our table. The upstairs dining space was a mock with what seemed to be Gordon’s secret service, staff all kitted out in sharp black suits and fitted with those ear thingies you see on bodyguards, and I quickly saw why. It is colossal up there, I mean massive. An open space of at least 200 covers. A mish-mash of leather banquettes, steel and concrete which come together to form a rather masculine environment, presumably to reflect the clientele, who were all suits (apart from us of course). This made our little mummy rebellion even more blasé than intended, to which we giggled with glee.
The agents assigned to our table were surprisingly friendly and helpful and the sommelier more so. The wine list made for interesting reading, especially the wines by the glass. Not a single Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio in sight – finally a ‘propah’ dining establishment with real choice. The menu has something for everyone, from raw food to juicy steaks. We opted for the beetroot tart, baked scallops and a carafe of Hungarian wine, all of which we were impressed with.
The tart comprised traditional red and golden beets and was beautifully complemented with pine nuts and creamy goats curd, adding depth and texture. Whilst the succulent baked scallops were balanced with morsels of salty bacon against a smooth salsify purée.
Though these were starter dishes they more than filled us up, together with a side of hand cut chips which though were more like wedges, were beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy inside.
All in all a pretty good lunch except for one small quibble. Here’s the mini rant the blonde was subjected to: Who in this day and age charges a cover charge?? I mean really. I get the bread humour but a £2 cover charge per person seems a little pathetic given the already marked-up prices. Why not mark them up more instead of a cover charge! I thought that only happened in venice, where everything is a rip off. One can only imagine Ramsay’s rent demands it. But I paid up regardless, (after correcting the cover charge for two, not three people, which they had wrongly calculated) because it was a small price to pay for our sanity, and at least the blonde and I left feeling almost our old selves again.
As an aside, I was curious to see what the atmosphere was like on weekends (I noticed they had a kids eat free offer) and happened to find myself in there again, with hubby and baby in tow that very same weekend. The saturday lunch service at BSK is a completely different beast to the working week. Tables are filled with young families and there’s a much less hectic feel about it. The quality of the food didn’t slip though and there were some deliciously cooked sides of spiced honey carrots and a warming mac and cheese. Again a sommelier was on hand, no pompous attitude, just plain and simple help which enabled us to try something new (a pretty decent Austrian red). We also managed to get to dessert this time around, hubby and I shared the pineapple carpaccio with passion fruit and coconut sorbet. A zingy delight which did the trick of providing something sweet yet light.