Friday night and the Holborn Dining Room is heaving. Not at all bad for High Holborn, an area traditionally reserved either for late night drinkers from the outer reaches of the legal profession or office workers heading for Holborn tube on the daily grind home.
It seems the opulent Rosewood London Hotel has injected a dash of glamour and sophistication into this part of London and its signature restaurant is loving every minute of it.
The Holborn Dining Room with its red leather banquettes and metal piping may look like a brasserie but its food focus is a celebration of everything British. Everything from Morecombe Bay oysters (£36 doz) to proper fish and chips with the requisite mushy peas (£19). Executive Head Chef Calum Franklin has created a menu of traditional British dishes but added some intriguing additions such as Hackney culatello (£8) or a shrimp burger ((£19).
We kick off with a gin and tonic. I must point out here that this is no ordinary gin joint. With over 500 gins and 30 tonics, there are over 14,000 possible pairings to be had. I try the Tarquin’s Blackberry from Cornwall, with blackberry, wildflower honey and Franklin & Son’s lemon tonic. Utterly delicious.
There are some choices to make for the starters. A duck, pork & pistachio en Croûte (£13) would have been a banker for me but a “so sorry, we’ve just run out of it” puts a stop to that. The chicken salad with avocado and smoked bacon (£10) pips the Monkshill Farm scotch egg (£10), while my companion heads straight for the grilled octopus with native breed chorizo (£14). The octopus is an instant hit. Fresh and crispy with plenty of tartare sauce and drizzled lemon. No complaints from me on the salad, the juicy chicken breast and crunchy bacon bits on a bed of leaves are a perfect starter.
The crowd volume has gone up a notch or two. Clearly, quite a few of the 14,000 gin options are going down well. “It’s Friday night,” says Jane my server with a sympathetic smile as she makes a glass of very smooth new Zealand Pinot appear as if by magic.
Despite the heavy numbers, our mains are delivered in good time. A perfectly cooked 50-day aged Cornish sirloin (£32) with béarnaise sauce and parmesan and truffle fries (£5) for me and hake with fennel and buttered sprout tops (£21) for my companion. “Those truffle fries are to die for,” Jane tells me, and she’s not wrong.
Chef Franklin is reputed to be quite the pastry chef, enough to warrant the Rosewood to invest in a soon to open Pie Room offering over 200 hand-made pies every day. With a rhubarb pie and ginger ice cream (£9) on the dessert menu, it is time to put his pastry skills to the test. It has to be said, he passes with flying colours. A pie that is melt in the mouth delicious. Pastry perfect as they say, with proper ginger pieces in the ice cream. The Pie Room already looks a winner from this table.
My companion’s pistachio and almond pannacotta (£9) is light and not too sweet, the raspberry sauce a tart foil to the creamy pannacotta.
As we sip coffees, four perfectly stacked cheeseburgers, sculpted like works of art and accompanied by those special truffle fries, materialise on an adjacent empty table. A few minutes pass and still no one claims them. Even after such an epic meal, I’m tempted to snatch a tantalisingly truffled fry. Then, alas, the occupants arrive; it’s the live jazz quartet from Scarfes Bar who tuck in with gusto. I gaze over with longing.
Perhaps I should have ordered the burger too……..
All images except featured image (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about the Holborn Dining Room
Holborn Dining Room, Rosweood London Hotel, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
Tel: 020 3747 8633