Boyd's Brasserie - Modern European
8 Northumberland Avenue
Tel: 0207 808 3344
Review Date: 3/6/2010
Boyd’s Brasserie is the latest venture by caterer to the royal family, Charles Boyd. It occupies the long-neglected ‘Marble Hall’ of what was once the Victoria Hotel, on Northumberland Avenue, between Nelson’s Column and Charing Cross.
Seized by the Ministry of Defence during the Second World War, the building (now The Grand at Trafalgar Square Hotel) was used as storage space for the next 60 years - a shameful waste but you could see the attraction for the MoD. The interior of the high-ceilinged hall is encased in so much marble and onyx (all original) that it feels like dining in a vault; a plush vault with floating chandeliers and a centre-piece bar but, nonetheless, an establishment that looks like it would be none too phased by a nuclear holocaust, save for having to find ways to incorporate cockroach into the menu.
Until that day however, the menu is one of relatively no-nonsense French-English cuisine.
We began our meal with cocktails, which were well balanced and refreshing. In fact I was still cooing over my Tokyo ice tea when the waiter came round for the second time to take our order. Flustered, I made the mistake of ordering two chicken dishes but, to his credit, the waiter managed to bring it to my attention in a way that didn’t sound snobby and wouldn’t have offended me even if I was some kind of chicken fiend who made the choice deliberately. A sign of good service, I think.
To start, I tried a couple of tapas dishes, or ‘Little 8s’. The London cure smoked salmon with a lemon and shallot salad was fresh and tasty, and the émincer of sirloin steak proved to be a faultless dish, though it did come with a curiously grassy – though not unpleasant – salsa verdi.
My dinner partner, on the recommendation of Charles Boyd himself, had the egg and bacon salad to start. Apart from the minor quibble that the egg – which comes coated in breadcrumbs – could have been a little warmer, she enjoyed it immensely. The same level of enjoyment continued with her fish (red snapper goujons) and chips main course which, getting a little overzealous in her role as a critic, she described as “letting the flavours speak for themselves”. A light batter and not too much seasoning, basically.
My main, the roast chicken, was nicely done too. No unpleasant surprises but nothing to lift it into the extraordinary either.
Generally, the meals were on a par with a high-end gastro pub, which at around £90 for dinner and wine for two may seem expensive, but the cocktails, tapas, wine list and desert show a flair that raise Boyd’s far above that comparison.
And although the atmosphere lacks intimacy, the exquisite surroundings make Boyd’s Brasserie ideal for a business lunch, pre-theatre meal or a bite with friends that you are keen to impress.
Jimmy Stewart, Legal Journalist
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