I’d like to point out that eating somewhere this sophisticated is not normal for a Thursday. Dinner followed the opening night of the 100 years of Vogue exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which I highly recommend catching if you can.
Anyway -I’d not been to Quaglino’s for several years and knew a big refurb had happened so was looking forward to taking a look. We booked dinner through the Evening Standard’s regular dining out offer. I referred to this offer as a ‘Meal Deal’ much to the horror of my friend. Two courses for £20 with a glass of wine included (£30 with fizz) seemed pretty reasonable for this part of London. I’ve had some pretty ropey experiences when on a restaurant deal so was curious to see if this one made the mark.
The restaurant feels special from the moment you arrive. Door staff, cloak keepers and reservations desk staff were all charming.
On the top floor you’ll find a large bar area, dimly lit that overlooks the restaurant below. As you descend a grand staircase you feel a bit like you’re on the Titanic (pre hiccup.)
The room is huge. A large bar sits in the centre – above it a glass angular roof with balconies either side. A large red curtain frames the end of the room but more of that later. A cheese trolley of epic proportions sits at the other end (see above) The crowd was a mixture – business men striking deals to our right and a group of smart ladies to our left.
It has the air of a jazz club – we expected everyone to be smoking. They are not obviously.
The menu was impressive for an offer. We both chose the house white – really good. The bread arrived. Our plan to avoid filling up on doughy delights failed. The bread was warm and straight out of the oven. The waiter refilled it when we got through the first portion. Two veggie starter options pleased my friend rather than the usual no choice. Harissa and peanut roasted aubergine, whipped coconut, buckwheat, black quinoa and lentils (left) was the chosen starter for her – delicious smoked salmon with horseradish cream for me. A main of pumpkin risotto with pan friend gingerbread received the thumbs up. I chose a sea bream which tomato and herb crushed potatoes. Again another hit. All sides were £5 which I thought was a bit steep for a bowl of spinach but that was my only gripe.
Staff (all dressed in variants of black and gold) were attentive but not fussing and there was plenty of them.
I said to my friend to look at the Q’s on the stairs meaning the large ironwork letters that formed the staircase. She looked at the empty staircase and seeing no queues looked at me confused. Fnargh.
If you come here on a non deal you’d expect to pay upwards of £17.50 for a main course – so our night out was terrific value for the quality.
Our waitress told us they have live music on the stage behind the curtain and lo and behold back came the drapes and a chanteuse appeared with her band performing some inoffensive 90’s hits. A nice bonus to the evening. My friend and I had commented earlier that we were struggling to hear each other, so the live music added to this difficulty. Anyway it was time to call it a night on a school day.
The verdict – classy dining when you’re flashing the cash – great when on a deal to experience something glitzy.