Yesterday evening we had dinner at Great Queen Street, a newish restaurant in London's Covent Garden, directly opposite the Freemason's Hall. It's a welcome return to the idea of the old-fashioned dining room. Formerly a pub, it's now just a large room with bare floor boards, dark aubergine coloured walls, and basic wooden tables. Wine is quaffed from small tumblers of the toothpaste variety, and napkins are quite definitely made from paper.
The menu (on a single scrap of thin, cheap paper) was concise to the point of parody. Rabbit. Prunes. Crab on Toast. Lamb with Chestnuts. Braised Venison. Greens. Roast Pheasant for Two People. I had clocked the pheasant on arrival: two pin-stripe types were tucking into a Gothic looking carcass on a large old-fashioned transfer printed oval plate.
In London, this new simplicity comes as a shock- the antithesis of the dreaded gastropub, where everything is served with "a twist' or with a nod to Escoffier. This is plain, well-cooked British food at its very best, which relies more on the quality of individual ingredients and technique, than complicated flavour combinations. The restaurant was packed out- so the word has obviously spread and the place is very much in vogue. I'm glad.