Wednesday, 15 December 2010

32 Great Queen Street - Very close to Greatness



It’s a Dirty Dancing evening. Great Queen Street was an obvious choice, given I had contemplated the idea, but never had the motivation.

Admittedly, I missed out completely on the gastropub hype. Despite the joint earning enthusiastic reaction on serving great British food with a twist in style, it never clicked. Well, they say better late than never.

The pub was mostly empty when we entered. Serving staff was being briefed on the day’s menu so intensely to the extent that we were unnoticed. We were seated at an unreserved table, but were asked to evacuate in 90 mins with a smile. No probs. The interior indeed looked no different to a pub, with a long bar and small wooden tables, just stripped of excessive wall hangings and curtains.

Basket of bread. Kicked start with half a bottle of Fleurie, Beaujolais. Wine in tumblers, like Brindisa, shouts: Take it easy. 

Already I am apologising for the dark photos, they dimmed the lights as soon as it strikes 6 on the clock. The menu was printed on a sheet of paper, with the day’s specials hand written on a blackboard. Our server explained the specials in detail and how the dishes were cooked. I was looking forward to the crab toast, which was highly regarded by many critics. It was nowhere to be seen. As nothing stands out in particular, I went for the specials.

Hot and Sour mussels

This was not dissimilar to the Thai green curry mussels at Belgo. The dish was robust; lime juice gave a good kick to the fleshy mussels; celery cubes contributed its unique fragrance. It was definitely more sour than hot, which made it an excellent appetizer. The sauce was wiped clean with bread. Maybe this place is as good as what others make it out to be.

The room was quickly filled to a fullhouse at 6.

Cold Roasted Middlewhite with Sour cream & Salad

Our waitress explained this is roasted pork stuffed with chestnuts, pork fat, sage, celery, liver and the likes.  I must say this was not quite what I was expecting. I was hoping for a stark contrasting texture with a strong piggy flavour. Since it was thinly sliced and served cold, the disparity between the two layers of meat was not obvious. Nonetheless, the pork was moist and smooth, and the stuffing was perfectly seasoned with herbs. It might not have been the most thrilling dish, but still an enjoyable one.

The pork crackling on the salad was a nice touch.

Mutton Stew with red cabbage and cream

I have never had a jaw-dropping stew. Stews tend to taste relatively similar in the base stock employed and there is rarely anything daring tried on them. Sadly this stew followed the pattern. Mutton was slow-cooked till it fell apart upon the piercing of the fork, but it could have been any meat. The sour cream did add a smoother consistency and a little nudge overall, but it didn't scream. It was a safe choice and we got a safe dish.

Time was up. By the time we leave, people were flooding at the gates. It was a mixed group, colleagues after work, couples on dates and friends catch-ups. Whichever the occasion, the joint offered a cosy, laid back spot. I can’t say I was wowed by the food. I think the basics are all there, and the cooking is flawless, I just need to pick the right item to be overwhelmed.


On a side note, Dirty Dancing the Musical was disappointing. It was disaheartening from the moment Jonny appeared on stage; he was too different to the Patrick Swayze I had branded in my mind. The dancing was passable, but lacked passion and conviction. Stick to the movie.

32 Great Queen Street
Holborn
London
WC2B 5AA
Tel: 0207 242 0622


You may also like: Odette's
Great Queen Street on Urbanspoon

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