16 Bury Street
Phone:- 0207 930 6767
Quaglino’s claims to be one of London’s trendier restaurants; based in the heart of The West End, it offers a restaurant, bar and private dining room on two open plan floors.
I was out last night for a few drinks with three chums from my days in KPMG, and we found ourselves looking for something to eat at around 9:00PM. Our first choice, Rowley’s in Jermyn Street, was full; so we ambled along to Quag’s.
The restaurant and bar is decorated in the modern “in your face” style. I am more of a traditionalist in taste, and I have to confess that the size/height of the room and the half glazed ceiling resembled a cross between a greenhouse and a barn. Some tables were laid with tablecloths others were not, these unlaid tables were bright red and presumably there to add colour. The private dining room situated on the top floor overlooks the restaurant, and resembles the directors’ boxes one sees at football stadiums.
The bar is situated on the top floor, and to one side of this there was a jazz band playing reasonably decent tunes.
When we arrived we were greeted by one of the many staff (all dressed in black). He seemed concerned that we had not booked, and that in order for him to check to see if we could be accommodated he pressed us to have a drink at the bar first. One of my chums politely, but firmly, pointed out that there were quite a few empty tables and that we would take one of these now “thank you very much!”. We were shown to a red table (obviously for naughty people who don’t do as they are told).
The restaurant offers a reasonably varied menu comprising amongst others; pork, rabbit, chicken livers and steak.
The service is professional and efficient. When we sat down we were promptly offered our menus and bread. Rather oddly there were no side plates for the bread; I assume, therefore, that Quag’s is so proud of its hygiene they feel you can eat off the table directly.
I started with chicken livers on rösti potatoes, with a rocket salad. I have to say these were very well cooked; succulent, tender and lightly pink. The rösti, which can sometimes be greasy and unpleasant, was cooked to perfection. I chose the roast shoulder pork with apple sauce as my main course. I have to say that this was quite good, a good sized portion of pork had been sliced reasonably thinly and was presented on a plate with a thin (in my view slightly overpowering) jus/gravy; together with good quality crackling and apple sauce. A side dish of traditional chips (not fat drenched reconstituted fries) came as an accompaniment.
One of my chums also opted for starter, the crayfish, which he seemed pleased with. The main courses that my friends opted for were, pork, steak with a bernaise sauce and saddle of rabbit.
The steak was tender and cooked slightly rare, I tested it and think it was good. The sauce bernaise was absolutely superb; rich, creamy and one hell of a big portion! We all ended up dipping our chips in it!
The rabbit was generous, two thickly cut saddles and by all accounts tender and tasty.
I finished off with an Irish coffee, which was good, and a small chohiba panatela (cigar to you and me); this was sold by a very short skirted cigarette girl (more reminiscent of restaurants from the fifties) who kindly chopped the end off for me. I would say that the price, £12.50, was an absolute disgrace. Next time I will ask the price first!
The overall meal, which included one bottle of Casa Merlot, two Irish coffees, my cigar and a glass of wine came to £146 including 12.5% service and a mysterious £1 “street smart” charge (whatever that is, could someone enlighten me?).
Overall I would say Quag’s is a bit of a curate’s egg, the food is good but in my opinion it is overpriced and the ambience is not to my taste. I suppose for that part of London we could have been ripped off in worse places; so as my father would say “you pay’s your money and takes your choice”.