The Brompton Bar and Grill has a lot to live up to. Occupying the former premises of the post-war Brompton Grill through the Yuppie years of Brasserie St Quentin, there is a real sense of history. This is in part due to its location, along the road from Harrods and teetering perilously on the edge of the Museums quarter. Inside, there is a whimsical air with reference to cartoons of the past and an eye to inanimate contemporary art of the future.
We are dining midweek in the first week of the Olympics and London has become a ghost town. Away from the hustle, bustle and perversely cheery ‘ambassadors’ of Trafalgar Square and Stratford the atmosphere is eerily flat. And so it was in BB&G. Being given seats in the window could be considered a courtesy (especially given that much of Brompton Road has been crippled by Olympic Lanes and is now (more so than usual) the preserve of gaudily coloured BMWs) or a businessman’s way of confirming that yes, we are open for business. Either way, the restaurant and table are smart, clean, well turned out and very comfortable.
Menus are quickly delivered and the staff could not be more courteous or helpful. Water is served (fresh from Blenheim Palace according to the label) and the order dutifully taken. We are encouraged to select the raw tuna (£9.50), served ceviche style in a lime and chilli marinade, which is light and delicious. We also sampled the Crispy Duck Roll, served with a chilli and ginger dressing and light oriental salad (£8.00).
Fancying something substantial for the main we looked to the grill menu. I very much enjoyed the perfectly pink Elwy Valley lamb loin accompanied by lamb shoulder confit, dense potato dauphinoise and minted pea puree (£22.50). Across the table sat a rib-eye steak, “exactly as a good steak should be,” full flavoured and served with crisp chunky chips and a rich peppercorn sauce (£22.50). We shared some creamed spinach which turned out to be a gluttonous and unnecessary addition to our order.
The maitre d’ kindly selected a wine to complement our selected dishes and an excellent Marquess de Riscal Rioja hit the spot perfectly and had a real intensity of colour. The extensive wine list ranges from £16 to £100 plus and will fit most tastes (and wallets).
Not wanting to seem too greedy (it was only Wednesday after all), we shared a summer berry salad with elderflower sorbet (£6.90) which was light, full of flavour and perfectly seasonal. We were also encouraged to sample the absinthe that the restaurant has invested in and was keen to extol. Not being overly familiar with the Green Fairy, we were given a brief but interesting history and introduction to the infamous liquor. For the same price as a pudding, there is a lot to see and do. A traditional water fountain, complete with miniature taps is accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a flat holey spoon and a sugar cube. Suffice to say, the alcohol was of the highest quality and strength. A great way to end a wonderful evening.
Finally, gentlemen, if you do sample the absinthe and make it down the stairs to the loo, you’re not hallucinating – that really is a bucket.
Our waitress was expecting it to be a quiet time until September when the Olympics roadshow rolls out of time. My advice would be book now. I am sure this place will be buzzing again once the Autumn leaves start to fall.
This review was first published at http://www.lawandmore.co.uk on 8 August 2012