Having been in bed for days with a cold, I ventured out gingerly to meet Fiona Maclean from London Unattached for lunch at Dalloway Terrace. Housed in The Bloomsbury, copies of Virginia Woolf’s novel, from which the restaurant takes its name, were on hand. As a long term groupie of the Bloomsbury set, I was quite happy to sit in the sun with a pot of tea and reread the book which lay on our table. However, there was a lunch to be eaten.
Outdoor space being at a premium in central London, The Bloomsbury has made clever use of an area overlooked by an unattractive building alongside. Divided into two levels, lots of greenery in large pots and planters gave the space a Mediterranean feel. Café chairs in black and white rattan with marble topped tables added to the relaxed ambiance. Only overhead heaters, lambswool blankets over the chairs, plus an occasional Luytens bench, reminded one that this was London not the South of France.
It being a Saturday, the brunch menu was on offer alongside an à la carte and a small plates selection. There was plenty of choice for any size of appetite or food preference. I opted for a couple of items off the brunch menu while Fiona put the à la carte selection through its paces.
In an attempt to imbibe as many vitamins as possible I kept to a fruit and vegetable theme throughout lunch. I began with a Mercer Cocktail, a refreshing and colourful concoction made from mango, carrot and ginger which could only have helped in my recovery. Fiona had a carafe of rosé which looked just the ticket as we sat in the early spring sunshine. Sadly as the afternoon wore on the sun disappeared behind a building and I ended up under a grey striped blanket, so elegant and warm too.
I was sorely tempted by the French toast with maple syrup and crispy bacon or the buttermilk pancakes with lemon curd but I decided to opt for some healthier options. As a starter I chose avocado, grilled plum tomato and chilli flakes on sourdough. A large slice of toasted sourdough was generously topped with a full-flavoured tomato and small cubes of avocado. A gentle dish. Fiona went the toast route too, hers topped with Dorset crab, watercress and apple.
I opted for an egg dish as a main course – Kentish spinach salad with poached egg, piquillo peppers and toasted pine nuts. A colourful bowl arrived – dark green baby spinach tossed with cherry tomatoes, small pieces of pepper and a scattering of pine nuts. The egg was poached perfectly, the runny yolk flowing out onto the vegetables as it should.
Fiona’s spatchcocked poussin looked delicious and, despite my healthy intentions, I managed to eat half of the side order of chips she ordered.
The dessert menu was tempting and I continued with my fruit theme choosing a cardamom panna cotta with poached rhubarb. The fruit was well poached, holding its shape and colour and was not too sweet. Contrast of texture was provided by a crumble of biscuit. I couldn’t taste much of the cardamom in the panna cotta but that may have been due to the effects of my cold.
Fiona’s Valrhona and pecan tart with salted caramel ice cream and raspberries looked fabulous. I will certainly order one of those on a return visit.
Fresh mint tea was served in a lovely silver plated tea pot along with a very pretty grey and white striped crockery.
Situated a block away from The British Museum, Dalloway Terrace was a convenient and pleasant spot for weekend brunch, lunch or even afternoon tea. The service was both efficient and friendly, the menu was unfussy and contained a good selection of meat and vegetarian options, and the oasis atmosphere was a welcome break from the busy streets of London.
Dalloway Terrace, 16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN, www.dallowayterrace.com