Great Queen Street
Tell all your buddies That it ain't no drag
Sometimes restaurants lose sight of their raison d’etre and in case you’ve forgotten this is to feed, to entertain, in short, to give the patrons a jolly good time. I realised this during DH’s recent visit to Padstow. The gulf between the dismal No. 6 and the sprightly and enjoyable Margot’s was palpable. Places where the emphasis is on giving the punters a good time (dearie) are becoming more prevalent though and the latest amongst them, Great Queen Street, is the offspring of the Eagle, Anchor and Hope and last but by no means least The Fox.
I’d had the heads up about the joint a month or two ago but everything had gone quiet, then all of a sudden there’d been reviews in a London free sheet and then Fay “I’d attend the opening of a envelope” Maschler had been there twice. Time for DH to move in.
Great Queen Street is situated, somewhat incongruously (for a gastropub) in Covent Garden. The incongruity lies in the fact that in an area where the majority of restaurants pin their flag unashamedly to the pole of mediocrity this place stands out like a…well a Welsh Bengali at a BNP Rally. The design is firmly in the mould of Eagle/A&H type gastropubs with plenty of stripped wood and dim lighting to go around. There’s also a longish bar where you can get the full menu.
With an appetite made keen by a well made DM at the Renaissance Chancery Court I did the only thing I could and went for double starters. Cured Gurnard with leeks and aioli read better than it looked or tasted. The taste of the fish was killed by a heavy hand on the salt shaker and the aioli was non-existent. Much better was the smoked eel which came in the generous form of two large fillets. The Cucumber accompaniment was lightly and sympathetically pickled.
The Ox Heart with Beetroot and Horseradish was one of those dishes where you wonder why it isn’t on every British menu. Tender, meaty, subtly Offaly, it had been cooked with care. The cubed beetroot with horseradish provided the necessary counterpoint. Chips cooked in duck-fat didn’t taste like it and had a slightly tough skin but were tasty nonetheless. The pud list is a bit small and it didn’t have HP favourite: helado. Luckily a special of Muscat crème brulee proved a suitable substitute.
Despite being pretty full, two or three staff managed to keep the service rolling along and indulge my endless questions about the restaurant’s origins. As an antidote to the overpriced and the pretentious Great Queen Street deserves to succeed and provides the only sensible option in this neck of the woods.