Restaurant Review: Holborn Dining Room at Rosewood London
High Holborn has some excellent hotels now – many so discreet you wouldn’t even notice they were there. Arrival at the Rosewood London is through a large archway that leads onto a courtyard, and tucked away at the back is the glittering hotel lobby and Mirror Room restaurant. At this time of year, the restored 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque building is made all the more beautiful with fairy lights adorning the facade. It’s all very decadent, very James Bond. It’s easy to see why many Hollywood celebrities choose to stay here – Daniel Craig included. It’s the sort of place you can slip in under the radar on a secret mission and not come out for a while.
On the right hand side as you enter the archway is the cosy Scarfes bar, named after renowned British artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, whose work lines the walls. To the left is the Holborn Dining Room – a large, open-plan brasserie with red leather banquettes and low-lit table lamps.
We begin the evening at one of the copper-topped bars of the Holborn Dining Room, sampling some of its delicious cocktails. London is world-renowned for its gin, and although there are no less than nine G&Ts to choose from, I opt for something Eastern – a Taste of the Orient, which comes perfectly presented with a lemony egg-white foam over Kaffir lime-leaf-infused Stolichnaya. One sip and I’m transported straight back to the drinking dens of Thailand. Barman Matt says this is exactly his aim – he was inspired to create this particular drink after travelling around Vietnam. He says cocktails should remind you of another time and place, and the menu definitely reflects this, with evocative names such as White Negroni, Lady of Leisure, Victorian Lynchburg and The Big Apple. There’s even a non-alcoholic section “for the driver”.
My friend enjoys a High Holborn Smash with basil-steeped tequila and we chat to Matt about his travels around South East Asia and Cuba, where he spent two weeks learning to dance salsa in Havana. He informed us that he has plans to create a dedicated gin bar here over the next few months, with around 220 different kinds of gin cocktail. So watch this space.
I could sit here all night talking cocktails and travel, but our table awaits. Head chef Calum Franklin has worked at some of London’s best restaurants, including The Ivy, Indigo at One Aldwych Hotel and Roast at Borough Market. The menu at the Holborn Dining Room is as cosy and seasonal as the decor – lots of British meat and fish, and oodles of comfort food.
I order the scallops, which arrive atop a rich, mushroomy sauce. My friend has the lobster thermidor tart, which she describes as sweet and exquisite.
Next up we have a fillet of Scottish halibut – a meaty and perfectly cooked piece of fish – and a tender spatchcock goosenargh poussin (try saying that with your mouth full), served with a delicious sweet and crunchy sage and onion stuffing. We share four sides, the best of which by far is the crispy roast cauliflower with brown butter and caperberries. Carnivores will be in heaven with the Cornish rare breed onglet steak and Suffolk lamb chop. Veggies, unfortunately, only have the one dish – an acorn squash and spelt risotto with roasted ceps.
The wine list is predominantly French, with a couple of New World entries, but thank goodness they have an English wine on there. It would be a crying shame not to represent our shores, especially in this kind of environment. We opt for the Kent Chardonnay, and the taste is so refreshing, so quintessentially here.
Desserts include classics such as pineapple upside down cake and sticky toffee pudding. But we choose something a bit lighter and share the vanilla bavarois, which comes in a Kilner jar with a scoop of blackberry sorbet, and a bay leaf custard tart that’s almost savoury in flavour. The plum sorbet and slice of roasted plum add a welcome zing.
A couple of glasses of 10-year Tawny from the Douro see us right, and if I were being really picky, it would be lovely to have some petit fours at this point, but I’ve probably had enough chocolate at this time of year anyway so we brace ourselves for the real world instead, slipping out into the night, vowing to return for another secret mission.
Address: 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN / 020 3747 8633