A hidden gem, just 150 yards from Nelson’s Column; this extraordinary Victorian-marbled hotel brasserie would make an ideal venue for a business lunch, or a pre-theatre dinner.
The tucked-away treasures of London never cease to amaze, and one such is the former 500-room Victoria Hotel (now called ‘The Northumberland’). Much of its interior – including some remarkable public rooms, walled entirely in marble – survives. Thank the MoD – the bureaucrats took over the building in WWII, and remained there for a good time thereafter.
The extraordinary central hall has recently been taken over by Mr Boyd (of Chester Boyd catering fame) as his first pure restaurant venture. The setting initially seems a little overwhelming, but it grows on you. All credit to the designer of the inspired modern chandelier above the bar, which somehow lightens the whole space up in every way (and not just literally).
The natural fear is that the food here will have that indefinable smack of outside catering about it, but a lunchtime visit for five people found not a single weak dish on our selections from the wide-ranging (but largely static) menu. It’s one of those menus from which you can sup lightly or heartily, depending on the mood and the time of day.
The food may have no particularly great aspirations, but some dishes – such as a dish of the day, a venison shepherd’s pie – were very tasty indeed. Even pastry – too often a disaster in this city – was a success. Service was charming too.
What’s that thing estate agents say about location, location and location, though? Few people walk down the west side of Northumberland Avenue, and it’s difficult to see where the natural business to sustain the place is going to come from.
On the day we visited – on the morning of which the establishment had been positively reviewed in a widely-read newspaper – we spied (as seems all too common these days) just one other lunch party, which is a real shame. For a business lunch – or a pre-theatre dinner – on the fringe of the heart of the West End, however, you could really do very much worse.