Rotunda N1
REVIEWS, March 11, 2009
Overall Value
out of 5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Rotunda Bar & Restaurant, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

In the impressive new King’s Place arts-and-office building, a good-all-round British brasserie, occupying a bright canalside site.

Only the French ever really seem to have had particular success at elevating the big-city, semi-formal dining experience they call a brasserie to anything resembling an art form, It’s such a useful, all-purpose concept, we’ve often wondered why there aren’t more French-style brasseries in London.

There may be few enough successful French brasseries, but British attempts at something similar seem, if anything, to have fared worse. Till now, that is. It’s just possible that the dining area in the new King’s Place development is part of a new style of operation that’s beginning to appear – ‘British brasseries’ that work!

King’s Place would certainly be a suitable place to figure in a ‘new wave’, It represents a truly enlightened bit of capitalism which has given London its first major chamber music hall since, ooh, the Purcell Room, and one of the most elegant ‘venues’ in London of any type. On top, a landmark office building, which is home to the Guardian/Observer group.

There’s frankly nothing actually individually special about Rotunda – this is one of those place notable for doing everything reasonably well, rather than having a particular stand-out attraction. But establishments which can bring a touch of pizzazz to doing everything reasonably well are likely to be pretty satisfactory for all sort of occasions.

The dining room here, if a bit Identikit-contemporary, is a bright room, overlooking a canal, and the young staff, if not super-efficient, have that sense of ‘ownership’ that’s still relatively rare.

It was the large and nicely balanced menu, however, that seemed to us to be an emulation of what you might see in a good French brasserie, without seeming in the slightest to be some sort of pastiche. Somehow they’d managed to combine the proper Englishness of a gastropub with the width of offer you might find in a good Gallic outfit (plus a wine list with a range you’d rarely find on the other side of the Channel).

Our own meal was consistently satisfying. Stilton salad was both subtle and English (which is nice). It was followed by the day’s very tasty ‘fish special’, a pretty decent treacle tart, and a good espresso. And all reasonably priced too.

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