I love a good old brasserie. There is something really comforting about going to a grand French style brasserie to catch up with old friends and enjoy some food (and wine) in a relaxed setting. Considering I hadn’t been to one in a very long time, I dragged Seb, Imi and Alex to the Holborn Dining Room this weekend to try it out.
The Holborn Dining Room is a brasserie situated in the grand old Rosewood London Hotel (formerly Chancery Court) in High Holborn. Also home to the famous Scarfes Bar and the elegant Mirror Room; this heritage hotel is not short of options when it comes to dining but the Holborn Dining Room is definitely the place to be. Serving up seasonal locally sourced British cuisine, this Des McDonald operated brasserie sure has a lot going for it.
The first thing you notice when you walk in through the beautifully crafted wooden revolving doors is how grand this dining salon is. Complete with antique mirrors, reclaimed wood interiors, red leather banquettes and even two antique patina copper-topped bars; the Holborn Dining Room reminds you of a bygone era and not in a bad way either. The space reminded me of the Jamie’s Italian in Manchester which has a very similar look and feel to the restaurant.
It truly is a grand brasserie and you can’t help but take a moment to take it all in. It’s also one massive space, which means you are bound to get a table without having to get on the waiting list 4 weeks before you fancy some food. We grabbed one of the red leather banquettes and browsed through the brunch menu.
Being a brasserie, the brunch menu here is quite unique here. It’s got the usual waffles and eggs you would expect of any brunch menu but it’s also got crustacea and charcuterie sections to the menu complete with options like venison salami and fresh lobster. Perfect if you fancy something different to your usual eggs and salmon brunches.
I also love the the quirky salt and pepper shakers here. Aren’t they a beauty?
We were starving after the party at mine the night before; so we went all out and went for a three course brunch. Yes, it was a lot of food but it was so worth it. Alex started with a pint of Atlantic Prawns. Served with a dash of lemon and a bowl of sauce, it was quite a sight. Fresh and scrumptious – not a bad start at all.
Seb ordered the Glazed Fig and Cashel Blue Cheese Salad served with London Honey for his starter. This salad was simple keeping in character with the rest of the menu but it was spot on. Just goes to show, good food doesn’t have to be complicated. Besides, you can’t go wrong with a bit of blue cheese eh?
Imi played it safe and stuck to the Waffles with Bacon & Maple Syrup. The bacon was apparently vegetarian according to the menu anyways. Sure didn’t taste vegetarian though! Again simple food done well. It is quite hard to get this classic wrong and the Holborn Dining Room definitely didn’t.
I kept to the classics and went for the Steak Tartare for my starter. I would never risk making this at home but in the hands of an expert chef, raw steak can be a thing of beauty. The steak tartare at the Holborn Dining Room was spot on – the raw beef was of good quality and I really liked the texture and flavours in this dish. Perfect little starter – highly recommended.
Starters finished, it was time for our mains. My Spelt Risotto with Broad Beans, Pea and Mint was really a thing of beauty. The delicate mint flavours really made this risotto special. And top marks for presentation too. This dish was the epitome of Des McDonald cooking for me – simple, subtle and elegant. Would I order this again? Without hesitation!
Another dish that had his signature all over it was the Crab Hash with Basil and Mayo that Alex ordered. It was a simple crab hash served with a bit of mayo again perfectly done. A lot of people would question the presentation of the dishes at the Holborn Dining Room especially at the steep prices but I think that simplicity is what makes them special.
The Shrimp Burger with the jalapeño tartare was quite something else. We thought the shrimp might have been blended into a paste to make the burger but it contains finely cut shrimps made into a patty, which was actually really nice. Not something I would have usually ordered but something I would happily order again.
The Smoked Haddock with Poached Eggs and Mustard Sauce does sum up the menu pretty well to be honest – brunch with a twist. The haddock was beautifully cooked and the mustard sauce added hints of sweet and spicy flavour to the fish. Seb absolutely loved his main and was quite happy with his choice.
Mains finished, we were craving something sweet and we asked our waiter for the dessert menu. This is where we hit the jackpot! The Holborn Dining Room doesn’t do a dessert menu. They have a deli dessert table instead with a selection of cakes, tarts, crumbles and everything else in between. You have the option to pick any dessert (and as many as you want) from this deli table for £6.50. The deli has its own entrance on High Holborn where you can usually pop in during the week for a hot drink, pastries or even some cured meats and other global delicacies . The deli is however closed during the weekends and we felt like kids in a candy shop!
Options galore, we had no idea where to start.
We might have picked too many to carry back to the table but it was definitely worth it. My favourites were the chocolate pot and the passion fruit posset. Both perfectly presented beautiful desserts. With enough food to keep us going for a while, we cleared our bill and left to look at the mummies in the nearby British museum. Good brunch? I think so!
The Holborn Dining Room is not the cheapest of brunch venues (our bill came up to around £40 each) but I do think it’d good value for what you get – we did have a top notch 3 course meal after all! The grand settings, the seasonal British menu with a twist and the attentive service all does add up. I especially love the crustacea menu here – it’s full of some brilliant dishes. If I was being picky, I would say I don’t understand the outfits of the waiters here – the crushed grey denim like waistcoats is a failed attempt at making the outfits smart casual. But then again you don’t judge a restaurant by the waist coats of the waiters so Holborn Dining Room passes with flying colours!