We had tickets for School for Scandal on Friday night, so decided to meet at the Barbican for some pre-theatre food. What was my first experience of small plate eating was a pleasant suprise , we hadn’t allowed enough time to really make the most of the food but what we had was truly first class. The Barbican has recently revamped two of its restaurants and the ‘Lounge’ on level one is a casual place with some comfy seating and a large balcony terrace. It has picked up on the London restaurant current trend for ‘small plate’ eating and all the savoury dishes are served as small portions, with some of the more substantial dishes also offered as a ‘large’ plate.
We ate through a small plate and a large plate of marinated baby globe artichoke salad, green beans, orange, mint, watercress, candied walnut and cabernet sauvignon dressing which was light, refreshing but very satisfying and I had a small dish of tiger prawns, with pernod butter, This was about 6 large and beautifully cooked prawns, which arrived in a black cast iron tapas dish on top of a bed of buttery shallot and fennel. It was VERY good, tasted fresh and arrived quickly enough to satisfy a pre-show audience but not so fast as to make us feel it was waiting in a festering oven to serve.
I would happily have tried a whole selection of the small dishes on the menu which includes Maple syrup glazed pork belly with green apple puree, smoked haddock and chive fishcakes with caper mayonnaise and hand cut chips and braised ox cheek with bourguignon garnish and celeriac puree. The prices were good too. Small plates start at £4.00 up to £7.50 or if you want a conventional large plate of food, it will set you back anything from £12.00 to £14.50
I’ve always enjoyed tapas but I’m just a little suspicious of the trend for ‘small plate eating’. Here is one London restaurant though where it works out for a lot of reasons, not least of which that many of the diners will be eating early or late, before or after a show of some sort. The menu is not extensive, but there’s still a good variety of dishes and the small plates were reassuringly generous!
We went on to enjoy the show – one of the best ‘updated’ versions of a period drama that I’ve seen. Catch it while you can – and try the small plate menu at the Barbican Lounge!