Almost Al-Fresco in Bloomsbury at the Dalloway Terrace:
The upper middle-class Bloomsbury set, an intellectual group was an informal network of artists, critics and writers who lived in Bloomsbury, WC1. One of the members, Virginia Woolf, was author of the novel Mrs Dalloway, who lends her name to the newly opened Dalloway Terrace. The book itself revolves around the efforts of the heroine, middle-aged society woman Clarissa Dalloway, to plan a party. Perhaps what she needed was a team of helpful staff like those working at the Bloomsbury.
We were fortunate. On the afternoon when Madeleine and I chose to meet for lunch at the Dalloway Terrace, the sun was shining. We set up camp outside on the terrace and managed to enjoy a drink in the sunshine. For Madeleine, recovering from a bad cold, a freshly pressed Mercer Cocktail, a refreshing and colourful concoction made from mango, carrot and ginger. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a carafe of rose wine. By the time we had ordered our food, the sun seemed to have disappeared and we moved to the shelter of the covered part of the terrace.
At the weekends the Dalloway Terrace offers a Brunch menu, an all day dining menu and an a la carte menu. In the interests of research, Madeleine chose from the Brunch menu while I picked from the a la carte.
Somehow though we both started with toast. Madeleine’s was a brunch classic of avocado, grilled plum tomato and chilli flakes on sourdough. It looked delicious. The avocado had been cubed rather than mashed and topped with a tomato salsa and grilled plum tomatoes.
My Dorset crab on toast came in a sweet apple mayonnaise topped with hard-boiled egg, watercress and a little tomato salsa. A little sweeter than I’d anticipated, it was a dish that I grew into rather than loving instantly. I suspect expectationis all and mine had been for something with a little more piquancy.
I should probably have ordered from the ‘healthy options’ on the menu, but the menu was far too tempting. Instead I picked a spatchcock grilled poussin and had NO regrets. Perhaps adding in a portion of fries was a little on the naughty side, but despite her protestations that she didn’t want any, I suspect a fair few went Madeleine’s way. And, I DID have a delicious rocket and parmesan salad on the side.
Meanwhile, Madeleine, still ostensible on her health kick ordered Kentish spinach salad with poached egg, piquillo peppers and toasted pine nuts. I’m not a fan of eggs, but even I could see that the poached egg topping her salad was perfectly cooked. And, the mixture as a whole looked excellent and beautifully balanced.
When the dessert menu appeared, any pretence of eating healthy food disappeared very quickly. Madeleine’s picture perfect pannacotta also had a perfect wobble. A better photographer than I would have been able to capture that, instead I have something of a leaning tower of pisa effect.
My dessert though got both our votes and will be on my ‘must order’ list the next time I visit. Valrhona and pecan tart with salted caramel ice cream and raspberries was a delicious mixture of rich chocolate tart with a side portion of lightly salted caramel ice balancing the luscious tart.
A pleasant and relaxing afternoon of food that, while not entirely healthy, was light enough not to make me feel TOO guilty, we arrived at 1pm and didn’t leave till after 4pm. The combination of good company, good food and an informal, convivial atmosphere helped make this a perfect place to while away a weekend afternoon. You can read Madeleine’s review here. It’s a great place to meet and the raised terrace means that despite being right in the heart of Bloomsbury, a stone’s throw from Tottenham Court Road, it is both private and quiet. Service was impeccable and, although we were guests of the hotel on this occasion, the prices are reasonable, with a good selection of small plates from £4.50 to £6, main courses mostly between £14 and £25 and sharing platters of charcuterie or burrata for £15.