Last Updated on July 29, 2021
Sunday Lunch in Style at Blue Boar Pub, Westminster
I last came across Sally Abé when she was the Head Chef at The Harwood Arms in Fulham. While others might remember this fabulous gastropub as one of the first to get a Michelin star, it will always be my ‘local turned good’ for me. The place I used to go and reluctantly order a burger to go with my bottle of wine until it changed hands and became the place I wanted to be taken for a special lunch or dinner. Now, Sally is installed at Conrad London St James’s where she runs Blue Boar pub and The Pem, a fine dining restaurant.
Sunday lunch is a real treat for me and I was excited to be invited to try the offering at Blue Boar pub. Even more excited when I discovered that the meat came from Lake District Farmers, a meat supplier I really only discovered during the pandemic when they started selling direct to the public rather than supplying their great produce to leading restaurants in London and beyond.
A stylish contemporary pub set in between St James’s and Westminster, Blue Boar is the kind of place that is perfect for business lunches or for tourists visiting The Houses of Westminster. There are a few outdoor tables, probably best used for drinks before you eat and inside, up the stairs, a warm, comfortable space with large windows, quirky fittings and comfortable seating.
We checked out the menu while we sipped on a very welcome glass of Gusborne English Sparkling Wine. What we took to be starters are called ‘small plates’. There’s a good selection of dishes, some closer to traditional pub fare than others (devilled whitebait for example). A soup entitled London Particular Soup sounded good with garden peas, poached egg, lovage and focaccia. It’s a name that always amuses me, the London Particular was a thick smog that had a yellowish tinge when gas street lights were around – and was also called a ‘pea souper’. Usually made with ham, this version was a vegetarian option (one of two choices on the menu).
But, potted crab is a real favourite of mine and I couldn’t resist the potted Cornish crab with cucumber jelly and grilled sourdough. A great start, it was light, creamy and full of flavour with the delicate herby cucumber jelly adding textural contrast and a refreshing tang.
My companion opted for corned beef and mustard croquettes with rainbow slaw and pickles. Like me, she was living out her memories a bit and told me that she loved corned beef as a child. She adored the crisp shelled mouthfuls with the contrasting slaw and pickles and the generous portion size proved too much for her. I suspect that some of the dishes in the small plates section are better suited to sharing, though I wouldn’t have parted with a mouthful of my potted crab!
There were two roasts on the menu so I opted for a roast rump of 56 day aged Cumbrian beef which came with the full complement of Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, root vegetables, greens, horseradish sauce and bone marrow gravy. I was asked how I’d like it served, something that intrigues me with a roast as generally slices are cut from a large joint. I asked for the chef’s recommendation which was rare or medium rare and opted for rare. Perfectly pink and full of flavour, it was just a little dry – maybe from the ageing process or maybe not.
My companion’s loin of Berkshire pork seemed more like a pork chop, but since we were eating a late lunch perhaps the main roast had finished. It was, nevertheless, quite delicious and worthy of the Sunday Roast menu.
The dessert menu offers four choices with cheese if you prefer to end on a savoury note. It was probably the hottest day of the year to date and despite the air-conditioned space neither of us could face the highly recommended and delicious-sounding medlar sticky toffee pudding.
I opted for a light and fragrant Earl Grey and chocolate mousse with salted caramel honeycomb while my companion enjoyed a dainty apple and almond tartlet. The perfect way to round off a Sunday lunch.
Throughout the meal, we sipped on our own selection of a delicious bottle of Mirabeau Pure, a light, Provençal rosé that was eminently appropriate for the weather and easy to drink with everything we picked from the crab starter through to my beef.
Service was smooth throughout lunch and we thought Blue Boar was a lovely, comfortable place to enjoy a lunch or dinner. I’m not sure whether you’ll ever spot any of the characters on display at Blue Boar pub ‘in the flesh’ but, it’s close enough to The Houses of Parliament that you just might.
The menu during the week has some different offerings so do check if you are thinking of going along yourself. Sally is just opening a new fine dining restaurant at Conrad London St James so now you have the choice of both.
Blue Boar Pub, London
45 Tothill St,
London SW1H 9LQ