The Perfect Bloomsbury Watering Hole – The Marquis Cornwallis:
I find myself in Russell Square at least twice a month, sometimes twice a week, attending meetings in the University of London buildings. In these meetings we attempt to workforce plan for the NHS, look at the education needs of the workforce, and enhance leadership capabilities across London. These visits are very business focussed, and I tend to travel into the area and then go straight back to work, so although I go to Bloomsbury frequently it’s not somewhere that I linger or where I have explored the food and drink venues in any depth. So it was lovely to be asked to review the menu at the Marquis Cornwallis pub, which is a 2 minute stroll from the tube station. My companion hadn’t been to the area much either, so we decided to kick off the day with a visit to the nearby British Museum, where we spent an hour or so exploring the Elgin Marbles.
Intellectually and artistically satisfied, we then felt justified in spending a frivolous few hours in the pub!
The pub is light and spacious, and I was impressed that it placed a great emphasis on London and British brewed beers, with the Meantime barrels having pride of place. The wine list contained a nice selection, and we selected a chilled Picpoul de Pinet whilst we decided what to eat.
Whilst we were tempted by the small plates, which ranged from handmade Scotch eggs to sweet chilli and lime glazed squid via pea, feta and mint arancini balls; we decided to sample the main courses. My companion chose the pan-fried sea bass, which the barmaid declared her personal favourite, and it turned out to be an excellent choice. Served with British asparagus and creamy dauphinoise potatoes it hit the right note for a spring lunch.
I opted for the Devon crab cakes with a coconut yogurt dressing and baby kale. These looked very pretty on the plate (although I think it came with wild rocket rather than baby kale). The crab cakes had a dense texture and were heavier than I was expecting. The sweet potato fries that I had as a side were delicious.
We watched other diners tuck into what looked like very good fish and chips, and big hearty pies.
My companion enjoyed her lemon and blueberry cheesecake, and I opted for the cheeseboard. This had a great selection of British cheeses and was generous with the portions; this would have been fine for about 3 people to share!
We couldn’t quite believe this piece of art, hidden on the stairs, in the otherwise very tastefully decorated pub!
This can be a strange part of London, dominated by hotels and offices, and it’s not always obvious where to go for a drink and meal that won’t be either poor quality or a rip-off; the Marquis Cornwallis is filling that niche brilliantly offering comfortable surroundings and good quality pub food. The next time I’m in a late afternoon meeting in Russell Square, I might be stopping off before jumping on a tube!
The Marquis Conwallis
31 Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury,
London WC1N 1AP