Christmas Lunch in Covent Garden at The Gentlemen Baristas.
What makes it feel like Christmas for you? Christmas decorations in Covent Garden, a performance of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House and a meal that includes turkey and Christmas pudding are all on my list!
I’m particularly loving this year’s collection of trees. If you happen to be there, do get up close and personal – there’s an amazing amount of detail that you could easily miss if you don’t bother!
For my first Christmas lunch of 2020, I was delighted to be invited to visit The Gentleman Barista in St James Street Covent Garden (at the venue you might know better in its previous guise, as Maxwells. While a coffee shop might not sound like the ideal destination for a slap-up Christmas feast one of my colleagues had already visited the pop-up and raved about Mark Greenaway’s food.
A Scottish chef from Edinburgh, famous for the Michelin Starred ‘Restaurant Mark Greenaway’ (sadly now closed), Mark is currently planning his own London restaurant opening in Spring 2021. And, in the meantime, he’s acting as consultant chef at The Gentleman Baristas. There’s a full menu on offer and right now a four-course Christmas lunch which we enjoyed.
The menu started with an updated version of a prawn cocktail, served in a little gem lettuce, with slices of avocado, a delicate dressing and a garnish of what looked like elderflower to me
Pan roasted potato gnocchi had a lovely caramelised shell with a soft fluffy centre. Our version had a miture of wild mushrooms, smoked salmon, cream, spinach and a buttery sauce. Utterly delicious
The traditional roast turkey was bacon-wrapped, rolled, stuffed breast with a rich cranberry gravy, a good helping of roasties, shallots and just a sprinkling of Brussel sprouts. It really did feel like Christmas at this point.
Pudding for two was Steamed Christmas Pudding – it almost seems like a shame to spoil the surprise for anyone thinking of trying for themselves.
What appeared on our table was a beautifully decorated dome of white chocolate. Pouring warm brandy custard over the top revealed a beautiful pudding topped with cinnamon butter.
A real show stopper, it’s one I wouldn’t dare to try at home – so I guess I’ll need to go back for seconds! That said, there’s also the mysterious-sounding ‘Invisible’ sticky toffee pudding on the menu (which obviously has no calories) along with a host of other dishes. What’s impressive is the quality of the food which I suspect does showcase the impact of Mark Greenaway. I’ll be visiting again if only because it offers excellent value in a part of London where prices can be a little eyewatering. A handmade burger is £11 and the turkey we enjoyed is £14. You could easily enjoy a brunch plate for £8 or so – and of course, the coffee is excellent. They also have a well-priced wine, beer and cocktail list and a selection of some of my favourite soft drinks including Jarr Kombucha and Dalston’s Ginger Beer.
A great place to meet before or after shopping in Covent Garden, I’m now really looking forward to Mark Greenaway’s new restaurant, due to open close by in Covent Garden in Spring 2021. And, if I have an excuse to be in Covent Garden again before Christmas (even if it’s just to look at the pretty decorations), I’ll be back for more!
The Gentleman Baristas
8-9 James Street,
London, WC2E 8BH