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Ladies Lunching at the Lady Ottoline, Bloomsbury:
An invitation to review the Lady Ottoline in Bloomsbury coincided with a planned meeting with Tracey from Fighting Fifty who joined me for lunch, a catch-up and a bit of a gossip. And, she arrived first, so when I finally found the pub and dining room she was already installed upstairs waiting for me. The original Lady Ottoline appears to have been something of a character who had multiple affairs with the likes of Bertrand Russell and Dora Carrington. A member of the Bloomsbury Set, her friends included Virginia Woolf, WB Yeats and TS Elliot. The eponymous pub is perhaps a little more reserved in style with muted painted walls, framed sepia tinted photos and stripped wooden floorboards. It’s a cosy kind of place, somewhere to curl up with a book or enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends.
I was really quite excited to see English wines on the menu. So, of course we started the meal with a glass of Nyetimber fizz. It’s a very reasonable £7.50 for a glass of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2006. My aperitif of choice – it may be psychological, but I prefer it to most champagnes on offer by the glass.
Welsh rarebit of Mull of Kintyre with mulled figs sounded just a little geographically challenged. But, what arrived was a lovely classic, nicely browned rarebit with gooey runny middle on a slice of wholemeal bread, topped with morsels of sweet figs. A little naughty really, but very appropriate given the hedonistic nature of the pub’s namesake.
Ham and pea soup was a take on the traditional London particular, named after the peasouper fogs that used to plague London when coal fires were common. The Lady Ottoline’s version was greener and fresher flavoured than the traditional version, perhaps made with fresh peas rather than the dried ones that were originally used. Nicely balanced, this was a warming and substantial soup without being over heavy.
Another plus point for the Lady Ottoline’s wine list is that most of the wines are offered in 500ml carafes. Absolutely perfect for sharing over lunch. We chose the Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent 2009 which I believe I tried at a Lebanese wine tasting event last year. It’s a rich spicy and fruity wine which paired very well with both my confit leg of duck and Tracey’s pumpkin risotto
Desserts of course at this stage were totally unnecessary. But in the interest of research I succumbed to a delicious ginger and walnut pudding with icecream.
While my companion had a more delicate but equally delicious Pannacotta with Vanilla and Figs
Somewhere to relax with friends, the Lady Ottoline is a charming, quirky pub and dining room in the heart of Bloomsbury. And a very fitting tribute to a somewhat infamous, hospitable and charming member of the Bloomsbury set. Prices are reasonable for central London, with main courses for the most part under £15 and starters between £5 and £6. This is British food with International influences. Hearty without being stodgy and well flavoured from good local, seasonal sourcing.
The Lady Ottoline
11a Northington Street
London WCIN 2JF