Last week I was invited to experience Bread Street Kitchen, the restaurant just launched by Gordon Ramsay’s team in One New Change, St.Pauls, London. There is no denying that visually this place has the wow factor. The tour around this two story, window fronted restaurant left me gawping, there was so much attention to detail, pattern, lighting and display. It had the feel of a vast, open warehouse with its strong features, big lighting and dramatically wide clear spaces, with some spangly vintage lampshades and microscopes thrown in for good measure.
The cocktails were an incredible start to the evening. I was quizzed on my booze preferences by the in-house cocktail guru, and after telling him I was a gin girl, he presented me with an elderflower and lychee based masterpiece, with a hefty amount of delicious sharp gin. Perfect. Kathryn from Tasty Ribbons had a classic Bramble.
We were seated on one of the huge communal tables, and menus were bought over. As we began to study them there was a moment of hush, followed by frenzied confusion. The large menu was split into three separate categories, on one side the ‘Raw Bar’ listed starters and salads for mains, the ‘Hot Kitchen’ contained a different set of starters and mains, and the ‘Wood Stone’ collected another group of starters and mains, and then there was a whole new arrangement of ‘Sides’. Confused yet? Ok it wasn’t that bad, but the real challenge was in pairing the dishes together. It was hard to imagine eating Salmon ceviche (Raw Bar) followed by Mutton Pie (Hot kitchen) thanks to the vastly different ingredients and cooking methods.
I picked in a rush and went for a starter and a main, both from the Hot kitchen, my starter was Baked Orkney Scallops, treacle-cured bacon and bittercress. This was a clear winner. Presented beautifully, it tasted equally as wonderful, with meaty smokey scallops, sweet salty bacon and crunchy cress. I followed this with Roasted Grouse, ceps and Watercress. This was visually just as attractive, but unbalanced in flavours. The grouse was soft and pink, but it was presented on a garlic heavy crouton that totally overpowered the gamey flavours and drowned out the delicate raw ceps. I had been won over by the simplicity but brilliant execution of my starter and was disappointed that it didn’t follow through to the main.
The Almond and Polenta cake for pud was a vast improvement, and was a great light finish to the meal. The sponge was moist, fresh and fragrant, and it went perfectly with vanilla cream, a real summery treat.
In total, my meal without drinks, was priced at almost £55, far too expensive thanks to my main (which was £29 alone). I would have preferred to spend less time deciphering the needlessly split-up menu and more time being told about the ingredients and suppliers, which are according to Stuart Gilles all carefully selected and kept as local as possible. Bizarrely this sort of vital information was printed on the menu as a caption-less QR code ,rather than being simply spelt out.
Overall I really loved two-thirds of my food, and the service, ambience and experience were all top notch, but having been let down by the main course I’m unsure when I’ll next be back to sample another dish.