Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Part 2: Dinner at The Criterion

I'm kicking myself for not bringing my camera to The Criterion last night because the photo on the left doesn't even begin to show how amazing the restaurant looks.  I can't remember the last time I dined in place as opulent, grand, or - for lack of a better word, breath-taking (maybe I don't get out much) and tried not to gawk at the gilded mosaic ceiling when I entered, but couldn't help myself.  I was in my element.  Surrounded by people with glossy manes and shiny cuff-links somehow comforted me.  
The dinner was an early Valentine's present from John, and we had the aptly named "Sherlock Holmes" set menu (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a regular visitor) which was a bargain (I obviously didn't say that word aloud in the restaurant - I think forks would have clattered to plates and glasses would have shattered) at £25 for three courses, including a glass of champagne upon arrival.   The set menu had plenty to choose from and I had a delightful prawn salad (served in a martini glass) to start, kedgeree (very British) for my main and warm cinnamon apples served with cream to finish, while John had Welsh rarebit to begin, a divine pork chop with rosemary and apple sauce main and bread and butter pudding for dessert.  Afterward, we couldn't resist in indulging ourselves with a cup of extra hot espresso to finish, which was served with a cold slate topped with white chocolate and milk chocolate brownie slices.  Absolutely.  Heavenly.  Our meal was accompanied by an (initially questionable, but later revealed to be quite talented) jazz pianist/singer and the charming restaurant staff attended to us wonderfully.  So pleasant were our surroundings that we lingered long after we had paid our bill, debating whether or not to go for a drink at the bar. 

Perhaps the biggest selling point of The Criterion Brasserie is its location in the heart of London, at Piccadilly.  Next door, of course, is the famous Criterion Theatre, home of John Buchan's The 39 Steps.  Piccadilly Circus tube station is only a few steps away from the entrance of the restaurant, so we were able to be quickly whisked away from the hustle and bustle of weekend-tourist-London and transported to quiet-sleepy-North-London in a matter of minutes.  Needless to say, the whole experience from door-to-door was most enjoyable.

I can't wait till my parents come to visit in May, so we have another excuse to go!  In the meantime, we just might pop in for a drink in the bar area after work to soak in the luxurious ambience or book tickets for The 39 Steps next door.  A word of advice if you do go - please don't wear jeans.  Please, please don't wear jeans.  It's not exactly a black-tie affair, but I find it extremely rude to dine at a restaurant like The Criterion in jeans and a rugby-striped sweater.  Just my opinion.  Plus, it's always fun to dress up.



  1. But you promised you'd take me! Feel certain your parents will love the place but does this mean that I'm now out of the frame? You know I don't drink, so there's little point in suggesting we go there for some exotic alcoholic beveridge. Tears of disappointment are streaming down my cheeks. Perhaps it's for the best; the only clothes that fit me these days comes from my Timberland collection.

  2. For certain you and I would go before MAY?!?! I should HOPE!?!?!?


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