Thursday, October 11, 2007

Frontline Club & Restaurant

Thanks to "I" for pointing me towards frontline, a media club just off Praed Street and a couple of minutes walk from Paddington station. In addition to a members room, the club has a ground-floor restaurant open to non-members.

The space they have created is light, open and modern with high ceilings and exposed brickwork over stripped hardwood floors. In addition to being the restaurant, it also serves as a venue to show iconic photojournalist shots from the past 50 years. These include St. Paul's standing alone through a circle of smoke during the blitz, that classic Eisenstaedt shot of a sailor kissing a girl in Time Square on VJ day and British Soldiers in Belfast in 1971. (More recent shots are also exhibited on the staircase to the bathrooms, taking us right up to date with pictures of the US forces in Iraq.)

Menu is classic British food but brought up to date both in terms of presentation and execution. I started with pea and ham soup which was served hot and steaming in a large, deep bowl. (No nouveau cuisine-sized portions served here. It felt more like dining in the US than a well regarded restaurant in London.) For main course I went for the pork chop served with pan haggerty (aka potatoes dauphinoise) and pork scratchings. Again, good sized portion and well cooked, though the pork was a bit bland I'd have to say the overall dish was good. Others in our party of 7 had duck breast ("excellent") and stuffed pumpkin ("very good"). Puddings covered things like sticky toffee, Queen Mab's (creamy set mousse), ice creams and an excellent cheese plate from Neal's Yard. Alas, I was well past full by that stage so can't opine on any of it but my colleagues all gave them good marks.

Price? About 450 quid including drinks (excellent wine list, too). Not bad for a party our size eating out in central London. And you can also feel good that profits from the restaurant help support the charitable effors of the Frontline Forum.

Gripes? a) they charged for the bread they brought out, albeit at 50 pence a portion. Why?? b) the waitress didn't mention the specials at all, one of which I heard about from a server at an adjoining table and I would have chosen for my main course (skate). Apart from that, everything was handled well.

Verdict: would definitely go back, and if you are in the area it's a great choice either for business or for "personal eating" (there must be a better phrase than that but my brain is still fogged by jet-lag and the after effects of the wine we managed to sink last night!) It is open all day and quite frankly it's worth visiting just for the photos, let alone the well done, well-priced food.

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