Monday 26 October 2009
Soho is great for coffee, wine bars, restaurants and, obviously, drinking out of a brown paper bag with a crack pipe in your pocket (if that's your thing). But foodie pubs are another story. The quest to find one has been the source of an inordinate amount of anguish and heartache in my obsessive little life. Yet somehow, despite my enormous snout for a good Sunday lunch, I had missed a corker: 32 Great Queen Street was that missing piece of the puzzle.
The Peanut Gallery and I had a date for Sunday lunch with our ever affable friend, Ray, on his brief visit from Australia. Ray is one well-travelled foodie, so the aim was to show him some decent British fare, vaguely in the vicinity of his hotel. Related to two other great British gastro pubs, the Anchor & Hope in Waterloo and the Eagle in Farringdon, 32 GQS was likely a safe bet.
There is nothing pretty or fancy about 32 GQS. The dining room is dark, scuffed and shabby with a hotch potch of non matching chairs, ricketty wooden tables and thimble sized wine tumblers. However, it serves up gutsy, traditional British pub fare. The food is simple, fresh, hearty and it's good.
The first promising sign was the bread - wholemeal, thick and hearty. Bread can say so much.
I happily tucked into a pidgeon with cannelloni beans (above) - seasonal and delicious. The Peanut Gallery's cuttlefish braised in its own ink (below) was so sumptuous he covertly tried to hide it from us (if you can call building a wall with the menus "covert").
Ray's shoulder of lamb (below) was juicy and sweet and I'm fairly sure I saw him licking the plate while I was distractedly ordering more beers.
I like to think we shared tasty sides of potatoes, fresh buttery cabbage, and mixed leaves - but, truth be told, I pretty much hogged them all.
We finished off with a chocolate pot that looked like a short macchiato (Ray reported it was more cakey than moussey, but in a good way), the white chocolate, raspberry and amaretto cheese cake (yes, it sounds scrumptious and it was) and chocolate doughnuts with sour cream and chestnuts.
This latter dish has since been the source of much lively debate between its owner and I. It has been noted before that The Peanut Gallery loves a doughnut. However, he was not overawed by these examples - he insists they should have been vanilla flavoured (not chocolate) and that the sour cream and chestnuts added nothing. At this point, I was hitting him over the head with my handbag and screeching denials in the middle of Long Acre Road. I loved this dessert and, as this is my blog, let that be the final word.
32 Great Queen Street, you are worthy of your pedigree, and I'm so delighted to have found you at last. I'll be back for the crab on toast.