Barbican Lounge ****

The food at the Barbican Lounge is executed with surprising attention to detail and is very reasonably priced. Don’t merely dine and dash here before a performance: it’s worth a visit in its own right.

Cinammon Infused meatballs, spiced squash and almonds at the Barbican Lounge

Cinammon Infused meatballs, spiced squash and almonds at the Barbican Lounge

Along with the Barbican food hall, the Scandinavian styled Barbican lounge opened last Autumn, promising diners a variety of modern European small plates. I recently went to watch the King’s Speech at the Barbican cinema, making it the perfect opportunity to visit the new Barbican lounge for dinner beforehand.

Walking into the lounge, it is visually not what I expected. The Scandinavian style chairs add a touch of sophistication, and the wooden framed kitchen pass which allows a glimpse into the bustling kitchen is very stylish, but the white tiled walls and old windows, which looked like they were installed decades ago, were a gentle reminder that we were in the Barbican Estate, a complex whose use of concrete and angular features you either come to love or hate. Nevertheless, I came here for a brisk pre-show dinner not a decadent 6 course meal, so my focus was concentrated on the impending dinner rather than the overall ambiance.

As usual, I arrived late as did my friends and I was a little concerned about the time as we were due to watch the film in an hour. I didn’t mention it to the waiter but did keep an eye on the watch. Judging by our neighbours meals it seemed like 2-3 plates per person looked adequate so I opted for 2 as I was not overly peckish. After ordering we didn’t have to wait longer than 20 minutes for the dishes to start arriving, which was great and meant we wouldn’t be late for old Colin. As the dishes started arriving, I was quite surprised at how sophisticated everything looked, especially considering their very reasonable price tags.

Laverstoke Mozarella with honey roasted figs and sundried tomatoes @Barbican Lounge

Laverstoke Mozarella with honey roasted figs and sundried tomatoes @Barbican Lounge

And how did they taste? Phenomenal, yes everything was, without exception, delicious. The braised oxtail with hand made papardelle was lusciously melt-in-the-mouth and the rich Oxtail gravy combined well with the silky thin papardelle. The salmon fishcakes were also excellent. The potato and salmon tasted wonderfully fresh and had a delicate buttery lemon flavouring. The cinammon infused meatballs with spiced squash were served in a dainty little tagine pot, and also had us mesmorized with its delicate spicing and scattering of toasted almonds. Another favourite was the Laverstoke buffalo mozarella, which was beautifully creamy and the honey coated figs and baby sun dried tomatoes made it even more interesting. It seemed like the kitchen could do no wrong, and our other dishes including the potato dumplings, risotto balls with herb aioli and finally the hummus with breadsticks and harissa were also highly commendable.

Chicken Liver Pate @Barbican Lounge

Chicken Liver Pate @Barbican Lounge

We spent an incredibly reasonable £16 per person including tip, no drinks and no desserts. Even though the restaurant layout is a matter of taste, I thought the terrace looked fabulous, and the slate black rectangular bedding pots full of lavender and rosemary shrubs beautifully framed the outside space. I made a mental note to visit it this summer for a spot of al fresco dining. With food so well executed with such surprising attention to detail, it would be fair to say that the restaurant is worth a visit in its own right. It would be a pity to visit the Barbican Lounge merely to dine and dash before a performance.

Barbican Lounge, Level 1, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS. 020 7382 6180.

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