Bar Battu’s main dishes including the bavette steak and tarragon chicken were spot on, but their starters and desserts were inconsistent in terms of portion size and quality.
In close proximity to Bank station is Bar Battu, a newish wine bar and restaurant that opened in the City last Autumn. I had planned on catching up with some City worker friends so agreed to meet them at Bar Battu for dinner in mid-January. Our reservation was for 8pm and at that time the bar area was still packed with a lively after-work crowd. The dining room was also heaving and I noticed that the upstairs dining room was closed, which was a shame as it was incredibly loud even once we were seated.
We decided to each get a starter and the food was served in good time. The starters received mixed reactions. The pumpkin ravioli with cavolo nero and sage butter consisted of one ravioli on a leaf of dark cabbage with some parmesan shavings. The pumpkin filling was rather bland and the single ravioli portion was definitely on the meagre side. On the opposite end of the scale was the puy lentil and gorgonzola salad which was a veritable mountain of lentils on a bed of rocket. They were a bit stingy with the gorgonzola so it felt like they tried to overcompensate by adding more lentils. I didn’t want to fill myself up before the mains so I just polished off half the plate and, in fairness, it was quite tasty. The combination of the lentils, gorgonzola, lovely light citrus dressing and sun dried tomatoes was good. If they had omitted the overpowering red onions it would have been better. On more positive notes, the steak tartare was wonderfully seasoned and the simplicity of the chicory, green beans and walnut salad was refreshing. However, the favourite starter of the evening turned out to be the rich and tender snail and oxtail ragout.
By the time the mains arrived, life at the bar had died down and the six of us were able to hold conversations over the table. The mains turned out to be more enjoyable, apart from the Osso buco, which was on the dry and chewy side. The Bavette steak served with caramelized shallots and pont neuf chips was deliciously pink and enhanced with some rock salt. The corn-fed chicken with braised chicory was also excellent: very tender, buttery soft with a subtle hint of tarragon. The braised beef shank served with curly kale and chanterey fell apart in your mouth and its accompanying jus was equally as refined. Unlike the starters, the mains were all generously portioned leaving us little room for any sweet temptations.
Even though we shouldn’t have, we ordered the rum baba to share. It’s a good job that we shared it between the six of us because it was gargantuan! They definitely need to take a look at the small plate sizes because the rum baba, like the lentil salad, was unattractively large. The rum baba, which resembled a small loaf of bread, was also not appetizing, tasting more like a syrupy, dense bread and butter pudding.
The final bill came to £45 per person for food including tip but excluding wine. Add another £15 per person for the wine, which we each had three glasses of. Bar Battu have got their service formula right as our waiter was helpful and efficient throughout the whole of dinner. The food was a little hit and miss and considering the hive of high quality restaurants in the City, I’m not sure that I’d be back to eat. However, I can imagine hanging out in Bar Battu’s bustling bar area, nuzzling up to a glass of fruity Beaujolais after a busy day of meetings and problem solving.
Bar Battu, 48 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AY. 0207 036 6100