Peter Morrell enjoys dinner on the resurgent Southbank at this innovative new restaurant
Over the last few years the change on the Southbank has been nothing short of miraculous The continuing draw of the London Eye has now been joined by other attractions like the Aquarium and the Shrek Adventure, so now the area is buzzing with people.
This renaissance has brought with it a spectacular change in the quality of places to eat. That quality has just acquired another notch up with the arrival of Westminster Kitchen. Positioned right by the old County Hall building it’s just a few steps from the Eye and Westminster Bridge. So its location is ideal for visitors to the capital – couples, parents and grandparents with kids, and for local Londoners who are out for a good time.
Westminster Kitchen is the brainchild of renown restaurateur Ibrahim Dogus, he commissioned top interior designers Dover Designs (of Cafe Boubier and Benito’s Hat fame) to stylise the restaurant. They have produced a big, bright, airy dining space with a mix of seating – horseshoe booths and both high and regular height tables and outside there is a small terrace for al fresco dining. The open plan kitchen reveals just how hard the chefs work to create all the good food served there.
My wife and I recently had dinner at Westminster Kitchen, arriving at about 7:00pm it was already buzzing with people, a mix of families, couples, tourists and locals. We soon settled in enjoying the upbeat atmosphere.
Sipping on a couple beers chosen from a good range we perused the menu. There was a good range of British classics and also dishes with a distinctly Mediterranean twist, we were quite taken by the starters which had some very inventive items. The mains ranged from good old fish and chips on the traditional side of the spectrum through fish, steaks, pasta and kebabs to ‘Pides’, a Greek style of pizza. There were good options for vegetarians and salads for a lighter bite.
Decisions, decisions… we were tempted by the Chopped Oven Roasted Beetroot and the Scottish Smoked Salmon but our eventual choices were Calamari and Seared Scallops. The squid was satisfyingly crunchy on the outside and the inside very tender, the sweet chilli sauce that came with it added a nice piquant counterbalance. Scallops are my favourite food and these did not disappoint, they were wrapped in pancetta, served on a bed of dill mouli mash and dressed with a lemon curd drizzle. They were absolutely delicious with very intense flavours that worked well together.
The mains gave us equal difficulty in choosing, my wife liked the look of the Slow Roast, Free Range Half Chicken with Gallic seasoning while I seriously considered the Lamb Kofte Kebab. Our final choices were the Grilled Sea Bass and a Pide with a shared side if French Fries. The sea bass was excellent and it’s flavour proved why this fish is so consistently popular. It was served with artichoke hearts, very flavourful asparagus, a kale medley and anchovies to give it a savoury umami taste.
As with pizzas there was a selection of Pides on the menu, toppings can be veggie or meat, mainly lamb. My Pide was a mix of garlic sausage and cheddar cheese, it was boat shaped and was a good choice, the base was soft and the sausage had lots of flavour. The Greek Salad which came with it was fresh and tasty featuring red onion, olives and feta cheese. This was my first experience of Pide and will certainly not be my last.
The wine list offered a good range and Italy was particularly well represented, our wine match for the evening was the Chilean Finca Ramos Sauvignon Blanc. Bright yellow in colour it showed good floral and herbal aromas in the bouquet, these expanded into tropical tones and citrus notes on the palate and the finish was bright and fruity.
The size of the portions of the first two courses meant that we could only enviously read the dessert menu, although they were difficult to resist. There were decadent delights like Death by Chocolate Brownies, Rhubarb and Apple Crumble and Bread and Butter Pudding. For the less indulgent ice cream and cheeses were also on offer.
The meal at Westminster Kitchen had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, the staff were friendly and the large dining space was comfortable with a good vibe. I liked the versatility of the menu as there was something to cater for every taste and the food itself was well prepared and presented. If you are a local or visiting the capital the restaurant is well worth a visit.
Westminster Kitchen Grill House
3A Belvedere Road
London SE1 7GQ