My wife, Ms B, and I had planned to try out another one of the new restaurants and cafes at Nova Victoria, next to Victoria Station, for brunch, following our recent visits to Hai Cenato (our review here), Rail House Café (our review here), Aster (our review here), and Timmy Green (our review here), but decided that we weren’t in the mood for any of them that day. So: where to go? A quick look at Tripadvisor showed us that next-door bbar, which we had previously noticed because of the beautiful vertical garden front, but not investigated further, is ranking roughly #200 out of 20,000 London restaurants, so we thought we’d give them a shot.
At first we asked to be seated on the terrace next to busy Bressenden Place, but after just a minute or two it became clear to us that it was way too noisy and busy for our liking and we asked to be seated inside.
We knew right away that we’d made a good choice when we saw how pleasantly the inside dining rooms had been decorated. The running theme is South African hunting lodge, but with an stylish, modern touch. The very large glass roof above the middle of the slightly elevated main part of the dining room where we were sitting, is a simply brilliant feature and at the centre of the architectural design. The lines of vertical garden over the open space in the centre of the building, above the terrace, mainly serve the purpose of ensuring that even on a cloudless, sunny day like today diners don’t have to wear sunglasses, but a perfectly soft mix of natural light comes through the glass roof.
bbar do not do breakfast or brunch, so we had a macchiato and a latte, while we were deliberating over our orders. A short while later the cheerful, friendly, very helpful waiter took our orders: Ms B went for the venison and boar burger (‘The African’) with fries, I opted for their signature salt beef sandwich. Ms B asked for her usual apple juice, I for one of their cocktails: Penecillin. They’re possibly more famous for their cocktails than for their food.
Food arrived surprisingly quickly, and we liked what we saw. Both dishes were enormous in size and looked mouth-watering, to say the least. The venison went extremely well with the boar, and the burger was firm and juicy. The sliced, boiled quail egg, that sat on top, just below the upper half of the brioche bun, and the cinnamon marog and (rather spicy) Chakalaka relish with tomato and onion were a pure delight.
The salt beef was delicious, too, and went well with the caraway sandwich, that didn’t get soggy and retained a lovely texture.
For dessert, we ordered their two signature puddings: Honeycomb Ice Cream and Bea Tollman’s Cheesecake with berry compote (it takes several days to prepare, for the curd cheese to set, etc.). We loved both.
The cocktail was a great experience too. It smelled very much like medication and hospital, not necessarily in the most enticing way (not in a bad way either), however, the taste was nothing like the smell, a mix of citric and more exotic flavours that tickled our tongues. It contained Macallan Gold scotch single malt whisky, Laphroaig scotch single malt whisky, ginger, lemon juice, and honey. The honey softened the taste of the whiskies so much, I (as someone who rarely drinks whisky) at first struggled to detect the whisky taste. Very impressive drink and at £10 very reasonably priced.
The prices of £19 per each of our mains are not dirt cheap, but completely justified and very good value. Bleecker Burger, 5 minutes’ walk away, charge £14 for their tiny, rather mediocre signature burger, which, as you can read in our post here, is extremely bad value for money for fast food, and this comparatively upmarket restaurant experience came for a mere £5 more than that.
We’ll come back with friends soon. Great experience. 5 out of 5.