Wednesday 23 March 2011

The Court Restaurant at the British Museum

first published in 2008
I don't think we ever spent so much money on so little food before…

… but what food it is!

Remember? When I did the review on Milsoms at Kesgrave Hall which has a really posh reputation I said that I either don't understand what posh means or that I am just not.

The Court Restaurant (London's Do&Co) works the other way round. You will enter as a normal person and you will dive into a world of dining that will make you feel posh without being awkward about it.

The waiters are of professionalism and kindness that our kind of people rarely encouter. They are around and of service without being noticeable. I don’t like restaurants where they think the ultimate service is to show up every 10 minutes and to ask if everything is OK. Not here! These waiters are trained to catch your eye when needed.

Although the noise from the museum’s Great Court can be heard, it is as if one is sitting on an island away from it. Like living close to an outdoor swimming pool; it’s good to know that there are people having fun and life is buzzing, but one doesn’t have to be part of it right now. It is peaceful, white noise.

We had booked online, were a bit early and got lucky so that we were guided to our table swiftly and addressed by a waiter in German. A little bowl of exquisite olive oil was filled and a basket of a house made variety of little breads was offered.
From a previous visit I know that you can ask for another one to go with the starters, as we had greedily eaten the first one in a jiffy.
Well, then the anguish of choice. You may find it annoying, but for me this suits my new lifestyle: The menu changes rather frequently, meaning that you can’t order the same thing again.
One has to take chances, although there is always a safe choice like chicken. And those spices they use... Very international, most of it a bit Asiatic, always brilliant!

I usually go for the safe choice ordering chicken – this time we both went for the exotic option on the starters, driving up the price a bit more.
We were so excited about our starters of ‘Caramelised Scallops and Tuna Rolls’ and ‘Salad of Fried Squid’ – can you imagine, me and squid – that we forgot to take pictures. Scallops  are a kind of big mussel which – again, me and Scallop but I had to try – is really, really nice. 

However, the Court Restaurant would be one of the few places where I would dare ordering them. My squid was absolutely superb and served in a little basked made out of fried potatoes – don’t ask, you have to see it – and that tomato, avocado medley with lemon aioli; ahhhh! 

And I usually don't like avocado. And so it went on with the main course, which we eventually remembered to take a photo of. From there you can see that it is not a lot. It is not a restaurant where you can get away with just having one of the courses. However, due to breaks in-between one is eating slowly, thus getting a filled feeling with less food. This actually is a very healthy way of eating a meal.

BTW: They have a real thing going with peanuts. This peanut sauce for the Chicken Sate is heavenly. We once had a curry based on peanuts and it was of the same quality.
After the desert I was so full that I wouldn’t have wanted a single bite more, yet didn’t feel stuffed, so that I could enjoy the rest of the day without carrying a baseball in my tummy.

It’s a shame that from the pictures you can’t fathom the kind of flavours unfolding in these dishes. Usually, if I like something I start stuffing my face and eating faster. Here I was indulging in mingling aromas and needed ages to get through my desert. I’m not making this up. I’m usually more of a gourmand rather than a gourmet, but at Court Restaurant I’m starting to understand how food should be.

Unfortunately anniversaries have the odd nature of only taking place once a year. I'm looking forward to finding another reason to go back there soon.

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