As the bistro is tucked inside The Gore Hotel, it’s the kind of place you could walk past for years, only to fall into it one random evening and curse yourself for not having found it sooner. This place has long been a popular eatery with the audiences and performers that fill up the Royal Albert Hall night after night, and is suitably classy with its Kensington postcode.
We made our visit during the lunchtime slot and filled up on starters of saffron risotto and chicken liver pate. The saffron risotto was creamy and lightly spiced, with generous hunks of squid, mussels, prawns and monkfish, whilst the pâté got smoothed onto home made bread with lashings of home made tomato chutney. Head chef Taher Djeebet has stamped a subtle Moroccan feel on the menu with dishes such as grilled Mediterranean vegetables with couscous and coriander pesto, and steak tartare with duck egg, lime juice and coriander.
For our main meal we tried the Hampshire pork fillet stuffed with apricots and Indian spices, which came with coconut risotto and caramelised bananas. Yes, bananas. Odd you might think – and it was slightly odd to see them resting there on the plate, next to the pork fillet – but surprisingly it worked. The spices helped to bend any culinary rules about pork and bananas (I don’t know if there are any, but you would be more likely to say pork and sage, let’s be honest). First my fork went for a mouthful of juicy Hampshire pork, and then it went for the banana. The little caramelised discs of fruit had been perfectly, perfectly caramelised and shocked my taste buds into admitting that the soft succulence of pork goes very well with, …well, banana. There I’ve said it.
Perhaps the caramelised banana had knowingly primed my palette for the sweet course, and although three course lunches usually mean an afternoon nap ensues, the peppered strawberry cheesecake won me over. And so it should have done. With its white chocolate biscuit base, the mousse-like cheesecake worked a wonder with a smattering of black pepper bringing out the strawberriness of it all. It was light enough to eat all over again, but I didn’t because that would have meant four courses and quite possibly a coma. If this all sounds a bit much, and you’re in far too much of a hurry to eat, it’s worth knowing that the bistro offers a theatre menu in the evenings, whilst the bar at The Gore offers quick bites to eat in the form of a tapas menu.
The Gore itself is a wonderful boutique find, full of quintessential English charm. From the dark leather tones of the bar through to the plush satin finishes in the rooms, the hotel exudes an old world spirit that you just don’t find in more modern boutique haunts. It couldn’t be further away from a corporate hotel if it tried and provides a welcome antidote to the paired down, neutral shades that are showing up everywhere in London hotels. The bar at The Gore is well worth a visit and you could do worse than sip on one of their ‘Miss Poly Rae’ cocktails before you sit down to eat. Incidentally, Miss Polly Rae and the Hurly Burly Girls make regular appearances at The Gore’s burlesque soirees, so if you love nothing better than cocktails, dinner and a bit of burlesque thrown in, look no further.
Bistro 190: The Gore Hotel, 190 Queen’s Gate, London, SW7 5EX. Tel: 020 7584 6601.
Reviewed by: Helenka Bednar