The force behind the new St Pancras Champagne bar and ‘The Gherkin’ have decided to take on summer drinking under the guise of a lakeside bar at the Barbican. Given the amount of sunshine we get it’s an optimistic venture!
The idea is to offer an afternoon and early evening dining venue (the place closes at 8.00pm so as not to upset the neighbours), serving simple food and summer drinks, including champagne. Unfortunately it was rather grey when we ventured down but at least not raining and not too chilly. The waterside area is a little overgrown and looked more like a disused canal than the promised lake but the comfy sofas and huge sun umbrellas distracted us somewhat.
We started with a couple of drinks – Pimms No. 2 (No. 1 was on offer too) and a fresh fruit bellini. So far, so good. The menu is clearly designed for summer afternoons and the idea of bangers and bubbles really appealed. Sausages included merguez and boerewors alongside the more traditional Ginger Pig, Gloucester Old Spot and even vegetarian Glamorgan sausages.
Being unfamiliar with some of the menu I asked our server what a couple of the sausages were – he’d only been working there two days but happily went off in search of the answers for us. He returned to tell us that the main chef wasn’t in the kitchen but the other chef knew that one was pork and the other lamb and that they had ‘some spices’ in there. What the spices were however, was to remain a mystery.
Absolutely loving chorizo, I went for the spicy sausage in artisan bread with rocket, whilst my partner opted for the Creole smoky sausage in a tomato wrap. We also opted for the Indonesian rice salad that was recommended by our waiter. Whilst waiting for our meal to arrive we ordered a bottle of wine, having been delighted to discover an English rose ‘Chapel Down’ on offer. Very nice it was too. Gone are the days of us being considered the laughing stock of wine making.
The plates of food arrived pretty quickly, due no doubt to there only being two occupied tables. The rice salad was very good - coconutty and fresh with a hint of chili. My partner’s sausage in a wrap was sweet and smoky, just as it should have been but I appeared to have the wrong dinner. The sausage was lovely but it was however, just a pork sausage. We called the waiter over who very apologetically whisked it off, only to return with the same thing and to let me know that I was confused and that the chef definitely said this was chorizo…in fact he said he had checked and it came from “a box marked chorizo style sausages” hmmm.
It is an undeniably good idea to create an outdoor space for people to enjoy, with Brits typically donning shorts as soon as the temperature nudges 17 degrees. And goodness knows it is nice to be able to sit outdoors and not in the road, however, I couldn’t help but think that this just slightly misses the mark. One problem is that the Barbican, and there really is no way round this, is one hell of a block of concrete. Putting some outdoor furniture in doesn’t really disguise this and the water being clogged with weeds isn’t really a good look either. That said our waiter couldn’t have been more helpful and it was great to find a good English wine on the menu, but a few things need tweaking before the summer dining concept hits the mark.
The Barbican Lakeside: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS.
Reviewer: Tara O’Reilly