Great Queen Street
32 Great Queen St, London, WC2B 5AA Directionshttps://www.yell.com/biz/great-queen-street-london-2979581/#view=map
Modern British Cuisine
32 Great Queen Street is a British restaurant with a daily-changing menu with a an extensive selection of wines, spirits and beers.
Products and services
Established Since: 2007
32 Great Queen Street is the newest cousin of the infamous Anchor and Hope in The Cut, SE1. The Anchor and Hope being one of the great gastropubs of London and one that I haven’t eaten at. I read that thirty-two is like The Anchor and Hope except that it is bookable. I’m as much of a fan of queuing as the next punter. Let me book. The Grand Lodge of the Freemasons, a monumental, Art Deco building is directly opposite but it’s easy to miss thirty-two. Red walls, wooden tables and wooden chairs. Plain, plain and plain. No frills. Nothing fancy to see there. The clientèle isn’t young and trendy and are well into their 30s. First to arrive I sit at the long wooden bar towards the back and order myself a lilliputian glass of Merlot.
The menu is a single sheet of A4, with 20 to 25 items listed including hors d’oeuvres, entrees, sides and desserts. A list including snails, ceviche of haddock, gnocchi and roast partridge. And of course, the Hereford beef, where the menu has three options sprouting from it, a minute steak, a steak and mushroom pie for two, and finally the rib, chips and bearnaise for two at £46. We were also given the option of a couple of specials for starter and entree.
We started by sharing Artichoke Vinaigrette. A whole beautiful plump Globe Artichoke served with a sharp tangy piquant vinaigrette. Eaten by way of the ritual of tearing off the leaves one by one with your fingers and raking the meat from each with your teeth, to eventually access the sweet, dense heart. We also shared the Pork and Game Terrine with Gooseberry Chutney, a very course, chunky and obviously gamey terrine with a contrasting sweet and sour gooseberry chutney. A “classic” gastropub starter well executed. Here’s a photo of it.
And that then brought us to the Hereford Beef Rib, Chips and Bearnaise. Strangely the rib only comes medium rare. Which to me is acceptable although I do prefer my steak juicy rare. Fortunate then that when it did arrive, it arrived clearly pinker than your average medium rare, and already carved into chunky slices with rib bone to the side. It was a fantastic couple of slabs of meat that certainly met my demands of succulence and flavour. The chips were huge wedges of golden deep fried potato sprinkled with rock salt. Rather good but not great although certainly up there (Hawksmoor’s was rather disappointing).
Only one street away is Parkers Wine Bar, a place that serves up Eastern European delicacies much more exotic than thirty-two. But you don’t eat there. What Thirty-Two offers is no frills English food made with quality produce, served by knowledgeable friendly staff in an unfussy setting. English food as we want to think back and remember it as being – whenever that was. And no… it’s doesn’t have a website.
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Long Live the Queen
I had been looking forward to meeting fellow food blogger Craig Linton (twitter: @craigdlinton) for a few weeks after I invited him to meet up for lunch a while back. Luckily, I wasn’t too nervous as I had already met another food blogger a few months back for lunch (see a post about that meal here). Although it is always a bit disconcerting meeting someone you’ve emailed and tweeted with but never met in the flesh, I had the sneaking suspicion that we were going to get on, given our seemingly similar attitudes towards restaurants and food, which are of course the two most important things in the world (Mrs. LF is going to kill me if she reads this).
So, in the middle of our two places of work, Great Queen Street (GQS) awaited. The little sister of some British gourmets’ favourite (and I cringe as I write the word) ‘gastropub’, GQS has no real name, no website, and no gimmicks. It is all simple wood and dim lighting inside, with informal but fairly knowledgeable staff. Like so many London restaurants today (St John and Bocca di Lupo spring to mind), the daily menu is presented on a loose sheet of paper, inferring that the menu changes daily and is probably more or less seasonal. And GQS checked all those boxes. The menu was quite traditionally British, and the simple, hearty fare sounded good to me as it had been a rather long and cold walk to get there.
Unsurprisingly, I arrived on time, and was shown to a little square table for two, where my blind, male food blogger date was to join me. It was all a bit weird, but luckily I had seen a photo of him online so more or less knew what to look for. A bit over-anxious, I waved haphazardly to the next dude through the door based on just the faint outline of his face, who luckily happened to be the man himself. Phew.
After a long and enjoyable getting-to-know-you chat, we were scouring the menus like to men on a mission, trying to make wise selections in the presence of the seasoned foodie across the table. Decisions made, we continued with a very engaging and pleasant discussion, until the thing that united us finally arrived. Grub time.
Getting Down to Bi’ness
Some brown bread and butter had arrived, so we both had a small piece of it. It was pretty average and there’s nothing much more to say about it. I now eagerly awaited my main. 5/10.
I had heard a lot about Old Spot pork but had never knowingly tried it, so despite some reservations about a room temperature dish (that’s how they serve it) on a cold November day, I went for it. Luckily, I was not disappointed. It was a very simple dish with three main components. The pork was sliced to a medium thickness and the circles of fat were left in tack around the rim. It definitely had a unique full, round, mouth filling flavor that I hadn’t experienced before. It was surprisingly interesting and had me going back for more, especially when combined with the tangy yet slightly sweet and in-season crab-apple jelly. Because the side of greens we ordered was so delicious with its naughty, slightly creamy mustard sauce, which had a nice streak of acidity, I sort of ignored the little salad that came on my plate. This was a shame, because when I tasted it as an afterthought, I found it was actually quite good and it would have been a nice little accompaniment to the meat and jelly. Overall, then, a simple and accomplished dish. 8/10.
I had ordered a glass of Beaujolais to go with my pork, thinking a soft, easy-drinking fruity wine would marry well with the flavors. It was brought out in a little ridged tumbler (like a small water glass you get in a bistro), as was Craig’s Portuguese red, which I thought was taking the minimalism a tad too far. It’s ok
Everything is the same in terms of great bourgeois cooking and well chosen and resonably priced wines and beers.
Last night which was pretty cold I had a very light beetroot soup with sour cream and dill followed by a superb ox cheek stew with (real) chips followed by a sublime seville orange and almond tart served with a scoop of home made vanilla ice cream ! Outstanding !
The main difference with the Anchor is that you can book and of course the location is better if you work nearby or happen to be a Mason !
Having not pre-booked a table, we were offered seats along the bar on tall barstools. This proved an excellent spot in terms of getting the attention of the staff, although those with delicate digestive systems may find it uncomfortable sitting skewed round at an angle to the bar, particularly if - like us - you plan to munch your way through three courses.
To start, my date ordered a hearty sweetcorn soup, the taste of which reminded me not unpleasantly of Sunday chicken roasts and sage and onion stuffing. I gleefully ordered three oysters which sent me into such raptures I couldn't help but wonder if there's some truth about their having aphrodisiac properties. If so, it was wasted on my date, who went on to casually mention during the main course that he was still sleeping with his ex. Nice!
For the main course, my scumbag date ordered something that we weren't able to identify from the menu, but thought might be fish. It came with quince, which he liked, so that was the clincher for him. It turned out to be pork and apparently very nice indeed, despite not being fish. Playing it safe, I ordered skate wing with capers - one of my favourites, and delicious. Vegetables had to be ordered separately, which is always slightly hit and miss as it's difficult to gauge how much one needs. Taking the advice of our waiter, we just ordered a side of buttered new potatoes initially. This turned out to be woefully small and not enough on its own for two people, so we quickly ordered an extra side of white cabbage - a portion which proved inexplicably huge. It was all very tasty though.
Wine is available by the carafe, which is a great choice for those wanting more than a glass each but less than a bottle.
Not having much of a sweet tooth - and having somewhat lost my appetite by this stage, anyhow - I consoled myself with a large malt whisky while my erstwhile companion had, if I remember rightly, a poached pear with chocolate sorbet and ice cream.
All in all a great choice. Unlike my date. NEXT!