Huddled just in the alleyway to the left of Dalloway Terrace was a group of smiley students, bedecked in chic Hermes loafers and clutching glossy Chanel handbags close to their waist. At least, I thought they were sort of student-looking, but perhaps not – in any case, they pointed toward the restaurant, our destination for lunch, and giggled excitedly, ushering us in. It was a scorching hot day in London and my colleague and I had been invited to try out the fresh new menu. A delicate waitress, smartly dressed in a long summer dress, seated us on the glorious covered terrace, an entire wall stuffed and draped with butter yellow and fuchsia pink English flowers, and presented us with the day’s specials. Primary attention was given to the current collaboration with elderflower-liqueur, St-Germain, and so without resistance we both select Le Elderflower Royale – a pleasantly light muddle of St-Germain, Havana Club 3 yr, lime juice, mint syrup and Perrier-Jouët Champagne. Cool, refreshing, zingy. Worryingly moreish. The restaurant’s original name and concept was taken from Virginia Woolf’s renowned Mrs Dalloway character, and its spot-on location, just off Tottenham Court Road in Bloomsbury. Here, a largely British-themed, all-day menu has been lovingly created and focuses on local, seasonal produce.
My companion Cara’s octopus carpaccio arrived on a flat glass plate, where nine generous slithers of creamy, sweet octopus clung to the base, seconds before they were devoured. A thick smear of pequillo pepper salsa and avocado, vivid green in colour, offered a zesty finalé to each mouthful. Eight ginormous tiger prawns, standing bolt upright in bright, shiny pink shells, are slipped on to my side of the table. Fleshy and crunchy to taste, I reluctantly share a few. Just a scattering of thin shells remain.
Cara’s organic spelt risotto is polished off in no time. Beautifully presented in a deep white bowl; the crunchy white asparagus, green peas and summer truffle forming a neat circle of colour in the centre. My free-range Cotswold white chicken, gobsmackingly moist and tender, arrived with half a lemon tightly sheathed in pale muslin. Jersey new potatoes, glistening under the midday sun (firm and fresh), and a deep bowl brimming with sautéed spinach, iridescent green in colour, are slid into the middle of the immaculately laid table, topped with bright marble, threaded with strips of grey vein. Giant buxus balls, immaculately trimmed and glossy, elegantly dot the terrace, which possesses a retractable roof and heavy-duty heaters, cleverly enabling the space to be used all year – even in the most treacherous of English winters. Dalloway Terrace takes all the best qualities of London hard-hitters Berners Tavern, The Ivy Café and 108 Brasserie and imaginatively moulds them into a wizard hotspot. A delight on every level.
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