When a restaurant names itself after Virginia Woolf’s eponymous character Clarissa Dalloway, it’s setting the bar high. Dalloway Terrace opened at the end of March in prestigious hotel The Bloomsbury, and does rather a wonderful job of living up to expectations.
Located just around the corner from the bustle of Tottenham Court Road, the new restaurant assumes a surprisingly serene spot, hidden away in a secret garden that – thanks to a retractable roof and plenty of discreet heaters – is as much of a pleasure to squirrel away in during winter, as it will be when the sun finally makes a less fleeting appearance.
Dalloway Terrace has atmosphere in spades. Ample greenery strung with fairy lights gives the overall effect of dining alfresco in the countryside, with cosy chairs strewn with herringbone blankets to boot. Overseen by Alexander Waterworth, whose past projects include Annabel’s, Q on The Roof, and High Road House, Dalloway Terrace draws inspiration from the 1930s to create a graceful, quintessentially English space. In this quarter of London, rife with literary history and British charm, it’s a fitting spot for the restaurant’s blend of nostalgia and contemporary style.
The menu was put together by The Bloomsbury’s head chef, Paul O’Brien, and offers all-day dining with an array of small plates such as arancini with wild mushroom, black truffle and mozzarella, and grilled aubergine with chilli hummus, feta crumble and rosemary bread. Those seeking sustenance between meals can sneak in for Afternoon Tea inspired by the Bloomsbury set – an influential collective of writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists that once frequented the area.
We pitched up in the evening, when candles flickered in hurricane lanterns and the fairy lights twinkled overhead, to put Dalloway Terrace’s a la carte dining menu to the test.
The service was attentive and delightful, from the charismatic restaurant manager to the courteous waitress, who recommended a white wine and whipped up spontaneous fruit cocktails. We wasted no time beginning with seared tuna with soy and ginger dressing and pickled radish, served as delicate and tender as it should be. There was a bit of a gap between courses, but we were grateful for a chance to soak up the atmosphere and work up an appetite. Our mains appeared with a flourish; a whole lemon sole meniere off the bone (though you can choose to have it on the bone and grilled if you’re feeling saintly) and grilled poussin with lemon and rosemary from the Dalloway Grill section of the menu. Sides here are necessary, so we went for creamy mash and steamed kale with lemon dressing and almonds to add a little texture to our plates. Lemon was prevalent in all our choices, but not noticeably so – each dish was cooked to perfection, subtle in flavour. This is somewhere where the food doesn’t need to make a statement, or appear as bizarre experimental concoctions. It was exactly what it should be; beautifully presented, refined cuisine in an elegant setting.
Suitably full, we moved on to dessert. Our waitress rightfully recommended the Valrhona dark chocolate fondant, which we devoured with gusto (not least because it came alongside salted caramel ice-cream) and washed everything down with fresh mint tea.
For those seeking a quiet spot in the city, comforting food in leafy surrounds and a sense of literary charm, Dalloway Terrace is indisputably the place to be.
Words by Annie Biziou – Lifestyle Editor