Of the modern British restaurants I ate at in London, 32 Great Queen St seems to have received the most consistently positive reviews, although there is much difference of opinion about their practice of serving the wines listed by the glass in tumblers rather than in ‘proper’ wine glasses (if you order a bottle from the wine list you get wine glasses). I’m not convinced that the glass makes any difference, and await a genuine scientific examination of the issue.
In the meantime, when I see wine served in tumblers it makes me think about the idea of ‘style over substance’. 32 Great Queen St is probably the least formal or fussy of the high quality restaurants I ate at, but it delivered some of the best food. It focused on substance over (conventional) style, and I liked this as well as its unconventional informal style (though it typically had very low lighting, the enemy of food photographers grrr).
From the top down: a glass of a surprising sweet sauvignon blanc, bread and butter, entree of tender sweet cuttlefish cooked in a savoury sauce that included its own ink on toast, main of quail and snails with bacon and chard on a salty balsamic and onion reduction, and a fine rich nutty double espresso.
Like other smart restaurants, such as Launceston Place and Hereford Rd, 32 Great Queen St does not add a service charge to the bill, and in fact makes this clear in capital letters at the bottom of the bill. The meal came to £27.75 and the waitress, who had been most helpful in answering my questions about the wine and the popularity of the quail and snails, appeared genuinely pleased when I asked her to add a tip to make the bill an even £30.
I’m far more likely to want to reward good service (and recommend the restaurant to friends) voluntarily than when psychologically pressured into doing so by seeing the service charge automatically added to the bill (and then sometimes having to ask for it to be removed). The service was better than two places that do automatically add the service charge to the bill: the Harwood Arms (where the waitress messed up my change when I paid) and the Cinnamon Club (where I ordered a glass of wine to come with my main course and it did not arrive until I asked again for it after my main was delivered).
Eating at 32 Great Queen St is a pleasure I would like to repeat. See reviews by: