Venetia van Kuffeler reviews Christopher’s
It had been a long time since my first visit to Christopher’s, in the heart of Central London’s theatre-land. Housed in a Grade II listed building that was London’s first licensed casino in 1870, the interiors have recently had a major new refurbishment, earning Christopher’s the title of ‘Best Restaurant or Bar in a Heritage Building’ at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2014.
Sprawled across three floors (there’s the Martini Bar on the ground floor and Private Club Room in the basement), the first-floor restaurant is reached by a sweeping staircase – the only key feature that I recall from my last visit. The atmosphere is still the same however, buzzing, and the room is dotted with plenty of larger parties, as well as the usual tables for two and four.
The modern, American menu is full of stateside staples and is not for the feint-hearted. Portions are large and judging by the food being delivered to the tables around us, we were unlikely to leave hungry.
The tantalising selection of starters included salmon carpaccio with avocado pearls, chipotle chilli and tequila and lime dressing, or perhaps lobster bisque with lobster dumplings and shellfish oil. Our friendly waiter applauded my choice, explaining that the Maryland crab cake with arugula, red pepper mayo and tomato jam had been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening in 1991. And I could see why. Perfectly crunchy on the outside, the combination of flavours was unbeatable. My husband chose from the delightful Raw Bar menu: tuna tartare with guacamole, cilantro slaw and ginger and Yamato dressing. Beautifully presented, it was a hit.
Now to choose from the lobster and steak menu. Steaks hail from the US (minimum 30-day-aged Black Angus Cattle, bred in Kansas), Australia (270-day-aged grain-fed Black Angus Cattle from New South Wales) or Scotland (28-day-aged Prime Angus, Galloway and Shorthorn cross cattle, all bred on the Buccleuch Estates). Based on proximity, I was tempted to go for the latter, but my waiter assured me that the Kansas fillet won hands down. And he was correct. Slightly charred on the outside, the tender meat melted on the tongue, and was served with some béarnaise and a side of truffle parmesan fries. Sublime.
My other half was keen to try the surf and turf – half a Maine lobster, with a 6oz USDA prime rib-eye. So content, he responded with silence, cleaning his plate and then stabbing my leftovers with his fork to finish that too. At this stage, we were already full, but submitted to sharing a warm chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla bean ice cream. Undeniably rich, pudding left us groaning, but my husband still commented on how “damn good” the meal was!
We later learned that Christopher’s offers a Superfood Brunch at the weekend offering delights such as a detox smoothie followed by a warm kale and butternut squash salad. An antidote to all that heavy food perhaps? But lobster benedict is also on the menu. Now that would be too difficult to refuse. With tempting offers like that, the health menu wouldn’t get a look in. I’ll stick to what I know Christopher’s excels at – hearty American fare.
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