In its former incarnation, the brasserie would have been diagnosed as suffering from too-close-to-a-station-syndrome. Symptoms included mediocre food, unimaginative drinks and high prices. But whilst it was never a hit with locals for this very reason, the easy onslaught of customers tunnelling out of the UK’s busiest railway station opposite meant that tables were filled and the condition went untreated.
Re-launching with a new name, a new chef and a new barman, there’s obviously been some kind of epiphany moment. Perhaps the owners have realised that if they only upped their game a notch, they could become a destination refuelling spot for anyone heading to the Old Vic, Young Vic, IMAX or National Theatre, as well as the station itself.
Waterloo Bar & Grill as it is hereby known (don’t confuse it with Waterloo Bar & Kitchen down the road), will be headed up by manager Cathy Bolton, whose experience includes River Cafe and St. John. Kane Planken, who’s worked at top restaurants in Australia, has been brought in as new head chef, whilst ex OXO Tower barman Davide Pastro will oversee the drinks. There’s also some intriguing plans afoot for contemporary photography exhibitions and regular Saturday night jazz events.
We’ll be heading down for a full meal soon, but a launch-night taste of the new menu, which includes rabbit terrine, ham hock salad, red snapper with capers and an intricately spiced venison carpaccio left no doubt that the kitchen have upped their game. The bar’s silky smooth Lychee Martini was also spot-on, and certainly worth heading in for en route to wherever.