All The Best Stuff At Berners Tavern Comes On Trolleys
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Berners Tavern has extended its lunch set menu to the evening. That's big news, if, like us, you want a piece of the regal, chandelier-hung, grand-brasserie action but would, also, like to not take out a new mortgage to get it.
It's just for two nights a week, and at £30-odd for three courses, this is still far from cheap dining. But it's a much more affordable way to spend an evening bathing in that golden lighting and the purr of passing champagne trolleys across herringbone wooden floors than you used to be able to swing.
Or so we thought.
The set menu talks a traditionally elegant game — pretty, British-ish bistro dishes with frills; emulsions, purées, confit — but it's also satisfyingly hefty. Tomato salad comes with big, nicely oily fists of crouton, a slab of rump steak is topped with a fried duck egg and piles of shredded chilli and spring onions in a wobbly tower. It's all — apart from some just-okay, slightly anaemic shoestring fries — very good and hitting a lot of fancy-comfort-food notes.
But Berners Tavern is all about the trolleys.
There's that champagne trolley, whispering stealthily across the parquet. There's also a sweet wine trolley. A cheese-board trolley. And then we spot the pork pie trolley doing the rounds.
Pork pie is a humble name for the massive, elaborate construction being pushed through the dining room, all gleaming golden pastry and small trays of condiments. You choose the size of your slab, choose the sauces, pickles, garnishes you want. The trolley's more than a delivery system, it's a mustard and cornichon-laden ceremony.
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The set menu's nice. Really. But surely the best path through Berners Tavern takes in that signature slab of pork pie, drawing up to the side of your table with nonchalant allure?
Our real recommendation is a careful pick through the a la carte offerings to find those big-hitting hero dishes, because they're not actually living in the menu's most expensive reaches. A perfect Berners Tavern evening might be the mac and cheese with braised beef blade (£10) and that pork pie (£17). The former's technically a side, the latter's supposed to be a starter. They feel very substantially like a nearly-too-much two-courser; both generous, borderline mammoth for that much richness. Together it makes for a phenomenal double-header, both of them intensely meaty, but in entirely different ways, cold and taut versus creamy and oozy.
So while the Monday-Tuesday prix-fixe menu might sound like big news, the real moral here is that the power was ours all along. You can eat like an emperor among all that Berners Tavern chandelier-decked, trolley-wielding majesty, any night of the week, for roughly the same hit to your wallet as you'd suffer from the set menu.
The real risk is that we'll want to do it every night of the week.
The Berners Tavern lunch set menu is now available Monday and Tuesday evenings and includes 2 courses for £24.50 or 3 courses for £29.50. Berners Tavern, 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP.
Last Updated 09 July 2019