Its 100-year-old marble and shimmering chandeliers seemed to intimidate some Londoners, who must’ve thought themselves too scruffy to dine here. Now newly reopened, Boyd’s has pulled off a clever trick in softening the grandeur with warm tones, modern art and ‘Ghost Chairs’ (clear-plastic chairs to you and me). Add to that a revamped, midrange menu of “simple and relaxed British food”, and the new tactics pay off.

THE GRUB: The ‘British tapas’ catches the eye first. It’s recommended you select at least two small plates each for starters, from a range that includes potted pork with croutons and Welsh rarebit. Mains are at first look a little less exciting, comprising pub grub staples such as steak and chips and roast chicken. However, appearances are deceiving. The ribeye is the best steak I have ever had in Britain – melt-in-the-mouth and packed with fatty flavour.

The whole seabass also sings, its dense flesh enlivened with lemon, rosemary and sea salt. In fact, it’s the funky- sounding tapas that disappoints. Breaded skate cheeks are just trussed-up fish fingers, and the crab macaroni gratin is a glorified tuna pasta bake. That’s not to say that they’re bad, just unmemorable. But a scoop of ice cream that genuinely tastes like apple pie for dessert more than makes up for it.
BEHIND THE BAR: A wide selection of wines starts at a rather reasonable (for central London) £17 a bottle. There are some great-looking dessert wines in there, too.
Bill please Startlingly reasonable, considering location and quality. Tapas starts at £7.90 for two, and mains range between £12.50 and £23.50. You can get a pie and a pint, intended for two people, for £37.20 – bear in mind that it’s a Highland venison shepherd’s pie, and a pint of Claret.

VERDICT: Perfect for impressing a date on a budget. Remember to hide the bill; the decor and air of sophistication will convince them you splashed out.


8 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5BY 
Tube: Charing Cross

– Laura Chubb