Virginia Woolf’s famous description of Clarissa Dalloway’s day of party prep was presumably what the Bloomsbury Hotel had in mind when dreaming up their new terrace, an oasis of calm slap bang in the middle of London’s hustle & bustle.
A stone’s throw away from Tottenham Court Road and all of its tech megastores and headache-inducing roadworks, Dalloway Terrace is a cosy respite from the February cold, all glowing lanterns, fairy lights and foliage creeping up red brick walls of the building, which was originally built for the Women’s Institute. We’re greeted with a flute of the restaurant’s signature champagne cocktail – the Mrs Dalloway (£12) – a blend of Angostura bitters and Perrier-Jouet, complete with a hefty kick of Courvoisier VSOP.
Although the space is designed to be a sun trap for the summer months, with removable conservatory-style panels for the ultimate vitamin D fix, the strategically placed heaters and wool blankets make it an ideal place to cosy up to someone in the chilly portion of the year (I’m kicking myself for bringing my brother…)
While the restaurant’s décor feels quintessentially English, the Terrace’s menu is inspired by French and pan-Mediterranean cooking as well as British, with an emphasis on simplicity. We’re talking old school staples like prawn cocktail and coq au vin, but presented immaculately and with bags of flavour. My small plate of choice is waves of organic Scottish smoked salmon resting on slices of sweet, dense Guinness bread (I could’ve eaten a whole basket of that) and a spritz of lemon (£9), while the beef carpaccio with creamed horseradish and pickled walnuts (£11) is melt-in-the-mouth.
Starters polished off, and a bottle of Domaine de la Cheza e Sancerre Blanc (£47) on the go, our mains come flying out of the kitchen in perfect timing. On my plate, a pile of grilled tiger prawns bob in a sea of smoky marinade, complemented by harissa aioli and lime (£22), while my company carves into a juicy 8oz Aberdeen Angus sirloin with creamy peppercorn sauce (£27). Teeny bowls of handcut chips and rocket and parmesan salad might be pricey at £4.50 a pop, but they’re a necessary vehicle to get that finger lickin’ sauce from plate to mouth.
Dessert time, and my slab of Valrhona dark chocolate fondant (£7) is the ideal indulgent finish, sat next to a healthy dollop of salted caramel ice cream and a tuile for crunch, while the lemon tart with raspberries (£7) is minute in size but razor sharp enough to be a satisfying, palate-cleansing hit.
Sure, Dalloway Terrace might be on the expensive side, and at times feels a little old-fashioned – there’s a cigar menu – but the polite and attentive staff do everything to make our visit as comfortable as possible. Meaning that it’s pretty hard to leave (read: roll off) the cushioned French bistro furniture after draining our espresso cups.
As Virginia Woolf herself once said, “a good dinner is of importance to good talk”, and, of course, she wasn’t wrong. Come May or June when the retractable roof drops, this place will take some beating for sunny brunches and early evening cocktails. We imagine Mrs D would’ve been a regular here, when she wasn’t out buying her flowers.
Dalloway Terrace, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN.