When I was invited to check out the newest restaurant in St John’s Wood, One Blenheim Terrace, through sheer laziness I was slightly reluctant – it meant venturing to North London when I’m based in the South East (Forest Hill). I think I was being slightly ridiculous as St John’s Wood is practically in central London, one stop from Baker Street on the Jubilee line. For some reason it just feels like it’s further out. But this just serves to make One Blenheim Terrace more of a neighbourhood restaurant, and a real hidden gem as I would never have thought to venture here unprompted.
As a vegetarian (well non-meat and shellfish eater) I wasn’t particularly excited by the menu, choices of Welsh rarebit, pie or fish and chips weren’t exactly inspiring. Or so I thought until they arrived at our table. Our meal began with a liquid amuse bouche, served warm, of jacket potato with cheese and chive foam, with little pieces of crunchy potato at the bottom. It may have looked like a mini beer but it didn’t taste like one – the flavours were quite subtle, but not unpleasant.
Sharps couldn’t decide which starter to choose, he was torn between the Welsh rarebit and the lobster thermidor. Being the selfless girlfriend that I am I happily obliged him by opting for the Welsh rarebit (£6.95) so he could help himself to that too. Poor Sharps was lucky to even get a mouthful as for me this was a dish of the evening. The concept of the restaurant, created by Chef Ed Shaerf (previously from The Ivy), is to produce a contemporary twist on classic British dishes. So rather than a traditional Welsh rarebit, I was served a Welsh rarebit soufflé with white onion cider soup. This was comfort food at its best – it reminded me of a big giant dumpling surrounded by a thick, creamy cheese sauce, with sweet, chunky onion pieces floating in it. And the presentation was immaculate, as was the case with all of our dishes. But Sharps didn’t do too badly himself as he thoroughly enjoyed his lobster thermidor (£9.50) which he said reminded him of a large piece of ravioli with a creamy sauce and undertones of mustard, served with a refreshing micro salad.
For my main I chose the artichoke and chestnut pithivier (pie, £14.95) which was also filled with braised puy lentils and accompanied by sprout leaves and gravy. Again, presentation wise this dish was exquisite, but it was my least favourite of all the courses and it I did feel a bit like I was eating a posh pasty. Sharps fared better with his choice of braised lamb (£19.95), perfectly cooked and tender, served with champ, glazed carrots and a sherry and milk froth.
Pre-dessert we were given a delightful shot glass of liquefied hot popcorn, sweet and tasting of exactly that. By now we were feeling quite full but I was shocked when Sharps said he wasn’t sure if he could manage pudding as it doesn’t usually stop him! Especially as there was a hot trifle on the menu and trifle is one of his all-time favourite desserts. I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist, and any claims that I forced him to order it went right out of the window as he couldn’t eat it quick enough – I loved the fact that it was served in a glass jar. We had both been tempted by the jam roly poly, but as it was for two and sadly wasn’t suitable for vegetarians, I ordered the carrot cake – purely of course to keep Sharps company while he was eating and nothing to do with my lack of willpower. Served in bite-size portions, it was moist and accompanied with a tangy raspberry sauce (our very accommodating waiter let me substitute this in place of the cinnamon ice cream it’s normally served with as I don’t like cinnamon).
When we arrived at One Blenheim Terrace for dinner (at 7:30 pm) we were the only people in the restaurant and it was so quiet we were tempted to whisper to each other. But don’t let that put you off as the standard of cooking alone makes it worth eating here. And to be fair it was a Wednesday evening, and a few more people gradually trickled in as the night went on, plus people were popping in to make reservations for the weekend. Also, the added bonus of going to One Blenheim Terrace on a Wednesday is that the restaurant is currently running a promotion where you can flip a coin and if you win the toss you pay half price (for a maximum table of four people).
This place is definitely one for foodies and as far as local restaurants go, one Blenheim Terrace, is a real hidden gem. I just wish I could afford to live in St Johns Wood!