What? Bryn Williams, the celebrated Welsh chef has just opened his first London restaurant in a decade. And it’s all about the vegetables, without being vegetarian. Rather, it champions vegetables, putting them centre stage not just a mere side dish, with meat and fish taking to the wings.
New? Yes, it opened at the start of March. I’m sure its opening at the start of March had nothing to do with the start of spring and much more to do with when they were ready to do so, but a veg-centric restaurant opening when the days are getting lighter seemed apt. Shame spring then bailed.
Where? Bryn Williams at Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA, www.bryn-somersethouse.co.uk
The Look: Rosendale Design have overseen the interiors at Bryn Williams at Somerset House, bringing together the building’s history, with Williams’ Welsh roots. Split across two rooms, the restaurant has blue walls (in a nod to the buildings naval heritage), Herringbone flooring and brown leather banquettes. Globe lights illuminate the room and large colourful paintings of vegetables bring a splash of colour. Perhaps it’s the setting, the imposing nature of Somerset House that makes you feel like you need to tiptoe around and speak in hushed tones for fear of your discussion about your emergency visit to the beautician being echoed across the room, but despite the music playing the atmosphere was a little subdued.
On the Menu: Vegetables and plenty of them accompanied by fish and meat. To start you’ll find wild garlic soup with pink fir potatoes and crème fraiche; salads include drumhead red cabbage with beetroot chutney and British burrata and main courses revolve around the likes of kale pesto with tagliatelle and parmesan and grilled hispi cabbage with apple, pork chop and cider dressing.
What We Ate: We perused the menu whilst snacking on salty, buttery Gordal olives. I went for the compressed watermelon, a fresh, light dish of watermelon, creamy avocado puree, Dorset crab and salty sea vegetables. Pickled radishes, black garlic and apple provided a balance of sweetness and pepper for the pork belly it accompanied.
If you thought the only way to eat cauliflower was with cheese or the millennial cauliflower rice then think again, a cauliflower ‘steak’ essentially a slab of cauliflower roasted in oil and lemon, was pimped with sweet golden raisins and salty capers and grapes and the result was delicious. Accompanying it was a bowl of soft polenta, topped with plenty of parmesan, it was so good, that I admittedly used my finger to wipe the bowl (no doubt much to my parents’ horror if they were to have seen).
Feeling somewhat virtuous we decided to share a pudding, a wonderfully light baked vanilla cheesecake with passion fruit, banana and pineapple. A combination that seems to be very popular at the moment appearing on several menus recently.
What We Drank: Cocktails also revolve around vegetables like the Rabbit on a Sidecar made from carrot juice, brandy, triple sec and hint of ginger and the Savory Beet – a beetroot, bourbon, lemon, sugar and a dash of egg white. We, however, went straight for the wine, settling on a bottle of 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Chateau de la Roche from the Loire.
Go With: Take your Mum, visit an exhibition at Somerset House and then wander over for supper.
Final Word: More vegetables and less meat, it can only be a good thing. This is the perfect restaurant if you’re looking to eat more vegetables, but you can’t quite face going to a vegetarian restaurant – to many stereotypes attached to it
Bryn Williams at Somerset House: Strand, WC2R 1LA