Friday, September 28, 2007

Boisdale of Bishopsgate - Scotland vs The City

The gents was located neatly between the bar and the restaurant. For the ladies, you had to go through the bar, down a corridor, round a corner.... Inside the cubicle, there was tartan carpet and a framed share of some long-gone mining company on the wall. Never have I been to a place that was so perfectly summer up by its toilets! Boisdale is in City land, full of suits, and looks like it's been around for far longer than women have been wearing pinstripes. It is also a Scottish restaurant, serving a ming-boggling array of whiskies and plates of haggis to line the stomach. We sat in the downstairs bar on a Monday night, watching it gradually fill with after-work drinkers and networkers, and listening to a rather good piano player and accompanying singer performing Sinatra-style oldies. The draught Bombadier was beautifully kept, though at £3.30 it probably qualifies as my most expensive pint of ale ever. From the bar menu, I opted for a hearty Scotch Rarebit with bacon (£5.65). The gravadlax (£5.65) was pretty generously portioned, but sadly overwhelmed by a cloying mustardy sauce. No bread rolls materialised, and our bread plates were whipped away unused before the main course. The haggis, with the obligatory neeps and tatties, (£12.15) was OK, though I found the utter membrane too thick and not very edible. The venison burger (£10.50) with a beetroot garnish and chips was again perfectly edible. At the high end, the menu offered steaks from £20-plus. All in all, unless you have a city pay packet, you'd probably be much happier with the taste yield on your investment if you wondered down the road to Spitalfields for food. But the service is charming, the setting is surprisingly intimate despite the suits, and there is no cover charge for the nightly live music (from about 6.30 pm). So I may well be sipping more £3.30 Bombardier in the future.

Boisdale of Bishopsgate, Swedeland Court, 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 2NR; Tel. 0207 283 1763; Tube: Liverpool Street

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