November and December are boozy months. With invites aplenty for formal events and informal soirees under the guise of holiday celebrations, alcohol consumption is high in both volume and frequency. Conversely, dining is a challenge as formal restaurants are often booked for the departmental dinner and more casual options are in relatively short supply. Let’s face it – after three hours of drinking when it hits the 9pm mark you’re not looking for fine dining. But you do want to avoid a trip to the Colonel’s chicken joint, the Golden Arches or similar ‘establishments’.
The VQ (Vingt Quatre) Diner is exactly the sort of place you need. The first opened in Chelsea back in the 90s, when the Oasis lads were in their pomp. They opened a second 'branch' at the end of 2013 when er ... the One Direction lads were (and still are) in their pomp. With full dining and drinking on a 24 hour basis, it’s perfect as a pre or post party option. A friend and I dropped by the Bloomsbury site, after a champagne fuelled bash at the British Museum no less, to check out what was on offer.
VQ Bloomsbury aesthetically bears little resemblance to any diner that I’ve been too. Probably because it’s located on the ground floor of the St Giles hotel which means its square, modern space, feels like a cross between a work canteen and a hotel breakfast room. They’ve tried to soften the effect with some modern purple lighting feature, but it doesn’t quite work. The punters were a random mix of students and hotel guests and the ambience was relatively subdued. VQ is for after hours eating, not the after party.
The menu is more diner like with a mix of grills, all day breakfasts and most pleasingly, a fully licenced bar. Having settled ourselves with a bottle of house chardonnay, we picked the crispy prawn wraps and merguez sausages to start – both of which were fine if unremarkable. For mains we tried the grilled marinated lamb with couscous and, at the waiter’s recommendation, the fish and chips. The lamb was big in portion size and flavor. The fish and chips were perfectly cooked and seasoned, and as good as any that I’ve enjoyed in London. The dessert of a banoffee pie was too sweet, and the bananas were too fresh (aficionados will understand) but it did help soak up the alcohol.
Which is handy as the party season takes off in earnest. In case you hadn’t worked it out already, VQ or Vingt Quatre means 24. So it does what is says on the box. Twenty four hour food for 24 hour people.
From * to ****
Schmoozing and boozing **
Wining and Dining **
Serving and pouring ***
111 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NQ
020 7636 5888