Westminster Kitchen, Southbank

WK Interior 1

A brand new venue on the Southbank, from renowned London restaurant owner Ibrahim Dogus

Anyone who watches as many property programmes as I do will be familiar with the expression, curb appeal. How a house looks from the street is as important to many people as its interiors and garden. Ditto for restaurants. Even in this era of street food and hipsterfication, a place still has to look good enough to eat at.

One of my particular restaurant checklist features is the lighting. I have a mood-lighting bias in that I equate low lighting with romantic, atmospheric and therefore good restaurants. While a well-lit joint is the preserve of shopping malls and Ronald McDonald. Europe, of course, spins the mood-lighting notion on its head, with many good restaurants in Italy, Spain and France being as bright as a dentist’s surgery. Nevertheless, here in Brexit England, low lighting is king.

Westminster Kitchen in Southbank is a relatively new joint that promises to be a diner cum bistro cum family restaurant with a distinctly British twist. It’s a big space which promotes itself as an upscale dining room, with grand horseshoe booths, a wide theatre kitchen, and long bar. It was near empty on the evening I was there and very well lit, bordering on bright. The other customers were mostly hungry tourists and local hotel-bound business people. In terms of ambience, it was less of a bustle and more of a murmur.

The service was very enthusiastic and friendly if a little bit disjointed. Several people asked me if I was ready to order drinks, food, and desserts throughout the evening – occasionally within a minute of the other. At least we weren’t kept waiting for our food.

WK Burger

Which, when it arrived, was decidedly mixed. The starter of Seared scallops wrapped in pancetta, dill mouli mash and lemon curd drizzle promised much but under delivered. The pancetta was as thick as back bacon with the texture and appearance of having been steamed rather than fried. The scallops were decent but overwhelmed by the pancetta. The mash had little evidence of the dill that it promised, and the lemon curd drizzle was misplaced. My main of lamb shank was better, although I would have preferred it to be accompanied by mash potatoes rather than the rice it came with. The rice was simply boiled, and the dish lacked a sauce to compensate for the dryness. The tiramisu topped with pistachios was a delight. This is an oft-made dessert, but mostly very badly. The Westminster Kitchen version had the right balance of coffee and cream to offset any sweetness.

Westminster Kitchen is a big tourist trap of a venue, which could be better still. A few tweaks of the menu, and a little bit more focus on the ambience would improve it considerably.

Hopefully, there is some mood lighting in store at the end of the tunnel.

On a scale from * to *****

Wining and Dining **

Serving and Pouring***

Scrimping and Saving ***

Address: 3A Belvedere Road, London, SE1 7GQ

Website: www.westminsterkitchen.com

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