Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Holborn Dining Room, London restaurant review

Master carpenter, master builder, master plumber. These are all trades I have a lot of respect for - all those years spent honing an artisanal craft until you reach the top of your game.

But, it's pie masters I have respect for above all others.

Oh to be able to craft a water crust pastry Venus de Milo out of nothing more than flour, lard and water.

Calum Franklin is the UK’s pre-eminent pie master. His intricate creations have gained him a cult following on Instagram.

He's based at the Holborn Dining Room in London's uber-swank Rosewood Hotel. The dining room oozes luxury with its moody lighting, brass rails and leather banquettes.

The menu is a comforting who's who of brasserie classics with a pie at every turn. It's all rather pricey but I guess that's what you'd expect in this kind of gaff.

Coombeshead sourdough and Abernethy butter are both best in class. The crisp-crusted, tangy crumbed bread is perfect with a slick of golden Irish butter 

A scotch egg (£10) is the champion of the Scotch Egg Challenge 2015, a prestigious competition founded by the legendary Guinea Grill landlord Oisin Rogers. It's very good - crisp of crumb, golden yolked and with well-seasoned and exceptionally loosely packed sausage meat. I like a little more bite to my meat but it’s a minor criticism. 

Octopus pieces (£15) are tender and meaty with a lovely lick of char. They're served with big hunks of chorizo which are assertively spiced; they’re an ideal foil. 

It's pies across the board for main course.

A steak and kidney pudding (£22) is the winner. Loaded with meat in an intensely beefy gravy, its suet cocoon is soft, light and not at all stodgy. 

A chicken, tarragon and girolle pie (£23) is packed to the brim with big hunks of meat in a gorgeously herb fragranced cream sauce. The golden pastry case is crisp, buttery and every bit as enjoyable as the filling. 

A curried mutton pie (£23) is stuffed with tender shreds of yielding spice-packed flesh. It's all thriller and no filler. A zingy mango salsa and creamy curry sauce with a good wallop of chilli add even more interest to the plate. 

Sweet heritage carrots (£6) have a little bit too much bite for me. 

Top notch champ (£6) is decadently buttery and beautifully smooth. 

For pud, a light and crisp meringue (£9) is adorned with super smooth coconut ice cream and blackberry coulis. I prefer a bit more squidge and chew to my meringue but it gets a big thumbs up from Mrs G. 

A cylinder of egg and vanilla rich brûléed custard (£9) is served with fragrant rhubarb with a lovely bite and a cracking champagne sorbet. 

Only my dessert disappoints slightly - a salted caramel Paris-Brest (£9) is loaded with hazelnut cream and topped with toasted almonds. But, it's just not as good as Cocorico's - the pastry is a little soft and there's a slight bitterness from the caramel. 

I really liked Holborn Dining Room. The pies really are the star of the show and they're worth hunting down. But, this is a pricey place - if you want to save a penny the canny option would be to source a takeaway pie from their Pie Room next door and guzzle it on a nearby park bench.

The Details:

Address - Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
Web -
Telephone - 020 3747 8633


  1. That looks enticing - my sort of food! Next time I'm in London, I might just give it a go. A good find!

  2. Lincolns Inn Fields is around the corner from here - perfect outdoor pie-munching territory. This place has been on my radar since Jay Rayner reviewed it but upmarket dining rooms are not really my scene. I did not know about the Pie Room however, I will make a trip when the weather is a bit more hospitable.

    1. I definitely think I'll go for a takeaway pie too next time.