Saturday, 9 April 2022

Cafe Deco, Bloomsbury, London restaurant review

Rather than throwing ingredients at the plate, the highest rewards often come with focused flavour combinations.

From St John’s bone marrow on toast to Noble Rot’s slip sole wth paprika butter and Bleecker’s cheeseburger, many of the very tastiest dishes are case studies in restraint.

However, with dishes this paired back there’s nowhere to hide if every element isn't on point.

Cafe Deco in Bloomsbury is one restaurant which very much adopts of the ethos of less is more. 

Co-owned by Anna Tobias (an alumna of the River Cafe and former head chef at Rochelle Canteen) and the team behind Bermondsey’s excellent 40 Maltby Street, it’s currently one of London’s hippest restaurants.

It’s easy to see why with its laid-back pastel coloured dining space and an interesting selection of natural wines by the glass. From the five different glasses we tried, a complex and golden hued Nino Barraco catarratto (£11.80) and a thick caramel-twanged Pacina La Sorpresa dessert wine (£10) were my two highlights.

From our first mouthful of a snack of eggs (£3.50) dressed with silky mayonnaise and the salty hit of anchovy, I knew this was a meal I was going to enjoy.

Superb brittle crusted and tangy crumbed sourdough was served with slightly fridge hard golden butter.

Cauliflower cheese fritters (£9.50) reinterpreted one of my all time favourite dishes and somehow made it even better. The tender pieces of brassica were coated in the lightest of batters and drenched in a potently savoury, socky and salty cheese sauce. Cleverly the leaves of the cauliflower had been left on and the result was deliciously crisp.

A salad (£9) was a masterclass in contrasting textures and flavours - sweet roast carrots, nutty farro grains, crunchy pumpkin seeds, green herbs and a dressing made with quality oil and a zip of citrus.

Crab tart (£18.50) was described by Mrs G as "the crabbiest crab thing I've ever eaten" and I'm inclined to agree. Made with stonkingly good flaky and buttery pastry, it was filled with a set custard studded with whole pieces of white meat and a bucketload of earthy brown meat. I could probably have eaten a whole tart’s worth.

Gloriously juicy roast chicken (£23.50) was stuffed with creamy and fragrant wild garlic creme fraiche and served with proper crispy chips. Whilst the chicken was served cold I reckon it would have been even better hot with its resulting crispier skin.

Unable to decide between two of the desserts on offer I of course ordered them both.

A scoop of beautifully smooth, fragrant and tangy rhubarb sherbert (£3.50) did a good job as a palate cleanser before the main event of chocolate and marmalade tart (£9).

Combining short pastry and a light yet molten interior with plenty of bitter dark chocolate and pithy orange peel pieces, it was a slice of decadence.

A bowl of apple compote (£8) hit just the right balance between sweetness and acidity and was zhuzhed up by a dollop of thick Jersey cream and excellent shortbread.

With its weekly changing menu of deceptively simple, flavour-packed food and lovely wines by the glass, I think Cafe Deco is going to become another of our regular London haunts.

The Details:

Address - 43 Store St, London WC1E 7DB
Telephone - 020 8091 2108

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