Boulevard Brasserie – Review – Covent Garden
Published 25 November 2009
As someone who gets a thrill discovering new dining places, nothing gives a better rush to the head as finding a restaurant or brasserie that serves tremendous food, and at a great price. Maybe that’s why I keep trying out 50% off offers on TopTable. Deep down, I know that there is usually a reason behind such a steep discount, but I crave the excitement of trying a new place and not knowing if you’re going to get food made by a £5-an-hour chef or a budding Michelin star chef.
Thus, I ended up at Boulevard Brasserie, a small British restaurant just off the main Covent Garden Plaza, around the corner from the Drury Lane Theatre. I had a look at the online menu before going, and it had all the standard British fare (for the tourists), but it also had some original dishes with a French flair which made me think that this could be one of those undiscovered gems in London, before they make it to the front page of Time Out Magazine.
When we arrived, we were quickly shown a table in their upstairs dining room. We were overjoyed at first to get a quiet table at the corner and next to the window, but our joy soon turned into exasperation as our corner location meant that it was nearly impossible to get the attention of the waiter and waitress in charge of upstairs. The staff seemed way overworked, and the problem was compounded further by the fact that the male waiter was new and clearly had no waitering experience before.
We finally got round to ordering, and as my partner and I were both keen seafood lovers, we both chose the fish soup. However, when it arrived we were both shocked to find that it was incredibly salty on the border of inedible. As a kid I had drunk seawater accidentally many times when on family holidays to the beach, and this bought back not-so-fond memories of that. The saltiness was so overpowering, that it ruined a perfectly good soup. However, points must be given for creativity, as the garnishes were served in 3 delightful small tapas-style bowls: grated cheese, small baguette-like croutons, and a mystery orange sauce which was very tasty. We complained to the waiter about the soup, and the saving grace was that we were offered profuse apologies, and a free replacement soup of the day. Our new soups, carrot and ginger soup, was very refreshing and light, and was like heaven after the fish soup fiasco.
For main courses, I had the 8oz steak with garlic butter and chips, while my partner had the seafood risotto. The steak was a good decent size, and looked absolutely gorgeous on the outside. However, they managed to screw up my main course again; I had ordered a medium-rare steak, and when my knife sank into the steak I could see that it was even rarer than rare. Still, at that point, I was hungry and fed up from all the waiting, so I just ate my steak. It wasn’t bad; in fact it was a pretty good rare steak, but then again I ordered medium rare and nowhere in the universe was it close to medium rare! My partner’s seafood risotto had lots of mussels/clams and big juicy prawns. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite right as the risotto was still slightly crunchy and undercooked, and the broth was surprisingly bland and uninteresting.
Verdict: While we did save 50% off the bill (the 2-course meal, excluding drinks, came up to only £9 per person), it was just such a bad experience in terms of service and the food quality that even at that price it probably wasn’t worth it. Maybe its true what they say about Covent Garden restaurants; that they’re really just for the tourists, and that the restaurants do not care about the quality and service as they know that the majority of their customers will never return anyways. My search for hidden gems continues.
Rating: 3 out of 10 stars
Cuisine: Typical British food, with a French influence
Price Range: £20 for 2-course dinner for two, excluding drinks (with 50% TopTable offer)
Address: 40 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BD (location map)
Nearest Tube Stations: Covent Garden Tube Station (5 minutes walk), Temple Tube Station (13 minutes walk)
Tel for Booking: +44 020 7240 2992