***this restaurant has since closed down***
When we moved to Waterloo some 8 years ago, this area was definitely not somewhere cool (and probably still isn’t!), and back then finding somewhere to eat a decent meal, especially on a Sunday night, was quite difficult.
Waterloo Bar and Kitchen is one of those places I had passed by countless times on my way home, yet never really thought of trying for a while after moving to the area. One evening we finally decided to give it a go as, not only is two minutes away from Waterloo, but it is, more conveniently, four minutes walk from our house. It quickly became our local – we took relatives, friends, visiting acquaintances and always loved the food, consistently good at fairly decent central London prices.
I even used their private dining room in the basement for a fundraising event 5 years ago.
However for a number of reasons unrelated to the quality of the food we stopped dining here almost two years ago now.
So a tweet from the recently social media savvy Waterloo Bar and Kitchen caught my eye – food bloggers wanted. I thought, why not – very keen to see if anything has changed there, and if the food is still as reliable as it was. I asked my friend and fellow blogger Mulia to join me on a girlie night out.
The food is indeed still pretty good. The venue is fairly welcoming, with candle-lit tables, a small bar and open plan kitchen; it gets usually busy at weekends.
If I had any reservations about the fact that the staff knew we were food bloggers and might have given us some sort of preferential treatment, I needn’t have worried. While I waited around 10 mins for Mulia, I was served a glass of tap water but nobody asked me if I wanted any other drink. We were also given the least comfortable table in the room, behind a wall and in low light, hidden. A bit odd, given the restaurant was not very busy the night we visited. Never mind, it’s the food that counts.
We opted to share three starters. These were all spot on the taste; the Porcini risotto with parmesan shavings was cooked correctly and had the right balance of flavours between the mushrooms and the cheese and a subtle hint of garlic. The Pork belly with apple compote was great. The Crispy duck salad was a pleasant Asian inspired dish with a light dressing.
Upon choosing the main, I decided to ask about the fish provenance. This was one of the reason I had stopped coming when, in the past, no information was offered upon enquiry. This time, I got some form of answer at least. Still, I went for Lamb rump with grilled vegetables. The portion was abundant, well proportioned for the price (£17) and skillfully cooked yet sadly in my opinion it lacked any memorable flavour, both in the meat and in the vegetables.
With regards to desserts, I noted that most of the past regulars are still on the menu, and I guess desserts such as chocolate brownie are not affected by seasonality. I went for the special Peach Melba, it was ok but it felt a bit 1980s, when I used to eat tinned peach worryingly often.
Overall we had a good, enjoyable meal, yet somehow I feel despite the push to social media (which is a good thing) WBK are missing the point a bit. The venue decor is the same as it was years ago, the menu is mostly unchanged and not capitalising on British provenance nor seasonal produce which is a shame because the competition in the last few years in the area has seriously stepped up.
It is located right next to the Old Vic so perfect for pre and post theatre, and very easily reachable due to its proximity to Waterloo Station and in a sea of chain eateries of various degrees of quality, it stands out as an individual option. I would definitely recommend it for a pleasant, mid week meal if you are in the area.
We were guests of Waterloo Bar & Kitchen