The Criterion,224 Piccadilly London W1J 9HP – 020 7930 0488
Originally opened in 1873, the Grade II listed space has undergone a gentle and sympathetic restoration of its spectacular interiors. Original features remain intact, particularly noteworthy are the golden gilded ceilings, marble floors, grand windows, mirrored walls and imposing arches.
The new head chef is 27-year Matthew Foxon, previously of The Rosendale and winner of the Time Out award for best gastropub. Foxon’s menu offers something for everyone, whether it is for occasional diners popping in for a light snack, or for more serious customers wanting a formal three-course dining experience.
Foxon incorporates the finest produce from within the British Isles. Fish is freshly caught every morning in the small fishing village of Looe in Cornwall, meat is all rare breed and sourced from individual farms. Bread and butter is made in house, additionally the brigade smoke their own fish and make their own pasta, ricotta, ice cream and sorbet.
The menu is divided into sections offering Soups, Crustacea, Starters, Main Courses, Grills, Pastas, Egg Dishes and Desserts. Highlights include ‘Gloucester old spot pigs head roulade, sauce gibish and tomato relish’ (£7), ‘Pan fried diver King scallops, girolles mushrooms, pancetta, pea cress’ (£12), ‘5 week hung Galloway fore rib with sautéed potatoes’ (£28) and ‘Wild turbot, prawns, confit tomatoes, asparagus salad’ (£19.50). Desserts feature a ‘Malva pudding, crème anglaise and amarula ice cream’ (£7) as well as the ‘Dark and white chocolate tart with praline mousse’ (£8).
A set menu is available at lunch, pre and post theatre, and priced at £18 for two courses and £23 for three courses
A traditional afternoon tea has been newly introduced, available Thursdays to Sundays. Classic tea varieties and a selection of homemade finger sandwiches, scones, and mini desserts are offered, priced at £29 or £36 when accompanied by a glass of Champagne.
The grandeur of the Criterion ‘Long Bar’ works as an independent drinking destination in itself with wines, cocktails and bar snacks to be enjoyed while overlooking the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus. Signature cocktails include a Rose Petal Bellini (£10.50), Cucumber and Elderflower Martini (£8.50), Caunuck Mojito (£9.50), New York Sour (£9.50), and a non-alcoholic Green Apple Ginger (£6.75). The comprehensive international wine list has been assembled by restaurant manager Simon Wilson-White, featuring New and Old World varieties with 170 bins and a strong selection by the glass and half bottle.