Walkers of Whitehall newly renovated pub is nestled down Craig’s Court, one minute walk from Charing Cross, it’s in a good location for those eager to escape the hustle and bustle of Trafalgar Square. Whitehall is just a stone’s throwaway so the pub is most likely frequented by MP’s, civil servants and shady characters in search of a medium dry martini with lemon peel (shaken, not stirred).
Housed in a towering Victorian brick building, it’s encrusted with period lanterns bringing a warm and inviting glow to its faÃƒÂ§ade. The first thing you notice as you step through a grand pillared entrance, is the contemporary look of the place. Leather upholstery, freshly painted walls and bright lighting all incorporate to give a’new-home-feel’.
There’s definitely a sense of an interior still in search of its identity and the lack of character of the majority of the pub, does not reflect the charming exterior. That being said, they have created a stylish basement bar filled to the brim with spirits, anointed in dark oak and crowned with a floral vaulted ceiling. It’s a real showpiece that should serve to inspire some decorative flair in other parts of the venue.
Showcasing cocktails, beers and local ales there was ample opportunity to sample the alcoholic beverages of their suppliers. Most impressive was a pomegranate, basil and gin concoction supplemented with ice and thyme leaves. Thankfully I got to the venue early enough to sign up for the 7PM supper club, any later and my foray with the suppliers could have taken a turn for the worse.
Sitting down for dinner, I was pleased to hear we were having a wine pairing and guided talk from James Stoddart, a wine expert from Enotria&Co. Our first forage into the new menu was with charcoal beetroots, whipped feta, orange and walnuts.
On occasion I have eaten this combination before, so I knew it worked well. However whipped feta was a form of the traditionally crumbly cheese I was yet to try and what a revelation. Fluffy, light and spreadable, it was a salty step up from any creamed cheese I’d had previously. This was paired with a chilled 2015 Gamay from Beaujolais, which although nice in its own right, was too acidic when paired with the orange.
Our second dish was cod, saffron potatoes, fennel and aioli. This was a stunning piece of fish and credit to the chefs for its careful preparation. Crispy, salted skin sat upon moist flakes of silky white cod that was still hot from the pan. The aioli cut through the richness of the fish and the savoury saffron sauce was punctuated with notes of fennel, all the flavours combining to fulfil their cause.
This was paired with an exotic 2014 Gewurztraminer from Clare Valley, Australia. Usually it’s a wine well matched to Asian food. This was slightly odd by itself but smarter when tried with the fragrant elements of the dish.
Third up was lamb rump, coco beans, Datterini tomatoes and a salsa verde. Given the dish’s name, I was interested to know how chocolate and lamb was going to work. However I was disappointed Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and somewhat relieved Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to find out’coco beans’ is actually short for The Coco de Paimpol, which is a type of haricot bean.
The lamb was well cooked and juicy, still gleaming with its wonderful juices. The salsa verde was also brilliant, packed full of fresh herbs, vinegar and garlic it cut through the richness of the meat. The tomatoes were warm, sweet and juicy whilst the coco beans soaked up all the moisture and gave structure to an otherwise watery dish.
This was served with a 2013 Shiraz/Cabernet Spice Trader from Australia. Deep, rich and low in acids it paired well with the lamb and sweet tomatoes and was my favourite pairing of the night.
Pudding came in the form of a lemon curd semifreddo with gooseberries and hazelnut praline. Sweet from the semifreddo, sour from the gooseberries and bitter from the hazelnut praline, it was a simple dessert that ended the night on a lighter note, something I welcomed after rich lamb, buttery sauces and salty cheese.
The wine was a 2015 Noble Wrinkled Riesling, also from Australia, sweeter than the desert itself I could only handle a few sips.
Walkers of Whitehall represents the very best of modern British pub food and I was assured by its regulars that its renovation has been a big improvement on its previous condition.
Given its chic basement bar, I’m sure more can be done for the rest of the pub to inject some charisma into an otherwise uninspiring space. Still, the wonderful food elevated the pub beyond its plain interior, and signals to greater things to come.