Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Victoria and Albert Museum dining rooms

The dining rooms at the Victoria & Albert Museum were the first of the kind in the world. Nobody before had come up with the idea of having refreshments in a museum. To that end, there were designed three spaces: Elizabethan Green, Renaissance Centre and tiled Grill. They managed to survive the Blitz bombardments so what you get to see there is all original. Pay heed to the intricate stained glass windows exhaling the virtues of arts and crafts.

In the Victorian times, one would make do with sipping daintily on lemonade but these days you can get a full-blown meal here. And not shabby at that, as it turned out.

There are a few food stations in the airy hallway outside the rooms: sandwiches & salads, Italian, dessert, drinks and what is normally called "international", i.e., bastardised variations of French classics. We decided not to bother with lightweights from the Apennines or breads with fillings and went beeline straight for goldie oldies.

A
s we were in for a long day of meandering through the never-ending halls of the museum, we went for two legs: lamb's for Floyd and duck's for me. Floyd's order was oven-roasted and rosemary and garlic flavoured, and so was mine was. The difference was that the lamb was accompanied by a blob of mint sauce (far too sharp to my liking
and a tad sourish on top of that), the duck was served with a piece of lovely sage stuffing. Both were served with the only choice of sides: roasted potatoes and English boiled veg. That's how you make French food "international", by stripping the finer extras.

As always, we shared our plates to be able to exchange opinions. Even Floyd, who notoriously does not usually have a good word for restaurant cooking, this time appeared content. Simplified editions as they were, both dishes tasted the way they should. No less, no more. The lamb has some fat chunks (the assistant at the counter refused to change it for a leaner piece), but well at least that is a proof the animal had been fed well.

Pro's: The atmosphere of "period" dining.
Con's: Smells like a school canteen. (Did Victorians know of air fresheners?)
In a nutshell: Robust quality classics in authentic Victorian interiors.

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