Hidden discreetly under a newsagent in Central London is the Bourne & Hollingsworth, one of our favourite bars in London. Since we discovered it, it has branched out with another bar on Goodge St, a pub called The Swan & Egar, a party boat amongst other venues.
Each of the venues has a name based on an old Department shop. For example, The Bourne and Hollingsworth was what is now known as the Plaza on Oxford St, whilst the Swan & Edgar, in Marylebone, is named after a department store in Piccadilly.
Anyway we digress. We’re fans. So when we were invited down to look around the new restaurant, we couldn’t resist.
With its impressive exterior, The Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings can be found amidst the greenery and shrubbery of Spa Fields Park, behind Exmouth Market.
The design came from Box 9 Architects, also responsible for other acclaimed venues such as the Riding House Café, Pizza East. It has a light, clear design that is clearly inspired by a Grand Café type vibe – with white washed floorboards and marble tables mixed with soft floral furnishings and hanging baskets more familiar to an old stately home.
Parisian Head Chef Alex Visciano, whose claim to fame was as sous chef for the Connaught Hotel, has designed the menu. Unsurprisingly it is very British and very relaxed.
We decided to go whole hog and try three courses but would not recommend anyone else tries that much food here. It’s a bit too formal a meal for the restaurant. Not to mention that the staff seemed a bit confused by it, food arrived at any time during the meal. This meant that we rushed through our meal to try and keep up with service.
For starters, we started with a Fresh Goat’s Cheese Croquette with Pickled Mushrooms atop a Herb Salad. Incredibly fresh, well presented but just…nothing special.
Desert was as an Apple Crumble Souffle – which literally melted away in your mouth – and a caramel fondant with peanut and chocolate ice cream.
We went during the soft launch, so prices were 50% off. But the bill (with wine) still came to £70 something. We certainly would not have paid £140 for the privilege here.
It’s much more suitable for a few bites and maybe a couple of drinks. The bar is a massive area, with drinks including the classics alongside items like Getting Caught in the Rain , which includes Coconut cream, shaken with Golden Rum and fresh lime juice, poured over homemade pineapple sorbet.
Yes, there was a few soft launch related issues. Our aperitifs arrived after our starters (even though we had chased the waitress) and so on but we would still recommend a visit ; maybe a lunch? We will probably take potential dates there but with so many other places in and around Exmouth Market, it is safe to say that it’s never going to become a local institution like Caravan or others.
It was less that we were disappointed. More that we weren’t excited and enraptured about our experience. Maybe we set out with too high a expectation? Perhaps if some of the B&H events end up moving to the venue, it might help them strike lucky.
Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings
42 Northampton Road