Like any Italian mass-produced car or Mischa Barton’s gormless, vapid stare, there are a lot of things in this world that offer style, but little substance. As you gaze at the pictures of Berners Tavern’s ridiculously ornate ceiling and wonder how anyone could possibly do something so mundane as have dinner beneath it, there will definitely be a part of you that fears that it’ll be the Marissa Cooper of restaurants.
Thankfully, it isn’t. Sure, all the warning signs are there – it’s attached to the trendy Edition hotel, the waitstaff are way better looking than us, and the kitchen name checks a Michelin-starred chef who’s probably never in the kitchen. By all accounts, when you’re somewhere that looks this nice and feels this glam, the food should be pretty shite.
But actually, the food at Berners Tavern is excellent. The menu features very fancy British comfort food like posh Scotch eggs, flashy continental dishes like pan-fried sea bream with braised baby gem and verjus, and there’s also a grill that delivers very nice steaks. It’s all very good, and it should be, especially when you’re spending this much money. Dinner here isn’t cheap.
You’ll forget about the food soon enough, though. That’s not a knock on the kitchen, it’s just that Berners Tavern is and will always be about ambience and sense of occasion above all. Even if you popped in for a pint of Foster’s at the bar, it would be the most epic fucking pint of Foster’s you can have in London.
And even though Marissa Cooper wouldn’t have touched her food, we’re pretty sure she would love it here, too.
You really can’t go wrong with burrata to start. A little truffle honey adds a classy touch.
Come to me, my love. This doorstopper of a main is succulent and nicely pink (rare pork’s a thing now).
The steaks here are Scottish, and pack some hefty flavour. The triple-cooked chips have that lovely crust to them everyone loves, while still staying light and fluffy inside.
A solid vegetarian dish that stands up to the other options on the menu. The cauliflower is satisfying and meaty, but the dish could use something acidic to cut through the five sticks of butter they melt into the barley risotto.
A nicely cooked piece of fish with some delicately prepared vegetables. Consider grabbing a side to go with this, lest you want to spend the next 20 minutes watching your dining companions muscle through a slab of ribeye. Which brings us to…
When it comes to mac and cheese, you either love the fancy kind (primo cheese, tomatoes on top) or the slightly crappy but addictive kind. This is the best of both worlds, with a perfect amount of cheesy white sauce throughout, finished with some premium cheese grated over it to finish. You’ll want at least a couple for your table to share.
The tart is dense and super intensely flavoured, in a good way. The mint ice cream is more subtle than we expected. If you like chocolate and you like tarts, you might want to get this. Also congrats on being human.
Along with espresso, this is exactly the kind of thing you’re supposed to order at places like this. You already dropped £80-plus per head on dinner, what’s an extra cheese plate? There’s a killer Roquefort, a delicious blue cheese, and what we think was Comté (similar to Gruyère). And enough crackers to feed Newham.
You’re basically doing this for the Snapchat. A couple of floor staff bring the cart right up to your table, lay an expensive-looking brushed copper tray down and place a meringue in the centre, along with some exotic-tasting flower and nut things around it. Then they pour liquor all over it and set the whole damn thing alight. Every table around you is going to crane their necks to check out the commotion. It’s super-boozy, super-sweet, and not subtle. Probably not one to get if you’re here with your mistress.