A Tuesday evening trip to Berners Tavern doesn’t sound like the kind of lifestyle choice your average broke millennial should be making. The dinnertime darling of London’s fashion elite, the candlelit tables of Jason Atherton's Fitzrovia restaurant are more habitually peopled by the likes of Henry Holland, Pixie Geldof and those with money to burn, as opposed to, well, me. But Berners Tavern themselves are counteracting that mindset with the extension of their set menu, so we went down to try it out.
Like the pink stairwell of Frank’s Cafe or the floral walkways of Restaurant Ours, you don’t need a location tag to let people know you’re dining at Berners Tavern. The restaurant’s art-covered walls are all the calling card they need, albeit one usually seen peeking out from Tatler’s glossy party pages. Walking through the Edition’s doors the impact is all the more powerful, the room unfurling into a slew of gilded frames and clinking cutlery, illuminated by the giant chandeliers in the centre of the ceiling.
Offering three courses for just £29.50, and three options for each course, the set menu here is the perfect way to do a mid-week treat without the financial anxiety. Now running until 10pm on Monday and Tuesday, you won’t even be kettled in with the pre-theatre crowd and forced to chow down on a full dinner before lunch has even settled.
I kick off with the chilled cucumber and mint soup, which may sound like the wet flannel option, but proves to be the most surprising dish of the night. Vibrant and unpredictable, the soup is salty and refreshing, packed full of flavour. Sip it down and you’ll uncover bubbles of caviar, cubes of soft cured salmon and crunchy cucumber waiting for you at the bottom.
By comparison the rump of beef proves a little less exciting. The meat is perfectly cooked of course, and comes topped with a runny fried duck egg and crispy shoestring fries, but in a place like Berners Tavern it is always worth opting for the less obvious options where possible, like their poached plaice in pickled chard sauce.
While wine is not included in the set menu, I’d recommend taking advantage of the expert sommelier roving around the restaurant. A treat is a treat, and the cheapest glass of red at Berners Tavern is still going to trump some of the spendier bottles at your local Pizza Express. We get a glass of Carignan (£9.50) each and it sees us right through the end of the meal.
An apricot and yoghurt bombe rounds off the meal, unleashing a new flavour experience with every layer, from sharp apricot to sweet yoghurt and a citric, orange-infused sauce.
Opening up its set menu to the dinnertime diners, Berners Tavern's is helping you do that fancy date night without the financial burden. Their menu changes regularly, meaning that re-visits are a must, and any opportunity to eyeball those interiors should not be passed on lightly.