“Once found, the RIBA is a gem and you will not forget it”
London is a fantastic city, filled with hidden gems which you only discover when you you get some insider information, mostly because the people in the know want to keep it their little secret. The Olympic period is coming up and Elysium Magazine is seeking out some great Olympic eats, off the beaten path. We were secretly invited to RIBA to view the venue and try the food, we were totally unaware that a restaurant even existed in the beautify and visually dominating building!
RIBA is nestled by Regent’s Park and the building is simply impressive. In the Florence Hall the restaurant offers one of the most striking, peaceful and luxurious dining settings in London.
The Look, The Feel
The dinning hall offers a sumptuous semi-circular banquettes and conventional dining tables spaciously arranged on a stunning wood and marble floor and flooded by daylight from the full-height windows on either side. Within the room is a changing programme of fascinating architectural exhibitions that guests can enjoy during their time in the space.
The exhibition amongst the dinning hall is what makes RIBA so unique – whilst you are serenaded by the classical music being played towards the front of Florence Hall, the centre stage is a unique exhibition where members and the public can visit. This creates a serene environment – dynamic to foot flow, interest in you and the exhibition, as well as the music.
The towering full height windows are an amazing complement to Florence Hall. It was clearly a favourite with the diners, all enjoying the sun while seated in a central London setting. The natural light floods the dining room and exhibition bringing its full array of fun and pleasure with it.
Having taken note of the amazing setting, we could not wait to take a look at what the menu had to offer. The menu is updated regularly but the starters available ranged from Chilled leek and potato soup (£5.25) to Seared and cured Scallop (£7.45). Tasters are also available (£3.50) which we decided to try – and we were very impressed. the Hot smoked salmon, horseradish mousse, beetroot was simply gorgeous and full of fresh flavour and ingredients. The presentation was perfect and the dish looked tasty even before I had my first bite.
The Main Event
The menu provides a limited range of mains for your picking but this is not a bad thing. The focus on fresh and fine quality ingredients means there is a dish for every mood. The mains feature fish, meat or a dish for a vegetarian.
We opted for the the Corn fed chicken breast, poached and roasted (£18.95) and the Spring Salad of lobster, Gressingham duck with mango and young leaves (£17.50). The chicken breast was seasoned, marinated and roasted to perfection. It was served in a vegetable chowder which brought a fresh and fragrant aroma to the dish. The Spring Salad of lobster was a delight – perfect for a hot summer’s evening. The salad was visually fantastic, presented beautifully and the fragrances of the salad brought together what was a healthy but fulfilling dish.
The mains were accompanied by a brilliant white wine from RIBA’s wine list. The recommendation was made by the restaurant’s own waiter who was extremely knowledgeable when tested on the menu as well as the wine list. Always a bonus to get some useful information from someone with the knowledge and experience of diners.
The starters and mains were impressive but where many restaurant’s fail is the dessert. An important part of the meal as it always determines how we will leave a restaurant – happy, satisfied and full of praise or always mentioning how good the food could have been. You only need to watch a couple of episodes of Come Dine with Me to see how much people talk about dessert.
The Classic Lemon Tart, served with basil sorbet and pistachio praline (£5.95) was gorgeous – the basil sorbet was a brave move but one that paid off – beautifully complimenting the lemon tart and praline. The tart itself was fresh and clearly created with love – sliced perfectly, it was a generous helping. the Caramel chocolate fondant (£5.95) was the next obvious choice. Served with raspberry sorbet and a crisp file tube, it was a classic dessert with a fruity twist. The rich texture of the fondant was a treat, again the quality and attention to detail was refreshing.
Elysium Magazine is thrilled to have been invited to such a great venue, with a highly underrated restaurant. The unique setting makes the restaurant an ideal venue for the discerning gent taking out a special lady for a first date or the lady of his life on a romantic night out.
However, the RIBA restaurant is also open for breakfast – the venue and setting makes for a perfect business meeting space. The tranquility of the venue in the morning, the grand setting of the building, the location and the quality food make it a winner when meeting clients. Trust us, we have been three times since the dinner!
The restaurant is open on specific nights, with the best time being the final Tuesday of the month. This is because the members are invited to a debate, a general topic not restricted to architects, which makes for a magnificent and unique evening. Information about the next events can be found here.
Overall, the dining experience at the RIBA is one which will not be forgotten. Once found, the RIBA is a gem and you will return and talk to your friends about it. Suitably priced and located in a easy to reach location, the RIBA is highly recommended, but ensure you book a table in advance – the secret is getting out quick.
Address: 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD
Telephone: 020 7631 0467
Website: Visit RIBA Cafe & Restaurant
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm (Tues -9pm) Sat 9am-4pm
Area: Portland Street, Regent Street