Editor's note: in August 2013 it was announced that chef Mark Jarvis would be moving to The Bingham.
The Design Museum has a first floor restaurant called the Blueprint Café with a fine view over the Thames, including Tower Bridge, and has long had a reputation for good food (it opened in 1992). Some restaurants with a view compensate with either underwhelming food or high prices, but the British food at the Blueprint café was modestly priced, with a set lunch at £20 for three courses. From the a la carte, starters were £6.50 to £9, main courses £12.50 to £21.50, and desserts £5.50 to £8. Mark Jarvis is now the head chef, having taken over from Jeremy Lee, who moved to Quo Vadis. Mark was sous chef at Texture prior to this head chef assignment.
The wine list was organised by style and had selections such as Elderton Shiraz 2009 at £38 for a wine that you can find in a shop for about £20, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 at £49 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £20, and Harmand Geoffroy Jouise 2008 Gevrey Chambertin at £85 for a wine that retails at about £31.
Bread is now made from scratch, and it shows. Sourdough rolls made with buttermilk were excellent, soft and with good flavour (15/20). It is really nice to see restaurants making their own bread rather than just lazily buying it in, especially when they do it well. A starter of kedgeree was pleasant, and although there are limits to how exciting this dish is ever likely to be, it was well made, the rice properly cooked, the seasoning accurate. Perhaps there could have been a bit more haddock, but it was nice enough (13/20).
Coley with chorizo, fennel and rocket salad and Romesco sauce was a nicely balanced dish. Coley, which in my youth was regarded as cat food rather than sort of fish that would appear at the dining table, is hard to make thrilling, but the salad was nicely judged, the hint of spice a good idea to lift the dish and give some much-needed flavour. The coley itself was accurately timed and properly seasoned (14/20).
Even better was chicken leg, char-grilled and served with curly kale, truffled pommes puree and a sauce of the cooking juices. Onions with the chicken were nicely sweet, the chicken carefully cooked, the potatoes having smooth texture, the kale having good texture (15/20).
Blood orange parfait was served with olive oil sponge and blood orange syrup. The parfait was not too cold and had reasonable flavour, and the sponge was unusual, very light, and was a good foil for the parfait, the acidity of the oranges balancing the olive oil flavour (14/20).
Service was very capable, friendly and efficient. The bill came to just £ 27 with the set lunch and water to drink, but of course it would be more in the evening with wine. I enjoyed this meal very much, and while D&D restaurants will limit the freedom the chef has with regards to ingredient quality at this price point, the kitchen made very good use of what was available. Cooking was accurate, dishes nicely balanced and well plated. If you want to eat in a room with a view then you should consider the Blueprint Café.
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