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Giaconda Dining Rooms

9 Denmark Street, London, England, WC2H 8LS, United Kingdom

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Editor's note: Sadly, this excellent restaurant folded in June 2014. It has been replaced by a second outlet of steak restaurant Flat Iron.

Giaconda dining rooms is a tiny place, seating just over 30 diners at one time, and with a similarly small kitchen.  Chef Paul Merrony cooks pretty much every dish, as in the kitchen it is just him, a kitchen porter and sometimes a helper to do some preparation.  The wine list no longer has a fixed mark-up but is still a bargain by London standards.  The list has around 80 choices, ranging in price from £19 to £180, but with an average price of just £30. 80% of the list is under £40 a bottle. Mark-ups average just 2.4 times retail price. We drank Ostertag Pinot Gris 2007 at £42 for a wine that cost £23 in the shops, and Vintage Urbina “Seleccion” 1999 at £30 for a wine that retails at £13.

What follows are notes from a meal in February 2012.

My starter of spaghettini (thin spaghetti) with crab (£15) involved pasta that had excellent texture, with a mix of white and brown crab meat and precise seasoning (14/20). Chicken saltimbocca (£17) i.e. chicken wrapped in prosciutto was delicious, the chicken kept moist by its coating of ham, served on a base of risotto Milanese and garnished with button onions and sage.  The risotto was made using good stock, the chicken carefully cooked and again the dish featured very accurate seasoning (14/20).

White peach vacherin was not quite to the same level as the savoury courses: white peaches are not exactly in season in February, but the meringue was properly made and the dish still worked (13/20).  Other dishes I sampled were also cooked, such as carefully cooked brill and a nice crème brulee for dessert. The bill came to £55 a head, with plenty of wine. This is simple but terrific value food, such a rarity in central London.

 

Further reviews: 01st Sep 2008

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  • Bellaphon

    Andy, thanks for an another great tip. Just as well I booked for lunch: the dining room was already packed with business lunchers and arty luvvies by the time we turned up at 1pm. The service is akin to travelling First Class on Qantas (I’m only assuming please), efficient and to the point but boy did I start to wonder what’s going to be like during dinner instead. My signature starter of Crisped Pigs Trotters and Eggs Mayonnaise was perfectly balanced and delicately unctuous; I might request this as a mains option on my next visit. My dining companion’s Shellfish Bisque was unfortunately a little under-salted, personally I think this could’ve been remedied with the addition of some grated Gruyère. For the main course I decided to go "off-piste", as everyone else in the room seemed to opt for either the Roast Salmon or Grilled Sirloin; my delicious Tripe Braised with Chorizo, Smoked Paprika & Butter Beans was basically grown up baked beans for the discerning palate. The companion’s Duck Confit and Roast Potatoes was pretty much epic in proportions, it took him forever to finish the plate up (obviously good enough as a dish as he has a habit of leaving most of his food half-finished). We ended up the meal with a shared pudding of Poached Peach and Eton Mess; this was the star dish of the meal for me at The GDR for it was so fruity, crunchy and sensibly creamy, it was the perfect end to a delicious and good value meal. The location is great, one can now rid of the lunch excesses by window shopping around the guitar stores on the same street or admiring that fine carbuncle nearby otherwise known as the Centre Point tower.

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