The Olympic Studios has quite a long history. The building was initially an entertainment centre putting on plays and other shows in 1906, and became The Barnes cinema as far back as 1910. The building switched between being a theatre and a cinema in the 1920s and 1930s, before becoming a recording studio in 1966. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and The Who recorded their songs here, the studios continuing until 2009. After a period of uncertainty the Olympic Studios reopened as a cinema, dining room and café in October 2013. The dining room is on the ground floor and serves food all day. This is open to the public though there is a separate member’s clubroom offering the same menu located upstairs. The dining room seats just over 80 customers at capacity, with additional seating outside in good weather.
Head chef Andreas Engberg was previously sous chef at Racine, having worked there for six years, and was head chef of Garnier in Earls Court. The bread is made from scratch in the kitchen each day. Rosemary bread roll was pleasant, as was a brown roll with poppy seeds. The texture could be improved, but it is good to see a restaurant bothering to make its own bread (13/20).
The wine list had 67 wines listed, ranging from £17 to £450 in price, with a median price of £36 and an average mark-up at a reasonable (for London) 2.7 times the retail price. Example wines were Equus Carmenere Haras de Pirque 2011 at £24 for a wine that can be found in the high street for £10, Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Grenache 2010 at £29 compared to a retail price of £20, and the lovely Antinori Tignanello 2009 at £105 for a wine that will set you back £54 in a shop.
A salad of endive with blue cheese, apple and walnuts had crisp endive, the apple nicely balancing the cheese, the dressing well made (13/20). Mackerel with roast pumpkin and Jerusalem artichoke puree had fresh, accurately timed mackerel with good flavour, the vegetable components fine; this dish could have benefitted from an acidic element to cut through the oiliness of the mackerel, though as it happened the dressing of a side salad that I ordered provided this (13/20).
Pear millefeuille was excellent, the puff pastry made from scratch in the kitchen, the tartness of the pears balancing the crème patissiere filling (14/20). The strength in pastry was emphasised at another meal by a very good lemon tart with particularly good filling and good pastry. Coffee was good too, and service was friendly and efficient.
The bill for three courses but just water to drink came to £32 a head. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill would be perhaps £50 a head all in, reasonable given the good standard of cooking on display here. No wonder it was busy even at a weekday lunch. I initially stumbled across this restaurant when I had a quick bite to eat before a film, and was so impressed that I came back and had a full meal here. This is up there with the very best restaurants in Barnes, and represents excellent value. If you want a Hollywood ending to your trip to the cinema then eat here.
Further reviews: 01st Oct 2015