This Cool And Quirky Café Hits The Right Note
As a regular visitor to the Royal Albert Hall, especially in the summer months for the fabulous BBC Proms, I have missed a trick when it comes to eating and drinking. I now know that under the assured management of “deliciously different caterer” Rhubarb, the Albert Hall boasts a wide choice of in-house bars and tempting dining options, not least of which is Café Consort.
First impressions are of a long curved space with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the tranquil manicured topiary at the rear of the building. The modern décor is schematic and functional. A monochrome colour scheme of black, white and chrome is enlivened by a deep crimson back wall. A zany installation of light reflectors runs the length of the ceiling, uniting the space. Statement flower arrangements on tall plinths punctuate the central area, and currently feature dramatic overblown dark red roses which echo the wall. Large photo images of music makers and performers are dotted around, in reference to the musical identity of this London landmark.
Delighted to be invited by Rhubarb to dine in their Café Consort, Nina and I opted for a lunch-time slot. Traditional favourites and more adventurous options featured in a balanced menu. I kicked off with wood pigeon salad (given a satisfying degree of bite by bitter leaves, quail eggs, ham and hazelnuts) whilst Nina enjoyed a vibrant and beautifully presented plate of goat’s cheese, tomato and watercress with a red pepper coulis. Other suggestions on offer include parsnip, apple and chestnut soup and prawn cocktail with lemon mousseline.
Nina chose as her main course, fillet of salmon with roasted vegetables and a basil sauce; the fish was cooked to perfection, succulent, flavoursome and the vegetables delivering taste and health in one blast.
My pumpkin and chestnut risotto was creamy and dense with chunks of the said vegetables providing texture. Alternatives such as gammon steak with “proper” parsley sauce and Irish sticky beef with all the trimmings promise to meet hungry winter appetites. Service was charming and attentive and Rhubarb’s signature attention to detail and presentation were certainly evident on our visit. The seasonal lunch menu is clearly structured and priced, offering two courses for £18 or three for £22. Alternatively, clients can order courses individually with starters priced at £6, mains at £12 and puddings at £6.50.
The pudding list has a festive twist with Christmas pudding trifle and chocolate panettone bread and butter pudding alongside traditional plum crumble or trifle of orchard fruits. Pungent coffee completes the treat.
The wine list is based around wines from Berry Brothers and Rudd. We selected two glasses of a pleasant and clean tasting Pino Grigio, which, like the house Chardonnay and Merlot, is priced at £6.40/ £8.40 a glass or £25.00 a bottle.
Café Consort is located just above Door 12 on the Grand Tier (Level 1.) It is open every day from 09.00 to 17.00 and for bookings two hours before every show with access to all for coffee, breakfast, lunch, a full afternoon tea and pre-performance supper. A children’s menu is also available. What better way to round off a brisk morning walk in Kensington Gardens, or relax ahead of an evening of great music or dance in the wonderful Albert Hall? In the festive season there is a full range of exciting performances, from Christmas Carols to the wonderful Cirque du Soleil in the New Year and Café Consort is the perfect place to celebrate.
For further details do visit the Cafe Consort website or telephone 0845 401 5045
Platform 505 will shortly be posting a rundown of the complete range of bars and places to eat at the Royal Albert Hall, so watch this space!
N.B The Café Consort will be closed from Tuesday 25 to Friday 28 December and on Tuesday 1 January.