Take a stroll along the Strand and glance up Bedford Street and you`d be forgiven for missing Bedford & Strand. Its unassuming exterior is barely ten feet across and is little more than the top of a fairly uninviting, brightly lit staircase. Aside from the modest sign, some wall-mounted wine bottles and discreetly placed rosettes and awards, it`s not obvious that this is a bar and bistro at all.
Don`t be put off. Take the stairs down and push through the double doors and it`s likely you`ll find yourself amidst some hearty lunchtime or after-work revelry. The atmosphere is extremely welcoming. Drinkers and diners relax and share stories in the surprisingly spacious combination of bar and restaurant, which fortunately retains many of its original fittings. Everything about this place has a tangible consistency – from the logo to the décor to the friendly service and the authentic menu – it all hangs together really well.
We arrived early but were happy joining the crowd at the bar, where we added to the jovial hubbub. Here we admired the produce on display in the deli counter while helpful serving staff prepared our table. Of the team behind Bedford & Strand, John Willy is the General Manager. He`s an advocate of respectful yet not overly formal service, which makes for a very friendly, relaxed dining experience.
When ordering, we were told that the Smoked Haddock Fish Cake with Parsley Sauce was sold out, which was a shame. It looked terrific. Judging by the looks on the faces of those who devoured the last few, they tasted pretty good too. However, our disappointment was short-lived. I was brave and ordered the Fillet Steak Tartare while my date, Anna, went for a very creamy Cauliflower and White Truffle Oil Soup. Both were delightful. The soup was lovely but it was the steak that stole the show – quite honestly, with a delicious blend of pickles, quail`s egg and finely ground meat, the best I`ve eaten.
For main course I had the Parmesan Crusted Shepherd`s Pie (which was full of flavour, if a little dry), accompanied by some truly delicious Buttered Carrots. Anna had the Whole Roasted Seabass, which was perfectly cooked – literally falling off the bone. We drank a 2007 Dashwood – a fresh and fruity New Zealand Sauvignon, which was an absolute delight (and well recommended by our waitress).
The Bedford & Strand portions were generous without being too filling, so we just about managed a dessert. We opted to share a bowl of Jude`s Farmhouse Ice Cream. It wasn`t clear if this was home-made or not but it was, to my mind, the best part of the whole meal. We had three scoops – Cinnamon, Vanilla and Mango Sorbet. I don`t consider myself a sorbet man, but although all three were delectable, the Mango Sorbet was to die for.
The Bedford & Strand is open Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 12am, serving food from 12 noon to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11.15pm.
Review by Jim Green, Managing Director of DNA Advertising Ltd.
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