A product of the noughties gastropub boom, Great Queen Street still turns out dishes in the tradition of its antecedents, and of the year it was founded (2007). Yet despite the casual feel, pub-like look and cacophony of voices, this is no pub – it’s a sit-down restaurant where bookings are almost essential. The excellent location, mere steps away from central Covent Garden, ensures its perennial popularity.
The prized outdoor tables are almost never vacant, but walk-ins may find space at the bar stools towards the back, where the full menu is also served. The menu changes daily, is produce-led and is predominantly British. There’s minimal fussing with ingredients; for example, a plump piece of bone-in smoked mackerel was served with a dollop each of cooked gooseberries and horseradish. Pork had been slow-cooked before having a generous quantity of cockles added to the stew. Vegetarian dishes are sometimes less imaginative, such as a simple tart of roast pepper, tomato and new-season garlic. Puddings might include a semifreddo, or an apricot and almond tart. The dozen or so wines by the glass are relatively affordable rather than covetable, a clue to Great Queen Street’s priorities.