Chef Calum Franklin’s much-hyped ‘pie room’ is in the corner of Holborn Dining Room – an opulent venue that’s so old fashioned it kind of feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The vibe is not particularly modern, but like the well-heeled diners, it’s charming all the same. You can’t actually eat in the pie room unless you’re willing to hire it out, but the menu is available in the dining room, and there’s a ‘hatch’ outside for takeaways. The curried mutton pie was great – tender meat, with a flavourful curry sauce and some tiny cubes of mango circling the base for a little hit of sweetness against the spice. The pastry was perfect on both, but the second pie (chicken, girolle mushrooms and tarragon) was disappointing: large pieces of tough chicken and not much else. At £20 and £22 respectively, these small, fancy pies are not cheap, and only the mutton was worth the price.
From the rest of Holborn Dining Room’s uber-traditional British menu, the scotch egg was great, but the steamed spinach was overcooked and a side of champ was far too salty. The Cornish crab toast had potential, but you could barely taste the meat thanks to a suspiciously acidic smear of guacamole (lemon juice helps avocado keep for longer). So Holborn Dining Room is a nice place to visit, but be careful when you’re ordering, because it’s pretty hit and miss. Also, visit in summer: there’s a ace outdoor dining area out the back.