On a scorching midsummer’s day, my husband and I fight our way through the al fresco crowds to sample the delights of the Crab Tavern. It is one of several restaurants in the foodie hub of Broadgate Circle and opens up like a Tardis over two levels. A psychedelic crab mural adorning one wall is both a nod to the theme and a contrast to the understated décor elsewhere.
The clement weather drew the punters outside, but I imagine on a more typical English day the venue could be as loud as the thumping music. Not quite loud enough to drown out a large neighbouring table though, so we move from a booth to near the door in search of a breeze and a little peace. Maybe the musical chairs explained our half-hour wait for some water. Fortunately, once the service started, it continued at a good pace.
As a shellfish lover, I was excited to try the crab at the self-proclaimed ‘best crab restaurant in town’. However, the menu had no mention of, er, crab. Maybe the heat was getting to me. I read it again. Nope. The only way to actually taste crab was sitting at the bar.
Washing away the disappointment with a lovely glass of flowery prosecco, I turn my attention to what was on offer; an incredibly reasonable set menu. On a week day, you can choose any two courses for £17 or three for £20. I start with fried black pepper squid, despite the risk of chewiness. I need not have worried; it was tender and tasty with the promised pepper taste a delight. The pig cheeks pressing, another melt in the mouth offering is coupled beautifully with a pear compote.
For the main there were two fish options or a duck breast. The roast trout came with a spring fricassee and memorable roast pistachio crumble, although the veloute was a little gloopy for my taste. My husband tucked into his roast cod with gusto enjoying the white bean, chorizo and peppers casserole it sat in just as much as the fish.
The portions are hearty but you can still add side dishes such as purple beetroot with white stilton or good old fries.
Pudding was a mixed event. The brownie stack is just what you would expect from this desert done right; rich and gooey, leaving us fighting over the rapidly melting salted caramel ice cream. The citrus cheesecake appears in a deconstructed fashion. Although I am not against unconventional presentation, the excess of berry coulis drowned out the refreshing lemon and lime I’d hoped for.
A glass of wine starts at £6 and there is a tasty selection of cocktails for £10.50.
The Crab Tavern isn’t quiet or romantic but benefits from the buzz of the area. If I’m near Liverpool Street again I would try it once more – as long as there’s a seat at the bar…
7, Broadgate Cir,
Tel: 020 7096 2044