Published on June 8th, 2017 | by Ben Southwood


Martinis & Meringues @ Quaglino’s, St. James

Quaglino’s is a massive, beautiful underground bar and restaurant that has a 1920s Art Deco glitz and glamour. Perhaps because it’s that right amount of dark, or because it has a doorman, or because it’s very grand and shiny and gold. I went there not for dinner, though I’d love to taste their food some day, but to taste a new cocktails menu.

They’re supposedly martinis of a sort. It’s not clear that any of the four cocktails, all £14, on the new menu, are martinis, though they do come in martini glasses. Don’t have them for that purpose. Note that they each come with a special flavoured mini-meringue and draw more from that than the martini name or glass.

They are all quite sweet and not particularly strong, although the Belvedere or Hennessey base does often creep through. I’d probably want them not as an aperitif, as I would with a martini, but with dessert. Clearly Quaglino’s realises this, and they’ve released a bunch of complicated and intricate desserts to go with.

A peach melba was actually a frozen cheesecake in a fine layer of meringue, presented like A Wong’s duck yolk custard bun, and with a filling of cold raspberry coulis or jam.

A honey and thyme tart was a big, chewy—Italian-style, rather than Swiss-style—meringue dotted with cute little chocolate bees, chocolate honeycomb, all on top of a shortbread tart with a liquidy filling. I saw others eat pavlova and deconstructed pie, slightly jealously, but they were generous servings for a mere dessert and I couldn’t have eaten more.

Quaglino’s is a name that screams pre-war grandeur, and I suspect in a couple of years it will feel like they’ve always been there.

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