Test Driving Gezellig - Holborn's new Dream Team

roomcollageThe various rooms of Gezellig. Clockwise from left - the undeniably impressive main dining area (the artwork fits perfectly - there's even a Laughing Cavalier in there), the mezzanine bar and then one of their two private dining rooms.  

What can you tell us about Gezellig?

Gezellig has previously popped up in a residency in Carousel and earned lots of fans in the process. They have a pretty strong pedigree too. Set up by Wieteke Teppema, Graham Long and James Comyn - they come here via The Square, Elystan Street, Pied à Terre, L’Autre Pied and The Ledbury between them. They've teamed up with Rebecca Mascarenhas (co-owner with chef Philip Howard of Elystan Street more) to open their first restaurant.

Where is it?

It's taken over what used to be Holborn Town Hall (and more recently the under-the-radar Holborn branch Burger and Lobster or Shanghai Blues). That's about a 2-3 minute walk from Holborn tube, near the Hoxton.

Where should we meet for a drink first?

While we've been fans of the nearby pub Princess Louise for many a year, we think that the bar here is looking like it'll be an excellent place for a drink in Holborn, whether you're dining or not. There are a couple of options - either grab a stool at the counter in the front of the building or head up to the mezzanine area where there's a large lounge area. 

And how are the bar snacks?

If you're just in the area, we think the bar snacks are worth popping in for alone, even if you're not dining. You can see what we had below, but other snacks like the pulled pork shoulder sausage roll and the cheddar and pickled walnut gougère sound pretty damned great. Not to mention the Wigmore and lamb-fat toastie with burnt tomato chutney. Yes, they really do have a very strong bar snacks game. 

it's also worth noting that while the restaurant menu does have snacks on it, the main bar menu has more - so make sure to check it out. Here's what we had on our visit. 

bitterballen2These probably topped the bar-snacks table for us - the suckling pig bitterballen with sweet mustard (£5) - we don't see bitterballen in London all that much (for lack of a better description, they're the Dutch version of croquetas). 

sliderWe find it hard to resist sweetbreads when they're on the menu (we also realise they're not for everyone) and therefore couldn't pass on the veal sweetbread slider with truffle coleslaw (£12). Quite the epic bar snack. 

And where should we sit?

Solo diners will find the bar stools to be a perfect option (they meet our strong comfort criteria) while anywhere in the hugely impressive dining area will do - with a small preference to the seats by the window. 

We should mention that they have two wonderful private dining rooms at the front of the building - one of these you can see at the pic at the top of this piece. 

What should we order?

If you've bypassed the bar, then make sure to grab a few of the bar snacks while you're thinking about the rest of the menu (and the home-made bread with salted butter - £3 - is also recommended). Otherwise, you're treated to a three-course affair, with the option of a shared dish too (on our visit, this was a navarin of new season lamb with lamb-fat Jersey royals and spring vegetables - £45 for two).

There are no sides - everything's included in the dishes, but we think that maybe they should consider those as an added extra (we definitely would have ordered some lamb-fat potatoes for sure). Prices are a little on the high side for Holborn, but there is also a set lunch deal (two courses for £25). 

Here's what we had on the day:  

terrineTerrine of rabbit and carrots with English mustard (£15) - if you love a good terrine, then you'll be wanting to order this.

courgettes1Grilled Trombetta courgettes, broad beans, ewe's curd, mint (£13) - a beautifully seasonal dish

chicken1Slow roasted chicken breast, morteau sausage farce, hispi cabbage, jus gras (£26).

gnocchiPecorino gnocchi, fresh peas, girolles, English asparagus and wild garlic (£22) - we don't often go for the fully veggie dish on any menu, but this was glorious.

How is it for vegetarians?

As you can see from above, the vegetarian dishes are strong, but they also have a separate vegetarian menu - that mainly highlights the vegetarian dishes with a couple of added extras besides. 

And how about dessert?

Desserts are definitely worth saving some space for. If you want to take things easy, then we'd absolutely recommend the pleasantly boozy rum and vanilla canelles (£5) and we also loved the idea of  "builder's tea and a biscuit - £4" to finish things off. Here's what we had. 

sundaePeach melba and almond sundae (£9.50) - we initially didn't order this, but it came with a strong recommendation - and we can see why. Pretty much the best sundae we've had in a while - a perfect twist on peach melba. 

millefeuilleAnd we finished things off with the Strawberry and elderflower mille-feuille (£9.50).

How about drinks?

We visited on a Saturday lunchtime, so decided against kicking off with a cocktail. But if you do fancy one, the list is a classic one with drinks priced at £12. The wine list sees plenty available by the glass and carafe, with bottles starting at £25. After that, things do head north quite fast and if you're splashing out, there are plenty of Burgundys in the 100s. Wieteke Teppema used to be Head Sommelier and Wine Buyer at Viajante - so we think asking her for advice within your budget is definitely the best bet. 

Overall thoughts?

We had a great meal at Gezellig, with inventive dishes right from the bar snacks menu through to the desserts. The place looks wonderful - it truly is a beautiful dining room - and the lounge bar on the mezannine is an extremely handy thing to have in the neighbourhood. A real step up for the Holborn dining scene.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Gezellig. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about Gezellig

Where is it? Holborn Town Hall, 193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD

How to book: Call 0203 004 0004 or email restaurant@gezellig.co.uk

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Twitter @gezelliglnd


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