Reviewed: The Queen Victoria Arts Club, Leicester.
Recently I was able to say the phrase I’ve been rehearsing for a lifetime: “If you need me, I’ll be at my club.” Well I was for one night! Writes dluxe dining correspondent Lisa Delahoy as she samples the delights of The Queen Victoria Arts Club.
There’s something about the Cultural Quarter that fills me with anticipation that something really exciting is about to happen and this night didn’t disappoint. It was a mild autumnal evening when we arrived in Rutland Street. The bars were buzzing and crowds of eager theatre goers piled into the Curve for a musical feast. It’s that time of year when Christmas parties and girly nights out are in full swing.
Opposite the Curve is Victoria House. A six storey, Victorian gothic, recently restored, imposing building. On the ground and basement levels is Leicester’s newest and completely unique venue. As you enter you feel the history of the place surround you with crisp black and white tiles and sparkling glass reflecting the street lights. Straight ahead is a wall with a floral image reminiscent of an old Dutch master. We were greeted at the front desk and escorted into the public dining room. No need for the full membership here, you can just walk in and enjoy some tasty treats.
We were offered the evening menu or the pre-theatre set menu. This was an opportunity to try the three course dinner for just £21 ( two courses £18). We made our choices and sat back to absorb our forest green surroundings while Aretha serenaded us and we sipped our Aperol spritz’. It wasn’t long before two dishes arrived. The first, a roast pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed pesto and Hambleton bakery croutons. A tasty, vivid green, velvety smooth, moreish, and warming bowl of comfort. The second was potted salmon accompanied by toasted sourdough and a salad of pickled cucumber, roasted tomatoes and shaved fennel. When all piled onto the toast the fennel had a fresh anise-like flavour which cut through the lightly seasoned poached salmon pate. The sweet tomatoes mixed in well but I think I would have preferred a sweet pickled cucumber instead of the rather sharp one presented.
Our waiter cleared the table and soon after brought us the main event. We’d chosen two very different dishes, one was a butternut squash, vegetable and chickpea curry. Unexpectedly the butternut was neatly parcelled in a spring cabbage leaf, nestled on a bed of steamed basmati, surrounded by a moat of delicately spiced, creamy chickpea and lentil gravy. Every mouthful was taken with a little of each component to ensure the full taste bud experience. The other, roast chicken with a wild mushroom and tarragon sauce, garlic mash and vegetables. The chicken was perfectly cooked, tender and moist and hidden under a sea of richly flavoured sauce (I love sauce so this was just my kind of thing.) The mash perfectly blended and the french beans and carrots al dente.
Then came the big question. Would we like to see the dessert menu – well of course we would! A blackberry bavarois with quince and Charlotte Russe cake, perfectly proportioned, light and airy, full of seasonal inspiration. Then there was the chocolate tart with brandy, black cherries and vanilla ice cream, very naughty with a guaranteed soporific effect.
Time to leave. If you need me, I’ll be at my club.
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