DATE NIGHTS: THE EXHIBITION ROOMS
It's Saturday I want to talk about though. Wow, what a dinner. It was Mat's dad's 60th birthday and while it is a big number we decided to keep things low key. We were looking for a comfortable, cosy, slightly quirky place that served great food and wine at a reasonable price. And we got all that and more in Crystal Palace's Exhibition Rooms.
Our booking was at 7pm, we arrived early and although we didn't order until about 7.15pm were still offered the earlybird menu which at £15 for three courses is more than reasonable.
All our starters were absolutely delicious, plentiful and served super quickly. The Ham Hock and Apricot terrine was meaty and salty and the sweet, ginger spiced apricots a beautiful contrast. The Crab with Asian salad was light, fresh and incredibly well seasoned and the Steak Tartare like none I had ever tried before - there were capers, gherkins, tomato sauce, chilli - all topped with a golden, organic egg yolk.
For mains we had the classic: Rump Steak and Chips, which was cooked to perfection, tender, pink with a beautiful charred caramelisation on the outside. I ordered 9 hour Belly of Pork with Dauphinoise Potatoes and garlicky Green Beans and I can only say that this dish blew me away, the pork was tender, the potatoes creamy and the cider gravy intense with a reduced stickiness.
There was Ballotine of Chicken, wrapped in bacon, which was succulent and moist and served with a beautiful jus. ... and Fish and Chips which were just as they should be: huge and coated in a crispy beer batter on the outside and meaty chunks of haddock on the inside.
We were so stuffed after our first two courses we decided to skip desert and went for coffees and liquors instead.
We are definitely going back to the Exhibition Rooms. The atmosphere was cosy and comfortable, carrying an air of 1920s avant garde meets french bistro. The service was friendly, efficient and welcoming and the price more than reasonable.
2 course dinner for four, including a bottle of Prosseco, coffee and liquor and service charge: £132.
69-71 Westow Hill
Tel: 020 8761 1175