Criterion is an insitution that has been open since 1873 and has managed to keep all of its grandeur and glamour. When you walk through the door from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus, you are immediately transported to another time when martinis, cream teas and butlers ruled – it is hard to believe you are literally sitting on the corner of Piccadilly. As you walk in there are sumptuous sofas in deep red where customers come to have one of the most sophisticated teas in London. We have also had just tea in this area when it was rainy and the service was no less than perfect. The restaurant is one large room separated a golden ivory opaque curtain, which leads on to the front section of the room leading on to the main dining restaurant and then at the back separated by a gold and white arch is the back dining area that is raised by four or five steps making it more private (although the rest rooms are in the back). The floor is marble and walls are white making the room larger and more strikingly grand. The white is broken up by gold mirrors, frames and borders over the arches on the ceiling.
We had chosen the set menu as it was a discounted option and the menu was still very tempting –although a little unimaginative. We chose the smoked salmon with brown bread, lemon, chive crème fraîche and the chicken parfait with onion marmalade, melba toast and port reduction. The salmon was nicely smoked and extremely fresh, the creamy crème fraîche was given a twang with the lemon juice and chive and was really delicious. The parfait was incredibly smooth (the texture of foie gras) which was delicious and perfect for spreading on the bread. With parfait I either like it smooth or chunky anything in between is rather insipid and lacks texture on either scale. The service was as expected for this establishment – black and white suited waiters with a fabulous posture and serious expression.
For main course we ordered the salmon, with samphire, beetroot & horseradish puree and the pork chop with a potato puree, green beans, mustard sauce. The salmon was fried and a little over cooked for our liking as was the samphire. The puree was tasty and brought the whole dish together but lacked the kick from the horseradish that we had hoped. The pork chop however was cooked well and the mustard sauce really took the dish to a new dimension, again the vegetables were a little over cooked for our liking.
Our dishes were swiftly taken away and we decided to treat ourselves to a desert (we had gone for the set menu after all). I ordered the dark chocolate tart, granny Smith granita, raspberry sorbets and my fellow diner ordered the bread & butter pudding, blood orange, vanilla ice cream. The sorbets were a lovely palette cleanser and the raspberry and raspberry were deliciously tart – I am not a chocolate fan so could not really judge that fairly but was a little bitter for me. The ice cream was a revelation as the bread & butter pudding had a rough texture from the bread yet was not of putting as we had imagined and the blood orange was zingy yet creamy.
We finished our meals full and satisfied; for the price of the set meal me really think this is fantastic value for money especially considering the glamorous decor, the wonderful service and the central location.
As a result Sex drugs and Bacon Rolls gives Criterion: