Monday, 01 October 2012
The restaurant at the Royal Albert Hall holds its own
By Fiona HicksCoda, the elegant restaurant in the Royal Albert Hall, is suffused with a very strong sense of anticipation. Everyone eating there in the pre-theatre hour has somewhere to be, and it makes for a very excitable atmosphere.
However, seeing as a meal at Coda is often a pre-cursor to the evening’s main entertainment, the restaurant has to work extra hard to pull out a show stopper.
We visited on a Monday night and the place was buzzing. After being treated to fresh olives and refreshing bellini cocktails, my guest and I both opted for the slow cooled duck egg to start. It was certainly cooked (or cooled) to impressive precision, boasting a delicate yolk which was neither liquid nor solid. The accompanying leek and pancetta salad was nicely salty and presented very prettily on the plate. This may be fast food - but it is also fine dining.
The restaurant’s main plates, although creative, don’t stray too far from the classics (presumably for ease of ordering, as there’s no time for dithering pre-show). My confit organic salmon was succulent yet flakey, although the herb sauce which accompanied it was a tad on the watery side. My guest’s plaice fish finger, I’m informed, was excellent. Meaty with an exquisite ‘caper emulsion’, it achieved the rare feat of being a savoury dish which feels like it’s melting in the mouth.
The swift (and very attentive) service enabled us to devour two courses and a bottle of wine (Gavi Cru Maddalena - not too heavy for the start of the week) before curtains up. We returned at the interval for our puddings. My cheese plate was simple yet satisfying, while the show shopper came in the form of my guest’s chocolate délice. A rich crust with an even richer topping, she took the full 20 minutes of the interval to savour every bite.
The second half of the concert was thus steeped in cheese and chocolate ecstasy. It seems Coda know what they’re doing.
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