Criterion – Piccadilly

It’s worth seeing inside the Criterion restaurant just for its opulent gold and marble decor. The Neo-Byzantine architecture is stunning and it feels like stepping into a bygone age.

Neo-Byzantine architecture

I first came here in 2001 on a work’s party night. We had a large table at the back (near the loos) and were entertained by a magician. It was a great experience. K and I returned shortly thereafter and ate from the pre-theatre menu (an extremely limited set menu and the food tasted so dry it was as if it had been prepared well in advance and left out all day). It was a contrastingly disappointing experience so we didn’t return. Well, not for a long time.

Over ten years on, ownership has changed and we decided to give it another try while my parents were visiting London. As a historical landmark, it is worth seeing after all.

Summer set menu – two courses + a Pimms + lemonade @ £20.00

In a restaurant with such extravagant gold and marble interiors bejewelled with mosaics and mirrors, you’d probably expect a formal dining experience with impeccable service.

Surprisingly, the summer set menu @ £20.00 for two courses including a Pimms and lemonade was exceptionally good value, and had a reasonable amount of choice (for a set menu). Food portions weren’t huge but it was all good quality although service was a bit of a let-down (one waiter didn’t seem to understand or speak English at all which was problematic, while another was so super stressed and panicky he reminded us of Basil Fawlty).

For starters, I had salmon gravlax on rye bread with a lemon mousse, capers and pickled shallots; K had thinly sliced rare roast beef with rocket salad and horseradish cream (@ £2.00 supplement), and B and K both had ham hock and black pudding terrine with gooseberry jam, pickled vegetables and croutons.

Salmon gravlax on rye bread starter

Thinly sliced rare roast beef – £2.00 supplement on the set menu

Ham hock + black pudding terrine

For main course, K and I both had ginger and chilli meat balls with potato gnocchi, peas, broad beans and celery cress (@ £2.00 supplement) while B and K both had confit of guinea fowl leg, potato purée, beetroot and peas.

Meat balls + potato gnocchi with peas and broad beans – £2.00 supplement on the set menu

Confit of guinea fowl leg, potato, beetroot and peas

The verdict: Worth seeing the impressive interiors of one of London’s oldest restaurants but overall – a bit hit and miss. Perhaps afternoon tea or a drink at the bar would be enough.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: British, International
~ Address: Criterion Restaurant, 224 Piccadilly, London
~ Postcode: W1J 9HP
~ Nearest station: Piccadilly
~ Website + menus: Criterion restaurant website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Criterion restaurant
~ Location: Criterion restaurant map

More West End (London) dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Asia de Cuba
~ Cây Tre
~ Mint Leaf Haymarket
~ Wagamama Soho

Criterion Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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