Great desserts are on offer at this City Walk cafe, but no trifles*
A menu shaped like an old fan is doubly appropriate on the day we visit City Walk cafe, The Victorian. One, it’s really hot, and two, the design is reminiscent of days gone by.
When we’ve finished fanning ourselves with the menu, in front of the giant floor-to-ceiling windows, we take in the space around us. A small rectangular venue, the walls are plastered by paintings and pictures conjuring up the days of yesteryear. A large chandelier and a big bunch of flowers dominates the middle of the room.
Our server, a keen blue-eyed Eastern European, looks like an Olympic hopeful, and his helpful manner suggests he’s going for gold.
One of the first things we notice is the price. This is fine dining prices in a small cafe. City Walk rents have a lot to answer for, and keeping that vast expanse of glass clean every day must cost the earth. With four pages of food, and three of drinks, this is a menu designed as much for people to slowly sip a mocktail for hours, while watching the world go by through those windows, as for diners.
Concentrating on the salad, soups and starters section of the menu fan, we choose the smoked salmon starter. Delicious, light, and thinly sliced to the point of almost translucency, this is salmon extraordinaire, and already one of the biggest hitters on the menu. Served with tiny slivers of onion, and oddly, sliced chilli, we pick the chilli off and enjoy the pure indulgent flavour of this easy-on-the-palate dish. Call us greedy, but some bread, horseradish, silverskin onions, capers and pickles would have made this perfect.
It being so warm, we opted for salads, ordering the elaborately described quinoa with compressed canteloupe, cucumber caviar, shaved vegetables, lime yoghurt cream, confit cherry tomato and olive crumb; the burrata with figs, and a random side order of hash browns.
Hash browns? Yes, for two reasons – we’d heard good things about them, and we were worried the salads might not be hearty enough.
We were wrong. But given the elaborate description of the quinoa, it disappointed, being an enormous mound of the plain south American grain, topped with a small amount of the above listed ingredients. Shaved vegetables, while pretty, amounted to three mandolined slices of carrot. The lime yoghurt cream was served like yoghurt is the rarest ingredient in the world, and I honestly didn’t notice cucumber caviar or compressed canteloupe. Still, if you’re a fan of quinoa, and need a big lunchtime protein fix, you’re in for a treat.
The burrata and figs were a dairy dream. Light, delicious, cool and creamy, the burrata made us squirm with delight. The figs, sweet, unusual and also light, were a good complement to the cheese.
The hash browns didn’t go with either dish but were a heapin’ helpin’ of great comfort food, hand made and served ‘as is’.
We took advantage of some summer special mocktails, and would swiftly go back for another taste of these cooling dishes. Eye candy, great for the gram, and damn tasty too. One was cinnamon- infused tea with orange juice, heavy on the ice; the other a rich mango yoghurt smoothie, more akin to a dessert than a drink. Both were fresh and delightful.
There’s a few desserts on the menu, but it’s worth edging your way around the packed-in tables to reach the counter, where we spied some cracking-looking puds. We opted for two classics – a carrot cake and a bread and butter pudding. Both were simply fantastic.
The verdict? This place purports to be an homage to Victorian Britain, but there’s not much on the menu that really harks back to that era (gin, salmon and rotting bread?). I’d say the menu was modern international. It’s still a good place for a tasty lunch. The stand out items for us were the summer special drinks and the desserts.
And if that burrata was available in Victorian Britain, get me a time machine, please.