We have always struggled to match New York in terms of being the city that never sleeps. There are too many rules and regulations or workers are just not prepared to work long hours. Most people would struggle to name any restaurants that are open 24 hours a day in London. VQ (Vingt-Quatre) in Bloomsbury is one of the few places that give the option for guests to dine at any hour of the day.
Firstly the location is ideal, just off Tottenham court road for theatre-goers to enjoy a post theatre meal or if you are peckish for food after visiting the colourful nightlife in Soho. The cafe and diner are spacious, well-lit and strikes the right note between casual comfort and smart style.
They have a very tempting 24 hour breakfast menu including classics like eggs royale and English breakfast bap. Although we ultimately went with a more traditional 3 course meal. We had breaded butterfly prawns and smoked salmon with toasted sourdough and capers. Whilst these dishes will not set the culinary world alight, they were sturdy efforts using fresh ingredients and what is remarkable is the consistency of the food no matter what time of the day you visit. We visited at a very late post-theatre hour, when you might suspect the quality of the food to drop as chefs at other restaurants would be desperate to close their kitchen.
My guest opted for the British classic of beer-battered fish and chips. The batter was crispy and flavoured, whilst the fish was delicate and not over-cooked but the mushy peas were slightly drier than expected. I had a healthy tasting pan-fried salmon with lentil and quinoa salad. It was a dish that wasn’t too heavy or too plain but still came in a decent portion size. We ordered that speciality from the Languedoc coast, Picpoul de Pinet with its wonderful floral notes, which was an ideal compliment for the seafood dishes that we had ordered. They helpfully have an alcohol license until 4am on Thursday – Saturday.
We enjoyed more classics for the desserts by ordering their warm chocolate brownie and Eton mess. Once again, they were traditional dishes that will not surprise you with invention, but will warm the cockles of your heart. They are hearty, sweet dishes that you will feel familiar with and had on numerous occasions since you were a child.
In modern-day society when shopping is a 24 hour experience, dining should also be a 24 hour experience. Thankfully we have places like VQ who offer consistent classics that we will all enjoy at any time of the day.