Bonnie Gull started off as a pop-up on Tooley Street and a year later has found its permanent digs in West London just west of Goodge St. As the name may suggest, its aim is to provide fresh quality seafood at reasonable prices. Bonnie Gull mostly manages to pull it off although the food was largely under seasoned and what saltiness was missing from the fish seemed to have been picked up by the service.
The gf and I were meeting a couple of her friends for a catch up dinner and quite looking forward to it after the mostly positive reviews the pop-up received. The restaurant was mostly empty (not surprising given that we started at 6pm) but gradually filled up towards the end of the meal. The waitress was a bit eager to take our order and came back a number of times within 15 minutes to prompt us to order. While not a massive issue, it was a bit unsettling as we weren’t advised of any time constraint for the table nor was one mentioned when we booked. Our starters arrived fairly quickly but then there was a long lull before the mains made an appearance, and then once we had finished we were quickly brought the bill and told the next table had arrived early so we would need to leave. Seriously, BG? You kicking us out? I’ve had one night stands that were less eager to see me leave come morning…
This area is a treasure trove of places to grab a drink. If the weather is a bit stormy, try Lucky Pig or London Cocktail Club for a potent beverage to keep you warm and ensure the conversation keeps flowing. Alternatively, another option could be Benito’s Hat which have several delicious takes on the margarita.
Of course, there are pubs on virtually every corner if you just fancy a pint…
Time for grub?
Starters wise, we went for the crispy fried squid with chilli, moules sans frites, smoked fish (herring?) on toast, and the queenies. The mussels were fairly generic and the smoked fish failed to impress greatly. The squid was crunchy with a good kick from the thinly sliced chillies although could have benefitted from slightly less time in the fryer and a tad more salt. On the plus side, the batter was excellent and lacking any oiliness at all – a good sign that someone in the kitchen knows their way around hot oil. The queenies were seared lightly and served with chorizo – a near perfect dish bar a slight grittiness on some of the scallops.
Mains were less varied as both girls opted for the beer battered haddock with chunky chips while the guys looked to the monkfish with cockles and Cornish hake with potato gnocchi. The fish’n’chips were well fried and served in generous portions. Accompanied by a homemade tartar sauce, it went down a treat and was a fan favourite. The monkfish in its pistachio crust was a tad overdone but tasty when combined with the pea puree. Sadly, the hake was a disappointment as it was over-cooked and dry to the touch, while the potato gnocchi was under-seasoned to the point of tastelessness. The one bright spot was the crispy skin which was most excellent. Now I know fish is a tricky dish to serve up – I’ve had plenty of fish fails myself – but when it’s your raison d’etre it’s reasonable to expect a higher standard.
I have no idea if they do desserts here as we were shooed off the table in record time and a browse of the website doesn’t indicate anything of the sort. They do have a “raw bar” which serves up oysters as well as a few other molluscs, but we avoided them given two of our party had an epic food poisoning incident just a few months ago. And as a last note, the rosemary skinny chips were thankfully well salted but lost the rosemary along the way – and were undercooked – so they seem to be the odd one out from this kitchen.
Enough grub, what about the grog?
The wine list is reasonably priced and we opted for a light bottle of rose that matched well with the seafood menu. At £22, I’m more than happy to call that a good value option.
Cocktails are a bit pricier at £7.50 a pop and stick to a seafood theme. I went with the “Smoke on the Water”, a dry martini made with Chase Smoked Vodka and served with a bit of smoked salmon. I’m not sure if there was salmon in the drink, but it had a very strong fishy taste which would have been a bit uncomfortable if not for my love of salmon. The rest of the cocktail list did look intriguing so it may be worth exploring.
Worth the dosh?
At £160 for 4 starters & mains, a bottle of wine, and a martini, it’s not bad price-wise for the area. However, given the issues with the over-cooking/under-seasoning, I’d be hard pressed to rationalise a return visit. And given the haphazard service, it’s pretty much guaranteed that BG is not on my recommended list. BG, I had high hopes for you, but I just don’t think this is going to work out.
Find Bonnie Gull here
21A Foley Street
London, W1W 6DS
020 7436 0921
Book a Table: firstname.lastname@example.org