Edwins Borough is a New Orleans-esque salon restaurant located just above the Trinity pub at next to Borough tube station. The innocuous door leads to a spartan staircase and you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking you’d taken the entrance to someone’s flat instead. And while the layout still bears some resemblance to just that, the feeling completely changes once you get to the main room. We were greeted with enthusiasm and quickly relieved of our coats, bags, and helmets (yep we’re a cycling crew) before being ushered graciously to our table.
The service continued to be spot on all night with our waitress picking up on it being a birthday celebration and bringing the girl of the hour a complimentary glass of bubbly. In fact our lovely server epitomized the atmosphere with her friendly yet professional look and demeanor enhanced by a slight edge and plenty of excitement. This is a great place to relax with friends but one that encourages social exuberance (the entire restaurant joined in on Happy Birthday) and energy.
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★★ Atmosphere: ★★★★☆ Value: ★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
While there is a bar here, it’s not one that can be propped up while you wait. However, you have the Trinity right below which makes for a very easy meeting spot. If you fancy something a little more old school (and very reasonably priced!), check out the Royal Oak pub a few minutes away which is one of the few old boozers still going strong without succumbing to will of Weatherspoon’s.
What about the food?
We were here as part of the soft open (50% off food), so naturally we tried pretty much everything. Overall, the food was pretty stellar although a number of dishes could use a bit of a tweak – something I’m sure they’ll continue to work on through the shakedown period.
The appetizers are styled as sharing plates with 8 options in total although think tapas to get an idea of portion size. The standouts were the deep fried scallops wrapped in filo, the cured salmon, and the beetroot, goat curd, and pomegranate salad. The scallops were cooked perfectly to retain the sweet taste while the crunchy filo pastry provided an excellent texture contrast. Lightly cured, the salmon was smooth and silky on the tongue while retaining a full rich flavor. But for me, the most surprising was the salad as I’m not the biggest fan of beetroot yet the earthy notes worked well with the creamy cheese and tangy pomegranate. Plus it was an absolute visual beauty of a dish!
The rest of the starters were decent but needed some tweaks. Rabbit with polenta comprised of some tasty meat but also a slick polenta with a very off-putting and almost slimy texture. The steak tartar on the other hand had the texture component nailed but lacked any zest or heat that I’d expect – a bit of horseradish or mustard and some salt would go a long way here. And the pork belly had tons of concentrated flavor but was dry to the point of jerky.
Onto the mains, we were less diverse opting for the wild venison, a grilled seafood bouillabaisse, and a few grilled rib eye steaks. The rib eyes, recommended medium-rare, were tasty with a simple seasoning yet suffered from an uneven cook. I imagine this may be due to insufficient heat from parts of the grill as the steak hadn’t developed much of a crust either.
Similarly the venison was medium-well on the outer edges to almost blue in the middle. I love my meat still-mooing (or in this case – actually what sound does a deer make?) so the center was perfect but the dry outer slices I could have passed on. The real stand out component of the dish was the shallot puree – absolutely packed full of flavor and something I’d be keen to make at home to spread on pretty much anything.
Finally, the bouillabaisse hit the right notes of the Nawlins classic but could have used a bit less time on the grill with the fish starting to go dry and the soup quantity being far lower than expected. It’s 90% of the way there to being an outstanding dish and I hope by the time I return it’s made it there.
A quick note on sides: the garlic mash, winter greens, and fries were all quite good but the green salad had a medicinal taste. And of course dessert was the chocolate fondant which was suitably gooey and far too small (although I’d say that even if it was as big as my head).
Enough about the food, let’s get a drink.
There is a full bar but the cocktail list either doesn’t exist or never made it to our table. The wine selection is extensive for the size of the restaurant (about 10-12 each on red or white and a half dozen rose and bubbles) and very reasonably priced with the more expensive wines topping out at around £45. Our selections were in the £25-30/bottle range and delicious with our meal. The Davenport Blanc de Blanc (pictured below) was extremely well balanced with just enough sweetness to pair the seafood without being overpowering.
I think next time, in true Nawlins fashion, I’ll see about getting a Vieux Carre to finish off the meal as I relax and digest.
Worth the dosh?
Our meal including wine came to £35pp at soft open prices and would have been around £50pp at full menu prices. Starters and desserts are almost uniformly £6, sides about £4/item, and mains range from £16-18. Given the location, atmosphere, and quality of food, I think it’s a great value proposition and one I’ll be returning to often as its almost close enough to be my local.
Find Edwins Borough here
202 Borough High St, London, SE1 1JX
020 7403 9913