On a rare, child free Saturday evening (thanks to my ever patient and understanding mother in law, Carol) I ventured out in the rain to central London for some fun and food with friends.
We started at Namco on the South Bank where, over many floors, they have a selection of arcade games; both new and classic. They also have a bar, bowling, table tennis (I refuse to call it ping pong) and pool.
Our first stop was obviously the bar. A pint of Goose Island IPA and a Gordon’s G&T came in at a little more than £10 which I considered to be pretty reasonable for this area of London. Drinks in hand we had a little look around and found an old school Time Crisis game. We both put our pound coins in, hit the button and then found that co-op wasn’t available. We played separately, cleared through the first level and then my machine froze, crashed and reset itself. Bloody brilliant.
[I would normally insert a photo here. In fact, I have photos of my friend bowling but she would kill me if I posted them!]
We replenished our drinks and decided on a round of bowling. They have 2 sets of lanes at Namco; one upstairs and one downstairs. Each set had six lanes which meant plenty of people could play. The lanes were quite short compared to your normal bowling alley but after a couple of frames we adjusted to this and had a lot of fun. Who won doesn’t matter (it was me!) because it’s the taking part that counts, right?
After this we went and loitered around my friend’s favourite game, Mario Kart, until it became available. We managed 3 races before the queue behind us started getting restless. I could have happily stayed there for hours just playing that!
We went upstairs after Mario and had a look at the area where they have their seaside arcade style games and wasted a few pounds in the drop machines before we got a little bored.
We headed off across the bridge to Westminster and thankfully the rain had now stopped. We dodged the tourists on our way across the bridge and wondered if we were so rude and oblivious when we’re touristing abroad.
We took the Jubilee Line to Green Park (my friend admitted her heels were a bad choice of footwear for the evening) and stopped off at Henry’s Cafe Bar for a drink while we waited for the third member of our group to arrive.
Once he’d joined us we took the short walk to Guinea Grill via Berkeley Square. Guinea Grill is a restaurant in the back of The Guinea Pub, Mayfair. It’s been in the back of this 400+ year old pub since 1952.
We arrive a few minutes before our booking, our coats were taken and we were shown to our table. As we entered we walked past a fridge full of meat and a smoking hot grill. This sight made me really hungry!
The dining room was split into two small and rather quaint sections. As it was early all the guests had been put into one section which, at times, meant it was quite loud with conversation.
The waiting staff were friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. They were able to recommend the perfect cook for the steak we chose.
We were offered water and cocktails to start but we stuck to water as most of the cocktails were whisky based and not really what we considered pre-dinner drinks.
We chose a Chilean Malbec to accompany our food and it was light enough to work with both starters and main.
We each had a starter. I had cured duck with celery and walnut relish and my friends had the prawn cocktail and duck pate, respectively. I’d never had cured duck before but it was delicious. Fatty enough and well cured, in my opinion. The celery and walnut relish acidic enough to balance the fatty duck. I tried the duck pate which was nice but a little bland. The prawn cocktail looked classic and according to one of my companions was “okay”.
For the main, I had the 12oz sirloin (cooked medium rare), one of my friends had the rib on the bone (cooked medium as per the recommendation) and my other friend had the beef wellington (cooked medium rare). The steaks were excellent. Mine was a little closer to rare than mid rare but it was such a lovely piece of meat there were no complaints from me. We also shared several sides; horseradish mash potato, gratin potatoes, creamed spinach and peas, bacon and baby onions. The mash was smooth and lightly spiced with horseradish and the peas, bacon and baby onions were not to be missed (thanks to Jay Raynor for that recommendation!). I didn’t try the gratin or the spinach but there were none left by the end of the meal so I’ll assume they were good.
By the time we’d gotten through a starter and a main each, as well as a bottle of wine and plenty of water, we had no space left for desserts. The selection for desserts was fairly classic though so we didn’t feel like we would be missing out on anything spectacular.
After dinner we went for a nice stroll around the streets of Mayfair along Saville Row and Jermyn Street. Stopping in front of Huntsman and Sons tailors; the inspiration for Kingsman from the film of the same name.
To end the evening we stopped off at The Admiralty pub just on Trafalgar Square. It’s had a few names over the years but it’s currently a Fullers pub which presumably takes its name from Admiralty Arch just around the corner. It was busy on the main deck and upstairs was for food only so we went down to the “gun deck” which is a fantastic space. It is apparently available to hire out so it’ll definitely be my suggestion for the next staff party. I had a very tasty pint of Sierra Nevada IPA which finished the night off very nicely indeed.
These evenings don’t come along too often so I really appreciate it when they happen. Again, it wouldn’t have happened without the kind assistance of my ever indulgent mother in law.
Guinea Grill was nice, over all. The steak was by far the highlight, which was the point of our visit. The rest of the visit was alright but not spectacular. The decor was dated and in need some TLC. The staff, as I mentioned, were very friendly and attentive. I found the silver service a little over the top for the venue but apparently they’ve been doing it this way for a long time.
I won’t be visiting again but don’t let that put you off. If you go there for a great steak, some tasty sides and good wine then Guinea Grill will fit the bill. Me, I’m on to my next steak restaurant!