I used to work in Knightsbridge every day. For me the area is a real bustling part of London and during the summer months tourists flock here to shop, eat and show off their flashy purchases and cars. It’s a place to be seen and make a statement amongst the luxury boutique brands and an area that never really sleeps. For the day ends and makes way for the party animals, when the clubs and the hotels really come alive. Yet amongst all the hustle and bustle, sometimes it’s lovely and indeed necessary to take a break. To go somewhere that takes you away from the business at hand, to a place of quiet and relaxation. Where you can enjoy the company that you are sharing.
The Levin is a Basil Street hotel owned by hotelier David Levin, who happens to own next door’s The Capital, a fantastic hotel in its own right. Indeed the bar at The Capital was always a preferred place of mine where I would visit with business associates and colleagues for a relaxing drink. Last week we were invited by The Levin to have lunch at their bar & bistro, The Metro. Tucked away in a lower ground floor space fronting Basil Street, it is perhaps no wonder that I had not visited before. Unlike Knightsbridge, it does not shout its presence – made only noticeable by a small board suggesting today’s specials and an open gate between topiary hedges. Once inside the interior décor is a cool mixed palette of colours that remains airy and bright despite its almost underground location. Whilst a large bistro this is most certainly not, the floorplan does not feel cramped, providing a sensible number of covers that are well spaced. Too often in London due to high rents businesses feel the necessity to cram as many patrons as possible, as if playing a culinary version of sardines.
To begin our meal that we were eagerly awaiting, we ordered a starters course of fish cakes and fresh Tomato soup of the day. The crispy fish cakes were served with a leafy green salad and an accompaniment of tartare sauce. The fish cake was a great texture with a good external crunchy crumb that made way for the delicious softer inside. The tomato soup, a yummy example of a simple flavor that can often be too acidic, yet this was a perfect showing from the red fruit.
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With the starters finished, our lovely waitress helped us select a wine that happens to be from the Levin’s own vineyard in the Loire Valley. This was to be a light summery lunch on a day when the mercury was touching 30C. With that in mind the Levin Rosé and the Levin Sauvignon Blanc were our selections. The Rosé is a clean fruity wine that cleanses the palette, perfect for a light seafood dish and the Sauvignon Blanc a wine that characterises a good Loire grape with a delicious citrus quality. Our mains quickly followed. A grilled goats cheese salad for my fellow restaurant reviewer and to continue the seafood theme I decided on a truly British fish and chips, again with the Levin’s lovely tartare sauce. Often when I’ve had fish and chips in a restaurant it can be an overpowering size of fillet, one that dominates that plate on which it sits. However fortunately on this occasion the plate was a more balanced affair and I’m happy to say, the chips were not soggy. Always a sign of a good establishment when the chips are crisp and well salted.
After a leisurely wait and some conversation we had made room for a dessert. How could we not when Eton Mess and fruit salad with ice cream was on the menu. A delicious end to a delightful summer’s day’s lunch.
The Metro Bar & Bistro is a place that is tucked away, known only to those in the know. As a result of this, it is not rushed like many of its competitors in the area and has a distinctly relaxed yet attentive atmosphere. I would recommend for anyone that has had a busy day shopping in Harrods. It might just be the break in the day that you require.
The Levin Hotel
28 Basil Street
London, SW3 1AS