London’s Design Museum and Blueprint Cafe on the first floor are located in a former banana warehouse on the South Bank of the River Thames that was re-designed to resemble the International Modernist style of the 1930s.
The location is great, but at first glance Blueprint Café looks like any other ordinary museum café, so my guest Gabriel and I have some reservations as we climb the unimpressive stairs.
Oh well, if the food isn’t good, at least we’ll enjoy the spectacular views, we think. And the views are beautiful – Tower Bridge and the Gherkin on one side and Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers on the other.
We are met by a very friendly manager, Michael, and start our evening with a glass of bubbles on the terrace. Michael confides that with the great weather this summer they have been so very busy that he almost wishes for rain to come.
It does come after 10 minutes and we move inside the restaurant. The interior is unpretentious – neutral hardwood floors, simple chairs and no table cloths, but thanks to the full-length windows, the beauty of the place comes alive at dusk when lights are being turned on around the city.
With head chef Mark Jarvis at the helm, Blueprint Café is serving a modern European cuisine, using ingredients sourced from local farms and suppliers in the British Isles.
The menu changes monthly and every Friday & Saturday evenings, signature dishes are selected for a five course market menu (2 courses £18, 3 courses £23).
We choose our meals from the a la carte menu and go for Grilled Yellowfin tuna, Nicoise salad and Kalmata olives (£9.50) and one of the day’s specials – hand dived scallops – for our starters.
After our first bites our reservations about the food evaporate – the tuna with the mini-Nicoise salad is delicious and the scallops are simply divine. Soft, fresh and full of flavour – our starters disappeared from our plates in a matter of minutes.
The aromas of seafood are pleasantly enhanced by a beautiful glass of Gavi di Gavi, La Battistina, 2012 (£5 for a small glass).
Our waiter recommends Herb crusted line caught cod with rapeseed oil potatoes and salsa verde (£18.50) for the main and even though we are tempted by Lemon sole, fennel salad and romesco sauce (£18.50), we decide to add variety to our seafood heavy meal and go for Hereford Onglet with forest mushroom and bone marrow (£12.00 per 100g).
The cod is amazing – aromatic (spiced with tarragon, our waiter tells us) and unusual. So when I give my plate of cod to Gabriel to try, he likes it so much, I never get it back. The onglet is good and juicy, but I come to the conclusion that this is not my favourite cut of beef.
Michael chooses some more great wine for us – Sauvignon de Touraine, Le HautPerron, Guy Allion 2011 (£6.00 for a glass) to go with the fish and Bodegas Pittacum, Mencia, Bierzo, Spain 2008 (£7.00 glass) to wash down the onglet.
For dessert we share a portion of burnt caramel cream with shortbread, marinated cherry and anise (£6.50). The caramel creme is delightful, but we leave the shortbread untouched, neither of us like it that much and we try to go easy on the carbs.
We leave the Blueprint Café and go for a lovely walk on the South Bank and vow next time to visit the exhibition at the Design Museum as well. We conclude that we were pleasantly surprised by the creativity and quality of the meal.
My only slight wish is for the a la carte menu to be a bit bigger, so that guests have a wider variety to choose from.