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Bedford and Strand

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 3rd 2010
Bedford & Strand is pretty much on, or more correctly under, the corner of Bedford Street and The Strand, so it's named in the American way that cab drivers must love. Aside from the name, this downstairs bar and restaurant shares more with the folks across the channel than those across the pond: the majority of the lengthy wine list is European, the food is definitely EU, as in Modern British to European, and it has an ambience rather than just an atmosphere.

Most of the watering holes down this end of town are tourist-centric, but if you didn't know B&S was there you might easily miss the entrance, stood quietly beside the gym. The tiled floor gives no hint to the warm interior - it gets this from the French. Downstairs there's a lot of polished wood and low lighting. The long bar takes up almost the whole length of the bar/ restaurant with just a few additional bar tables at the end of it, so if you're just here for a drink after work, like a lot of the other punters, then you need to get here early or else accept that you're going to need to stand.

The wine is logically laid out by both price and type, so if you just want a glass you can order something from the price bands of Reliable/ Honest/ Decent or Good. If you're ordering by the bottle you have even more choice, but those sold by the glass are also sold by the carafe - European style again. As well as the 'local' European wines they do have some shipped in from the new world, with a few unusual tipples for the adventurous - a drop from Brazil for example.

The restaurant is separated by a polite frosted partition so that when it's busy drinkers don't loll round your table while you eat. Here's a sample of today's menu: Pork and pistachio terrine £7.50, followed by smoked haddock fish cakes, sauce gribiche and apple and almond tart with cinnamon ice cream to finish.

Some of B&S's best edible offerings are on the bar snacks menu or in the charcuterie cabinet at the end of the bar - they do some far superior stuffed olives.

The verdict: Reasonable enough to come here regularly, but a lot nicer than you'd expect. No wonder it's so popular with the locals.
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When: 12 - 12
Where: 1 A Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HH, nearest station Embankment
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