Bar owner Mark Holdstock launched Bourne and Hollingsworth’s first restaurant/bar concept last May in Farringdon. It’s a little off the beaten track, equidistant from Angel, Barbican and Chancery Lane Tube stations (about ten minutes on foot). Farringdon station is also nearby.
BHB describes itself as having “varied eating and drinking spaces, welcoming service and all-day flexibility”, while providing “the consistent quality and friendly service of a member’s club, but without any of the membership fees or contrived exclusivity”.
Inside, the open-plan space can seat 70 people (including 24 in the greenhouse), which can be hired for private events. The Bottle room can also be reserved for 12 delegates, while the basement Club Room can be taken over for presentations or parties.
Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is primarily looking to appeal to local professionals popping by for corporate lunches and after-work cocktails or dinner. Its PR company is conveniently located above it, along with neighbouring creative businesses such as 7thingsmedia, Nutmeg Productions and the Short Form Film Company, along with serviced office provider Business Cube.
The bar is the first thing you come to when you arrive, and it’s a lovely place to sit up at the counter with a cocktail while chatting to the friendly staff about what is on the menu. Given Holdstock’s background is in bars, BHB does libations well, with spirits used including the likes of Rathbon New London dry gin, Santa Teresa 1796 rum and Monkey Shoulder blended malt. They also make their own grenadine, jam and bitters.
Try curious concoctions such as the Burnt Butter Old Fashioned (bourbon infused with brown butter and stirred with maple syrup and vanilla bitters); the Cider Rose (apple and blackberry shrub stirred with Somerset cider brandy and topped up with fizz); or the Hollingsworth Hayes (gin shaken with homemade bergamot liqueur, egg white, absinthe, citrus oils and soda).
Bar snacks include ham cheese toasties and battered parsnip chips.
The venue has a warm, inviting, homely feel – with painted boards, a glass-roofed greenhouse filled with palms and ferns, cane furniture, and armchairs upholstered in exotic leaf-print House of Hackney fabric. It channels chic country retreat.
For me, the interior design was one of the best things about Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, and although it was very quiet the night I visited, I could see it would make a great option for a private soiree. Downstairs, in the ladies washroom, is an antique bronze bathtub that is used as a sink.
Brunch, lunch and dinner are served throughout the day, with dishes (thankfully) not following the trend for being small plates to share. The cuisine is “modern British brasserie”, with favourites such as fish and chips, grilled chicken and pork belly listed. It’s not refined – just the kind of approachable grub you’d expect to find in a gastro pub. Although I am not sure this is what they were aiming for.
I ordered the starter of mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke and goat’s cheese tart but was accidentally brought the roasted baby artichoke with poached egg, spinach and Parmesan. They let me try both, though, returning with the tart about ten minutes later, apologetically. My companion JS went for the crab salad with carrots, grated celeriac and lemon herb dressing, which he quite enjoyed.
For the main, I had a very average piece of battered cod on a chewy potato rosti with a smear of mushy peas and a ramekin of tartar sauce on the side. It was disappointing and nothing about the rosti worked. JS ordered a sirloin steak with fries and Bearnaise sauce, which didn’t have him raving as he normally would about a good slab of meat. A side of cubed roasted carrots was overpowered by cumin, while the greens were bland and uninteresting.
For dessert we shared a modest slice of lime and Verdi Bella olive cheesecake – it was pleasantly creamy and zesty, but the slices of green olive were off-putting. The presentation could also have been better.
Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is a handy place for locals but not worth going out of your way for, unless you wanted to hire it for a private function. The interior design is charming and the cocktails good but the food needs serious improvement. Staff are friendly.
- OPENING HOURS Mon-Thurs 10am-12am, Fri-Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-6pm.
- PRICES Cocktails £8-£12; wine from £5 a glass; two-course lunch £18; starters £6-£8, mains £9-£18.
- CONTACT Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, 42 Northampton Road, London; tel +44 (0)20 3174 1156; bandhbuildings.com