We Tried Out The New Lunch Menu At Bacchanalia – Here’s How It Fared

By Charlie Colville

3 months ago

Midday Mediterranean feasting in Mayfair


When Bacchanalia opened its doors to the crowds of Mayfair in 2022, it was to glowing reviews and Instagram acclaim. And two years on, the restaurant still has a strong grip on London’s foodie scene – likely thanks to its killer combo of decadent Mediterranean dishes, photo-op-ready interiors and flare for fun. But how does it hold up during lunch hour? Charlie Colville puts Bacchanalia’s lunch menu to the test.

Review: Lunch At Bacchanalia, Mayfair

From what you might already have heard and seen of Bacchanalia, you could possibly be forgiven for thinking it’s all style over substance. (Although spoiler: it’s certainly not.) The restaurant follows in the footsteps of other famed Mayfair establishments – such as Amazonico and Hide – by making its interiors just as sensorially entertaining as the food.

Golden light pours through the windows and doors of this restaurant, in stark contrast with the grey spring day hanging over London, echoing the allure of golden afternoons on the Grecian coast. And a singular step inside does indeed transport you to the Mediterranean – but not to the beach.

Bacchanalia, a restaurant in Mayfair

The interiors of Bacchanalia were designed by Martin Brudnizki (who previously worked on London venues Daphne’s and Aquavit), and come complete with frescoed walls and ceiling, white stone pillars, gold mosaic and four Damien Hirst statues depicting figures from Greco-Roman mythology (we found ourselves sat beneath a partially nude Medusa). It feels more like a temple than a restaurant, but it certainly gives Bacchanalia a theatrical flair – one that is mirrored by the staff, who walk through the space in an odd mixture of sparkling evening dress and dark red togas.

We were there on a weekday to try the restaurant set lunch menu, which boasts a curated selection of its signature dishes from the à la carte menu (at a much more appealing price). The dining experience starts with a complimentary elixir shot (but you can also add on a cocktail, if you fancy), a syrupy concoction that blends cucumber, apple, lemon, mint and agave – a quick palate cleanser, to kick things off.

Then it’s onto the food. There are five starters to choose from, ranging from seabream carpaccio to Greek salad – but it’s the keftedes that grab our attention. These Greek-style meatballs come slightly charred on the outside, giving a crisp outer texture that gives way to melt-in-the mouth meat. These are propped on a bed of smoked yogurt and topped with tomato relish, making each bite juicy, tangy and flavourful.

The mains are similarly bursting with flavour. The heritage pasta, a regularly rotating pasta dish, is easily a standout – on our visit, the dish of the day was a cheese and mushroom stuffed pasta with a creamy sauce – as is the grilled chicken, served with a polenta, cavolo nero and chicken jus. While both delightful on their own, it isn’t worth missing out on one of the suggested sides listed below, which start from £8.50 (we especially loved the mint and tomato doused green beans and salty steamed potatoes).

When browsing the set lunch menu, you can take your choice of two or three courses – so if you’re sticking around for dessert, you might want to leave a little room. Bacchanalia fans will still be able to get a chance to try the restaurant’s signature tiramisu, a decadent combo of sweet mascarpone cream, strong coffee namelaka and savoiardi biscuit, or try either a selection of ice creams, sorbets or chocolate truffles. If you’re feeling incredibly indulgent, however, it might be worth splurging on a dish from the main menu.

‘Here you are ladies: the main event,’ says our waiter. ‘Medusa is always the star of the show.’

And we can see why. Going off (lunch) menu might have been risky – but if it’s wow factor you’re after, then Bacchanalia’s signature dessert is certainly worth splashing £50 on. While we’d seen plenty of Bacchanalia online, nothing quite prepares you for the showmanship of Medusa.

Crafted from coconut cream, meringue, crunchy coco nibs and fresh seasonal fruit, she’s certainly delicious – if a little intimidating. Medusa comes out on one of the restaurant’s large sharing plates (this is a dessert you don’t want to tackle alone, despite how tempting), and is moulded into the face of its eponymous gorgon. Drizzled in a fruity sauce, Medusa peers up at you and stops you in your tracks – very much like her mythological counterpart – with the sheer force of her (coconutty) gaze. She’s almost too beautiful to eat. But once you get past the initial standstill (and mandatory foodie photoshoot) and dive in spoon-first, you won’t be able to stop. Rich and creamy, with bursts of mango and the combination of smooth cream and crunchy meringue, Medusa is indeed the star of the dessert menu.

 

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With plates empty and glasses drained, all that’s left to do is gather our things and pay a last visit to Bacchanalia’s stunning bathrooms – Greco-Roman glamour comes in spades in these mosaic-clad, golden-lit, sculpture-adorned loos – before heading back out onto the (now rainy) streets of London. We couldn’t stay in the Mediterranean forever, after all.

The Final Word

The lunch menu at Bacchanalia offers an affordable – but no less luxuriant – taste of Mayfair’s buzzing culinary scene. It’s here that you’ll be guaranteed a feast for all the senses (we’re still thinking about those bathrooms), although nothing will be quite as sweet as the delectable assortment of dishes that find their way out of the kitchen.

How To Book

The set lunch at Bacchanalia is available from Monday to Friday (12pm to 4pm), and starts at £38 for two courses or £44 for three courses. You can book a table via bacchanalia.co.uk

Images courtesy of Bacchanalia