In the affluent district of Marylebone lies the street made most famous by Sherlock Holmes – laid in the 18th century and named after William Baker – Baker Street.CREDIT: PR Supplied
In amongst the commercial premises and behind a corporate and grey exterior sits a little piece of East Asia – Bright Courtyard Club (BCC).
Once we’d stepped into the club we needed for nothing. A warmer-than-a-steamed-dumpling welcome – martial-arts service from start to finish.
We were offered tea as an aperitif – a tradition in China and probably refreshing, but it wasn’t cracking our fortune cookie. Friday nights for TheGayUK involve something a wee bit stronger.
And stronger is what we received – two Old Fashion cocktails arrived made with bourbon and aniseed at £10.50. Liquorice and fennel flavours gave the sharpener a unique edge on this old favourite.
We asked for a selection of what they do best.
To start we shared: Shanghai marinated beef shin slices, boiled chicken slices in chilli oil and edamame beans.
The beef was dry and brought back memories of primary school lunches. The chicken was tender and livened up by chilli.CREDIT: PR Supplied
As well as: classic Shanghai pork and crab dim sum ‘Siu Long Bao’ at £7.50. Hints of ginger, onion, sesame and garlic elevated both meats. The broth was tart and enhanced the light pastry – Guangzhou’s street market has nothing on them.
The Old Smoke is one of the world’s culinary hotspots, with Asian eateries such as Sexy Fish with her mid-century glamour decor displaying works of Damien Hirst and Frank Gehry. And then there’s Yauatcha Soho with contemporary expertly crafted dim sum and interior – the list is almost as long as the Great Wall of China.You have to stand out. That’s sadly where BCC doesn’t – the ornamental fixtures are cliché and tired.
To wash down the mains we ordered a French Pouilly Fumé Cuvée de Boisfleury at £43: flowery, with a citrus bouquet and suggestions of grapefruit – it yinged our yang.
There were more lobsters in the tanks than there were other diners – an empty-shell like ambience.
For our mains, we shared: Chilean sea bass steamed with preserved vegetables at £15, and braised pork belly with grandmum’s recipe at £16. The fish was succulent and sweet with undercurrents of coriander – setting flames to our paper lanterns, beautiful. Vinegar and plum made the delicate pork moreish – not too fatty, an elegant dish.
There’s an old Chinese proverb: “Ròu bāozi dǎ gǒu” – which translates: to hit a dog with a meat-bun – which we don’t recommend. But we do recommend, if you’re in the mood for authentic Asian cuisine, you don’t have to be one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional characters to dine on Baker Street.
REVIEWED BY: Thabian Sutherland
ADDRESS: 43-45 Baker Street, London W1U 8EW, [email protected], Tel: 020 7486 6998
STAR RATING: ★★★ (explained)
COST RATING: ££££ (explained)
TIPPING POLICY: A discretionary 13.5% gratuity will be added to your total
I’ve lived in the Old Smoke since 1999 with a career in fashion, fitness and events. I discovered the joys of writing beginning of 2014. Since then I’ve been tapping digits to keys. Subjects include food, theatre, exhibitions, London life and other topics that tickle my taste-buds. Other publications include Timeout, Gay Times and So So Gay Magazine.