If you ever find yourself in Bloomsbury, known for its creative agencies and law schools, then a trip to the newly refurbed Lady Ottoline is definitely in order. We were invited down to try the grub and sample the drinks on offer one Saturday afternoon before a friend’s wedding, and you know what? We were pleasantly surprised at what this old socialite had to offer.
Let’s start with a history lesson: Lady Ottoline was a well known It Girl and aristocrat of her day. Oh to be able to live in a prestigious London borough and have men provide for you day in day out (if that’s your thing, of course). She was known to have a vast amount of lovers in the art and literary world, all of whom were drawn to her charming and hospitable personality. In fact, so gregarious was she that her friends and lovers had no idea she was stone cold broke half the time.
When the Great War broke out, Lady Ottoline and her family took their stance as conscientious objectors and offered sanctuary to other ‘cowards’, as pacifists were deemed. In the late 1920s she was diagnosed with cancer, and had her lower jaw removed. She passed away ten years later.
So with such a colourful name to this venue, we arrived expecting elegance and glamour befitting an aristocrat, but warm hospitality as the venue’s patron was known for. And that’s just what we got.
It was a gorgeous sunny day so the few outside tables were pinched by lucky diners soaking up the sun with a cool pint. We walked inside and were greeted by a friendly waitress, Alana, who seated us next to the fireplace. She brought over a few menus, but being as it was, we decided to see what was on tap and eventually settled on the most glorious summer cocktail I’ve ever had; the Lemon Fizz. It was an awesome mix of Prosecco, Limonccello and sugar, served with a fizzing slice of lemon peel. It was seriously moreish and so refreshing in contrast to the sweltering day outside.
The food was that little bit more than your average pub grub, and the portion sizes were huge! I plumped for cod, chips and mushy peas but admitted defeat two thirds of the way through. Regardless, it was very good, and a really nice, relaxed meal. There was no room for desserts – we were both absolutely stuffed – but the selection on offer would please anyone with a sweet tooth. Needless to say you won’t leave after a meal feeling like you need a dirty kebab to fill you up.
Upstairs is a private room seating about 15 diners on a vast mahogany table, as well as more formal dining area for smaller groups. Downstairs are the loos which have been restored to proper Victorian standard, complete with high fitted cistern and the most ornate loo roll holders I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously, the history buff in me died a little when I spotted them.
All in all, it’s a great place to take clients, to relax with a cocktail, or spend warm summer evenings with friends. Even better, there’s a working log fire making it a really homely place to visit now the weather’s decided to turn back to the typical brisk chill we’re used to. Oh, and don’t forget to have a drink for the Lady while you’re there!
The Lady Ottoline | 11 Northington Street, London, WC1N 2JF | 0207 831 0008