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Spectrum Bar (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Spectrum Bar in Waterloo, London

Park Plaza County Hall, 1 Addington Street, off York Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 7RY
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Tel: 020 7021 1919 | Email to Spectrum Bar | Transport: Waterloo | Write review

Spectrum Bar Review

Best for: Desserts, fast service, English dishes with a twist, décor

Great: Service, food presentation, lampshades, conference roof terrace, ambience

County Hall signs indicate I'm getting nearer and, for a change, haven't lost my way. Sure I'm a little late but otherwise everything's running smoothly. It's drizzling and clearly the beginning of tights season. A little bedraggled I rush into the foyer wearing my apology. Something’s missing.

My already waiting “date” is nowhere to be seen. Ascending to the restaurant, I'm just as baffled. After a lot of pacing and squinting, concerned staff encourage me to sit but I'd rather hypothesise. About to dial, I spot Olie, who has committed the classic mistake, across the road, stood outside The Park Plaza “Westminster”, which is part of the same chain but has its own exceedingly grand foyer and clueless concierge who's apparently never heard of Spectrum.

The cluster of previously concerned Spectrum staff are now smiling, looking almost as relieved as I do. Our waiter, Faisal, ushers us to a table overlooking the bar. Taking our order, he's keen to explain more unusual dishes and recommend the popular. We've both soon partially changed our intended orders and now expect an army of side vegetables. Faisal is so keen to please, we're beginning to wonder if he offers shoulder massages or toe-sucking services.

Throughout the meal a trio of staff turn-take to check on our wellbeing. We both honestly praise Faisal's extremely fruity wine recommendation (the Sauvignon Blanc from where else but New Zealand) and our starters, but when it comes to the mains something's fishy. Spectrum's menu is comprised of traditional English fare with a twist – a game Scotch egg with cheese on toast and tomato ketchup, Inside-Out Beef Wellington, etc…

Olie's salad starter isn’t stated emphatically on the menu but with a bit of linguistic detective work, we crack the code - the inclusion of the word “dressing” our main clue. Still, it's a good portion and tasty, although an inelegant eat and not as colourful as the description promised with yellow, white and purple beetroot interspersed with greens. Normally called a Tricolor, my starter of neatly and colourfully presented tomato discs, mozzarella and avocado with a pastry base and lid, is accompanied by juicy vine tomatoes on the side.

The more we analyse the menu, the more I wish I'd gone to the middle section of Lidl, Aldi or Netto and brought a simplification translator to decipher its wording. Panfried Salmon, clam vinaigrette and baby fennel follows Olie's salad but unfortunately doesn't live up to expectations with undercooked potatoes and the misuse of the word ‘vinaigrette’. Olie seems a little nervous as she gingerly approaches something resembling a cross between a lumpy soup, curry without the spice, and something that may have once been inside a human. She's genuinely puzzled by the chef's intention and her disconcerting dish leads to a detailed discussion about what constitutes a ‘sauce’.

Thankfully, my main is more successful with crispy free range chicken, chicory and potato cake, accompanied by extra garlic wilted spinach and steamed spring greens, although the lemon thyme gravy gives everything an unfortunate burnt taste. Ranging around the mid teens in prices, Spectrum's mains feel a little bit like a Wonderbra: full of promise but ultimately disappointing.

Dreading the next visit from enquiring staff, we opt for a break to soak in the relaxed ambiance. Spectrum is all about modern chic, setting a classy scene for its clientele who seem to be predominately smartly dressed business folk or hotel guests. Olie perfectly matches its colour scheme in fuchsia, purple and turquoise. Everything about Spectrum smacks of contemporary – from the candles, comfy semi-circular chairs, funked up giant school dining-hall strip lights, to the atrium allowing us to watch the lift climbing the building past coloured tinted windows.

The restaurant is slowly emptying around us and we realise it's time to bite the biscuit. An amazing coco aroma signals the arrival of the highly anticipated County Hall Special and the rhubarb, whiskey and ginger custard crumble tart. The chocolate fondant is excellent with the added surprise of exquisitely textured cardamon jelly contrasting with crackling ‘space dust’. Although there's little evidence of any crumble, there's plenty to indicate the presence of an extremely talented patisserie chef.

Spectrum's deceptive menu is possibly the victim of an over-ambitious chef attempting to glam-up old favourites. Despite mid-meal letdowns, desserts alone are enough to lure us back and the friendly helpful staff nearly keep us captive. Spectrum's manager offers to show us the hirable conference room overlooking The London Eye but it's nearly 11 on a school night so we scuttle off into the heavy downpour of winter's onset instead.
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Customer Reviews for Spectrum Bar

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Spectrum Bar.

“For a hotel restaurant there's more atmosphere than you might imagine and staff know their stuff. I'd definitely recommend the puddings. Yom.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Joe, London (8 years 1 months ago)

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Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: Mediterranean
  • Dress Code: Not Specified
  • Group: Park Plaza

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