Monday, 5 July 2010

Germany V Argentina: The Ultimate World Cup Pub (bar & restaurant) Crawl

By Cat McGovern

I hate trying to travel anywhere in London on public transport on the weekend. All the lines are out, you can’t get anywhere, and if you are fortunate to get on the bus or tube, it’s hot and packed. Even though my journey to Melia White House Hotel, which is right by Great Portland Street Station, is anger inducing, as soon as I meet my sister-in-law and make my way to the bar, I start to relax. Longford’s bar looks old fashioned and very English with beautiful wood panelling. I say hello to the manager and he ushers me to the outside serene terrace, where all my troubles melt away.

We place ourselves on a wicker sofa with white cushions and order a jug of Pimms. Chilling out in the sunshine on such a beautiful day is the best way to watch the World Cup. There’s a BBQ and a few other tables, with a large parasol above one of the sofas. Piano music is played softly in the background and we feel rather civilised. The menu at Melia White House Hotel today is tapas and almost immediately a small platter on Serano ham and bruschetta arrives at our table and I feel we are in for a treat. The bruschetta is wonderful and sister-in-law whole heartedly agrees. As she is a veggie, I greedily scoff the ham, which is divine.

Duck and prawn croquettes are up next and they are supremely delicious. Served with a coriander and orange sauce, we try and save space as apparently 5 more courses are coming our way.

As I sample the prawn croquette, I look up and Mueller has scored for Germany. It’s only 2 minutes in. I knew this game was going to be good!

Grilled prawns and pedron peppers are served on a slate and we look at each other and both say, ‘Whoa, we better pace ourselves’. The prawns are perfectly cooked with the right amount of salt and are very succulent. The peppers are incredible. We fight over them, pawing the bowl they’re in, before realising that we look a bit desperate and sit upright in our seats, cross our legs and act like proper ladies.

35 mins in Argentina score, but Tevez was hugely offside.

Next course is grilled asparagus wrapped in courgette. I dip it into the luscious pesto sauce and we both agree that it is excellent. The vegetables are fresh and it’s suitably seasoned.

Half time and we look at our empty jug of Pimms and contemplate what to have next. We feel it’s best to make this decision in Longford’s bar, just so we can get a feel for the place. It has 2 plasma screens with a big bunch of boys gathered around them. Looking around, I notice that the bar is stunning. It is large with dimmed lights and big, comfy armchairs. There is a drinks trolley with expensive whiskies and brandies on it and it feels like we’ve stepped into a different era. The mood is relaxed so we place ourselves in front of the screen, right near a bunch of Argentinean supporters, to watch the second half.

Appropriately, a plate of bratwurst arrives and I start scoffing. The sausages are crispy on the outside and rather juicy in the middle. They really hit the spot. Unfortunately the sister-in-law is only left with salad but seems happy nonetheless.

Our Argentinean steak sandwich is the last course and just as I am about to take a bite, Klose scores, 2-0 to Germany. Back to the sandwich, and I have to say that is the best item I have tasted so far. The meat is unbelievably soft and the Chimmi Churri sauce counteracts the beauty of the steak.

3-0 to Germany and I feel a bit awkward about tucking into my Argentinean delight. We think that another jug of Pimms is appropriate so we slurp on that and have dessert. Miniature carrot cake with white chocolate, crème caramel and pistachio fudge rest on a white platter. Just before full time, it’s 4-0 to Germany. What a wicked game! The dessert is equally is great, particularly the crème caramel which is light and devilishly tasty.

Feeling suitably stuffed and looked after, we slowly plod out and go our separate ways. Pleased by the football and the high quality offered at Melia White House Hotel, the sister-in-law contemplates having her wedding party here as she is incredibly impressed with the venue and the level of service. So, if you fancy superb food in either an alfresco or low-key bar environment, Melia White House Hotel is the place to go.

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