The Friday lunch is a thing of beauty. It can happen at lunch time, it can start mid afternoon. Maybe it’s with that special someone or perhaps your work colleagues. Either way you’ve got the afternoon booked off work and are fully committed. What you need is a suitable place to go without being pressured into getting off your table before the evening crowd are due in at 5pm. This month we went to check out a place that provides just the ticket.

We chose the ‘team’ option and went en-masse from Gallery HQ.  If you walk past the Bastille Brasserie as workplaces close you’ll no doubt see a buzzing scene as the al fresco area becomes busy with people imbibing a glass or two. If you turn up at 5 you’ll no doubt already find a crowd and the smart thinkers are clearly the ones that took the lunch option and got in there early. Sound like a plan? If so you’ll have to be prepared to gorge yourself on either their French inspired tapas, freshly made thin and crispy pizzas or, if you’re digging in, the a la carte menu. The menu offers a variety of options and styles.

Whilst Friday and Saturday sees the tapas menu served in the bar all day, we were lucky enough to make it along to place our order before their 2.30pm lunch service cut off, so were seated in the restaurant. This allowed us plenty of space to choose as many dishes as we could fit on the table. Trust us we took full advantage of the space.

Georgie Cottini, not only Front of House but also the owner, was left in charge of our menu choices. ‘Who better to ensure we got a really good measure of what the menu has to offer’ we thought. Being a review and a precursor to a sociable evening, we were all hungry and keen to sample as many dishes as we could fit on the table, so she went to town.

We started with a selection of tapas, which included the delectable Nems, a Vietnamese inspired spring roll, filled with chicken and vegetables and served with a light soy based dipping sauce. Georgie recommends wrapping the mini Nems in the accompanying lettuce and mint leaves, before dipping them in the sauce,. It makes for a fresh and tasty mouthful. If you’ve been to Vietnam, you’ll know all about lettuce wrap goodness. It adds an element of freshness to other South East Asian cuisine. Also sampled were the tempura prawns, scallops and chorizo, salmon tartare, foie gras on toast and a great charcuterie plate, all as delectable as each other. The beauty of the presentation meant there were plenty of dishes to share.

What should any meal started with tapas be followed with? More tapas, of course.  The next course featured freshly made antipasti, courgettes and aubergines thinly sliced and individually grilled, sundried tomatoes, olives and pesto. A gorgeous Mediterranean dish. We combined it with lamb cutlets with ratatouille, mini steak burgers, Bastille ribs, sea bass fillets, sizzling steak drenched in garlic butter, the Caribbean inspired fish cakes called Acras (served with a really punchy dipping sauce) and, of course, the truly French dish – cuisses de grenouilles (frogs legs). Whilst they may not be to everyone’s taste if you’re going to try them anywhere, then make it the Bastille….!? Tapas is by its nature an excellent way to dine with friends, you all get to sample things you love and also get the chance to experiment with something new, whilst not committing to a full meal.

Amazingly, we still had room after the first two courses. If sounds a lot but there were four of us and we’d made sure we’d had a small breakfast. We therefore went for the third course and sampled the dessert plate and cheese platter, both well worth saving room for.  The mini dessert selection served with a side of espresso was a great balance of all things sweet and the cheese had a good variety.

The main thing to take away was the length of the lunch. The nature of the food and serving meant that we spent an enjoyable whole afternoon. Whatever the occasion the style of food we had and the venue are the perfect choice for what we had in mind. You could, of course, go lighter and have

a less greedy quick lunch, or head in for drinks during the day or after work. The staff are welcoming and knowledgeable, making us feel comfortable and at ease as soon as we walked through the door.

The ‘by the glass wine list’ is great (be sure to try the Carrignan if you like a very drinkable red) and as their a free-house and not tied to any particular brewery, they’re able to be a little more adventurous with their selection of bottled beers and spirits. You can expect to see Brew Dog craft ales in multiple colour varieties and we also timed our trip perfectly to sample the new Pimms Cup Cider. A happy coincidence time wise!