Neptune is the dining room of Kimpton Fitzroy London hotel, a grand Empire-era pile overlooking Russell Square that outdoes St Pancras for gothic drama. With high Victorian being about as fashionable a design trope these days as a noughties feature wall, interior whizzes Russell Sage Studio and Margaret Crow have gone for an almost mid-century Tiki look – rattan-backed bar stools, dusty pink walls, boldly patterned fabrics – although you can still spot plaster cherubs peeking from behind the fronds of tropical greenery like orphans in a Victorian ghost story.
A swimmingly fresh seafood platter accompanied by soda bread and seaweed butter was the best thing we ate, not least for the zip and zing of a trout tartare and mackerel escabeche; we were grateful to the waiter who took our crab legs away to be cracked by the chef so we didn’t miss a flake of the snowy white meat – a typically thoughtful touch from staff who showed consideration throughout the meal.
Nothing else we tried had such shimmering flavours; monkfish with white asparagus, brown butter and chicken sauce, and turbot with fennel, courgettes and an olive-oil hollandaise, were competent rather than compelling, while a plate of grilled red prawns had lost their firm texture, if not their sweet taste. There’s also a short vegetarian menu and, to drink, a wine list of natural and low-intervention wines – another individual touch at a restaurant that brings a welcome flourish of glamour and personality to Bloomsbury.