Gezellig in Holborn: Cosy, enjoyable and relaxed dining
Gezellig, or better “ge·zell·ig” (reads heh-sell-ick), is a Dutch word for something cosy, enjoyable and relaxed. And it’s the name restaurateur trio Graham Long (chef), Wieteke Teppema (sommelier) and James Comyn (general manager) chose for their first restaurant, the evolution of their pop-up success at Carousel.
With the support of Rebecca Macarenhas (Elystan Street, Kitchen W8, HomeSW15), Gezellig opened in Holborn last May. It’s a smart brasserie, with a long bar, dedicated lounge, high ceilings and pop-art cimelia (mainly posters) on the walls.
The menu is essential: five starters and five mains. If you want to go vegetarian, there’s a separate set of dishes. We start with a seared mackerel; the fish is beautifully presented on a broth with aged beef fat and bone marrow. We also have the Brandade Raviolo, with octopus ragù, red pepper and aioli. It’s a big single portion of stuffed pasta, rich and fulfilling. Style-wise, there’s a contrast between the two dishes: one is light, contemporary and minimalist, the other is classic and hearty.
“Roast” is the most common adjective among the mains and we pick one of those as our first choice. The duck delivers substance and taste, and – predictably – it goes well with a glass of burgundy pinot noir (Didier Fornerol, Cóte de Nuits Villages 2013). It’s safe, maybe a little too safe. But it’s good and won’t disappoint sophisticated palates. The gilt-head bream is more elegant, laid on top of a delicious courgette tarte fine. We are still on the safe side of things; however, it shows that Gezellig is more capable of expressing a distinctive cuisine with the fish dishes.
A Peach Melba and Almond Sundae is a revelation. This classic ice cream dessert can easily be uninspiring and way too close to those served in the West End touristy restaurants. The waitress’ recommendation convinces us and we are glad we trusted her. It’s creamy but light, with separate fresh flavours coming together in each spoon. The Plum and Meadowsweet Tart doesn’t look too appealing – similarly to the raviolo – but it’s delightful.
Gezellig is the place to go for dinner with friends, chatting over good food and well-selected wine. Its snacks and carefully created cocktails make it an obvious choice for an evening by the bar as well. At times chef Long is a bit too prudent with ingredients and flavour combinations, and the presentation of some of the dishes could be more appealing and in line with the vibe of the restaurant. However, it fully embodies what its name stands for.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Gezellig, 193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD, call 020 3004 0004 or visit their website here.