I fully expected to love Bibimbab Café. It benefited from a fantastic location – spitting distance from the fabulous British Museum. Unlike many of the surrounding restaurants, it bravely managed to be both independent and reasonably priced. These positive omens, combined with an unfamiliar cuisine and empty stomach, provided an appetising prospect.
Unfortunately, Bibimbab Cafe’s atmosphere was so dour, it made Pyongyang seem like Las Vegas. When I learnt Bibimbab Cafe was a Korean, I assumed South not North. Service was so anonymous, I came into the restaurant knowing nothing about Korean cuisine and left knowing less.
Feeling like the typical Brit abroad, the laminate drinks menu left me utterly clueless; with no support on offer, I meekly helped myself to a Diet Coke. The drinks menu was at least genuine, and no doubt familiar for the already initiated.
The menu focused on finely shredded healthy things honouring a sliced egg, terracotta broths with brillo pad sized tofu and uniform sushi. The website proudly advised: “Bibimbab can be almost anything you want it to be” – the one request it couldn’t accommodate was flavour.
The Spicy Pork was not spicy; I gave it the benefit of the doubt it was pork. It was languid with redundant floppy fatty pieces, served in an impressively anaemic soup. The Korean Style Beef had the elegance of a Döner kebab, but certainly had a punchy flavour that really was the dogs’ bollocks.
As Bloomsbury offers other Korean restaurants; unfortunately, I can’t justify a return to the Bibimbab Cafe.
Atmosphere 2 Cost 7 Quality 3 Service 3