I was meeting my friends Robert and Jenny for supper and I asked them to suggest a place to eat. They live in the Barbican and I said I was happy to make the journey across London to The City. It’s actually quite easy – direct on the District Line from Richmond to Monument in about 45 minutes to get to the restaurant Robert recommended: 1 Lombard Street Brasserie. We booked the Open Table special offer of 3 courses plus appetiser for a bargain £19.50.
The restaurant faces directly across to the Bank of England; just to the right of that sits the Royal Exchange. This is the very heart of the City of London and very familiar to me from my days living in north London but also because in my long-ago student days I passed Bank on my journey to the City of London Polytechnic (now London Guildhall University).
The restaurant has an impressive setting in a former bank built in the neoclassical style. There’s a wonderful domed skylight over a large circular bar, designed by the architect Pietro Agostini. It’s quite formal and it was rather nice to have a touch of luxury with beautifully laid tables, thick linen napkins and that kind of perfectly attentive service that responds immediately you want something but doesn’t overdo it.
The menu is modern European and our ‘deal’ offered us a good range of choices. Robert had a ham hock terrine while Jenny and I chose Salted Cod, Rocket, Pomegranate & Minted Yoghurt.
It was a simple dish but beautifully presented and all elements done well. Salted cod can be a tricky thing and isn’t very pleasant if badly prepared. Well prepared it’s one of my favourite things (particularly in Italy when made into creamy mantecato) and I really enjoyed this salad.
Jenny had Roasted Skate Wing with Leek Fondue and Brown Shrimps for her main and she said it tasted very good. Robert and I went for Confit Duck Leg, Garlic & Herb Mash and White Sprouting Broccoli.
I rarely cook duck (not sure why!) even though I like it a lot and so quite often choose it when out, especially confit. This fell nicely from the bone and was accompanied by a rich sauce (I would have liked a little more of that – there was only a small amount) and the vegetables were well cooked: wonderful creamy mash and perfectly cooked broccoli. Sometimes in a bid to demonstrate they understand the words al dente, chefs will serve up almost raw broccoli (which means they don’t understand the words!): this was cooked through but still retained colour and fresh taste.
When it came to desserts, we asked what Opera Cake was – and then all chose it. Oh bliss!
It’s a classic French cake made with almond sponge layered with chocolate ganache and coffee cream, with coffee syrup. Ours was also served with a gorgeous coffee ice cream. I’m so glad we indulged in desserts! It was a great end to a lovely meal. Robert and I had espressos to finish and then we asked for the bill. By this time it was nearly 10pm. We’d arrived at 7.30 when it was quite busy but now the restaurant was almost empty and the staff clearly tidying up for the night and there was a polite indication of ‘we are closing now’. This is part of going to a City restaurant. Its really busy time is lunchtime – when Robert had visited before – for business lunches and early evening as City workers head for home. I was ready to head for home at that time anyway – it would take me at least an hour – but it had been a really lovely evening with my friends (who kindly treated me!) and nice to find a new restaurant I liked.