Chancery - a new haunt for legal
After their success with The Clerkenwell
Dining Room in St John Street, it seemed
natural for Chef Patron Andy Thompson
and his partner, the restaurateur Zak
Jones, to open another City dining room,
this time in the heart of lawyer land,
halfway between Fleet Street and Holborn.
The pair have impeccable credentials:
on their way up they've worked at so
many top London restaurants it would
be tedious to list them all, save perhaps
L'Escargot, where they worked together
and decided to go into
partnership. Their new dining room is contemporary clubby with comfortable
seating, the walls lightened up by some abstract paintings by Stiliana Alexieva
that contribute vibrant colours.
The menu at The Chancery is both contemporary
and ever changing, leaning more towards a robust Modern British style and
interpretation of European classics, as well as the availability of fresh
produce. During a tasty amuse of black bean broth, my guest was agonising
over choices between seared scallops with braised oxtail, or the pressed
mosaic of foie gras and rabbit. Meanwhile I had short listed the crisp courgette
blossom with buffalo mozzarella, or Barbecued quail and pork. In the end
it was the scallops that won, and the braised oxtail made a better companion
for the shell fish than the more usual black pudding. The quail dish was
quite Southern (USA), with a piquant BBQ sauce, and confit pork that had
been coated in a crumb made from semolina bread. This was an interesting
and unusual dish which I really appreciated.
There's a good choice of fish on the main
menu, such as cod, skate wing and smoked haddock with crab and creamed leeks,
but now autumn's here I'm really into soothing meats and game. The grilled
fillet steak comes with a counterpoint of slow cooked beef taken from under
the rib, moulded into shape and very delicious, with pureed sweet potato
adding even more comfort to the dish. I had pig's cheeks, slow braised until
very soft and soothing, with some fortifying sauerkraut, boldly flavoured
with mustard which I preferred to the sharper sour vinegar flavour that's
perhaps more typical. If black pudding didn't come with the scallops, then
it can be found on this menu in a more suitable combination with guinea fowl.
Pigeon fanciers should enjoy the roast squab wrapped in pancetta and served
with seasonal mushrooms. All the dishes we sampled were confident culinary
statements, presented decently but without affectation.
I'm rather keen on wine from Western Australia
at the moment, so I was glad to see a wine from Margaret River on the well
priced wine list. Unfortunately our bottle happened to be corked, but full
marks to the wine waiter, Gustavo Miranda, who rapidly brought out another
bottle with a charming smile and none of that irritating huffing and puffing
that characterises too many Sommeliers.
My guest tried the hot chocolate fondant
which was nice, though I personally prefer a more volcanic, molten centre.
My tarte fine of pears was a model construction: thin, crisp and caramelised,
served with ice cream, to give that lovely contrast of hot and cold on the
plate. Both desserts came out on rather beautiful ceramics.
The Chancery strikes me as a place where
a mainly local English clientele will be confident of getting a good choice
of dishes that are comfortingly traditional, but with some innovative combinations
that are neither dull or predictable.
The Chancery, 9 Cursitor Street, Chancery
Lane, London EC4 Tel: 020 7831 4000
Open Monday to Friday:
Lunch 12noon-2.30pm (Daily changing set lunch £15.00 two courses, £19.50
Dinner 6pm -10pm (starters £7 - £10.50; Mains £14.00 - £19.50; Puddings £6.00)