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The Chancery - a new haunt for legal eagles

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.

Clifford Mould, October 2004

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 for three)
Dinner 6pm -10pm (starters £7 - £10.50; Mains £14.00 - £19.50; Puddings £6.00)

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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