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1 Lombard Street, London EC3

Louise Elgin reports from the heart of the square mile...

 Dining out in a former banking hall is somewhat of a modern day phenomenon and the conversion of 1 Lombard Street is part of a growing trend. Situated in a grand location, adjacent to the The Mansion House portico, it now comprises an elegant, one starred Michelin restaurant and also a brasserie complete with lively bar, making an obvious destination for the ‘suited and booted’ to wine and dine their clients. On entering there is an instant buzz reminiscent of the historic stock exchange trading room floor. The Brasserie where we dined is large, with a centrally located circular bar designed to complement the beautiful cupola directly above. The dining tables are mostly situated around the edges of the room, and are comfortable and well spaced.


A long and comprehensive menu catered for all tastes and staff were attentive and helpful in making choices. I began with a classic fish soup, which did not disappoint.  It was as it should be: rich and substantial, served with wonderfully garlicky toast. My guest chose a red wine risotto with grilled baby squid in a parsley and garlic jus. He commented on its excellent presentation and superb flavour–which was rounded off nicely with just a touch of spice. To accompany our first course we each chose a glass of white wine from the concise list. I tried a L'Archet Sauvignon Blanc 2004, which was a light colour with sharp flavours of fresh acidic fruits.  My guest tried the L'Archet Chardonnay & Viognier 2004; this was delightfully golden in colour with pear overtones - and proved a pleasantly quaffable match for his food.

To follow, there was an element of disappointment, as a couple of things we had ear marked had run out due to an incredibly busy lunchtime crowd earlier that day. I had a very authentic coq au vin. This was almost gamey in flavours and very rich. It came beautifully served on a bed of mashed potatoes with luscious gravy, perhaps a little on the salty side due to the bacon bits, but it was robust and the genuine article.  My guest had a Scotch rib eye steak with chips and beurre maitre d'hotel.  He said the meat was very tender with herby overtones.  It came served with tomatoes, mushrooms and excellent chips. We shared a bottle of South African Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir Walker Bay 2002 This was a rich and fruity bevy of dark fruits, complementing our meat dishes beautifully.  To finish we shared a plate of cheeses, as we were both too pleasantly full to indulge in anything sweet! 

Dining at night in The Brasserie is very different to the lunchtime ambience when the entire establishment is given over to diners, albeit some sitting on bar stools to eat.  In the evening it becomes very much a bar with dining – inevitably, the decibels rise as city folk relax after a hard day - perhaps not a great spot for a romantic dinner a deux. The adjacent and intimate restaurant, however, is much more the place for that. 

Louise Elgin.  November 2005.

1 Lombard Street, London EC3

Tel: 020 7929 6611

A meal with wine, water and service is around £100 for two.

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