There are so many things I love about reviewing restaurants. The photography (the good and the struggle), meeting the people who create a successful business and eating (and drinking) my way through the menu food – but most of all it’s discovering the history and passion behind it. When writing up about any restaurant or hotel, the most important thing is research. Reading about the place, what drives it, when did it all begin and of course who’s behind the menu? The same process happened after I dined at 1 Lombard Street. One of London’s institutional restaurants just moments from Bank station.
1 Lombard Street is a restaurant which is steeped in history and the area it’s located in was once was considered the Wall Street of its time. This grade II-listed building dates back to 1776 when Smith, Payne & Smith bank was located to the rear of the building in Plough Court. Charles Dickens first love Maria Beadnell’s father was a manager of the bank back then and the young Dickens would walk to Lombard Street in the early hours just to gaze upon the place where Maria slept. It wasn’t until 1998 when Soren Jessen (a former banker) took over and transformed it into the 1 Lombard Street we all know and love it as today.
Looking after the kitchen is head chef Juri Ravagli who with the help of his team create a menu of classic brasserie dishes. No good meal can start without a pre-drink and 1 Lombard Street are the experts at that. At the centre of the restaurant is the fabulous Dome Bar which features a domed skylight designed by architect Pietro Agostini. Order a Negroni (my choice) or whisky sour from the selection of many whiskeys on offer. The wine list is pretty special too.
The food here at 1 Lombard Street is simple, but full of dishes we all know and love. We started with what I imagine to be the restaurants two signature dishes. A beautifully seasoned steak tartare which was topped with egg yolk and given a good dash of Lea & Perrins and Tabasco sauce. Our other starter was a rather generous portion of lobster spaghetti. Cooked the right side of al dente and mixed together with sweet and juicy morsels of lobster meat. The sauce had a nice depth and flavour too. The only negative I had was the presentation as the pasta didn’t quite entice me in on first glance.
One dish I can’t get enough of this year is that Austrian classic – veal schnitzel. Here the batter was golden and light, oh-so crispy and the meat had loads of flavour which unfortunately isn’t always the case at other restaurants in London. Again presentation could have had just a little more care, but flavour wise there was no complaints.
My steak was excellent too. A little over the top on the pepper perhaps, but juicy, a little smokey and packed with flavour. This was the 230g Sirloin which had been nicely pounded and served with a well-made bearnaise sauce, salad and chips.
Dessert was an offering of two of my favourite things. Warm and moist sticky pudding, served with a scoop of ice-cream and a small slice of home-made tiramisu. Both perfectly lovely and both satisfying our sweet toothed cravings. They also paired perfectly with a glass of sticky dessert wine.
We had a lovely evening at 1 Lombard Street that was made particularly more enjoyable as we were dining in the thick of Christmas party bookings which offered such a lovely atmosphere in the air. If you’re stuck in the city and looking for a menu with all of your favourite comfort foods, 1 Lombard Street will certainly be for you. An excuse to dress up, drink a little too much wine at the bar and with not an ounce of pretence. It’s an institution for good reasons.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.