The Restaurant at St Paul's - review

The Restaurant at St Paul’s reopens today despite Occupy London camping on its doorstep. Is it worth a visit?  

Remember our mini heat wave last month? Vaguely? Well, during that time my boyfriend and I dined in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral at the eponymously titled The Restaurant at St Paul’s. The experience was a cool and tranquil antidote to the tourists spilling ice cream outside (since replaced with OccupyLSX protesters).

We started our two-course lunch with the devilled chicken livers and the beetroot pan haggerty and poached egg.

The livers were delicious. Perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth reminders that liver being back in vogue is brilliant. But the beetroot lacked seasoning and was bland - a reminder that while every man and his dig serves beetroot these days, few do it well.

For the mains, he had the venison burger and I chose the grey mullet. Again the meat was excellent. In fact the burger was one of the best I’ve tried in London. Soft, slightly sweet bread enveloping a thick juicy slab of meat coated in cheese. The meat and cheese dribbled down my chin as I ate. No dry toasted buns here - a burger, American-style. Proper.

Before I go on, a note on the décor.

Cheap looking pine tables that wouldn’t be out of place in a cafeteria hosted beautiful cutlery and immaculate glassware. On top of the tables sat slate place mats, the sort that food is served on in gastropubs. The heavenly burger was served on a piece of wood – what you’d expect in a Cornish beachside café but not a city restaurant.

The effect is weird, not bad, but weird.

But back to the food. The mullet was good but had the opposite affliction to the beetroot by being too salted. The skin was coated in rock salt, presumably to make it crisp, but unfortunately this made it a little too salty for me.

The salad wasn’t up to much. The anchovies had been chopped and tossed through the salad but not quite enough, leaving some parts too fishy and others not enough. The heritage potatoes were mainly tasteless and the raw fennel was cut in such a way it put my teeth on edge. 

Starters were washed down with “Britain in a glass”, a divine mix of apple and elderflower juice with sparkling wine. We tried two wines: the Chilean Tempus Sauvignon Blanc and La Tourelle Merlot, both excellent.

Fixed price two course lunch for £21.50, or three courses for £25.95.

The Suitometer:’s quick guide to sleeping and dining in the capital

Would lunch at the Restaurant at St Paul’s…

  • Inspire a productive business meeting? Yes. You’re in St Paul’s Cathedral, if that doesn’t inspire you nothing will.
  • Impress the boss when everything else has failed? Yes, it’s in St Paul’s Cathedral.
  • Break the ice with those awkward clients? Yes, you’re surrounded by more than 300 years of history.
  • Sufficiently blow your bonus and make you feel like a king? No, not at all. More cafeteria than hysteria.
  • Provide the right setting for an all-important first date? Only if your date is a lunch one as the restaurant’s not open at night. And if that’s the case, let’s face it, you’ve lost already.

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