1776 at 1 Lombard Street
Frog’s legs, red prawns, fallow deer, black cod, snails: with no more than a glance at the menu, it’s clear that 1776 offers a fine dining experience for gastronomes. Housed within the Grade II listed finery of 1 Lombard Street, head chef Juri Ravagli has taken over the elegant restaurant to offer graceful cuisine befitting its home.
Recently refurbished, the small space cannot elude its history as a bank, betrayed by high ceilings, grey banquettes and sombre furniture, but light green walls, chandeliers, a piano and an oversized mirror create a charming and inviting interior. Catering predominantly for suited city executives, the wine list is presented on an iPad – an unexpected contrast to the art deco surroundings.
Tables are positioned to avoid anything louder than a distant murmur from neighbouring diners and, with a discreet side entrance in addition to the main entry via a heaving brasserie, 1776 is ideal for a clandestine lunch.
The skilfully prepared food left little to criticise, beginning with starters of Asparagus & Duck Egg Salad and Red Onion & Apple Tarte Tatin. The soft-yolked egg was seated upright in a nest of perfectly cooked fine beans and asparagus, dressed with a light mustard sauce that wasn’t overpowering, while the tart – a disc of excellent pastry stacked with fruit and onion – was saved from being overly sweet by salty, melted Roquefort.
Offered mains from either the à la carte menu or silver service roast meat trolley, we bypassed the latter for the former, choosing a large bowl of Tonnarelli with Native Lobster and Almond-Crusted New Season Lamb. Served al dente with an aromatic tomato and basil sauce, the pasta was heaped with tender lobster and its simple flavours were well matched to the glass of crisp grüner veltliner (Rainer Wess, Wachau 2011) recommended by our waiter.
Unfortunately the lamb rack, served with sautéed peas and new potatoes, was drenched in a glossy jus, which turned the delicious crust into a soggy skin. The peas were saturated in a flavoursome, minted butter but there was no sign of the broad beans listed on the menu and miniscule potatoes were mistaken for baby onions upon first glance.
With the venue’s obvious allure as a potential tearoom, it was fitting to see a vast dessert menu and a mouth-watering trolley of daily specials. Spoilt for choice, we opted for a triple-layered Cappucino Panna Cotta from the menu and a Pineapple & Raspberry Upside Down Tart from the trolley (with a cup of tea of course!). The delicate panna cotta with crunchy pistachio biscotti was delicious, as was the pastry tart housing a squidgy almond centre topped with tangy fruits in a jellied glaze.
From service to presentation, the skills displayed were faultless but the flavour combinations, although pleasant, didn’t excite the palette enough for inner fireworks to explode. Thus, 1776 was more like a satisfying one-off that is unlikely to be repeated: praiseworthy, but let down by a lack of imagination.
Photos: Allie Suwanrumpha
To book a table at 1776 at 1 Lombard Street, London EC3V 9AA, call 020 7929 6611 or visit here.