85 Fleet Street,
Located in the former Reuters building on Fleet Street, Lutyens is Terence Conran and Peter Prescott’s second restaurant project this year. And once again Conran delivers his formulaic and sleek design, but this time it’s aimed more at the local well-heeled bankers. Arriving on a Monday evening, the restaurant was practically empty (I guess the recession is taking a toll on expense accounts!). As a result, the atmosphere felt slightly austere but we relaxed against the backdrop of soothing pale green banquette, white walls, sculptural light fittings and a hint of art deco.
The menu was old school French with a sprinkle of Irish influence coming from the head chef David Burke (formerly at Bibendum). The starters were particularly nostalgic with the likes of lobster mousse, vichyssoise, soufflé suisse and coquille Saint Jacques parisienne (which I couldn’t resist ordering). Three juicy scallops, blanketed in a rich cream and cheese sauce, dotted with slithers of mushroom and framed with a thin pipping of baked potato puree. It was both beautiful to look at and to eat. My friend’s starter of escargots bourguignon was also a well-accomplished dish and she devoured it as quickly as one can when dealing with blistering hot butter.
The main event consisted of melt-in-the mouth calf’s liver with a full-bodied mushroom and red wine sauce. It was silky, rich and absolutely delicious. The roast rabbit wrapped in bacon with a mellow mustard sauce was also very good, despite the salty bacon overpowering the delicate rabbit somewhat. But if you love bacon, as my friends does, then you’ll love this dish. The calf’s liver came with potato mash, however the rabbit came with nothing and so we ordered a side of champ (which I suspect was more butter than potato) and a selection of vegetables. These turned out to be french beans, pumpkin puree and potato dauphinoise - big mistake on our part! By the time we finished working our way through the assorted heaps of butter laden carbs, I could feel my arteries clogging up. But of course the show must go on and so we ordered a delicate and crispy tarte fine served with a brilliant caramel ice cream and another dessert of decadently thick chocolate mousse cake. Both desserts were generous portions, particularly the tart fine which was almost the size of a pizza. And when faced which such sumptuous flavours, it’s easy to forget how full you actually are. Despite the lack of diners during the evening, I have a feeling that at lunchtime this place is more buzzy as it definitely caters for the local city folk with its classic French cuisine and unassuming décor. I do wonder what Terence Conran plans to do next and more importantly - how do the French stay slim?
A three course meal for two without wine will set you back by around £80.