If restaurants had star signs, Prism would be a Gemini with its split personality and love of a good time. As with all restaurants nestling in the midst of London’s financial hub, it’s subjected mid-week, to the swathe of corporate types that skim its leather-bound seats with their pinstriped bottoms, and then forced to endure a ghostly quiet spell at the weekends when everyone does anything but go into the city. Even Prism manages to avoid the weekends in its skittish Gemini way, because it closes to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, opening only to host the odd wedding.
Housed in what used to be the Bank of New York, this city haunt does have a decidedly masculine feel to it. The ceiling climbs imposingly high, and the seats are suitably mannish with their claret leather finish. We turned up on a Friday night – two women, eager to gossip about the virtues of the three-inch heel, rather than the virtues of a hedge fund. Which was fine, because as with all Gemini types (restaurants included), there is always another side to them.
Just as the seats are superbly masculine, the bar is most definitely one for the girls. Spanning the length of the room, its crushed glass top catches the light from all directions, illuminating your cocktail of choice and hopefully you too. And the cocktails are fabulous. If you do make it to Prism for an evening meal, bypassing the bar would be a crime. We supped on a ‘Footsie’ and a ‘Strawberry Fields’, which both looked stunning – the Footsie especially, which came shaken and strained in its own martini glass, accompanied by a shot glass of champagne.
Reluctantly we prised ourselves away from the bar and over to our table, where the menu lured us in with a decent bit of variety and good helping of luxury to boot. Our starters of scallops with cauliflower puree, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce were very, very good, with the scallops arriving all showy on a piece of slate. For our main dishes we decided on the halibut and the ‘poulet noir’. Like the cocktails at Prism, the food is a work of art with each dish arriving piled high with its ingredients looking beautiful and just balanced. The fish was cooked as you would hope, highlighting its succulently meaty texture and crispy skin, and came served with a veritable number of trimmings in the shape of globe artichokes, black olive tapenade and sweet potato & orange purée. The ‘poulet noir’ was equally as good, although we never got to the bottom of whether the chicken was free range or not. You would expect so with its £26.50 price tag, but on asking we were informed it was just “very good”, so who knows.
We washed all of this down with a bottle of well chosen Condrieu, Christophe Pichon 2005 and eyed up the dessert menu with our almost full stomachs. For pudding we had some sort of strawberry and champagne extravaganza, which looked achingly modern when it arrived on its plate, and the blueberry frangipane, which was light but still tasted reassuringly decadent. For a Friday night, the restaurant was almost in wind down mode, which is perfect when you’re discussing the merits of the three-inch heel and whether you need to order a taxi because your stilettos are killing you, or because the last mouthful of the strawberry extravaganza has rendered you immobile. Either way, eating at this place is an indulgent affair – it may well be a much buzzier deal slap bang in the middle of the week, but Prism has both sides to its character working salubriously well.
Prism: 147 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4QT. Tel: 020 7256 3875.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar