St Paul’s Churchyard
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral, the valued British monument that draws over 4000 visitors every day, has finally opened a restaurant, serving the best of British fare.
The area surrounding the cathedral heaves with chain eateries shouting lunchtime deals to get attention. The Restaurant at St Paul’s is, however somewhat more humble. It’s tucked underground in the arched crypt, offering diners a unique setting as well as the promise of top-notch locally sourced produce. Such as honey from the beehives at the Regents Park apiaries, vegetables from New Covent Garden Market and several wines from Chapel Down winery in Kent.
On a Thursday afternoon, we dodged our way past hordes of tourists lunching in the café area and took a left into the slightly incognito restaurant. The high-ceilings and split-level design help to distract from the small space and encourage an echo of chatter. The restaurant was fairly busy with city workers and a few scattered curious tourists. We started off with a pre-lunch nibble of bright, crunchy radishes, which came in an adorable jar served with homemade salad cream. It was certainly a charming alternative to bread and butter. An earthy and robust wood pigeon with pointed cabbage and a scattering of sweet grapes made a brilliant starter. Whilst my friend’s salmon, leek and potato terrine was pleasingly summery and light if slightly under seasoned. For main course, I tucked into seared sea trout served with shaved yellow bean, fennel and shallots. The crispy skin protected a delicately cooked flesh that still enveloped its juices. A beef fillet tail had the right depth of flavour and was served with horseradish cream and triumphant ‘new bridge’ chips – definitely worth going back for. A side of the ‘forgotten vegetable’ – runner beans was a welcoming reminder of how deliciously addictive these crunchy, green shoots can be.
We polished off the meal with two memorable desserts. A brilliantly fashioned signature dish of Regent’s Park honey ice cream & gingerbread sandwich; dense, moist, sticky and creamy all at once - what more could you want. And an Eton mess roulade, which lets face it, is a British monument in it’s own right.
The menu is short and simple with a few touches of creativity but overall it plays safe, letting the quality of the ingredients do most the work. This is certainly not a bad thing, but I suspect the dishes need to be a bit bolder and louder to get heard from below the cathedral. Nonetheless, with its well-paced and friendly service and very reasonable price tag of £20 for three courses, the Restaurant at St Paul’s Cathedral is certainly a great and novel choice for lunch, as long as you don’t mind eating beneath Admiral Nelson’s tomb.