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|Address:||85 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AE|
|Tel:||020 3641 5830|
|Price: £56.00||Wine: £17.50||Champagne: £39.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30am-12M|
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
I confess that I wasn't that impressed with my first visit to Lutyens (see below). My second wasn't much better when, nipping in for a swift breakfast, we were told that everything had gone, but they might be able to rustle up some toast.
It was then with some trepidation, that I crossed the threshold for the third time, being taken by a client. It was so much improved, that when asked to come back again, this time by the management, who had been most put out by my previous comments, I felt no trepidation at all, instead being pleased to go along.
As well as confessing that this was a visit compliments of the management, who wanted to show off their entirely new chef, menu and attitude, I must apologise to them, as this visit was in March, and I am only just getting around to logging my thoughts.
Visit in March 2013
This visit was out of the grouse season, so I cannot tell you if their handling of the delightful beauties has got any better (although give it a couple of months and I shall be able to), but their handling of everything else was streets ahead of where it had been when I first visited.
The room is still an imposing affair, which in the evening can be a bit daunting if not full. This being the City, evenings are not the time to see it at its best: it was a bit Spartan, occupied tables dotted about like peperoni on a particularly frugal pizza. Service is welcoming and understated, being there when needed and not when not.
The menu, which boasts a raw bar as well as starters, is short and to the point. Nothing is overcomplicated, none of the ingredients includes the name of the departed animal nor is the provenance of each vegetable given. There are no smears; no foams; no affectations, merely good food, put together well. This is a menu of things that you want to eat: now this may sound silly, but it is not always thus.
There is steak. There is lamb. There is a long list of fish (this is a Conran restaurant after all), but it is cod, bass and Dover sole; solid, fine members of the piscine species, not some frippery of a fish. The vegetarian dish isn't a throw-away; it is a very fine dish in its own right. When I went it was gnocchi with broad beans. A very fine combination, cooked beautifully.
The desserts too include crowd pleasers like crème brûlée and chocolate mousse, along with more modern numbers, and the cheese trolley is short and British (the only thing to declare where it came from: Neal's Yard; a badge of quality far better than any AOC).
The wine list is long but, whilst of course there is the odd grand plus trophy Latour (this is the City you know), there are wines from Croatia; from Greece; there's even one from Luxembourg.
So the place has changed in the most of positive of ways: for the better. Everything is better about it than when I first went, and my Amex and I will return. I can't wait for the grouse season to see just how much this place has truly improved.
Visit from October 2011
The grouse is a delicate bird. It has lived wild on (in this case Yorkshire) heather. Until 12th August it has had a quiet life. From then on be-tweeded City folk pay a fortune to take pot-shots at it. That one of these succeeded and the poor creature has been returned to the City, means one should treat it with respect. Take the time, take the effort: cook it properly. It is a bird best served under- rather than over-cooked. Lutyens needs to work this out quickly, should the place ever want me to darken its doors with my Amex Card again.
Today’s poor creature had been cremated: legs like crispy duck; breast not moist or red inside, not remotely pink even, but dark brown, the texture reduced from firm to flaky. Yes, the bread sauce was there and it was ok, but the game chips looked as though they had come from a packet of Walkers. I half expected Gary Lineker to slap me and steal them from my plate.
Enough of my grouse about the grouse; Lutyens is, like so many places in the City before it, an old office block, whose high ceilings lend themselves to being transformed into a bar/restaurant. The bar is smallish and leads to the more formal dining area, all creams and woods; big and bright; muted tones, a hushed atmosphere, in reverence to the Vampire Squid that squats opposite maybe.
Staff are polite and efficient, although come on; whilst I expect a waitress at TGI Fridays to come and ask me if everything is ok, I do not expect one to interrupt a business conversation at an obviously business oriented restaurant. I also don’t need my water glass filled up after I’ve taken a single sip. Just relax a bit.
Maybe this is it: Lutyens is the City incarnation of Boundary, a hip and happening place in far trendier Hoxton. The Boundary is close enough to the City to get the money passing through, but far enough outside of the Square Mile to be out of the Griffin’s glare, under which nobody in a service industry can relax. Lutyens is slap bang in the Square Mile and is just too stiff for its own good.