Replacing D&D London’s Grand Café, this all-day bar and restaurant from Fortnum & Mason has opened in the dramatic surrounds of the Royal Exchange, the former trading floor turned luxury shopping mall.
A glittering bar forms its centrepiece, while the rest of the space is dotted with banquettes in Fortnum’s signature eau de nil, and dark wood tables topped with fringed lamps. On our evening visit, the soaring ceiling meant eating here felt a bit like having dinner in a library, but at lunch, when the shops are in full swing, the atmosphere should be a lot buzzier. To help combat any lack of atmosphere, Fortnum's has also introduced live music on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm. The music features a singer backed up by a live band, who sing a blend of old-school Motown and R&B, alongside more contemporary music that you might find in the charts.
When it comes to the food, the Fortnum’s signatures have survived the journey from St James’s: service is efficient and friendly without ever being intrusive, while the short menu is replete with luxe takes on comfort food classics.
Just take the Scotch egg starter, a dish which Fortnum’s invented back in 1738. Today, they’re served in halves to show off a glossy orange yolk, delicately crumbed and resting on a pool of mouth-puckering piccalilli. To follow, a decadent lobster Thermidor was just as hearty, with a top-notch crustacean slicked with a silky mustard and Parmesan cream.
The obvious dessert option is Fortnum’s signature knickerbocker glory, now complete with a #FoodPorn swirl of blow-torched marshmallow crème. A sugary concoction of ice cream, strawberries and popping candy, it’s the perfect hit of childish indulgence and as sweet as it sounds.
Fortnum’s isn’t reinventing the wheel here and prices are as high as you’d expect from an offshoot of the Queen’s grocer housed amid a collection of luxury boutiques in the Square Mile, but for a touch of classic British sophistication in a dramatic setting, you won’t go wrong.