St. Pauls's Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
Visit the Website 020 7248 2469
The Restaurant at St Paul’s can certainly lay claim to having one of the finest loctions in the city – it doesn’t get vastly more iconic than here. Mary Poppin’s was all about feeding the birds but the relatively new restaurant is all about feeding the hungry mouths of city workers and tourists and it does it with charm, sophistication and taste beyond belief.
The catering company who are running the restaurant have no previous restaurant experience so clearly took a big gamble, but the Gods at St Paul’s are looking down on them and the angels are spreading their wings of love as everything seems to be running in tip top fashion with service that is impeccable, a setting that is relaxed whilst stylishly simple in décor (that is fitting for a cathedral setting) and food that really does get the taste buds tingling.
The menu is fixed price, £16 for two courses and a pleasing £20 for three. The menu is not extensive but why should it be, that would only serve to make it even harder to choose between the delicious sounding meals. After much pontificating we opted for wood pigeon and squid for starters. My only worry being my impending food envy, which is simply a matter of course on any meal out with me. I needn’t have worried, for whilst I was indeed envious of the sublimely cooked bird which melted on the tongue with a burst of flavour, I had my own delicious squid to tuck into which was so perfectly cooked I might go so far as to say it’s the best squid I’ve had in the UK – and I’ve had a lot.
For mains we both finally settled on fish, myself on halibut and my friend on trout. And more than fine choices there were too. The halibut was truly , eye-rollingly scrumptious, with a crispy top and just enough seasoning to not take anything away from the perfect flesh. It was served with salty (but not too much) samphire and a side of divine roasted Cornish new potatoes. Meanwhile the to die for trout was accompanied by a salad of shaved fennel, shallot and yellow beans, dressed with verjuice. Pretty much all the food and ingredients came from British if not local sources, which is a testament to how well we can cook our own food and that there is simply no need to get everything imported in. Even the wine was English and it was really good wine, perfect with our meals.
Come desert I thought it best to share but my friend was having none of it so whilst he went for a light summer dish of Eaton’s Mess, I opted for a slice of what I would find out to be Heaven - Regent's Park honey ice and gingerbread sandwich. Thank goodness we weren’t sharing! Fundamentally a "sandwich" of fluffy dark gingerbread cake around honey ice-cream, from the owners' own hives in Regent's Park, with a honey drizzling – it was immensely good.
Aside from the food, I really liked the service. It was very natural, perhaps a little slow but enjoyable service, which sounds odd but it was all part of the experience. The staff really seemed to love their jobs and weren’t even asking for obligatory tips – as this was not automatically included on the bill. When we asked for suggestions on what to eat (I’m a terrible chooser) they actually had an opinion – which is so rare from waiters who usually say something ridiculous like, “well it depends what you feel like” – obviously it does but if you can’t decide you clearly need some help! I loved that they gave it to me. I love even more that they were right!
The only one disappointing thing about the restaurant is that is doesn’t open for dinner - oh well they do say lunch like a prince (or princess) and I certainly did here.