Northbank, One Pauls Walk, EC4 3QH
I`m going to slightly upgrade the great Fay Maschler`s thoughts that Northbank offers “Good food and a great view across the Thames”
Let’s start with the food. This needs to go up to somewhere in the region of “fabulous” and despite the pervasive blandness of the concrete wall protecting you from swirling waters below, the view could probably stand an upgrade to “wonderful” or thereabouts.
Being a pedestrian path off of High Timber Street, and part of the relentless batch of buildings penned by architects whose only god is the slide rule, there`s no pretence at olde worlde charm on this stretch of the embankment. It’s all glass and modernism, and my approach was greeted by the chuffing of a vent, pouring out a sweet caramelised smoke. Just as I thought this might be a restaurant version of the old supermarket trick of piping the smell of baking bread around their stores, the alarm went off.
This was joined by a few spats of rain, and for a moment I feared for my table. There was no sign of an evacuation in progress, I headed straight to the bar for a restorative beer whilst her ladyships cab fought its way across town. The alarm peeped once more, but was swiftly dealt with, and Madame made her entrance. A champagne & rhubarb cocktail was first on her list.
Next, she handed me the wine list, with an imperious “Choose something big and bold, red” ..”and make it snappy” echoed the voice in my head. So I did.
Having dispensed with that pleasurable task, an amuse bouche of truffle and celeriac soup arrived, delivered by a charming Bulgarian waitress. It was brilliant, and Miss Bulgaria came back 5 minutes later to take our orders, telling us her favourites. It’s good the staff get to taste a bit of what is served, and charming when they can genuinely recommend something.
Before the first course I suddenly noticed the wall paper, which is a series of little cameos of what appears to be London`s urban and parkland life, from a silhouetted character holding up a white soul boy with a gun, to a couple of winos on a bench, and a group of 3 dudes chilling out by a clocktower. Eclectic, bonkers, pithy comment on modern life, ironic? Take your pick. I`m on the beautifully subtle Lobster and chicken tortellini with grilled langoustine that is nicely tied together by the fresh tarragon, and Madame is happily tucking into the Smoked Ham Hock, hogs pudding and cob nut terrine.
For the mains I have a perfect medium-rare Galloway Fillet, chilli and garlic spinach, and some minted new potatoes. Miss Bulgaria told me she preferred chips, but I held out, twice cooked or not. M had wavered between the fish special and the lamb, but had ended up with the lamb, and she didn’t regret it for a moment. The lamb was spot on, the kidneys in suet glorious, and the potato terrine and truffle sauce earned a gold star.
Christain Butler, the chef patron here is Cornish, and his modern British menu references this without being obsessive. As we hadn’t had anything uniquely Cornish so far, we went for a shared plum crumble with Cornish clotted cream ice cream. Time to surreptitiously adjust ones belt, tilt back a little in the seat, and smile contentedly.
Northbank had led us from slightly tetchy cross-town travellers to supremely chilled out and happy in less than a couple of hours, which, as a certain advert goes, is priceless. The foods not cheap, but it’s not crazy either, and a window seat watching the ebb and flow of life around the river is wonderfully therapeutic.
Northbank reservations on 0207 329 9299