Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

11th March 2013
Chiswell Street Dining Rooms is located near the Barbican, an area that is not renowned for being a culinary hotspot. It backs out onto the Mont Calm hotel and if you were ordering room service, this is one of the restaurants where your food would come from. Just to clarify though, there are no links with the hotel other than its proximity. It is owned by Tom and Ed Martin who also own the runaway successes that are The Gun in Canary Wharf and The Botanist in Sloane Square. These guys know how to do gastro pubs!
We chose this restaurant for a girlfriend’s birthday as it’s near’ish to where we all work, one of the gang is vegetarian and this menu seemed perfect for her. The City has no shortage of decent steak houses, but it’s nigh on impossible to get a great meal out for a veggie! Incidentally, she had to cancel, but we pushed on because the menu looked so inviting.
To start, I ordered Scottish salmon tartar, soft boiled quail’s egg, caviar and iced horseradish (£7). This has to be one of the nicest starters I have had in a very long time! I ordered it because I was intrigued by the iced horseradish. I was half expecting a few crumbs of flavoured ice on top of the salmon, but when it arrived it was a huge ball of what looked like vanilla ice cream. The food looked as pretty as a picture. The slate plate made the bright pink of the salmon pop and made the white horseradish ice stand out even more. The quails egg added a silkiness to the fatty salmon and I really enjoyed the subtle heat you got from the cold horseradish ice. The peanuts underneath the ice brought a nice crunch to the dish. I am not sure the caviar added anything though, but all in all this was a winning starter. I was excited for what was to follow.
 I’ve overdone it on the red meat lately, so really fancied something light. I ordered Scottish monkfish tail, Dorset lobster and crab ravioli, clam and shallot cream (£28.00). I don’t get to cook fish very much at home as TBH isn’t a great lover of fish; and monkfish being that little bit pricier than most fish, is a bit of a waste to buy for just one. Anyway, I digress. The fish when it arrived was one of the meatiest, glossiest, most delicious pieces of fish I’ve seen. Just look at that picture, doesn’t it make you want to take a bite? The lobster and crab ravioli was cooked really well and the flavour of the shellfish did not overpower the beautiful piece of fish. The clams added a nice saltiness and the shallot cream a very subtle touch of sweetness. I’d picked another winner.
 Now we all know by now that I am not much of a sweet tooth, but I ordered dessert because the birthday girl really is a dessert lover and she couldn’t really pick what to have. So we ordered both – but only because it was her birthday and not because we’re greedy! I chose salted caramel tart, caramelised banana and chocolate crumb (£6.50). I enjoyed this course least, but I think that is more down to personal preference. The salted caramel was just a little too salty and the pastry base a little too hard. The caramelised bananas were good though and I think a bit of ice cream or Chantilly cream would’ve lightened the whole thing up a bit.
I said in my review of New Street Grill that I thought uniforms of black waist coats, white shirts and black trousers were a little old-fashioned. But perhaps just in that environment? I thought the waiting staff here all looked well turned out and it seemed to fit in with the surroundings, which were homely and stylish. Our waiter was friendly yet unobtrusive and made some excellent recommendations. He must’ve overheard that we were celebrating a birthday because her dessert came out with a candle in it and a little “Happy birthday” message. She was absolutely delighted! I think it’s these small touches that turn a nice place into something rather special. I can’t wait to go back.
Happy birthday M x
 I don’t have the full bill any more, but it came to £160 including service for 3 of us.
I have one more review coming up of a preview lunch at Jason Atherton’s new restaurant “Little Social” on Friday. Then it’s off to the homeland for 3 weeks for some much needed sunshine! I’ll be posting pics on my Facebook page and Instagram (SamTheFoodFan) of all the gorgeous food I will be eating. Look out for #STFFonTour
Until we eat again!

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