If there’s a definition of an instagrammable venue in London, then this is it. A 18th century courthouse where England’s key judges dined and it has been fittingly restored as dining venue accessible to all. The place has a mix of Victorian grandeur with a bohemian touch; arched windows, unfinished semi-painted walls, original Victorian gaslights, and white tablecloths, flickering candles, unused fireplaces, green leather banquettes and thin leafed plants – it’s a colonial boho designer’s dream. The food and wine doesn’t disappoint either.
Sandro Fay Costa Bassa Valtellina Superiore Nebbiolo 2018
We opt for this beautiful Nebbiolo for the evening. There are aromas of florals and herbs which leave a lasting impression – an extremely fragrant wine. On the palate there’s a wonderful dance of cherries, strawberries and light anise and spice notes. Wonderful acidity and grainy tannins round out this decent wine.
Squid, tomato & calamarata
This is magic. The dish is the evidence that genius in simplicity triumphs over the complex; The dish is just squid shaped pasta rings are paired with squid. Succulent and soft fresh squid and the almost identically-shaped rings of calamarata with a light tomato sauce which leaves every taste moment a lottery of either soft pasta or succulent squid.
Eel, potato, creme fraiche, and roe
The flow of the smoked eel between thin slices of crisp confit potato is a textural and sensual pleasure on the palate. There’s the burst of oceanic salinity from the roe and the tart sourness of the crème fraiche which melds the dish together. An edible floral display adds to the aesthetics of the dish.
Hake, purple basil & clam & potatoes
The soft and succulent hake is a delight with a touch of richness from the clams and the starchy potatoes. A simple & solid dish, but somewhat outclassed by the flair of the other dishes.
Lamb sweetbreads, lettuce & lovage
This is a dish that’s all about the rich, buttery and earthy lamb sweetbreads which just melt in your mouth. The peas, lettuce & the herby lovage are fresh and add a refreshing touch the richness of the dish but make no mistake they are all just side players in the game – it’s all about the sweetbreads.
Chocolate tart and Almond cake, lemon curd & cream
A decant cacao hit with a bitter, chocolate sweetness layered on a crumbly tart. A kiss of cacao if I may say so. My wife loved her dessert too; a simply mix of grainy almond meal cake, tart lemon and cream to balance.
This is a place to visit in London. I’ve had my fair share of culinary disappointments in London, but this place is special. Do arrive early, take in the aesthetics, bask in the vibe of the venue, sip your wine slowly and taste your dishes with small bites and let each moment linger.