Farringdon’s famous ‘working class caterer’ rises yet again, offering a direct English menu in a tightly packed ‘pew-seating’ dining room – an early days visit found a simple but effective formula, offered at very reasonable prices.
Let’s start by getting the benches out of the way. This Victorian ‘working class caterer’ has always been most famous for bum-numbing perches that passed as places to sit. No more. The new régime has come up with an ingenious extension-cum-cushion device to address the problem. Well, to a large extent – the tables are still very narrow, and you still get to rub knees with the person opposite.
In a city with few ‘historic’ (commercial) dining rooms, however, we should prize one of the few that looks today pretty like it must have looked 140 years ago. With its polished tables, attractive traditional cutlery and pretty old plates, it has a real timeless charm.
The cuisine has probably evolved a bit over nearly a century and a half, but chops are still a daily feature of a blackboard menu that’s notably short and generally pretty simple. A lunchtime chop comes garnished and with a glass of wine for just £13. We were given a choice of lamb or pork – we chose the latter, which came with red cabbage and mash. The chop was not large, but it was notably succulent – part of a plate which was pretty much perfect for lunch. A brace of plump sardines to start were pretty good too, as was the bread, and a ‘Quince (Eton) Mess’ for pudding. Perhaps few lunchers nowadays, though, want quite such lashings of cream?
For an (even) more informal meal, the adjoining wine bar looks as if it should become a popular local stand-by. We failed to look at the actual wine list. The management’s antecedents, though, suggest it should be of some note,